Well, well, well… nothing quite says ‘football is a game for stupid people’ quite like reacting to the fam offering you a ticket to the cup final… then 14minutes later weighing out £2000 for a flight back to London on Wednesday. Has to go down as the most ridiculous purchase of 2017, but whatever. All the most important life moments have been tightly geared around big Arsenal moments. So fuck it, money well spent.
As for the Everton game yesterday, bit of a weird one, I have to say.
On the face of it, belting Everton at home has to be viewed as a success. It was a pretty easy game, but weirdly open and fun. The only thing that ruined it was Arsene Wenger.
Before I jump into the real story of the day, it’s worth making a few points about the game.
Michael Oliver had a nightmare. He sent off Koscielny really early, which in fairness was absolutely the right thing to do. Our best defender lunged into a challenge that was reckless and dangerous, drawing a straight red. I can’t for the life of me understand why he engaged in such a tackle in a match that was pretty much a dead rubber. At his age, you can’t help but think that’s one of the most regrettable things he’s done as a professional. He’ll miss the cup final, and in the process, he’ll have reduced our chances of success by 20%. Really f*cking dim. He’s a massive player for us, but juxtaposed against genuine Arsenal greats, he’s lacking. Consistently making bad decision in pivotal moments.
The ref then insisted on making sure he only punished us moving forward, letting Everton get away with murder for the rest of the day. Really bizarre.
Things then got worse, Gabriel, the least intelligent defender we’ve ever possessed made a similarly over enthusiastic lunge at a player, busting a muscle in the process catching his leg under himself. He looked in desperate pain, and I felt for him… but then felt for myself, because we’re heading into an FA Cup final with 2 senior defenders out, depending on Rob Holding (who gave away a penalty) and Mustafi to shore up our backline.
The rest of the game was fine. We took the lead early on, Ozil playing in a perfect ball to Welbeck on the six yard box, he fluffed his lines badly, but Bellerin was on hand to bury his embarrassment.
The second goal was a bit odd, Sanchez hit a shot at an Everton player, the ball deflected into the run of Welbeck. Everyone thought he was offside, he didn’t, then played rolled the ball to Sanchez who passed the ball into the near post for number 2.
Petr Cech made a number of cool saves to keep things respectable in the second half. We wanted to keep it fun, even though it was clear Boro were tanking to Liverpool. Rob Holding handled in the area. The super unimpressive Lukaku drilled his penalty past Cech, and it was kind of game on.
… well, until Aaron Ramsey, a player deep in a coma this season… finally woke to curl a Bergkamp-esque screamer home late on. Nice to see our players come alive at the death when it doesn’t mean anything.
The game ended, we dropped out of the CL for the first time in 20 years. The curtain finally drew on a manager who has been dodging failure for 8 years.
So what was interesting post game?
The excuses. I told you a few weeks ago that Wenger would throw the kitchen sink and his nan under the bus if it meant he could hold onto his job. It didn’t take long for him to do the rounds with the press, making sure no excuse was left unshared.
Here are a few I found interesting.
Lap of shame: Wenger hid in the tunnel. He didn’t fancy facing the fans after the game. He said he wanted the focus to be on his babies who ‘deserved’ the lap. Firstly, no one deserved anything this year. They’ve all been garbage. Secondly, he actually hid from the fans. People calling that classy need to stop being so pathetic. He hid from the fans because he knows they don’t love him anymore. He couldn’t face us. So all the talk of fan fury being ‘minority’ groups was a big fat lie, he knows the relationship is broken. Does that not make his position untenable?
‘It didn’t help me but I’m experienced enough to deal with it, but I think it was a big handicap for the team and the players.
‘They played in a very hostile environment.”
“Psychologically the atmosphere was absolutely horrendous. It has been difficult, yes, and certainly my personal situation has contributed to that but you can never question my professionalism or commitment.”
Firstly, apportioning any blame on the fans is such bad form. Secondly, not understanding his own role in the toxic atmosphere at the ground is quite staggering. Sport exists for the fans, if you’re not making them happy, that sits with no one else outside the person orchestrating the team on the pitch. Staggering disdain for people who have put up with his shit for 10 years. Also, a wet kipper to his own face, because that’s all on him.
As for the professionalism malarkey, I don’t even know where to start. Who cares mate? It’s about results. You didn’t deliver. Guilting people by aping ‘CLASS’… ‘RESPECT’… ‘I GAVE MY LIFE FOR THIS’… dodges the issue at hand, in elite sport, it’s only about results and he hasn’t delivered again.
‘For the book’:
‘Some other reasons we will talk about on another day’
Now we’re talking about things that supposedly happened in January (I can’t get the story, but there is one). Whatever it was, it happened in his kingdom. So it’s on him. Diego Costa kicked up a massive stink about China around that time, what happened to Chelsea? Nothing. They broke the PL win record.
The technical department:
“It is not his fault we didn’t reach the Champions League tonight, it is the technical department’s responsibility for that.
“A club works when everybody does their job and we live in a society where everybody has an opinion and what moves society forward is when we work and not talk too much.”
First time we’ve heard him land punches at his backroom team, and this was certainly a heavy blow. But again, I’ve been tearing those guys a new one for 8 years. Who hired them? Wenger. Who keeps them in a job? Wenger. Who has gone to war to ensure he’s surrounded by garbage people? Wenger.
He can’t pick holes in his technical team, because that means he’s picking holes in himself.
For a man so insistent on having ABSOLUTE POWER, it’s very odd how little responsibility he wants to take for his failings?
“I think this group of players is good enough to come back. They have learned a lot. They have gone through a very difficult period this season and they’ve bounced back in a strong way. And I think that will help them absolutely next season,”
“But first I think we have to keep 90 percent of these players together, and find one or two more players who strengthen the group. But we don’t need a lot, we don’t need many. But you need, maybe, top quality.”
He will never learn. Here’s the stickler for me, does he even care about winning? If he did, would he look at the current squad and say it’s one or two away? It’s embarrassing he thinks it’s about players. It’s not, it’s about him. We could sign 3 worldies, under Wenger, it’d mean nothing.
The manager is a survivalist first and foremost. If he was a winner, he’d have the best backroom team. He’d be experimenting with the latest ideas. He’d be at the forefront of the game, desperately trying to make a model work. He’s not though, is he? His model is this: How do I make what I already have work again… without a single person questioning my authority.
It’s not possible. We need new ideas. New staff. A stronger culture. Some dissent in the ranks. Wenger will never bring that to the club. That’s why he should leave.
“The most amazing thing about him is this: he has come through a forest of criticism for months now, and has never bowed. He has seen it right through, he has shown a determination, a stubbornness. I think when you look at that, it’s a quality, and I’m not sure they’ll ever get another manager like that.
“It’s quite easy to say ‘Get rid of him’, but who do you get? Who do you get in to keep that club the way they are for the next 20 years?
“I really feel sorry for him because I think he’s shown outstanding qualities, and I think he has handled the whole situation. I don’t know many that have done that.”
I mean, one of the all time greats talking there. But seriously, this is a man who hired David Moyes, then replaced him with the equally atrocious Van Gaal, then replaced him with his devil protege, Mourinho. Ferguson can’t fathom who could replace Wenger, because he hasn’t been able to replace himself. Celebrating stubborn vision, when it’s ended in failure is really poor in my eyes. Congratulating him on suffering criticism when he’s raking in £8m a year just reeks of a rich old man being out of touch with the real world.
All the ‘sacking managers doesn’t work’ talk kind of stinks, because Chelsea are the dominant Premier League side of the decade and they tear through managers.
Something is brewing guys, and the next 3 weeks are going to be pretty exciting. We’re seeing Usmanov leaking to the press and we know his people know that other buyers are coming for the club. But here is the reality, it’s very unlikely a man who doesn’t need the money, is going to sell the club. Especially before a big content player steals the Premier League rights from Sky and BT. That’ll inflate the value of AFC another 50%.
Issues with the stale owner aside, the major problem affecting our success is Wenger. If you moved him to one side, brought in someone with a vision and a philosophy fit for the age, we’d be golden.
Shifting the focus away from Wenger doesn’t help the cause. It might make you feel better, but here’s the thing… Stan’s worst trait is being too loyal to Wenger. Any other owner would have had him out years ago. What’s great though is this mess might force Stan into being a better owner. Maybe it’ll impact the board meeting. Maybe it’ll force Stan into injecting money into the club. Maybe it’ll make him pay attention.
As for Arsene, what’s his deal? He knows the fans don’t like him. He knows he can’t compete with the better managers. He knows his backroom team are shite. Who the fuck would sign up for more of that?
I bet he’s not made up his mind, because only a psychopath could deal with this situation without being deeply hurt.
Let’s hope he realises this is a nonsense. Maybe he’ll walk away of his own accord?
We can but dream… but no one knows, so let’s see where this plays out from here.
P.S. We’re recording The Arsenal Opinion tonight and we want your view.
How do you feel about 5th?
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