Wenger prepares Arsenal fans for summer of failure (Brexit mentioned)

by & filed under News Review.


Arsene Wenger plays by no man’s rules. Yesterday, he dropped a press conference with an all too familiar tone.

It starts quite well…

“First of all, we are not behind Spurs yet,”

“Anyway, Tottenham have been 18 years behind us and they’ve survived. So let’s be realistic.”

Ok Arsene, I’m with you. Spurs are within spitting distance and you’ve never finished behind them. This, is a fair shout. However, I think the issue of Spurs reversing St Totteringham’s day (potentially), is that it was in your hands. This season is on you. Your obstinence. Your arrogance. You let Spurs in.

Anyway, we can live with those comments… it’s when we land on Leicester things start getting a bit embarrassing.

“At the moment it’s difficult for us to accept that we are not completely there [at the top]. Leicester have lost three games, it is exceptional. They lost two games against us, and then you have Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, all of whom you’d think they would lose more than one game against. Barcelona has lost four games this season, Real Madrid five and Leicester three.”

Now we’re into justification mode. We’re comparing Leicester to Madrid and Barcelona whilst indicating it’s a bit of a fluke. What Wenger is also doing here is blaming others, rather than looking introspectively at how the club landed in a situation where two smaller, less stable, weaker funded clubs are above him (one club that moved stadium / spent the most time at the bottom of the league last year).

Wenger then moves into transfers and players…

“If you look at the top three teams, you will see they have not changed their team a lot. We have to strengthen our squad but it’s not obvious to find the players despite the money the English clubs will have. We are already working but we have to find the players and that is not easy.”

How can the manager be saying things like this after another season of failure? Wenger didn’t add a single outfield player last summer and we paid the price this season. The players knew they weren’t good enough to win the league, the fans did and so did the pundits. Too many holes in the squad, too many hopes laid on prospects and iffy fitness. A real lack of winning class.

He constantly references this notion that it’s not about players without clarifying what it is. If it’s not players, is it about better tactics? Show me them. Maybe it’s about a better work ethic? Maybe it’s about introducing a continental pressing approach? Maybe it’s about better on pitch management? Thing is, it’s all of the above, but those elements never change. So what he’s saying is it’s not about players… it’s about flogging the same horse over and over and hoping it’ll respond.

Wenger should know about the squad issues. He should have a plan in place. He should be coming at us right now saying…

‘Guys, we fucked up this season. Certain players didn’t pull their weight, we had some injuries that we should have planned for and the mentality wasn’t right. But don’t worry. Myself and the backroom team have a plan that’s going to blow your mind. There’s going to be a major shake-up of Arsenal because losing out to Leicester, with all due respect to their achievements, is not acceptable.’

Wenger goes on… this time he’s in full blow patronisation mode.

“You cannot dismiss that the players are young: Alex Iwobi is 19, Mohamed Elneny is 23, Francis Coquelin 24, and they will be stronger next year but you need to keep a core of players and strengthen where we can. The team is going the right way.”

Again, who the hell is dismissing these players? Those are three of the most impressive players at the club. They’re starting 11 every time at the moment. No one is dismissing them. We’re wondering why players like Theo, Gibbs, Chambo and Ramsey are getting a free ride? We’re wondering what you’re going to do with them.

When you say the team is going in the right direction, what does he mean? We have about 7 players you could sell and not notice this summer. We have senior players heading into the injury zone of twighlight. We have no vision for our style. We don’t press. We’re not tactically flexible. On pitch leadership is missing. That’s what the fans are looking at. I appreciate Wenger doesn’t want to hammer his players in public, but the problem is he doesn’t hammer them in private… because there’s no doubt we’ll still have a massive chunk of undeserving players here next season!

‘Strengthen where we can’

Again, what is this line? He sounds like me when I’m doing flat up on a budget. His language is non-committal. It’s almost amateurish. He should be strengthening in preidentified positions and there should be no doubt.

Then, to cap it all off… Wenger gets lured into the Brexit conversation.

“Will the European players be considered as they are now? For example, if England votes for Brexit, will the French be considered like South Americans players [who require work permits]? That would completely re-question the influx of foreign players.

“Will England go that way? If they did, that would leave the Premier League with some questions.”

I mean, come on Arsene. Just pass on the question. If it’s not European Championships killing our chances of players, it’s now the Brexit, which doesn’t happen until June 23rd… so here’s an idea, do y0ur business early?

Overall, it’s just really disappointing. Wenger is accountable to no one and his press conference behaviour shows that. He should be out there, talking to the fans, telling them things are going to be OK because he’s been working with Steve Bould and the crew since Feb on a new vision for Arsenal that involves all the the above mentioned issues. He should be bragging about how he’s changed his scouting set up and they’re refocusing their energies on new markets. He should be getting his ducks in line.

Instead, he’s just made a load of excuses, he’s set the table of failure early and he’s patronising the fans with his typical ‘let them eat cake’ attitude.

He’s on the notice period coast… zero fucks given as he rakes in retirement funds.

Also, worth mentioning that Mikel Arteta is moving to Manchester City with work with his ex-team mate Pep. I find this f*cking staggering. My whole thing about Mikel was, if he’s not playing, we must have him in mind for a coaching role… you know, because he was raised on Cruyff management stylings. So we wasted £65k a week, give him the keys to the club for a season… then let him go to a rival. This is just like Patrick Vieira again. And look, you can say I don’t know how good he is at coaching… but then I’d say that one of the best managers in the world just took a punt on him.

Staggering the opportunity the club has let pass it by over the last 3  years.

I really can’t tell you how upsetting this how Arsene situation is. We’re letting everyone modernize while we just sit here and shoot for the hope button. It’s so sad. I wish he’d just pack it in right now.

3 more years of this shite… unless, it gets so bad he has to go.

Have a good day, see you tomorrow!

Tuchel: 2-0 up, loses tie. He’s just so damn Wenger.

by & filed under News Review.


2-0 up, away from home, lose tie… so Wenger.

The management perve fest went into overdrive last night. Just so much exciting shiz going on all around Europe with some really good teams. Is it me, or is the Europa League more exciting than the Champions League?

Spursday night football is pretty fun these days!

Two of Europe’s most exciting managers met up last night, Jurgen Klopp, poster child for many Arsenal fans, took on young upstart Tomas Tuchel. The Dortmund manager, for me, is the most Arsene like manager in Europe at the moment… I mean, like, Arsene in his prime days. Smart, calm, anti-establishment and innovative. The two teams battled it out in a classic, the German’s racing to a lead… then capitulating late on.

I mean, nothing says Tuchel is perfect for Arsenal quite like throwing away a two goal lead because you can’t stop bombing forward. Really love his attitude.

‘Ultimately we were hit by a late sucker punch from the opposition. S*** happens,’ Dortmund’s head coach said.

‘There was no individual part of the puzzle that did not fit. Actually a lot worked very well today.

‘After falling behind early Liverpool had to take a lot of risks. We were on the verge of taking a three-goal lead on several occasions.

‘It’s the small details that count, the cross-field passes, the passes into the gaps.

‘If we had made it 3-0 then it would have probably been all over, but as it was Liverpool were always in it.

So Wenger, right? Bar the swearing, which I childishly enjoy.

I also watched the Sevilla / Bilbao game. Another two coaches who are fascinating to watch. I had the pleasure of visiting Bilbao at their noisy house in August with Alex. They went out on penalties in a fun game. Two technical sides slogging it out with style and panache.

Sevilla, are pushing for their third Europa Final. Quite amazing really!

A great night of football. I think king of the managers amongst Arsenal fans is still Diego Simeone. Bar him being an incredible manager, tactician and man motivator, I feel the Arsneal fan mood is a bit like it is on the American political scene, we’ve had a visionary Democrat in for, what, like, 4 terms and now we’re hungry for something a bit progressive Republican.

Simeone is all about the defence. He’s all about organisation. He’s all about making Arsenal great again (So sorry to steal from Trump / Reagan).

He’s very much an anti-Wenger replacement.

I’d be game for it. I could fall in love with pragmatism. I could stomach a functioning team that worked hard. I could handle a bit of winnertivity.

Simeone also rocks a suit really well… and damn, that hair is slick.

Don’t get me wrong, I still very much love Klopp and Tuchel. The jury is still out for me on whether Klopp can turn around Liverpool. The one thing you have to say is he’s working wonders, at times, with a very average Liverpool squad. He’s getting the most out of players, he has them playing his system and he has excitement back in the stadium up there.

I’d kill for a bit of that.

I think most of the fanbase would. It’s not just that Wenger isn’t winning things, it’s that things are stale. I mean, even if we’d won the league this year, it’d be in a pretty grim fashion. The ship feels very much rudderless at the moment. Fergie would change that up by bringing in fresh thinking with a new assistant… I’m not sure Wenger even listens to Steve Bould, so not sure that’d work. That’s the trouble. If you don’t listen to the heads around you, it’s hard to assess what you’re doing.

> I’m not saying Steve Bould should go. Just saying it’s hard to see how fresh thinking gets into the setup if you manager doesn’t listen?

Talking of exPros, I ranted off on Twitter yesterday about Martin Keown saying that Wenger should leave when he decides to. I find this sort of view abhorrent and transparently sycophantic. When exPros say things that don’t make sense, there’s usually an ulterior motive. A lot of people critiqued me for that, because clearly, Wenger is still a trailblazing genius in their eyes… my argument there is that anyone who understands the game will know that his reputation died with leather boots.

Weeeeeeeeell, to cut a long story short, it only took a day to see what ol’ Martin was getting at… this is what he had to say in his Daily Mail article today.

‘I’m a big believer in ex-players becoming more involved in football and not just as managers or coaches. There is a real resistance in the game to employing former pros at board level or in more administrative roles but Dennis sums up perfectly why it can work.’

You don’t say Martin! There you have it. I mean, it was pretty clear he was angling the day before. Even clearer when you know he took his UEFA badges at Arsenal… then didn’t get a job in the game.

… and look, I think it’d be a great idea to have great players back at the club. Arsenal are full of them. I think it’s almost a bit weird how many explayer we have back at the club or just simply using the gym. David Seaman, Freddie Ljungberg, Jens Lehmann, Thierry Henry, Ryan Garry, Bobby Pires… the list is goes on.

They want to be part of the club, which is great. So just take the comments of support of a failing manager with a pinch of ‘what’s in it for me’…

Good news though, is Ozil and Alexis want to stay onboard past this summer. I just hope Wenger has a plan to get the most out of them. It’s not really acceptable that the best number 10 in the world is feeding our strike force. It’s also not right that Sanchez is playing for himself. If we’re to win anything, Wenger has to work out a way of getting the most out of both of them next year.

The more I think about this summer, the more I think it’s going to have to be a big one.

Players that you could see moving on, or being relegated to smaller roles at the club:

  • Ospina (should probably go)
  • Arteta (Free)
  • Rosicky (Free)
  • Flamini (Free)
  • Chambo (Jonathan Wilson says he’s off)
  • Gibbs (Jonathan Wilson says he’s off)
  • Mertesacker (Getting on)
  • Santi Cazorla (Getting on now)
  • Ramsey (where does he fit in?)
  • Theo (kind of not cutting it)
  • Wilshere (will he ever be fit?)

That’s quite a crock of players who you might need to replace. It certainly can’t be a summer of ‘one maybe two quality players’… but, it could be a summer where Wenger shoots to the kids to make breakthroughs. Gnabry is still at the club, Chris Willock is doing good things, Chuba didn’t really smash it at Hull but he has potential, Iwobi is here to stay, Jeff is about… Bielek / Crowley.

Look, all I’m saying, is do not doubt Wenger’s world-class ability to change course from ‘I NEED ALL THE PLAYERS’ to… ‘gee whizz Gerry Payton, I think we have internal solutions.’

We’ll see.

Have a terrific day. It’s been a fun week of blogging!

P.S. I’m going to do a daily podcast next week. A round-up of the day in a minute. See how that floats your multi-format boat.

P.P.S One of my best pals beat breast cancer. Here’s her take on how you can help those close to you if they’re suffering. Funny, sad, helpful. READ HERE. #fuckcancer


Arsenal fans spend 62% of time online fawning over new managers

by & filed under News Review.


Well, well, well…

It’s Thursday, and I’m in love…


What a manager, right?

On a pretty standard transfer budget, he continues to make serious magic happen over at Atletico Madrid. His team took down the greatest side of all time yesterday in magnificent fashion. Well drilled, hard working, blessed with some exceptional talent.

That Saul cross with the outside of his boot… Griezmann with THAT header. What a little player he’s turned out to be. I really thought he was a bit of a luxury when he was at his last club, but Simeone has turned him into an absolute beast of a player.

I mean, I feel like the back-end of this season has been mostly about purring over managers we can’t have at Arsenal. Someone was arguing with me that Simeone wouldn’t work well at Arsenal because he doesn’t have the players.

What… players that work hard, play in a system and work for each other?

If he can’t have that, then he’ll go out and buy new players and build the club out in his vision. Right now, I’m not really overly fussed about what system suits our players. We’re ripe for a new manager to come in and work some magic. Holes all over the squad with no set style of play.

Also, I’m pretty sure a manager like Simeone could take our current batch of failures to another level. He’d instill a rigorous work rate. He’d bring in a united team spirit. He’d curtail the bad behaviour of players like Sanchez. I’m sure he’d be able to turn The Ox into something that resembles fearsome.

… and if he couldn’t, he’d just bring in players that could do what he wanted.

He’s the last of the major name managers left in the game. He such a man beast. Would love to have him patrolling the lines. I also like that this success isn’t about one team, he’s done this sort of thing on other continents and he’s also had a dollop of failure. He’s a very capable manager in his prime. Would love him.

… but, you know we’ll play it super safe with Koeman.

But jeez, dare to dream for a moment… Arsenal, fearsome again. Wouldn’t that be grand?

On the injury front, we have players returning to the fold, just in time for the 6 game winning streak to the end of the season. Jack and Tomas are back after 3.5 years out of the game. Maybe they’ll make the bench? Kind of feel like we’ve got a nice groove going on with our side at the moment… I mean, attacking wise at least.

Cazorla and Chambo are back in the next couple of weeks too… so good news there!

On the transfer front, Jeremy Wilson dropped news that the club are willing to listen to offers for Gibbs and The Ox. I mean, I know The Ox has been pretty disappointing this season, but I still think he has a lot of attributes you look for in a young player. Explosive power, direct play, intelligence sometimes… I just think he’s been badly managed by Arsene. His confidence looks shot to pieces. Gibbs, well, I don’t think he has any balls… not sure he looks after himself that well… and he’s so injury prone. I’d happily see the back of him.

But how about Theo? I mean, we’re in a Nik B situation here, he’s so expensive, no one would dare touch him. A player massively in the comfort zone who we’re unlikely to shake off. I feel like we’ve been waiting 10 years for him to blossom into something we knew he was never capable of. A ripe example of why we’re not progressing under Wenger, he doesn’t identify weak links early enough… then he gives them new deals.

I’d also get shot of Giroud this summer… sell him while he’s semi hot (looks wise, fully, obvs).

Also, what about Rambo? I love him, but he does half play for himself. Put him under a strict coach who defines an exact role for him and he might be something special, but as it stands, he’s horribly overrated and quite dim on the pitch. It shouldn’t have been beyond his capabilities to work with Flamini in midfield. He should have been sharp enough to work out where it was all going wrong…

Anyway, getting into a rant here.

On a positive note. I love Bellerin. I love Iwobi. They’re all you need in life. I also think Gabriel will come good, he’s another confidence player, give him a run and I reckon he’ll shake those first full season Senderos vibes out of his game.

ALSO, I love Elneny. I think he’s a class act. He’s playing well, giving us something different… you know, like good pass completion rate and intelligent play. Give us a bit more power in the middle and we’ll start looking like a bit more of a force.

Right, that’s me over and out.

Enjoy the Dortmund / Liverpool game later! Tuchel and Klopp….