I don’t know where to go with these posts. Everyone knows my feelings on the manager. Most agree. Then they don’t. Then we win two games. Then we rally round the manager like winning two games means he’s back. Then we disappoint again and the cycle continues.
It’s not getting any better. I don’t mean that in the sense that we won’t piece together a winning run. I mean in the sense that there’s a top out for the manager. There’s a glass ceiling he’s getting further and further away from. He’s just not a very good at his job these days. He doesn’t see the game in the way he should. He doesn’t have the tools in his locker to kick us on. You can hope he’ll change. You can hope this is just a blip. You can pray all you like. Facts are these… he’s dead as an elite manager. He’ll always disappoint you.
Don’t ask for the manager of 2004, because that’s what you have… a man who let power convince him change wasn’t needed.
Occam’s Razor… states, that on a basic level, if there are competing explanations as to why something occurs the way it does, you should pick the one that relies on the least assumptions and is thus the simplest. Some will say it’s too simplistic. Which is can also be true. This is the beauty. You can look at the simplest assumption, or you can deep dive. Like… you could say that Wenger’s success in the early days was down to George Graham having the core of a team that was drilled so all Wenger had to do was layer brilliant players over the top of them. You could also say that Wenger owned the 2004 team which proved he was a total genius. Point here is that it’s very difficult to pick out what makes a success, the environment, the luck of the player groupings or what the new manager inherited.
Nowadays, however you splice it, the conclusion is always the same. Arsene Wenger sits at the heart of everything at Arsenal. He’s the most settled manager by about 4.5 times. He has money. He’s on record as saying he demands total control. He makes all the decisions. We haven’t lost a major player in 2 years.
When you control everything, you have to take the hit when things go wrong. Admittedly, it’s taken 10 years to get to this point. It’s been a slow burn regression, but it’s a regression that could have been halted years ago with some spark or passion for change.
I read this in Creativity Inc, and it’s telling.
‘Why would anyone want to change a system in ways that would endanger – or even eliminate – one’s own job?
Self interest guides opposition to change, but lack of self-awareness fuels it even more. Once you master any system, you typically become blind to its flaws; even if you can see them, they appear far too complex and intertwined to consider changing. But to remain blind is to risk becoming the music industry, in which self interest (trying to protect short term gains) trumped self awareness (few people realize that the old system was about to be over taken altogether). Industry executives clung to their outdated business model – selling albums – until it was too late and file sharing and iTunes had turned everything upside down.’
Lack of self-awareness – A manager who watches more football than anyone not recognising the flaws in his side compared to other sides that regularly expose them
Protect short term gains – Set your goal as Champions League football qualification, rather than winning a major trophy
Cling to outdated model – Trying to win in 2014 with 2004 approach to transfers, scouting, tech, fitness and recovery
Arsenal are all about self interest. Why would Ivan rock the boat, he’s the best paid CEO on the planet and he’s rewarded without having to pressure the manager or make any major decisions. Why would Wenger work with Shad Forsythe who could expose him as having inferior knowledge and force him to sack his favoured fitness coach of 15 years? Why wouldn’t you sack Steve Rowley, a man who couldn’t find a centre back last summer nor a defensive midfielder in two years? Because he’s your boy. What reason would you have for keeping Gerry Peyton on board as one of the least impressive keeping coaches in the league? He’s one of the boys. The circle of friends that protect your power. Because the worst thing for a power hungry person would be someone breaching that circle, exposing negligence and forcing uncomfortable change when the appetite for upheaval isn’t there.
There’s no consequence in breaching the status quo. Vanilla is applauded. So why rock the boat? If the environment provided doesn’t incentivise change monetarily or career wise. Why rock it?
Arsenal FC are blind. They’re arrogant. They think the ‘top 4’ gravy train will continue to roll on forever. No one pushes for more. No one seems to ask questions. No one is putting any pressure on anyone because everything at Arsenal is about preservation and self interest.
Yesterday’s game was an appalling yet typical showcase of where we are as a club. The first half was abysmal. I’ve no idea what the possession was but it was low. We were being outrun, out fought and out thought by a very average Liverpool side. Somehow we went in at half time one apiece. The second half didn’t really improve, but we managed to snatch a goal with some lovely play between Santi and Giroud.
You think, ok, so we’re stealing this game here, absolutely stealing it. Liverpool played an extra game in the week, they won’t be able to maintain that level of energy for the rest of the game. So let’s just close it out.
Chambers, clearly having an appalling game at full back was being exposed time and time again. Liverpool set up knowing how bad he was going to be on the ball. They were letting him have it then pressing him because they knew he’d give it away. That much was clear at halftime. Did anyone notice a tactical intervention? I didn’t. No support for a kid being thrown to the wolves. Then Liverpool made a change and pushed Sterling outwide to harass him. Did we react? Did we double up on him? Did we support a teenager clearly struggling? Of course we didn’t.
Liverpool brutalised us down that side time and time again. No reaction. No plan for keeping things tight. Instead we just let them come at us, we kept on giving Liverpool the space to let Sterling run at us. No thinking. Then a corner, deep in stoppage time comes. Everyone back in the Arsenal box, so Liverpool were invited on (they had ten men for fucks sake), ball flies at the back post nice and flat, Skrtel has a 7 yard run at it, Chambers doesn’t track a man he can see, Mertesacker ducks the ball goes in at the post, Gibbs doesn’t race to cover the post or clear the ball… and there it is.
Where are we at as a club where we miss so many of the basics? Who is training Gibbs? Who has told him that his mistakes are so frequent, he’ll be gone if he doesn’t buck up his ideas? Who is pulling Mertesacker to one side and lambasting his poor communication this season?
Who is accountable on the pitch?
35% posession, our lowest since opta started recording the statistic. We conceded 27 shots. We conceded another lead.
What is this? We haven’t shown any promise and it’s December. We don’t look capable of pulling anything together. We’re an absolute shower and the manager doesn’t know what to do.
I know people think I have a thing for Rodgers, and look, I think he’s a very good manager. He’s lost two major players and he’s struggling. What I like about him is he’s experimenting with different line ups, different systems and you can see that he’s constantly assessing the mess he’s in trying to get out. I like Rodgers because he’s not tied to an ideology or a way of doing things. Liverpool absolutely destroyed us yesterday and they played an extra game. We have no excuse there. Not one.
Giroud was awful most of the game despite contributing to the score. His control is appalling at times as was some of his passing. WELBZ just looks like a really big guy who steams around the pitch, he showed no class yesterday. Oxlade looks like an inexperienced kid. Sanchez had a terrible game (when he’s off colour, where are we?). Flamini looks average because he is. The only bright spark was Chezzer, but then you remember his run out of the box where he missed the ball and you’re reminded he’s just as off key as the rest of them.
Matches like these are excusable when there’s an alternative. For me, these games happen too often. The same mistakes hashed out with different personnel. Never a new solution put forward. More injuries, more points lost at top teams, more tactical ineptness, more terrible substitutions and more players who look bright when they join fading into Arsenal malaise.
Arsenal aspire to be the best on the planet. They have that painted onto the walls around the stadium. They talk about it in AGMs. Ivan told me they want to be like Bayern. If Arsenal want to do that, Wenger isn’t the man. If he’s not the man to take us to those levels, then what are we waiting for? Why fear change?
Finally, because this question / criticism always comes post me writing something like this:
‘Who would you take as a manager? Didn’t y0u suggest Klopp?’
‘For many people, changing course is also a sign of weakness, tantamount to admitting that you don’t know what you’re doing. This strikes me as particularly bizarre – personally. I think the person who doesn’t change their mind is dangerous. Steve Jobs was known for changing his mind instantly in the light of new facts, and I don’t know anyone who thought he was weak’
That’s from Ed Catmull, one of the main men from Pixar. Point here is this, don’t let your argument for change be dictated by how managers come into flavour and drop out. Let it be dictated by the facts. Wenger hasn’t been flavour of the month for 10 years. He’s outdated. He’s never going to innovate again. He didn’t make Barcelona’s final three shortlist in 2007 because he didn’t meet their criteria. He’s never going to dictate the direction of the modern game again. Those are the facts.
Someone else will though. Who is that person? I don’t know. But when you have a job spec loaded with as many attributes as we do, you have the best chance of unearthing that person. Full stadium, London location, brand new training facilities, consistent cashflow that allows us to buy big, a low baseline of success along with a board that afford a lot of power. It’s the dream job.
Who could the new man be? Klopp is bombing big time right now, but he’s lost major players and the game has moved on a level, but he might get that spark back with new players. Simeone seems to be the man who has things right at the moment, but his success might be down to a fluke out with his batch of players. Tomas Tuchel was doing great things at Mainz but he might mess up his next role. There are no guarantees in what the next manager might do, but one thing is for sure, give me a new project, give me a new energy… give me something more inspiring than the constant vanilla rerun we suffer predictably every year.
‘Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’
That’s all I want from my club…