I’m lapping up the hottakes on whether Arsenal can win the Europa League. Ballague reckons there are some positives, mostly highlighting that they have a threadbare squad and have had some issues defensively. Dennis Wise reckons we have a good chance, I’m struggling to take him seriously.
I think the biggest worry is Wenger teeing up the press with excuses before we’ve started. His line of attack is focused on player fatigue. If we go to the final, it’ll be 61 odd games this season.
“Fatigue is a little bit of a concern,” said Wenger. “You look at [Manchester] City and they look a bit like that in the second half of games recently. I do rotate much as I can. Unfortunately, some players have to play all the games.
“It is very difficult. Not only are you physically very jaded but also you are under huge pressure each time to win the game. It is mentally maybe tougher than physically.”
I’m struggling to buy this. Arsenal had the luxury of one game a week most of the season. The League Cup wasn’t a priority until the final. The FA Cup failed at the first hurdle. The Europa League has been a second string affair until the knockouts.
Not only that. It’s also worth noting we have a £200m squad propping up this half-baked campaign. We shouldn’t be putting up excuses around fatigue. Wenger shouldn’t be giving the players a pass we know they’re more than capable of taking. The manager should be firing up our chances in the press, not trying to craft a plucky underdog narrative.
I think he knows this is going to be very, very tough. He has to hedge his bets, and hope Josh and Stan are so ignorant about this season, they take his excuses and let him have another go next season. In my humble opinion, I really think the best we’ll land out of this is maybe a one leg victory… or going out on away goals.
Still, it’s hard to gauge what this means for his future. Jeremy Wilson ran an article with a title suggesting his career is on the line, but had no substance in the body copy. It’s telling that the only two journos with skin in the game on his future are Honigstein and Laurens who both say he’s staying.
If Wenger goes out to Atleti, there is no story. There are no excuses. It has to be over.
Unreal that it likely won’t be. If you haven’t seen the Juve doco on Netflix, I implore you to do so. It’s a bit cheesy/American, but damn, it’s good. It shows the absolute gulf between Arsenal and Juve. As a club, we have no culture for winning. There is no pressure. When you watch how seriously the Italians take it, it’s inspiring. All the players talk about the immense levels of pressure placed on them to succeed. The CEO has the players in his garden in preseason and he lays down the law about expectations.
Can you imagine Ivan doing that?
The next manager can’t just be a great thinker, he has to be a change agent. Someone who can create a new culture at the club, stump out the averageness, and regear us for the next 10 years.
Allegri would be perfect. The right age, fantastic experience and a huge presence.
We can but dream…
(written in an iPhone on the red eye)