Arsenal will never succeed under Arsene Wenger because all his decisions are based on emotion.
The shambolic final weeks of the transfer window were predicated on a panicked reaction to a terrible points total in his opening games.
The decision to hold contract rebels against their will was based on Wenger’s pride, not the good of the squad or the club.
The last minute decision to conduct a fire sale on his bloated squad was based on his worry that he needed to be seen to do something about a problem pundits and pros alike had been speaking about all summer.
All of the issues you saw over the past couple of days are born from Arsene Wenger’s inability to effectively plan, to smoothly delegate responsibility, and to make informed decisions. All derived from his fear of losing control.
Arsenal had three clear objectives to deal with after we’d lifted the FA Cup.
- Make quick decisions on the contract rebels who had one year left on their deals, and also address players who had two years left (Chelsea sold Matic on two years to avoid the summer we’re having)
- Clear out the deadwood that’s bloating the squad and clogging up our ability to bring in new talent
- Sign new players before preseason to ensure integration into a 3-4-3 system
We didn’t address any of them.
Not one of the contract rebels signed a new deal with the club. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain should have been offered a new deal last season, but we left it late, he showed a smidgen of form at the tale end of the season, and leveraged his feelings about Arsene Wenger’s treatment of him to make a move to Liverpool. I’m fine with that move, but this should have been dealt with in May, because now we have a hole at right wing back.
If Arsenal had a DoF, who had no emotion outside of a solid squad and wage structure, he’d have deadlined Alexis. Once it was clear the player was finished at the club, that person would have hawked the Chilean to PSG. If he’d had no luck, he would have forced City to show their hand and done a deal nice and early. We should have taken the same aggressive approach with all the rebels. If they all leave, they all leave. If we lose some money, we lose. However, this market proved that you mostly don’t lose out if you go early enough.
That would have freed up circa £300k a week, brought in £120m off the bat and given us a clear run at bringing in new players.
The club should have taken the same approach to the also-rans. The internationals should have gently threatened with zero game time if they didn’t make an effort to move, which would hamper their World Cup bids. The rich dross that we have no hope of moving on should be loaned or sold at a minimal fee. Sell Theo Walcott for £10m, sell Jenks for £500k, sell Wilshere for £2m, just move them off the books at any cost. They will never make it here.
You’re then freeing up an additional £625k off the wage bill.
In total, this is what a DOF could have offered back to Wenger.
That is keeping you well within the PL wage cap, it reduces the squad size. It brings in £150m of additional transfer kitty to go on top of the £100m we already had. It gives you the chance to reinvent the squad to fight for the league.
So what happened?
Wenger arrogantly convinced himself that the tale end of last season was real. He based his summer planning on the absolute car crash view that the players stopped playing for him because he hadn’t signed a new deal, he convinced himself that beating a bunch of teams that had nothing to play for with a new formation was real, and he truly believed that the once in a decade performance against Chelsea was the future of Arsenal.
The season predictably fell apart starting at Leicester when our defence was rocked for three goals at home. Things declined at Stoke, and we were well and truly destroyed at Liverpool.
Majority of our planning took place in the last week of the window. But it couldn’t move quick enough. All decisions go through the bottle neck of Arsene Wenger. He has to negotiate the price, he has to negotiate the wages, he has to be the sole decision maker on everything. That means Arsenal are incredibly immobile. It means nothing gets done. It means ultimately, you’re going to be outmaneuvered by the market.
Yesterday wasn’t a suprise. But be real, that whole Lemar debacle wouldn’t have been on the table had Arsenal won their opening three games.
Let’s also be real here about Thomas Lemar. He’s undoubtedly a huge, huge talent that would have made a difference at Arsenal at some point. However, I have two concerns about a move of this magnitude. Firstly, he is 21 years old in his breakout season. Essentially a very talented child. He is not going to be equipped to deal with a toxic environment where he’s not coached or focused. He would have been a wholly unsuitable considering the mess he’d be walking into and his talent would have been greatly damaged in joining a manager who can’t offer structure to his game.
Arsenal should have sold Alexis Sanchez. We’ve left £60m on the table. He’s next to useless for us over the next year. He’s thick, he’s confrontational and all he cares about now is staying fit enough to land a big move, and win the World Cup with Chile. We should have taken cash, because our season is a write off already, he’s not going to save it, just like he couldn’t save our top 4 status last season.
Arsene Wenger is finished. This season is the perfect storm of shite. It will have to go extremely sour though, and sadly, it likely will. But the short term pain will be worth it, because Wenger is now damaging Arsenal’s ability to function in the era after he goes.
Here’s why it’s different this year. He has no credit with the squad. Aaron Ramsey, the most straight laced guy in football, publically showing his frustration The Ox has gone. Not a single contract rebel signed on for the club. Mutiny in the dressing room and on the pitch. It’s over for him. He’s not a good manager and the players have known that for a while.
The board is split on Wenger, but we all know Ivan Gazidis wanted Wenger gone. After Stan publicly humiliated him this summer, there’s no doubt he’s sitting back, cigar in hand, watching this mess all unfold. The messiah is no longer banking cash for the club, he’s losing it. Ozil and Sanchez is £100m in the bonfire. We still have all the dross. It’s unreal how ineffiecient our setup is.
The fans are finished with the manager. Wenger is one result away from planes flying over the stadium. We’ve already shown our propensity to protest, and latterly, our ability to boycott games. This season will not be fun for anyone, the ground is going to be horrible, and it’ll get very messy. But it needs to. The board need to be able to tell Wenger that he’s being moved on in December, so he can have a final hurrah, and Arsenal can plan for a golden future without him.
… and I promise you, the future will be golden. There’s just one man getting in the way.
As a good friend said to me the other day, the problem with kings is they’re used to calling all the shots, when it comes to ceding power, they still want to call the shots, and that’s why they have to die.
Wenger needs to be told he’s leaving, the board needs to have the balls to tell Stan what’s going on, it needs to happen when we hit rock bottom, which might not be too far away.
The futures bright, but we have to fight through a bit of darkness to find it.
Check out our podcast special while you’re here. Excuse my sound.