Happy Christmas Eve to all you beautiful folk. I hope all your dreams come true tonight… you know, the ‘please don’t take the sherry too far and ruin tomorrow’ type dreams. I’m praying for that. Hopefully the bad home friends aren’t about tonight, otherwise it could be mad trouble…
So, Arsene, you keep doing it… you keep dropping serious clangers in the press conferences that just further the fear you may not know what you’re doing.
Firstly, you’ve admitted to overplaying Chambers. I mean, this one’s a given. We all knew that was going to happen because you bagged out £15m on him. He was never going to get an easy ride. He was always nailed on for 500 starts in his first three months. Injuries happen, sure. But they always happen. Every single year they happen. Which is why it’s ever the more perplexing we went into the season with 6 senior defenders.
I like the general reasoning… ‘we only sign Arsenal class’… it’s great way of making the fans feel warm and fuzzy about inaction.
‘Mate, we didn’t sign anyone again’
‘End of the day, what would you have preferred, a player, or an Arsenal class player? Exactly. I’d prefer to wait until January, when it’s harder to sign an Arsenal class player’
It’s a myth. There’s no such thing as an Arsenal class player. If you set the Arsenal class barrier, you have to adherre to it. Flamini is not Arsenal class, Sanogo is not Arsenal class, Seb Squillaci wasn’t Arsenal class, Kim Kallstrom was not Arsenal class. Let’s put the class systems to one side and just sign some players who can provide a function. We didn’t need Arsenal class at centre back. Not every Chelsea player is Chelsea class. Not every United player when they won the league was United class. Sometimes you just need a squad. Lescott was a free transfer in the summer, he’d have done nicely. Winston Reid is a very solid defender and a contract rebel, he’d have done nicely. Fabian Delph (contract rebel) is a very good midfielder who could have come in and done a very good job in that holding role, far more interesting than Flamini, far fitter and mobile than Arteta. Ron Vlaar is another, he’s on a free this summer, we could have picked him up for a pittance.
There are so many options that don’t seem ‘Arsenal class’, but could easily do the job an empty squad number couldn’t.
For me, with the centre back role, we should be aiming for super class with a back up. We should have been shooting for a Hummels type player in the summer. If we were going for a kid, that Varane guy at Madrid would have fit the bill (apparenlty they’ll sell)… or even John Stones, who’d have been pricey but he certainly looks a very good player.
Point is, there’s no excuse for not having a squad with depth when you have the resource Arsenal do. Look at the wastage as well. What’s the point of keeping Campbell, Podolski and Rosicky in the squad if you don’t need them? I mean, even when we need them we don’t use them. So what’s the point? Bomb them out, bring in some spare cash and utilise that £200k a week in a smarter way.
I listened to the Guardian Football Weekly, Rafa Honigstein (easily the best pundit about) absolutely nails the English mentality when it comes to making excuses… ‘English football will never learn if the attitude is always ‘we need one or two better players’. You need to coach players until they are better than the sum of their parts. Only one or two coaches do that in England’.
I love this, because it’s true. In the real world, you don’t always have the option of unlimited budgets. In fact, you never do. Businesses up and down the country are always trying to better themselves by being bigger than the sum of their parts. Mainly because businesses up and down the country aren’t allowed wage bills that equate to 70% of their revenue, but also because you have to be smart to win out against mega brands. Small companies don’t move to medium sized companies by being average compared to mega companies… they do it by being smarter, more nimble and more innovative. Arsenal are a mega brand, we don’t need to work half as hard to compete as Dortmund did. Yet we still don’t, and we just accept it because we can’t compete with Chelsea for players (which is a myth these days).
Arsenal fans have forever forgiven Arsene Wenger under the premise of, ‘a couple more players and we’d be challenging’… so you always have hope. A couple of players doesn’t change the tactical set up. A couple of players doesn’t change the way we approach fitness. A couple of players doesn’t change the culture of the club behind the scenes.
All a couple of players does is give you hope as a fan.
Football fans always look for the single reason for the failings of a club. It’s human nature, scapegoat mentality. Truth is, there’s rarely a single failing, it’s lots of little failings than make up the ultimate fail. It’s the same with winning. There’s rarely a single reason for a team winning all the time. Sure, you could cite Lio Messi at Barca… but he’s merely and exceptional catalyst. Under Guardiola, they had ruthless preparation, they had exceptional players complimenting him. They rarely had injuries. Their approach to fitness was not of this planet. The culture of the club was built around being the best. Every single player had total respect for their leader.
Winning is getting the baseline right and adding the percentage points on top that put you above the competition. Marginal gains is king.
Scapegoat mentality kind of works under the Arsene regime, why? Because he has ultimate control of the players side. At Barca, they don’t operate an autocratic regime. At Arsenal, we do. You can point the finger of blame on the CEO, but we know he doesn’t have control over Wenger. You could point the finger at Stan, because he allows it to happen, but again, he has little idea of what’s going on. So if you want to solve the main problems at the club, you have to change the one person who controls all of the parts that make up the failure.
For Christmas, I’d love our manager to open up a box of introspection. I’d love for him to realise that his approach is doomed to fail. I’d love him to take time out to ask what people at the club thought was going wrong. Take a back seat, let the team below you come up with a plan of attack. Do something radical, because doing it the Arsene way has run it’s course… doing it the Arsene way with more expertise… well, that might have some legs. But it all starts with him. He has to empower his staff and his team to be better.
Chances of that happening? Slim my dears. But you can always hope. I read a Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge had it all, but he turned a bit dark in his old age. But maybe visits from the ghosts of Herbert Chapman, David Dein and the ghost of Christmas Past (Blackburn 97), Present (Liverpool last week) and future (what the club could be if he listened and learned)… could bring him back.
Wouldn’t that be fabulous? F*ck yeah it would be!
Right, it’s Christmas Eve, crack open a beer, open someone elses Christmas present for a laugh and have a bloody great day and evening.
Oh, and if you are of a different culture, I believe I must say HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
BIG LOVE FROM LE GROVE xxx