Wenger says his final goodbye with an away win

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So there it is, the final chapter in has been penned, and Arsene Wenger leaves Arsenal football club.

It’s hard to believe that after 22 years, the big man will no longer parade The Arsenal dugout.

No more 60th minute subs. No more zipper issues in the dugout. No debates about what the next steps should be.


New manager in the mixer, but can a failure work?

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Finally, we have something more to talk about than the golden 4-5 managers I’ve been tracking these past few weeks. Spanish media has linked us with the Basque manager Unai Emery, who has departed PSG after failing to move them to the next level in the Champions League.

Arsenal fans are starting to come to terms with the reality that Allegri is a dream that might not have much reality to it. I have no basis for saying that deal is dead outside the fact he still has unfinished business with Juventus, his press mutterings indicate he’ll be there next season, and his sporting director saying he thinks Juve will come to a solid agreement when they speak this summer.


Wenger closes out new record + Managerial shortlist slims dramatically

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Ahhh man, sometimes, fairytales end when the Princess drinks too much wine, slips on a glass shoe and falls out the window, landing on her pet dog.

That’s Arsene’s final year. A real harrowing experience. He’s currently setting the record for the worst away showing since Giroud met a model in Manchester hotel and forgot to flush her mobile down the toilet.

It was a tough game to watch, not because we were particularly shite, more because we were so easily carved up in defence. Simple penetrating balls and diagonal crosses into our defence provoked sheer panic and confusion.

Iheanacho opened the scoring after about 15 attempts to clear our area, Arsenal can’t even hoof properly. Superstar hero man-child Mavrapanos disgraced himself a minute later with a red card on 15 minutes. He tried to play a clever pass under pressure, slipped, then brought down his man. It was pretty clumsy, very Arsenal, and a deserved red even though it looked like there was cover to pick up his mistake. Remember the days we used to wear red cards like a badge of honour? I want those back…

Arsenal leveled through Auba in the second half, some powerful running and calm composure from AMN to deliver a cross, allowing Auba to score on his second attempt. The joy didn’t last, Jamie Vardy broke our hearts from the penalty spot after Mikki made a clutzy foul in the box. Mahrez capped things off with a surging run he shouldn’t have been able to make.

Wenger is on his way out, he’s not even working hard for excuses, he took time out to lament decisions and throw a skewer at the Premier League for voting against VAR.

“Overall I believe we played a great game today. Even with 10 against 11 we should win the game. I’m convinced what changed the game was the penalty. I have complaints about the red card as well but I think we dealt well with the situation. I would like to praise the team for the spirit they showed tonight.

“There is always a reason for the defeat, but if you isolate each game, it is unfortunate what happened tonight. I think the Premier League has voted against VAR and it is upsetting. It destroys me because we were in front of the rest of the world, and now we want to be behind.”

I’m not going to go hard at the man, he’s Everton’s problem now. All I will say is I’m happy he gave Jack a nudge in the right direction.

“I’ve given him only one (bit of) advice, stay at the club. The noises I have heard is that he will do it,”

Good news. I know he’s been rank average most of the season, but he’s never really been coached. Let’s see how he does under someone who can help him with his game, motivate him to love playing again, and rekindle some of that magic we know he has.

Onto the good stuff. Allegri won his title and made some interesting comments to the press that kind of lead you to believe that I am some sort of f*cking expert when it comes to calling the narrative. This from James Horncastle.

‘Allegri pretty chippy on RAI when asked if it’s the end of a cycle and what Juve’s limits are. Calls the line of questioning absurd, says the team can still improve, the [re]build is not over and “we’ll fight for the title next season.”‘

That man needs a CL on his resume, he has a great team at Juve, the club works around his skillset, and he’s a perfect match for them. A huge pay bump and a move to London is always going to be attractive, but he can take that move whenever he wants. I wonder whether he has the appetite for a rebuild at Arsenal? An incredible coach, the best we could land, I just really doubt the situation.

Jezza Wilson, messenger for the mid-West aristocracy that owns our club, just dropped some information uppers on us, and it reads fairly similar to what I’ve been ranting your way this week.

Arsenal do not want to approach managers in work at an inconvenient moment and so must wait until most of the major European leagues have finished before accelerating their process.

Arsenal are not settled yet on whether to go all out for an established current manager like Allegri or Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim or a younger head coach-style option. They want to conduct a full recruitment process and intend to make their appointment by at least the start of the World Cup next month.

You can just imagine tight Stan K sitting in the boardroom stroking his persian cat.

‘Oh the conundrum, £15m a year manager who will bring all his expensive friends or two young coaches we can house in Vik Akers cupboard. Whatever shall I do?’

JW goes on to talk through the challenges of GALACTICO managers versus the young bucks. A well-trodden path we’ve explored with you many times before in the past.

Mokbel of The Mail and JC at The Mirror are both going on a similar path with Allegri, Arteta and Vieira (probably sharing intel with each other). Below is where the combined journo-list is at.

  • Allegri
  • Jardim
  • Nagelsmann
  • Paddy
  • Arteta

Realistically, for me, it’s going to be the three I’ve highlighted in bold. I can’t see PV04 being in the mixer, I’m not sure he’s moved NYC on enough, though he does have a great tie to the fans. Allegri is going to be very expensive, and likely very demanding of the club, not just that, he’s kind of said he’ll be there next season.

Jardim has everything we need, but maybe lacks the excitement of a manager who has a sexy back story, but he’s ready and he’d do an incredible job. He’s worked under every condition imaginable, he beat Paris last year on a budget with young players, and he has built great defences in the past. He’s also pretty young, just one year short of Tuchel at 43 years old, pretty much the peak age top managers start winning big things.

Nagelsmann and Arteta have different superpowers. Nagelsmann has actually managed a club and proved a success. However, we can keep on banging on about him, but Rapha H reckons he’s too smart to move to Arsenal. He’s just in it for the ego kick with us, most likely with an eye on Bayern where he apparently fancies settling down with his lady friend. I’d love this guy, he oozes the ingredients you want. Enough experience to be dangerous, enough potential to rock the league. But if his club won’t let him go, it’s tough… that said, Arsenal knocking on your door with a once in a lifetime job in London replacing Wenger is pretty appealing and tough for any man to say no to.

I’m back defending Arteta today. Too many people critiquing him for the wrong reasons. The common one is he’s too much of a Wenger patsy. I think that notion is badly misguided. He’s a key member of Peps coaching staff who just won a Premier League by destroying the competition. City humiliated the most expensively assembled league in the world. They boast a better goal difference than United and Spurs combined.

… yet people still question Arteta’s talent and strength as a potential coach because he played out the final 5 years of his career in a Wenger banter team. You think Pep Guardiola would have a wet blanket Wenger clone into his coaching setup? You think he’d let a pushover run his training sessions? You think he chooses to lean on average thinkers in one of the most high-pressure jobs in the world? Please. You’re not landing a job with Pep (who fought off Pochettino for his signature) unless you bleed like him and can offer him something he doesn’t have himself. That’s the only way the elite coaches can survive in the modern era, they’re the sum of their team. He’d also come with the ‘everyone thinks I’m going to fail’ chip on his shoulder, which is a plus over someone like Allegri who doesn’t need to prove a thing. Sure, Arteta is inexperienced, he’d be the biggest risk on the list, there’d be a lot to learn on the job, but let’s not look at the suggestion of Arsenal hiring him like we’re zip lining in Gunnersaurus to have a crack.

The close-mindedness of some fans is unreal. The same people who’ve spent 10 years enabling a failing manager who once blamed our ‘mysterious’ injury pileups on rogue hair pills, are now chiming in on what it takes to lead Arsenal to the next level, is the next level, is the next level. Where was all this knowledge when there was actually a debate about Arsene Wenger using tactics after our 46th straight defeat to a top 6 team? Astounding carry-on from the ‘The players let him down’ crew, and the ‘Who else is there?’ Crouch End Tourettes Brigade.

Anyway, those be my final words for today. If the MSM Arsenal insiders crew has the list right, we’ve got a group of men who can move us in the right direction next season, don’t let someone on Twitter called @SabrosaHamburguesaᵌ tell you otherwise.

Right, see you in the comments!


Juventus Sporting Director speaks on Allegri + thoughts on risk

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Arsene Wenger has switched his LinkedIn profile status to THIRSTY AS before the season is out.

“I don’t look very good on the beach,”

“How long would I like to work for? As long as I feel I want to. But overall people look at your age and make an issue of it. It becomes a bit of discrimination. They don’t really look how you work and perform. They look ‘oh he is old’. I can understand that as I thought the same when I was young.”

“I like the English saying: ‘you have to live every day like it is your last’ and one day you will be right.”

It’s like for a moment there, I thought there’d be some sort of self-reflection from our favourite old goat, but no… he’s militantly deluded until the very end.

No point in going hard at him, I’d like the man to land himself a job, I just feel like him casting this season off as some sort of age discrimination issue is missing the point.

It’s game over for him, so I should leave it.

But then you read a little further on in the interview and it makes you a little sad inside. He really loves the game. He’s totally desperate to be in the mixer again, and how could we deny him?

“You know I didn’t miss a training session in 22 years, I never stayed in my office. Every day I was out there. That is something that I will miss.”

“I keep myself fit, I can still play! If I was really objective then I would pick myself every week. We have staff games. I don’t play with the players, they are a bit too quick for me.”

The thing is, where can you find a job that’ll take you if you can’t perform in this era? The two longest-serving managers in the Premier League now are Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe. You can’t even take a job at Stoke now and expect to last out three years. Football has such high stakes these days. I wish he’d just listen to those around him and take a bit of time off. Write a book, do some punditry, get a radio show… there’s so much he could do with his life that’d give him status and celebrity. I just don’t see things working out positively at Everton or PSG.

Onto more exciting things… Arsenal fans have a favourite managerial candidate on their lips.

He has trophies by the truck, truck, truck
Tactics like what, what, what
Allegri move your butt, butt, butt.
I think I’ll sing it again

The suave Italian has piqued our interest, and everyone has him at the top of their list. My view? He has unfinished business in the CL with a team more than capable of winning it. Do we really think he’s going to leave a squad that needs minor tweaking before he’s won the biggest trophy of them all? I also think he’s angling for a big pay rise. He earns a pittance compared to the big dogs in the EPL.

Marotta looked to dampen the fire…

“With Allegri, we have a great rapport that has always worked well and still continues that way,”

“At the right time, after we accomplish the Scudetto, we will talk about the future, which I’m sure will be full of satisfaction together.”

He doesn’t seem too worried.

Allegri is tier one kinda guy, he’s an unbelievable coach, and he’s on top of his game, but it’s hard to ignore that he’s working in one of the most efficient structures in Europe. Juve are a dominant force, they can buy the best players, everything there is perfect for him. Things weren’t so great when he was at Milan. he won one title when Milan were the best team in a weak league, he choked the next season with the best squad, then he finished third after a summer of decimation because he signed Mad Mario, then he was fired. He nearly choked against us in the CL in the heat of the banter era. Milan fans don’t reflect on him fondly.

I am not saying he’d not turn us into a better proposition, but is he really built to deliver on an Arsenal brief? Certain managers work incredibly well under certain structures, with certain types of players, with a certain amount of money. Milan didn’t work for him, but he’s crushing Serie A under Juve conditions.

That’s why I love the idea of Jardim or Nagelsmann. The Portuguese is particularly adept at working with minimal resource, he’s a great coach, and he’s dynamic enough to work with what he has at his disposal. The same can be said of Paulo Fonseca who is at Shaktar, he’s a coach first and foremost. They look at the tools they have, and build something out of nothing. They’re not cheque-book managers, they proper coaches who work to improve what they have (bit like Poch).

Nagelsmann is also really interesting, he’s a student of coaching, having never played at the highest level due to injury. He’s proved his mettle taking a team in big trouble to the heights on Champions League football nearly two seasons in a row. If he can extract that much potential out of a crop of players with an average salary of £20k a week, imagine what he could do to our comparable megastars? He’s potentially the Jose Mourinho of 2018, and we have the chance to make the early first move on him.

You know my POV on the Arteta rumblings. What I like about him is he’s being raved about by Pep G, he’s won a Premier League in season two, he’s being credited with developing players, The Times report that City have him in line to take over from Pep G, and the whole vision of Pep football is geared around intense education of exacting ways to play the game, underpinned by ruthless discipline. Pair Arteta with an experienced assistant like Buvac (mysteriously moved on), and you might have a very exciting combination of aggressive innovative football.

My point in all of this is there’s no one right answer. Each manager flourishes in different scenarios, sometimes experience is needed, sometimes an injection of naivety and youthful exuberance does the trick. The key for me in all of this is Arsenal make sure they build the right team around whoever comes in. It really is a roll of the dice whether all the stars align to make magic happen. Look at Carlo, Champions League winner at Real, booted out of Bayern with rumours of relaxed training and a lack of tactical preparation. Look at Mourinho at United, an elite pair of safe hands that’s sucking the joy out of Sanchez, Pogba and Rashford. Even Conte, when given the chance to exact more power over transfers blasted £200m on utter dross, taking Chelsea from 1st to 5th inside a season.

Arsenal can make success with an elite manager at the top of his game, an experienced manager looking to cut it at the next level, or with a young buck with an exciting new vision of the game no one is prepared for.

Don’t write anything off, keep an open mind, and pray the club don’t fu*k things up by giving Alan Pardew a chance to make it in the big time.


Arsene delivers style on and off the pitch in touching farewell

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What a party that was! I mean, I wasn’t quite there, but in spirit, we all were. Fans from around the world tuned in to bid Arsene Wenger farewell, and to say #MerciArsene.

The man came, he saw, he conquered… he went a bit off the rails for 8 odd years, but overall, I think in time we’ll forgive the banter years, and maybe even embrace them.


Goodbye, Arsene

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The end is here, after 22 years in charge of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger bids farewell to the home fans.

It’ll be emotional. It’s a one of a kind moment you’ll never experience again. If you’re lucky enough to attend, cherish the afternoon because you’ll never see another manager like him.

He was the master innovator, he brought the swagger, he made foreign managers cool, he made sexy football a thing in the Premier League, he made boring Arsenal the best ticket in the world. He gave us trophies, art and an unbeaten season. His intellect was refreshing, his class unmatched, his impact on Arsenal will never be forgotten.

Think of the players he sent our way (I’m about to borrow Andrew Allen’s format from Arseblog here)?

I’ll never forget how exciting Nik Anelka was, that pace and coolness was electric to watch. Patrick Vieira was a colossal presence in our midfield, and those Roy Keane battles are the stuff of legend. That Marc Overmars goal away at Old Trafford. Freddie Ljungberg getting snapped up after England played Sweden, to score with a cheeky lob on his debut against United. Selling Anelka, and bringing in Davor Suker (who was a bit disappointing for the most part). Not signing Patrick Kluivert. Passing on the De Boer twins because of class reasons. Building a new training ground. Signing Thierry Henry and Robert Pires who were Championship Manager heroes. Giving life to the famous back 5. Petit and that porn flick song. That gold kit. Ray Parlour in the FA Cup final. Pascal fucking Cygan. Igor Stepanovs. Ashley Cole busting into the first team. Lauren from defensive midfield to right back. Thierry from the wing to striker. That goal where he set himself up and lobbed Barthez. The Dennis/Theirry axis of amazing. Sylvain Wiltord and that pirouette thing he did. Signing Nwankwo Kanu and that hattrick against Chelsea. Kaba Diawara vs Leeds United. Alex Manninger saving penalties. Wenger doing a madness and signing 8 players in a summer. Richard Wright being shite. Gio Van Bronckhurst.  The FA Cup finals and the wins. Learning to love Cardiff because we fucking owned the place. Jen Lehmann being our only transfer move. A whole season unbeaten. I could go on…

The second half of his tenure wasn’t quite as grandiose. But look, Arsenal fans are a weird old bunch, in ten years time, the hipsters will be watching back classic banter years games with a weird fondness.

Yaya Sanogo starting against Bayern Munich. Andrey Arshavin was the most explosively talented lazy boy. What the fuck is a Park Chu-young, Julio Baptista. Nik Bendtner on the right wing. Silvestre. Emmanuel Eboue at right back. Emmanuel Eboue as a right winger against Wigan. Wellington being a pizza eating tubbo. Hiding Fran Merida in the mountains. Waiting 2 summers to sign Chamakh. Robin Van Persie binning us off after one good season. Cesc Fabregas and that ponytail. Fucking up 2008. Rosicky scoring that screamer in the World Cup before we signed him to replace Robert Pires. Fucking up signing Cahill. Manuel Almunia as our first team keeper. Denilson being defended as a good player. Andre Santos as a serious signing. Carling Cup being proper fun. Top 4 Trophy. The Best Finances in the game. The War Chest. ‘One or two signings’. Abou Diaby revisionism. Flappyianski. Samir Satan. Adebaywhoooore. ‘Wenger is good at tactics’. BRING BACK DEIN. Christmas injury pile-ups. Gervinho’s hairline. Sol Campbell back at the club. Usmanov. Beckham training with the lads. Thierry back at the club. Lehmann back at the club. Sign Da Ting. Chezzers rollies. WENGER OUT. Planes with banners. Banners in general. Last 16 PTSD. Playing top 6 PTSD. Stan Kroenke OUT. AKBs. WOBs. #TeamPostiveGooners. Queen of Suburbia is a King. LOLgrove. Owen Coyle. Cash piles. MESUT OZIL. FA Cup Finals. Trophies. Spurs still shite. North London still red. JUDGE ME IN MAY. THE WINDOW ISN’T EVEN CLOSED. SEASON HASN’T STARTED GIVE HIM A CHANCE. PLAYERS LET HIM DOWN. Santi Cazorla. Aaron Ramsey. Hector Bellerin. What even is a Sporting Director. Commentating on transfer deadline day. The ‘we nearly signed’ world 11. Scorpion kicks. Assisting the assister. The Wenger smirk. Kicking water bottles. Brexit musings. That L’Quipe photoshoot.

You’ll be sad when the 70th minute lands and subs have already been made. You’ll be bored when our transfer business is done early and it’s good. You’ll roll your eyes when the next coach does his caterpillar coat up at the first attempt.

For all the craziness of the last ten years, you’ll never forget the Arsene Wenger ride. Even in his darkest hours, he’s capable of dropping a next level, is the next level, is the next level quote that’d make you laugh, cry, or reach for the internet to understand the reference. Wenger is a one of a kind, and I truly can’t believe this is it.

The timing is right, it’s been right for 6 years. There’s no looking back. This move is more epic than the one we made from Highbury to Ashburton Grove. This decision is the biggest one the club has made in 100 years. It’s the most exciting test of our future. I can’t wait.

I’ll be sad, sure. But I’ll be happy in the way you are after a relative dies a painful death. You celebrate what was, but you’re glad it’s over. The last 5 years have been unbefitting. I’m glad it’s coming to a close.

The club is starting to leak intentions of their next move to the internetz. Mark Ogden over at ESPN dropped a piece yesterday.

But the club are also keen to assess the options at the other end of the experience scale, with Manchester City first-team coach and former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta under consideration, and Julian Nagelsmann, the 30-year-old coach of Hoffenheim, another name in the mix.

Sources said the move to give serious consideration to a young coach is being driven by Kroenke’s son, Josh Kroenke, who is a non-executive director at Arsenal. The 37-year-old is also the president of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, both of which are also owned by KSE.

My loins are moistened, and my fears are starting to ease that we’re not going to make a move on a caretaker of the bland variety (Carlo, Löw, Enrique, Pards, Buvac). What makes this leak particularly interesting is it’s come from ESPN, so I’d imagine the source is one of Stan’s people.

It’d be a balls-out decision to go for a Tier 3 manager, untested comes with risks, but if the club has done their due diligence, the rewards could be massive. I’d be game for a risk. People are calling that sort of view hipster, I’d say it’s pretty f*cking smart. Josh K and Stan have already had a taste of youth in the US with Sean Mcvay and the press they’re receiving is incredible. Let’s see if this is real, or just clever cover to throw us off the scent of an Allegri or Jardim. Key point in all of this, no one has a fucking clue what is going on. Ivan gonna drop a new name like Beyonce drops a new album… gotta admire that as an advertising guy.

I want to be excited about my team again. Today’s game against Burnley is the changing of the guard. As some of the old school fans would say – we’re getting our Arsenal back – because be honest, Wenger has made the club all about him of late, and it hasn’t been good.

The team need to put on a magical show for Wenger. I hope the fans who are saying they won’t stay for his lap of honour reconsider what the great man has done for the club during the totality of his tenure, and sing his name loud and proud for the last time. I hope the day sticks in the memory, much in the way it did when the great Dennis Bergkamp called it quits.

Today is about Wenger and giving him the send off he deserves, enjoy him while you can, because next season, we’ll be throwing our support behind the future, and I cannot wait.

P.S. Horrible to hear about Sir Alex, our thoughts are with him and his family. Hopefully, he pulls through. One of the greatest in sports history.