by .

Well, here we are, looking over a wrecked start to the season trying to work out if what we’re seeing is a disaster predicated on a severe mitigating circumstance or a mitigating circumstance that has given cover to a disaster already unfolding.

There are a few worries that I have post-Chelsea game and actually, one of them comes from reading Mike McDonald’s yesterday.

‘I saw Arteta refuse to address a simple tactical issue on Chelsea’s right and I saw what I fear will be his downfall, a lack of humility. None of this has anything to do with unfortunate circumstances.’

Mike put this down to stubbornness, which would be kind in my opinion. I had a different take. I think Arteta is far more similar to Jose Mourinho than any other manager out there. He’s very transactional by nature (bye bye Willian), he seems to be a bit of an egotist (falls out with everyone), and if he doesn’t get what he wants… he throws his toys out the pram (Brentford presser).

He’s also very, very intelligent. There’s absolutely no way he didn’t see Arsenal getting hammered down the left. It was so obvious, it almost looked like he let it happen to us to prove a point. That is a Jose tactic from back in the day, if he didn’t get his signings, he’d do something self-destructive to make a point, then he’d get his shopping list addressed.

It’s moves like that that kill me. That’s not ability, it’s immaturity. Same sort of carry-on before the Brentford game. That game was lost in the press conference and the behaviour that preceded it. That’s not ability, that’s maturity.

You can do things like that if you are delivering. Big coaches behave badly all the time. Pochettino had a massive sulk about the coach/manager position, refusing to wear a suit, but he had earned his stripes. This Arteta nonsense doesn’t hold weight with the fans, who let’s be honest, are at best neutral to him… and it shouldn’t hold weight with the club.

Having an obsession with being right is a bad trait. We let Arteta hire yes men around him. Children or people grateful for his gift of a job at a massive club. When you surround yourself with meh, you have to be so unbelievably good at your job, because when things go to shit, no one will tell you that you’re not wearing clothes.

William Saliba is doing a great job in Marseille at the moment. He has his own set of Ultras that own one of the most potent propaganda networks in world football. They are persuasive. It is getting desperately hard to not look at that loan and think it was all about Arteta. Do I think Saliba is controlling Lukaku at the weekend? No. But do I think he’d have grown from the experience and offered us more from the dismal Pablo Mari? Likely. Again, Saliba getting 3000 minutes this season will be major… but I can only accept those minutes going abroad if our back-up defenders don’t cost us points like they have in the last two games. A 28-year-old defender with beautiful hair getting rolled in our box was embarrassing, and that rankles fans, especially the Ultras. We had Pablo on loan, we watched him in training every day, we made that loan perm… and he’s not that good.

Arteta shouldn’t have leverage at the club, but he does, because we have weak leadership and a knee capped Technical Director. The calculation is quite simple from Arteta… are you really going to sack someone you just gave £130m? If you do, what are you going to bring to the club? The best Spurs could do was Nuno. The best Everton could do was Rafa. Who do you think we’re getting midseason? Antonio Conte… a chequebook manager, a demanding winner, a total lunatic, bad with kids? No chance. He’s not matched to our new vision. Graham Potter? Brighton paid £2m to release him, do you think their poker playing owner hasn’t thought about his release clause? We’d be hiring the type of nobody that rocks up on a boat with Raul, Edu and Kia in Monaco. I think that factors into how Arteta behaves.

The way I see it, the manager has 10 games to save his career, and I suspect he probably will.

  • NCFC (h)
  • Burnley (a)
  • Spurs (h)
  • Brighton (a)
  • CPFC (h)
  • AVFC (H)
  • LCFC (a)
  • Watford (h)
  • LFC (a)
  • NUFC (h)

We need to be extracting 23 points from that lot. Liverpool is probably a write-off, but at least we should have full complement of players to choose from. Spurs has to be a win. Leicester has to be a win. I cannot have Patrick Vieira bossing us with his new Palace side.

Things I’ll be looking for:

  • This is Arteta’s squad now, so where is the better football?
  • Can he make his players press intelligently for more than 6 minutes?
  • Can he get on a run like post-Xmas

The key to any success for me is getting Auba back to his best. That’s why I was shocked to read yet more ‘Auba could go’ stories doing the rounds yesterday. It’s Arteta again. The player isn’t working out, so instead of making things better, he just wants to discard last summer’s toy. He’s like Donald Trump. Everything is zero sum. Who is holding him accountable? Which coach is the counterpoint to this?

His job is to get us back to 2 seasons ago Auba. A man who loved his football, who scored goals for fun, and lifted the fans. You can’t just bin him because you don’t fancy him.

Willian is about to exit. For me, it’s quite refreshing to have a player in the side on a big contract who actually wants to play football and actually reacts badly to being disliked by the fans. We’ll be exiting him, but no doubt picking up a huge chunk of his two-year deal, especially if he goes to Brazil. Who is being held accountable for this? No doubt Raul and Edu were pushing the player… but let’s not pretend Arteta wasn’t championing this guy and his special qualities.

There are also other exits lined up. Kola will leave to Turkey, Eddie will get his move to Palace, and Torreira is going to Italy.

We await a new on the right back… but dear lord, don’t let that player be a 31-year-old that’s been bombed off by an elite side. Do we ever learn?

We play West Brom a little later. We’ll have the chance to see Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale make their official debuts. We’ll probably see Tavares and some of the players that are around the periphery. It’s a must-win game whoever he puts out there. Sadly, I’m not looking forward to it… when your biggest backer is getting bored, you know you are in trouble.

Let’s see what he has, because the time for excuses is well and truly over.



457 Responses to “MUST WIN?”

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  1. Josip Skoblar

    MBappe to Real looks like a certainty. If PSG do not accept Real’s offer now, MBappe will leave on a free next season. We won’t see MBappe, Neymar and Mess play together.

  2. Kroenkephobe

    I wonder what it is that has drawn SkyTV to this evening’s game between soft former southern royalty and plucky midlanders keen to kick ass and muscle some team out of the cup?

    Hate to sound like Atwood, but I foresee a dirty physical game from WBA condoned and even encouraged by some bitter northern ref. Controversy a-go-go.

    I’d much prefer it if our soon to be former manager stayed in his seat and stopped prowling the touchline. And if he pulls that stupid fucking stunt again where he stops their player taking a throw…..

  3. bacaryisgod

    I hope that if the club are looking to replace Edu, they don’t base the decision on any affiliation a candidate may have to the club. If Overmars is the most qualified candidate, then that’s great but let’s not get misty-eyed because he was a former player. We’ve been down that road already. The only position it might make sense is running the Academy, but even then I would rather have the best coach/manager/talent scout available for that role.

  4. Kroenkephobe

    Ozil. Willock. Nketiah. I’m just a Wenger away from winning Pierre Bingo

    ‘Be careful what you wish for’! First prize could be Wengo’s book of bullshit, aka his autobiography (which can now be swapped for second hand chewing gum on eBay).

  5. Bob N16

    Graham, watch out for your blood pressure.

    Why are you worried that ‘10%’ aren’t posting in the same way as ‘90%.’. If everybody felt exactly the same way, would that make our present situation any better?

    Aren’t you happy that 90% are to quote you ‘ highlight(ing)the same thing over and over again’.

    Your not happy about the situation, name me one Arsenal fan who is.

    Not really sure what the point of your post was (15.35), maybe to create a target of some notional group who is supportive of Arteta’s continued employment and that they need to be ‘ hung, drawn and quartered’ ( to quote one of your phrases) for not falling into line.

  6. Gonsterous


    I’m guessing it’s to get more people to watch la liga and to challenge athleti madrid.

    Madrid need mbappe more this season than next. Benz will be too old next season.

  7. Graham62

    Bob N16

    I forgot, don’t you have a background in law?
    Far too in depth for my liking.
    Still a sit on the fence sort of guy I see.

    By the way, my blood pressure is fine.

  8. Muppetman

    So another player who has joined the champions of Spain would have chosen us? Some people need to realistic on who we can recruit. Doesn’t matter if they are £4 if they don’t want to join it doesn’t matter

  9. Valentin


    You are right about Daniel Levy, but I think that Daniel Levy would be in real trouble if next year Harry Kane just went on strike.
    “We had an verbal agreement and you are now reneged on it!”

    That would damage the reputation of Spurs a lot more than Harry Kane.

    Also a verbal agreement can still be enforceable. His agent may have a record of that conversation, in which case according to British Law it is a legally binding contract.

    I don’t think that Harry Kane has abandoned the idea of joining ManCity, just postponed it. For what reason, I can only surmise that he had been given assurance from Levy. Without those he has folded pretty quickly.

  10. China1

    Charlie white may be able to advance our progression from CB but he will often be advancing it to Xhaka, a player who is entirely incapable of breaking between the lines and providing any dynamism

    Having a CB who can play when you have a midfield that can’t isn’t going to help

  11. Globalgunner

    Kane claims they already had a verbal agreement for this year. It was in all of the papers.

    Im glad hes staying, Spuds will either stagnate or decline slightly. City will not be able to defend the league without a clinical striker

    Utd will still be found wanting with Ole at the wheel

    Straight fight between Pool and Chelsea for the title

    Arsenal to finish wherever Arteta dreams of finishing. Top of the league as counted from Easter

  12. Bob N16

    Graham, ‘sitting on the fence’? You use that phrase almost as a form of criticism but it’s not based on any reality.

    I would have been very happy to see Arteta get sacked after the Burnley game and then after the SFs. , I accepted that he was going to be given a chance this season. I feel that it is now a matter of weeks if not days before he is sacked. I am excited at the thought of a more competent coach taking over our squad.

    I’ll try and be more superficial in future and make my arguments less rational. I have no background in law but I take it as a compliment that you thought I did.

    Just because, again I quote you, that I don’t go on and on about Arteta, doesn’t mean I’m sitting on the fence or for that matter a supporter of Arteta’s continued employment.

  13. Bob N16

    Oh and glad to hear your blood pressure is fine, when you get to our age you can’t be too careful.

    In a few weeks I ‘I’ll have the unenviable experience of a kidney stone being removed, accessed through a place that any man would wince at the thought of ( except for maybe Seedy who might take a perverse pleasure in the process!).

  14. Sid

    SpongeBob is going to get high energy shock waves on his longstuff, damn!
    Just pray nothing goes wrong and you end up with a permanent hard on

  15. Champagne Charlie


    I can’t take your Xhaka commentary seriously, he’s literally among the most progressive passers in the league and you continue to flat earth it. It’s like calling Torreira tall and expecting people to go along with it because you don’t rate him.

    Xhaka has flaws, the ability to break lines and pass into the final third isn’t close to one of them.

  16. Tom

    “Mike put this down to stubbornness, which would be kind in my opinion. I had a different take. I think Arteta is far more similar to Jose Mourinho than any other manager out there. He’s very transactional by nature (bye bye Willian), he seems to be a bit of an egotist (falls out with everyone), and if he doesn’t get what he wants… he throws his toys out the pram (Brentford presser).“

    Did Pedro really write this or was somebody impersonating him?
    It’s a description of someone who should probably work out of his house selling something online using emails as the only form of communications.

    Not someone in charge of 25 millionaires with their own egos.

  17. China1

    Charlie be serious

    Xhaka has absolutely zero dynamism

    How is progressive passing defined?

    We’ve all seen with our own eyes how he plays, no amount of stats can change what everyone has already seen.

    He is absolutely incapable of dropping a shoulder, turning his man and opening up the pitch as someone like partey can do.

    He is excellent at playing a high diagonal ball to a winger but how much value do we derive from those?theyre ‘progressive’ in inverted commas because they don’t open up the game at all and are usually to a player who has no major strategic advantage.

    Compare xhaka to any of our CMs in our better eras and tell me he is of comparable quality. It’s not even remotely close.

  18. Guns of SF

    I hear the term progressive passing often.
    Anyone care to actually define that?

    Is it a 4 foot pass to a teammate?

    A pass that goes forward?

  19. zacharse

    is arteta now the most hated AFC manager of all time?
    I’m not impressed with our start and I’m not convinced MA is gonna get us playing any better, but i’m still more than happy to see the change of direction in the squad age & profile. At least we’re learning from some of our mistakes. In the same way the mustafi/xhaka/torreira signigns and ozil extension are comign back to bite us now years later, i do believe the decision to sign this window’s batch fo players will have the opposite effect.
    I’ve said it before but the power vacuum at AFC is not artetas fault. the fact that he took initiative to try and change the horror decision making going on should be seen w a little more slack. wenger created that situation and its up to the ownership and execs to change it, not the manager.
    I have a hard time getting on board with the line that Artetas arrogance/ego is the real problem. I think the behind the scenes problems are over thte top and more than one person deserves blame for it. if that means chucking the trio of edu vinai and arteta at some point, fine. Have some replacements lined up this time. Conte does not seem realistic to me, especially after emery-ball.
    I’m not tied to any particular idea of why things are going so wrong for us but it does seem a simpletons idea that one person is to blame. And if I did have to lay blame at one person it would be wenger not arteta. I still don’t understand why the hate for arteta is so singular. He doesn’t hire himself into that position. Surely Arteta’s enablers are the real bad guys. If the guy’s not good enough, than it will be clear pretty soon and he will be gone.

  20. Northbanker

    Bob – hope all goes well with the op.

    It sounds like your views pretty similar to mine. There were clear sacking points but our limp board didn’t take them. So we move on and you have then to hope MA comes good

    That hope of turnaround is rapidly being torn to shreds in just 2 games as once again MA’s tactical ineptitude is being exposed more than ever- my only fear now is that we end up notching up just enough wins to keep the sack at bay but not enough to start disappearing further from the top zone than ever. That could give MA a few more months. and just delay the inevitable more than ever.

  21. Guns of SF

    I am advocating for AMN to be inserted into the team in some shape or form. To actually play.
    We need a spark, and he is a sparky player. A ball carrier who has decent speed and can make tackles.
    A mid of TP Loko and AMN might work as some have pointed out.

    Bring AMN back


  22. Northbanker

    Zach – not hatred (well it might be for a few on here) but simple desire to see a guy who appears tactically clueless, leave. That is actually the biggest problem but yes not the only one. Vinai and Edu should also go although it might be a bit difficult to sack Wenger again!

    But for all their own faults, Vinai and Edu aren’t picking the teams, providing instructions for who should mark who (“Ben – you’re no good in the air so i want you to mark Tomey”) create formations and change the game when the plan isn’t working

    Hence of all our problems MA is still the biggest problem

  23. China1

    At the end of the day we can ask this question:

    How many matches did xhaka dominate last season?

    It’s widely accepted that last season was his best ever at arsenal. He also plays in the most influential position on the pitch.

    We shouldn’t need to point to a stat to justify something. We’ve all been watching. We all know how the players play. When players are class they rarely divide opinion. Very few people debate if santi, cesc, vieira, petit, Alonso, kante, kdb, gattuso, pirlo, Fernandinho, pogba, toure… players of this mound – are class or not. It’s self evident. Football is not a complicated game, when players are top quality it is generally obvious and widely accepted.

    Would you go on record and say. Xhaka is an excellent player? If not, why are we persisting with him in the starting 11 for several years? Our standard used to be like the players above. Now it is not.

  24. Ernest Reed

    Ozil, Willock, Referee’s- soon to include Eddie as well.

    Christ almighty but you are an insufferable old goat, Pierre. Your gripes are as predictable as a STD in a Brothel.

  25. raptora

    China and Guns,
    WE and Charlie had a lengthy conversation earlier in the Summer about it.

    I still think it’s something that could be extremely misleading.

    It’s not too dissimilar to goals scored looking at someone like Milivojevic from Palace without having the info that 10 out of 12 goals he scores are from penalties. It’s very misleading.

  26. Champagne Charlie


    Your Xhaka patter at this point is embarrassing. Xhaka lacks quick-footedness but when you belittle what he does offer it serves no other purpose than to expose your bias. I actually just checked and Xhaka lead the entire league in final third entries last season, both in overall quantity, and per 90. But here you are claiming otherwise and scoffing at the data.

  27. China1

    Yes Charlie and that’s why one club in the world wants him and refused to offer more than 12m after his best ever season

    What is embarrassing exactly? He’s worth less than lokonga a kid from the Belgian league with no experience who we bought for the bench.

    Say the words that xhaka is in the same Ball park for quality as santi, cesc, vieira, petit and Gilberto.

    I dare you

  28. Zacharse


    The squad issue is the biggest issue other than MAs tactics. if our squad is so thin that we have to play holding mari xhaka balogun and pepe against chelsea what can any manager do?
    Im just so shocked at the first two games, not just tactics, but being exposed on the squad level. MA hasnt elevated the level of our play there so its on him. Injust wonder which manager gets us firing against chelsea. Which manager turns a trick with xhaka/elneny/pepe/mari/leno all season long and we make CL.

    There was no way that we were prepared to bring in 10 new players this summer which is what it looks like we need. 5 so far and the overall team doesnt seem changed in the least.

  29. Zacharse

    Xhaka simply put just isnt made for the premier league

    Doesnt mean hes a bad player. Just means hed be a lot better if he had some actual foot speed

  30. Dissenter

    It’s annoying that we are still going to keep having these Xhaka min-conferences this season
    Had a chance to do something different but Mikel’s liking of the player scuttled his exit.

  31. Guns of SF

    Xhaka is quit durable. He hardly gets injured. However, this seems to have an inversere relationship with foot speed.
    healthy and slow.

  32. The BFB

    With Mr. Grimsdale in goal and Norman Wisdom managing the team, we are the laughing stock of the Premier League. Never before has an Arsenal manager presided over so many embarrassing defeats and broken so many negative records. Things are so bad, I’m actually starting to believe Almunia’s hilarious sketches have an element of truth in them. Give it up Pedro, it’s over.

  33. Dissenter

    Why haven’t we signed Auoar ?
    WTF is going on man

    This is an opportunistic but in the mold of Cazorla
    This is a no brainer. They are offering a loan with obligation to buy

  34. Graham62

    Guns of SF

    Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t AMN one of our star formers in our FA Cup success? I think he also played well against Liverpool in the Community Shield.

    What did Arteta do?
    Bin him and send him on loan to WBA.

    AMN, Willock, Eddie, Nelson…………..a common theme.


  35. China1

    Charlie either say he’s in that ball park or accept he’s not worthy of a starting spot in a Team that has pretentious of achieving anything

    If he’s that good it will be easy for you to say it. If he’s not then you agree with me and there’s nothing to argue about.

  36. China1

    Yeah graham im not AMN’s biggest fan but he did well when arteta joined. Then we turned down 20m for him. Then benched him for the entire first half of the season. Then loaned him out.

    Elite stuff

  37. Graham62

    Arteta has this annoying habit of dangling a carrot in front of a player and then taking it away just when they start to have a good old nibble.

    Is that great man management or the actions of a control freak?

    You tell me.

  38. Champagne Charlie


    You, you’re embarrassing. I think I covered that. So Xhaka is dogshit because he’s not as good as Santi or Gilberto, well there’s me educated. Now apply that to rest of the squad, because I’m dying to hear about how they compare to previous players that were widely revered.

    Just a bunch of straw man bullshit to add to you burying your head in the sand when it comes to data. ‘Tell me he’s as good as Santi’…..uhh who the fuck ever said he was you mug?

    Xhaka is a good player, it’s really that plain and simple. But you’re always desperate to get a word in against him despite bumming up other inferior players. Weren’t you the same guy losing your shit over Torreira and saying Ceballos’ debut against Burnley was the best thing since Cesc? Yea thought so.

  39. Graham62

    Favouritism towards the likes of Xhaka, Willian, Leno etc. but treats others in a slightly different manner.

    All these very worrying traits.

  40. Receding Hairline

    “but at the same time I fully understand how a CB with his skill-set influences our ability to progress the ball front-to-back.”

    Guess you have known about his said “skill-set” , rabid Brighton follower that you are, you didn’t just start googling Ben White once you heard your MCM was about to drop 50m on a nobody from Brighton , at least Raptora watched Dumfries in actual games to judge him. We played Brighton twice last season at the Emirates, Ben White was at full back, I am sure you said sometime during the game fellow’s skill set is exactly what we nee


  41. China1

    Charlie, your adoration of xhaka knows no end. It’s weird

    Which low quality players do I always big up?

    I said ceballos had a great debut? Sure I did. Like everyone else who watched it. It was a great debut. He didn’t kick on consistently and ended a disappointment.

    Torreira started well for us and won plaudits for it. Then dropped off and failed and here I am saying we should be selling him.

    The difference between me and you is I give every player a chance but if they fail to kick on consistently I will gladly see them flogged.

    The weird thing with you is you are hyper critical of half the team but the moment 12m xhaka gets critiqued your defensive as hell. 90% of people here can see it and you’re on here calling me embarrassing. Sure.

    Notice you still can’t find the will the say xhaka is a player who is good enough to start for a team with ambition of competing for serious trophies. And since he’s not, the never ending question is why the fuck has he been in the starting 11 for the past 5 years? Who has played for us for that long and been a mainstay in the team yet not been of the desired quality?

    You say I’m always biased against xhaka yet you’ll see I critique loads of our players. If they’re not good enough they’re not good enough. I’m not loyal to individual players I’m loyal to the club. You oh the other hand have gone to war for a player who isn’t good enough since the day he joined. Most of us just have no idea why.

  42. Valentin


    This is exactly the issue I kept coming back.

    What is the definition of stats axis? What is a progressive passes?

    Are all forward progressive? Because there are numerous forward passes that do not progress the play at all. Xhaka is a specialist of the passes that go a teammate who is surrounded by defenders and had no other option than recycling backward the ball.

    Can a lateral pass be a progressive pass? If a play run vertically and drags a defender toward him and then releasing a teammates in space, then to me it’s a progressive pass even if its vertical movement is small.

    Is there a minimum distance for a pass to be call progressive?

    So to me progressive passes should be passes that destabilise the opposition and let a teammate a free run at the defense or a shot at goal.

  43. China1

    Valentin the absolute irony is a few weeks ago Charlie was agreeing with me that you can’t read all that much into one or two stats because there’s so much context underlying them that isn’t reflected and because we don’t even know how they’re measured

    Now xhaka is quality because of one or two numbers

    Sure he is.

    And he was in the PL team of the season based on one of those stat aggregation sites.

    Now ask 100 PL fans to vote for their team of the season and see if you can find a single one who would pick Xhaka in it. Yeah…

  44. Champagne Charlie

    His skill set is apparent to anyone that familiarises themselves with him, bit like a quick google of Auba and you can tell he’s a sharp poacher. The application of that to a team is pretty obvious, but it’s an Arteta thing is it suddenly? Makes sense.

    You talk absolute bollocks on the subject, you’re as honest about me as you are about Xhaka. I’ve talked up numerous players in Cm that I’d sooner see signed, but thick fucks like yourself only tune in to the parts where I dismiss claiming Torreira, Ceballos, Elneny as superior to him – proven right on that if you’re keeping track.

    He does his role well enough vs a number of other positions that fall a long way short. That’s why he’s no priority for me, and I’ve been clear as day on the subject time and time again.

    Do explain why I have some apparent adoration for him? Because the long and short of it is because I don’t nod along with the shit opinions that claim the other options superior, and I don’t argue the measurable facts of his on-field influence to belittle him further. Some adoration that. Haven’t spent the summer talking up Ruben Neves as his replacement or anything either. Like I say, your whole outlook is ridiculous.

  45. Elmo

    Pedro was right originally with the modern structure, that the DoF/Tekdek was the hire that Arsenal absolutely had to match perfectly, and I like that he’s circling back to it now.

    Gazidis bottled it by bringing in Raul, because Gazidis himself didn’t understand the culture of Arsenal (conservative, risk-averse club that would clash sooner rather than later with a sleight-of-hand spiv whose most famous work at Barca was outrageous bungs to Neymar’s parents in Brazil).

    The replacement then was Edu, a guy with no experience in top level football administration. I remember Tim Vickery’s (BBC South American football correspondent) reaction at the time: he said he couldn’t quite understand why Edu would be a fit, seeing as his job for Brazil was: (1) to be an emergency back-up plan to take over from Tite at short notice if he was sacked before the home Copa America in 2019 (a possibility at the time); (2) to track the progress of Brazilian internationals and potential internationals playing overseas. He probably watched a selection of European football, but it was just a small part of his role.

    It’s difficult how to re-establish a hierarchy now. Ideally you want the new Tekdek to establish tenure and primacy, articulate the medium-term strategy, and appoint a new coach themselves, who immediately knows who their boss is. Right now if a new Tekdek comes in, they’re in a power battle with Tets, who currently holds court at the club, and that uncertainty and conflict will be a deadweight on the club. At the same time you don’t want a clean sweep with new Tekdek and coach coming in at the same time, as they will both fight to set the balance of power (as Tets did when he saw a power vacuum). That’s the problem with starting a season ‘in crisis’, with question marks over your two key executives.