The lessons of Dortmund | Wenger is elite mediocrity

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Taller than the Emirates, which made me angry. Real angry.

Taller than the Emirates, which made me angry. Real angry.

I don’t do away days normally. I don’t have worry in saying that the main reason is because I’m not dedicated enough to spunk half my salary following my team to some of the least inspiring places in Europe. However, Dortmund was the place I wanted to go because of their whole approach to football and the spectacular nature of their offering. So instead of doing a match report, I’ll just ramble off some of the things I took from Germany.

FC Dortmund are culture

I’ve been all over Germany for various reasons, and I can safely say that Dortmund is one of the least inspiring Cities I’ve been to. It’s quite run down and there’s not a lot there in the way of culture. The town is basically dominated by the team. Yellow shirts pinging around all day, flags in shop windows… much in the way Newcastle sits at the heart of Geordie existence, you had a sense it was the same for the Germans.

The Square

Someone gave that guy on the fountain chair a child to dance with...

Someone gave that guy on the fountain chair a child to dance with…

Mostly popularted by a group of guys who looked like the wife had given them their first ‘pass’ of the century. Some serious energy and entertaining songs. The Van Persie ‘she said, noooo, noooo, no’ followed by Giroud, she said, yeeees, yes, yes’… standard 14 year old bantz when the fountain was filled with washing up liquid. Some high jinx as I watched a man fall out the fountain with a beer bottle in his hand, it smashed and I had to tell him he’d destroyed his hand because he was too smashed to notice.

All good fun, even more amusing was watching the Dortmund fans. They came to watch. Not saying a word, just watching like a shy cat does in a living room. Amazed at the high jinx going off.

The Train

... moments later, I became a hero

… moments later, I became a hero

I met up with a Twitter pal in the square and he suggested we leave an hour and fifteen before kick off. Suitably smashed, I went along, but secretly I wondered…

‘Leaving unfathomably early with a man off the internet could be dangerous?’

Arsenal home fans get to the pub an hour before kick off. On a Tuesday night, we get to the ground late because it’s such a nightmare getting around.

I needn’t have worried, my Belgian pal knew the score. The train was good fun. I added to the #AwayDayBantz machine with a song. Check this. We were one stop away and I started…

‘One stop, we’ve only got one stop’

So much real-time wit. Everyone was high fiving me, the train driver made an announcement, declaring my song as the best thing to have happened in German transport history. What a moment to be me.

Anyway, you jump off the train and to my absolute surprise there were thousands and upon thousands of people outside the ground. What was this? Arriving early for a game? Outside the ground was like a carnival, stands to eat, drink and spend… a hot air balloon for no reason whatsoever. It was all good.

Not sure where to add this, but one guy hit the back of our ankles, we turned round and he’d attempted a celebratory knee slide on concrete. Didn’t work out well for his knees.

In the ground


When in the ground, it was half full. With 40mins to go, it was 80% full. The place was rocking. It’s quite choreographed. They have special flag people around the ground whipping people into a flag waving frenzy. They have singing areas and they have a catalogue of songs so bad you want to gouge out your ears with the plastic seat. But the point with the songs is this… you learn to love them. I was with a sport CEO once and I asked him about his terrible stadium song… he told me, ‘Pete, the fans will learn to love it’… and so they did.

Now, some might say, ‘Hey Pete, heard about that song you started, well played. On the ‘early thing’, don’t they have beer in the stands to encourage early entrance?’.

The answer is no. They have a zero alcohol policy for Champions League over there as well. Amazing that so many of the English guys didn’t realise, goring on alco-free booze.

Anyway, point is, there is a purpose to go into the ground. The consumer currency is a great time. We don’t have that at Arsenal. Outside the stadium, Dortmund make it a party. Inside the stadium it’s like a Christian Summer Rally with Cliff Richard before you know what.

The Germans don’t wait for the atmosphere to happen, they force it.

Arsenal, you need to learn. If we want to an atmosphere, let’s engineer it!

The Game

Ok, so I have a confession. I didn’t think we were that bad. I know we were, but when you’re there, you’ve dropped a shit tonne of cash on late everything, you kind of soften. It wasn’t like the guys around me were crazy Arsene Apologists, it was just this weird acceptance of the mediocrity that was on offer. No one really said anything.

The reality

Oh my days bro, what was that? Well, it was expected. We’ve had a poor start to the season and we had an even poorer pre-season. We don’t play with a vision in mind at the moment. We don’t have a squad capable of delivering on 4 fronts, but here’s the key and the area it always come back to… even if we had players, we don’t have the manager to win major honours. He’s not good enough at elite level. He’s not even attempting to break into that level, like say, Brendan Rodgers.

It all comes down to preparation. We should never be going into a game with the possibility of Bellerin making a debut. Originally, they were going to play Flamini there, but he disappeared.

Arteta just isn’t cut out for football at that level these days. He’s too slow and all mobility he had seems to be disappearing at a rate of knots. Why are we in this situation? Post Spurs last year, I said to much abuse, we need to be thinking about replacing Flamini right at that point because he was the wrong side of 29. A year on, he’s faded. I think he was always a capable player, but he was never going to be the answer at 29. Now this morning, we’re looking at Lassanna Diarra as a stop gap solution post window. Everything Wenger does is a reaction. Nothing is a preplanned. Why is that? What’s the excuse for lack of preparation when you’re on £8m a year?

As a side not. THE 2009 DM REUNION. IT’S ON. Someone get Gilberto on the blower…

On that subject, how embarrassing is it that we constantly look to bring in past it ex players to save the day because Wenger is so ill prepared with his squad? How gutting is it that the one explayer who could have helped us was passed on to Chelsea?

On the pitch, Dortmund controlled us all game. We’re an easy team to play because Wenger never surprises you. You roughly know what you’re facing, so any manager worth their salt is going to be able to deal with you fairly easily. As far as I’m concerned, it’s almost sacrilege to play Ozil out of position.

‘If you’re complaining about Ozil, you don’t know football’

… I remember the same people saying that about Denilson.

Wenger then puts Jack in the hole despite him not really being suited to that right now. Despite him not landing that role for England. Also, lumping Arteta in a holding role he doesn’t have the attributes to deliver on is car crash management.

Not having a tactical game plan… well, jeez. What’s that all about? Not having a stylistic vision for the team this many games in? What’s that all about!

This lack lustre football is engineered as well. Players are football fans like you and me. They talk. They know how good their squad is. They know whether they have a chance. Arsene Wenger gave the players a free pass when he didn’t pull together the best squad possible. He said to them, ‘here’s an excuse boys’ and right now, they’re taking it.

This isn’t a hindsight thing either, I called this. I called it not because I have an inside line on the club, but because it’s so fu*king obvious.

You can change your fitness coach (whilst keeping your old one there), some of your players and your kit maker… but always, your old self catches up with you, it waits in the wings.

Arsene Wenger will never learn. Arsene Wenger will never change. The only way we move forward is if the manager goes. The only way the manager goes is if he fails hard enough to merit the sack.

I think Tim Payton made an excellent point yesterday when he said, ‘if Arsene goes,we could win the league or finish 7th. I can’t see either happening at the moment’.

Point is, we won’t see him leave. We’ll forever hang around top four, drowning in elite mediocrity. Not good enough to challenge for major honours, not poor enough to merit the plaster ripping. But make no mistake, that plaster needs to be ripped. When all the apologists have in the bag is ‘who else could do a better job’ you know the argument for keeping him on is dying.

He’s a faded star. He’ll still make the group stages, he’ll still make top 4… but is that what Arsenal are about? Is that what a club who were ambitious enough to move stadium during a recession are all about? Is that the sporting attitude you want to be proud of… ‘survive, never push’. It doesn’t work for me and it won’t work for some of the tremendous talents we have at the club that’s being badly utilised now.

Chamberlain, Ramsey, Sanchez, Ozil… they’ll want to be part of a winning machine because there’s no glory at the end of a career in a big bank balance, a massive house with a paid of mortgage and 3 mistresses in different countries.

No glory in that at all. Trophies are what people talk to you about. Major trophies.

Anyway, Dortmund was all about education, both on the pitch and off it. Will we use any of that information to make a better Arsenal? Hopefully…  but don’t hold your breath.

Restaurant #Bantz (I was a pro. I love sausage)

Restaurant #Bantz (I was a pro. I love sausage)


374 Responses to “The lessons of Dortmund | Wenger is elite mediocrity”

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  1. NYCgooner


    I don’t think he’s a poor player by any means, especially on the run of form he’s been having since the end of last season. I would describe him as a poor man’s Ramsey. I’m just don’t think he would be an improvement on any of the players we currently have.

  2. Al

    Teams always needs players like Naismith. …good players, never will be great but serious workers.

    Fergie always had them, mourinho always has them etc

    But for some very strange reason Wenger thinks he no longer needs those type of players. …quite a coincidence that he produces a team that gets constantly out fought and out worked when he loads the team with all the same type of wimpy players

  3. NYCgooner


    It’s easy to miss the sarcasm of post when everyone’s nerves is so seriously frayed around times like these. It’s good someone still has a sense of humor. We need it around here.

  4. london gunner


    “Haha underrated? Yeah guess your right I just don’t know much about football”

    Mate corrected it for you 😉

    Lol of course one of the statistically best defensive midfielders in the whole of Europe is shite, of course a player who had numerous man of the match performances last season is shite, of course a player who receives a very good average match ranking across numerous publications/sports journal is shite, of course a first team player for brazil is shite…

    Yeah mate! You might wanna actually do some research before spewing..

    Why don’t people actually think on here..sigh….

  5. london gunner


    I agree.

    Personally out of all the possibly attainable players I would of signed Schnerdlin his been a very good Southamptons best player for about 3 seasons now with ridiculous stats.

    Don’t get why clubs pass on him his an incredibly well rounded DM

  6. NYCgooner


    I made a statement over the summer that Schneiderlin was on his way to being the best DM in the pl and i’m sure many here thought i was losing my mind. I still believe that but we’ll see in time.

  7. Al

    london gunner

    Huge difference between saying a player is overrated and shit…Not sure why your taking it so personally.

    Anyway ain’t you the guy who was saying Raul was similar to Inzaghi and wasn’t great technically?

  8. Dan Ahern

    It is embarrassing constantly looking back at old players. I get the feeling AW constantly assesses his squad in a vacuum and feels it’s good enough, before waking up to the reality everybody else sees. Amazing that we’re a club which can buy Özil and Sanchez, yet still be scrambling for emergency cover.

  9. Johnty79

    Size counts people. With Chris samba, we would never get out fought…matic,rameris, gutusso so, these are the types of players we need.

    Arteteta could be the worse player in the league right now. Him and diaby should retire and do the honest thing.

    Wilshere and Ramsay damage each other’s game when they play together.

  10. Goongoonergone

    Mr J
    I really rate Arsenal Truth as a top top blogger. Sadly, he is so fed up of that fraud masquerading as out manager, he hardly blogs about Arsenal nowadays, but some of the best critiques to ever come out against Wenger.

  11. follow the money

    Be prepared lads, as the press begins to pile on Wenger, he will not resign or change, he will begin to resemble Hitler in the bunker, thinking Sanogo is the ME 262 and will save him. Watch for him to start hitting on Bould, thinking he is Eva Braun

  12. gazzap

    The best thing we can do is get rid of Arteta and Diaby buy a proper DM and then play him with either Rambo or Jack, and use a number 10 behind a striker, plus a couple of wingers who are happy on the wing. It’s really not rocket science.

    I actually think in the absence of a proper DM, Chambers might be the best option we have right now. He is very comfortable on the ball. But no idea what his engine is like.

  13. Jeff

    You know we sometimes all try to look at it from a football perspective by saying lets get player x or y but when you come to think of it if Mr Magoo is going to be in charge, what bloody use is it. He will f*** it up – it’s his destiny.

  14. Dan Ahern

    gazzap — Chambers probably doesn’t have the pace for the position, but lord knows he has to be quicker than Arteta and the Flamster. Bigger frame too. He is very comfortable on the ball like you say, but I wonder if his passing is good enough. Really, at this point, can it hurt to try? He looks a natural footballer.

  15. Bamford13

    Was just watching a little of Everton v. Wolfsburg. Everton looked sharp, well-organized, well-managed and won 4-1.

    Was honestly thinking that Europa League is more Wenger’s level now. Not Arsenal’s level, mind you, but Wenger’s.

    Wenger out.

  16. kwik fit

    Sal LOL 🙂

    Jeff Mr Magoo 🙂

    Latest offering from Mr Magoo;

    Wenger: “Everyone speaks of the back four I inherited. Nobody speaks about Lauren, Touré, Campbell & Cole.”

  17. Jeff


    Listening to Wenger is like listening to a Bond villain trying to justify his madness. “Yes Mr Bond, I will kill everyone on the surface of the planet and live under the sea”.

  18. Relieable sauce

    It must be some like some giant white elephant in the dressing room, Arteta playing the DM…the lone DM…call him the pivot deep lying playmaker, whatever else you like. He is the least advanced of the central midfielders when we are in possession, so i think that pretty much makes him the DM, well in my completely unqualified eyes.
    Isn’t it painfully obvious that MA is just not suited to play this position? Not with the team set up the way it is anyway with JW & AR & not with both full backs being so cavalier.
    The whole squad must know this, Arteta must know this…Wenger must know this???
    & to top it all off he made him captain. ?!?!?

    Sacre bleu!!!

  19. TontonArsene

    Nice post. Arsenal played with the same midfield and forward than 3 days before in a tough game vs City when Dortmund started with two different strikers and a stronger midfield with Kagawa out and Bender in. These 3 players were subs in the game vs Fribourg. Dormund looked on fire. Arsenal looked tired. Klopp can anticipate. Wenger can not. Dortmund has depth in his squad. Arsenal has none. Klopp can save his players. Arsene … Same starting XI vs Aston Villa … Injury anyone?

  20. Johnty79

    In 2008 we lost the title because we sold diarra and didn’t keep sol Campbell.. That is the best balanced team we have had in his time at the club.

    Flamini flopped after February as he has done at every club. It’s embarrassing how you all excepted him back when he did the dirty on us.

  21. N5

    Bamford, I don’t think a single person has said Ozil has played just fine since the beginning of the season. Even his biggest defenders (myself, Cesc Appeal and Romford) have all agreed he’s in a slump and haven’t defended his last few matches.

  22. Bamford13


    Keyser and others have said he is playing just fine and that the criticism is overblown.

    Not that I pay really attention to Keyser’s posts, but there are a number of people on here saying Ozil has been playing fine.

  23. N5

    Really Bamford? I hadn’t noticed them. As much as I love Ozil, you don’t have to be a football expert to see there is an issue there right now.

  24. Arsene's Nurse

    N5 September 18, 2014 22:24:38

    Really Bamford? I hadn’t noticed them. As much as I love Ozil, you don’t have to be a football expert to see there is an issue there right now.
    How do you think Stephen Hawking would feel if he was forced to teach 5 year olds using the medium of dance?

    Ozil has been sold by his club – that’s a big fuck right off right there. He’s come into Arsenal as a superstar on the back of Wenger’s bullshit. He’ll have spent the first 2 months on the up and then realised what a shite set-up he’s joined. Then he’s been told he’ll play out wide in a shite formation that doesn’t work just because Wenger wants to squeeze his bestest buddies into the side.

    I’m not having a go at you, just using your own thoughts as a vehicle to show how people feel when they’ve been sold a pup:

    Hey N5 – I’m having a party next week and you are invited. In fact you are the top guest and everyone is dying to meet you. Everyone thinks you are the Bill Murray of parties. There are going to be top notch birds galore, the best champagne and more coke than John Belushi can snort in a week as well as a stream of DJs pumping out the tunes. You will love it, honest. 😉

    You are picked up at the airport by a limousine and driven to Chez Arsene’s Nurse. I take your coat, slap a nice drink in your hand and introduce you to a couple of blonde bimbos and my cousin with the lazy eye, but you feel great. You’re at a party and it’s about to get started – right?

    Then I lead you down the hallway open the cupboard under the stairs and shove you in it and lock the door. Every now and again the cupboard door opens and Paul Gascoigne takes a piss on you.

    Are you having a good time? Is there something wrong?

    Oi N5, it’s going mental out here, why are you having issues?

  25. Home for burned out pensioners

    It says a lot about Wenger, when 4 games into a new season AFC are looking for defenders on loan, most in here knew we were short in certain areas, defense being the most obvious, 6 in our first squad seemed a tad short to me, but the manager wanted to Forest Gump his way through again, just what he did with Giroud/strikers last season, if this last 3 years I will be very surprised

  26. Home for burned out pensioners

    He could have signed Ronaldo and Drogba, how long do we have to endure this fucking cockroach of a manager

  27. Nick

    I love a transfer rumor as well as anyone, but confident Arsene would turn him into a worse player with lack of tactical concept anyway. Ozil, Ramsey, Alexis going down hill because of lack of said concept on top of 4141 spatial flatness nd attacking third crowdedness. Fullbacks supply our width, so Klopp, Rodgers, Martinez, Pellegrini, Mourinho astutely send counterattacking runners straight down the right when both fullbacks are still upfield wondering who stole the ball from one of his many teammates spread along a crowded and flat line at about 30 yards from the opponent’s goal.

  28. Home for burned out pensioners

    The one who loses the ball more than anyone is Ox, he is a expert at losing it on the halfway line or just inside our half, then tries to look like he is making up for his error by scampering like a headless chicken back up field, getting there just in time to see the other team score, what a bunch of under coached flops, the 8 million pound man should hang his head in fucking shame

  29. Home for burned out pensioners

    8 of our players are up on the halfway line, only Per and Kos, plus the keeper are back, when you lose possession, and you always lose possession, the opponents stroll through our soft centre, both our fullbacks are up field, leaving Per and Kos to stem the fucking deluge that is enveloping them from all sides, their wingers, attacking mids and strikers are all over us like a rash, the predictable outcome is us conceding a goal, this happened to us 6 times against City and 6 times against Chelsea, and 5 times against Liverpool, and three times against Everton, you would think an educated man would get the message wouldn’t you, how come this dolt can’t

  30. Home for burned out pensioners

    This manager is going to have to reinvent the excuse book, he has used everyone ever imagined, surely he can’t use, it was an accident, we were tired, we were naive, we had no energy, the ref had a stinker, we had a tough game midweek, (that’s why you have a squad), we were unlucky with injuries, we were denied two clear penalties, it was never a red card, the player was unlucky to be sent off, the pitch was not up to standard, the rain hindered our passing game, the opposition didn’t play football, they had 11 men behind the ball, the officials were biased, we couldn’t find a way through because they parked the bus, we hit the post 3 times and missed a penalty, we were unlucky, oops, I used that one, we don’t like early kick offs, they kept fouling all game

    It is never HIS fault is it, it is never Arsene’s fault, he is the one getting 8 million quid a year and it’s never his fault, what a cunt

  31. Moray

    TYAG, yup it does seem that the tide is turning and people are waking up to the reality.

    Wenger has ridden his luck for years, yet always failed at the key moments. Even arguably the best Arsenal side in history underperformed continuously at the highest level.

    What is really pathetic is the way we turn up to the big games completely mentally defeated before the ball is kicked. If I was on the Arsenal BoD it is this that would worry me more than anything. In fact, it would make sense to just play a youth team in these big games, to avoid the inevitable morale sapping buttfucking defeats that we suffer time and time again (and injuries). Concentrate more on those games against lesser opposition that the manager seems to be up for.

  32. Moray

    Jeff, Britain’s best days are long behind it, like an old man with a handsome shadow. The cessation vote will probably trigger GB losing its permanent seat and right to veto in the UN Security Council.

    With a bit more planning and consideration, this vote could have been “yes”. Perhaps next time it will be. Particularly if there’s someone more convincing than Salmond fronting it.

  33. Jeff


    I was thinking of it more in terms of what it means for the people who actually live on these islands rather than what it means to the UK in wider world politics. As such, purely from a financial and security perspective, I believe it’s better for everyone to stay together. We need more unity in the world, not more division.

  34. Jeff


    Yeah but the Wenger people look at it from the other end – believing we could not have done any better under anyone else. In fact, we might even have been relegated had it not been for Mr Wenger. Stoop to your knees and worship he who must be obeyed. 😆

  35. ADKB

    Has anyone else seen the latest edition of the ODE? 🙂

    Arsène Wenger /aʁsɛn vɛŋ(ɡ)ɛʁ/ n [U] 1 specialist in mediocrity

    I’ve got over my recognition of the brilliance of Alex Ferguson, an old man who changed his ideas to match each generation he worked and was ridiculously successful at it. We’ve got a manager who has stagnated and become stuck in his time machine in the 1990s.

    And we’ve got the Martinezes, Klopps, Simeones – a fresh crop of the iManager generation.