Absent for so much of this horrible period for the club, which really makes me sad. Weird not to be in the mix, even if the mix is miserable.
Anyway, grim result last night. Not just grim because we lost, more so because Arsenal fans are so battered by Wenger’s viscous assault on our standards that we now applaud a good 5-1 loss in the last 16 of the champions league. This is a tournament in which we’ve played 8 and lost 5. This is the 6th year in a row we’ve dropped out of last 16. The 3rd or 4th time we’ve taken solace in admirable fight in the second game away leg. When the pressure is off, it’s easy to put on a good show… even though I find it very difficult to accept you put in a good show losing 3-1.
Barca are artists, a team of mesmeric talent, one of the greatest… but Olympiacos and Zagreb are not. We lost there as well. We’re not moving forward as a club, we’re in a rapid decline now and the whole thing feels like the longest car crash of all time. One I can’t get out of… like that scene in Groundhog Day when he’s trying to kill himself in the car but keeps waking up.
Wenger is making this even worse, parallels of Sepp Blatter in his final days… Incredulous at criticism, proclamations of deity like proportions and an embarrassing lack of self awareness. We’ve entered footballing purgatory. A manager who can’t see he’s dying, an owner who is on record saying that titles are less important than the the business side of the game.
STAN: business lesson from marketing man to billionaire (LOL). If you invest in creating winning teams, you increase your brand equity. Brand equity makes you more appealing to consumers (people who spend money, ask your wife about them). If consumers find you appealing, brands will want to be associated with you. Manchester United have £100m more in sponsorship a season for one reason and one reason only.
THEY WON ALL THE TITLES.
Also, let’s drill down even further. You don’t have to invest hideously to create winning teams. Leicester are a profitable entity and they look like being a winning one. Small club efficiencies with better players (not even great), what a combo.
So let’s cut the business angle bullshit. If you don’t get that a good football business is a winning one, we really are fucked in the long term.
Worst thing about Wenger is he’ll likely have a direct line into Stan over Gazidis. Because our property mogul friend doesn’t understand the game and cares little about ambitiously growing the business, Wenger becomes the perfect candidate. Wenger is the stasis bet for Stan… but he can’t see what’s coming and he’s too rich to be forward thinking about protecting his asset by combatting the decline of its power.
You look at Arsenal last night and you understand why we’re so far behind. Our players aren’t good enough to start with, but worse… We are predictable now more than ever before. I’ve always banged the drum of analysis and how everyone is so far ahead of us. We did make minor progress. Now we look at bigger teams, we’re having more luck, but look… ‘Bigger’ teams are now easy low hanging fruit because smaller teams copy their approach and analyse back (actually, small teams started the analysis game, they just got better players to activate the plans). Chelsea and their undoing happened because they played the same team every game and they played the same way. Teams knew who they’d face and how they’d play… and they were duly obliterated this season (watch out Leicester).
Look how Pep is working Bayern as an example of forward thinking. He knew that teams were sussing out his game… so if teams learn how you play, you have to do something wild. Learn many ways to play. I read that Pep sometimes changes his system 4 times in a game. His teams have 8 styles they can adopt and switch to at any time. He played 2 at the back and 5 up top at one point this season! Teams can’t prep against that. Pep is taking a Patriots approach to football. The NFL team doesn’t have a style, they reset their approach for every game. It’s almost impossible to plan against them.
How many times do Arsenal change their system? I mean, what, three times a year? Do we EVER surprise teams? There is no dynamism in our set up. There is no vision. No forward thinking. Just a 4-2-1-3 that we operate to EVERY game. Teams know about our weaknesses and the good ones suss us. We could compete if we had a modern approach or even the awareness to deal with this. But wenger isn’t looking at the weaknesses. He doesn’t care to understand why we keep getting tanked in Europe. He won’t look at what Leicester are doing. He won’t speak to his players and ask what they know about other clubs and their processes.
Wenger says he’s driven, but he’s driven by the wrong things. He doesn’t care to evolve his thinking. He’s too arrogant to think younger managers are better than him. His just not interested in educating himself. When a man loses that innate curiosity that advances ones craft, he might as well give up. Wenger isn’t curious, he’s not interested in anyone but himself, he’s driven by preservation and a throwback to the good old days.
We don’t surprise. We lack flexibility. We have no internal checks to stop the rot.
If Wenger had any pride he’d quit this summer, but he doesn’t, this club is his, opinions of others don’t count, the fans are a joke and at the end of the day, he built us so he basically is Arsenal.
What a fucking horrible situation we’re in. I’ve never felt so hopeless about a sporting situation… Hopefully Wenger does the right thing and Gazidis can make this better when he goes.
More on that tomorrow.
Have a nice day.
P.S. Nice goal from Elneny. Makes you wonder what Wenger was thinking not playing him when we needed a long distance ball playing DM at the start of January.
(Penned in an iPhone on a plane, apologies for typos)