Arsene Wenger’s final game at Old Trafford worked out in entirely predictable fashion.
We lost to a cloggers goal, Fellaini scoring a dirty late header.
We lost to Mourinho, which has been a thing.
Over a decade without winning at Old Trafford, which is shameful. We’ve one once there since 2004 in the league (I was there in 2004)
We stretched our horrific record of not winning away in 2018 out another game.
You can talk about how you were proud of the performance, but you’d be behaving as you’ve been conditioned to: like a total loser.
Arsene Wenger has taken us from a team that were so elite, it refused to lose a game in an entire league campaign, to a club in which the fan base were actually pretty pleased they didn’t concede 8. Where the faithful gushed about only losing by a late goal against an utter dross Manchester United side.
How low have we sunk?
I’m not going to tell you I didn’t enjoy the game, there were lots of positives I could take from the day. I just felt a little empty after.
Arsene Wenger wasn’t misunderstood, my campaign to oust him wasn’t off the mark, there will be no fairytale ending. We’re dealing with the cold hard realities of decline. In sport, no one cares about who you were, it only considers who you are. Arsene is an old man in a young man’s game, he’s a Luddite who overstayed his time in the elite lounge, he’s been indignant about progress, he even admitted as much.
“It was like when you’re driving along the road,”
“You have to be aware of somebody coming up in your wing mirror, trying to overtake you.”
Too true. Now we’re paying for it, as is Wenger’s legacy.
I wanted him to go out with a bang, but he’s going out in utterly humiliating fashion. The fans don’t care for him, the players aren’t interested in playing for him, and his legacy has been so damaged, the first thing people will say for years to come is…
‘Well, which part shall we talk about, pre or post-2004’
There are some positives though, and I do want to wax some lyrical goodness on a couple of players.
Firstly, AMN. That boy is my new drug. I’ve been calling for him in the middle of the park since he burst onto the scene. He landed his chance there and he was immense. He played a box to box role and he was electric. We knew he had the physical attributes our midfield has been crying out for, what we weren’t sure about was whether he could play. Boy, did he show us how he could play. He’s a thinker, building plays before the ball arrives, he’s strong, he looks level-headed and he has that recovery pace you need to play in an Arsenal setup that’s clueless about cover. He was really good today and looks the real deal. Get that man a proper coach and watch him fly.
Mavrapanos made his Premier League debut, he’s the first real signing off the Mislintat era. The Greek defender put in a rock-solid performance. He looked comfortable on the ground, he was strong in the air and he gave the team confidence. I really was excited to see him in the team. One for the future, no doubt. Still not quite sure why Sven is eyeing Sokratis this summer, unless he’s like a very expensive Remi Garde to help bed in Mavrapanos?
The bad eggs were still there. David Ospina is the goalkeeping equivalent of Graham Poll, when things get heavy, he makes it all about himself. Flapping for crosses, faking an injury, making unusual decisions. He really is a bang average keeper. An elite name would have kept that Fellaini header out, no doubt. Who do we start away in Madrid? A tough decision. We have two badly out of form keepers.
Xhaka is another horror show of a player. I called it this week amongst the buzz around his paper stats. Context is king, there’s a reason people on the internet don’t work with data. The Swiss doesn’t cut it. He nearly found himself sent off for two dopey challenges (the Sanchez stamp was nasty), he gave the ball away early on, and his slide tackle was atrocious for United’s first goal. Even his assist was a product of him giving the ball away earlier in the move. I’ll take it, but let’s not whack skippy over a bit of good luck. He doesn’t have the pace, concentration or desire to defend to make it with us.
On the positive side of things, I think we can all agree that Mikki is a good player. His goal was great, some of his touches were incredible, and his silky runs were a sight to behold. I really like him, hopefully he’s available for the game this Thursday.
The key conclusion of the Old Trafford day trip was predictability. You knew what was going to happen. The team are mentally weak from top to bottom, the players don’t truly believe in themselves because the club has no philosophy, and the output is nailed on. Moving forward, you might grow to miss that, because the new person we’ll sign will have a different approach. We’ll lose at Old Trafford again, no doubt, but we’ll go there armed with the right thinking and the right players. Arsenal is about to enter a new era built for the big occasion. I for one, cannot wait.
On the managerial front, there’s a German forum that reckons Nagelsmann is off limits this season as he has a tight contract. He was fishing for attention from big clubs as an ego push because he’s basically a child. That thought runs counter to the Guardian article I posted yesterday that says Hoffenheim won’t stand in the way of a super club. Also, be real, this is a tiny German club, we have enough money to make it worth their while if we do go in that direction.
Bad news on Nagelsmann, it would seem. From a forum. pic.twitter.com/DdEcJGB7qd
— Le Grove (@LeGrove) April 29, 2018
Rapha confirmed the story.
broadly correct but actually more simplistic: He’s out to contract in 2019 and has no release clause before. Hoffenheim unwilling to let him go, have allegedly quoted fantasy figures (€50m) to ward off interest from Bundesliga clubs. — Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) April 29, 2018
if it was a negotiation tactic, it failed. because BVB (and Bayern before) quickly started looking elsewhere. as a aside, I think Nagelsmann is far to clever to take the Arsenal job right now. still has so much to learn, as EL campaign showed.
— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) April 29, 2018
Sarri’s Napoli totally bottled Serie A losing 3-0 to Fiorentina, with Simeone’s son bagging a great hattrick.
A manager I was all over earlier in the year – one Ivan spoke to last season – is now facing the sack. Ralph Hassenhutl will not be getting a new deal after failing this year. Amazing how quickly your stock can drop. Leipzig now looking at the RB Salzberg coach, Marco Rose. The same club has an assistant who started life as a blogger… not that I’d ever throw my name in the ring for Arsenal, but Ivan, if you’re reading, let’s fucking do this bruh.
Jokes aside, remember I was all over that Dortmund fitness coach (who had Klopp’s team firing), Oliver Bartlett, who is another guy who made it into the Red Bull mix back in the day. There’s no doubt, if you want a Sporting Director to lift the playing side, that’s Ralph Rangnick. What a beast.
There are reports coming out of Spain that we’re interested in the Shaktar coach, Paulo Fonseca. Balague also thinks we’re interested in Bielsa and his old assistant Berrizo.
Don’t be put off by the people dropping out the race, the club are in a great position to hire someone incredible. Conte, Sérgio Conceição, Tuchel, Tedesco, Favre, Carlo are all still available. I still worry that we’re going to jump for the Italian who turned down the Italian national team because he had a club in mind.
My big worry is Patrick Vieira. My gut feel says if we go curveball, it’s Arteta. My head says we should be going for Jardim.
Let’s see where this managerial game goes… but damn, take a moment to lap this up, the dream is no longer a fantasy. We’re really f*cking doing this… what a moment.
Also, be aware, the club hasn’t made a choice. There are so many names because they want the world to guess. We’re taking our time and it appears there are favourites, but everyone is still under consideration.
See you in the comments, listen to our podcast, I have two old school Le Grover’s on this week, SalParadisenyc and Dan Ahern. Tune in.