Wenger, OUT

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The most important announcement of Le Grove’s entire history.

Arsene Wenger has left the club.

The greatest manager in our history will leave at the end of the season.

I’m speechless.

We knew things were going to get tough for the big man this summer, with the imaginary reviews. But it looks like our theory about Josh K being the grim reaper were true. He was sent over by Stan to takeover the club, and the PR team probably told him the best way to start a new era is with decisive action.

Wenger is going, but the side story for me is this announces Josh Kroenke is now going to be a more solid part of the club setup moving forward.

Ivan Gazidis finally pulled through. After being near-fatally wounded last summer by a horrible back alley deal between Wenger and Stan K, Ivan worked some behind the scenes magic. He hired Raul Sahnelli, Sven Mislintat and attacked Wenger’s power grip on the club. I was told he actually tried to take things further, but a furor was caused by some of the proposed additions to the team.

Those moves made it very difficult for Wenger to work his political magic this summer. The new guys came in, ripped out the deadwood of the squad in January, they added new blood and high-quality names, and the rot continued.

At the heart of it, Wenger had no fail-safe.

He was damaging the club financially. We lost a huge amount on Alexis Sanchez, not only in cash, but in pride. Losing your best player for under half price is a terrible look. Not just that, because contracts were so badly organised, Mesut Ozil was allowed to hold the club over the barrel.

Going beyond just those two names, Wenger has been hoarding average players for years. He’s been fattening them up on a hideous socialist wage structure which has left the club nursing a £200m wage bill, whilst Spurs are above us competing on £60m less. Wenger was no longer offering value.

Not just that, he was destroying the careers of young talents. Project British core was an out and out failure. Kieran Gibbs went to shit, Jenkinson shouldn’t have been in it, Jack Wilshere lost interest in the game, Theo Walcott never fulfilled his great potential, Chambo went to Liverpool and made a semi-final of the CL, and Aaron Ramsey was always injured.

The club stopped being a sporting entity. The objective wasn’t about greatness, it was about an old mans ego and his rampant desire to hold onto power. The club didn’t exist for trophies and elite glory, it was a vessel for a long retirement. When you stop operating on a sporting values level, it makes it dull for fans who’ve been paying huge amounts of money to see their heroes compete at the highest level.

When fans don’t show up, don’t expect sponsors to. The empty stadiums started in February this year. That’s not because of bad fans, it’s because they’re seeing the same old dross week after week. The ultimate protest is not going to a game, the ultimate show of how Arsenal had fallen is fans couldn’t give their Arsenal tickets away.

The time had come. The Champions League Top 4 trophy didn’t arrive, Wenger wasn’t developing players, the fans were bored and not showing, and the football was drab.

I think ultimately, the success of The LA Rams helped push this move. Stan is enjoying the great press around his LA team, and I’m sure he wants some of that over here.

Wenger is gone.

It’s the right move for the club.

The next two years will be tough, but at least we’ll be watching an exciting project.

I’ll write more on Wenger at a later date, but damn, I’m going to enjoy this moment.

A new Arsenal will rise, and we’ll look back on the banter years and wonder why we didn’t do this sooner.

Have a great day. x




Surprising Arsenal attacking stat shows decline in thinking

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'But can he defend at the near post?'

‘But can he defend at the near post?’

Arsenal stats geeks, get ready for this one… guess how many goals we’ve scored from counter attacks this season?

ZERO

Some publication I can’t find reckons we’re one of 5 teams that’s failed to score from a counter attack this season. Quite staggering when you think we’ve had Alexis Sanchez, Ozil, Lacazette and Auba in our side.

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Giving up the league Wenger’s master strategy for toppling Atletico

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Once again, Arsene Wenger finds himself in a situation where he can excuse the rapid decline of the club. His team tanked in blue again, losing 2-1 to a very average Newcastle side, but somehow, the press has brushed this off as a byproduct of searching for Europa League glory.

Partly, that could be seen as true. However, as is everything with Arsene Wenger, you need to have context. If this were off the back of a scintillating season, you could perhaps acknowledge the changing shape of our form. That’s not the case though. Our form is an illness that’s plagued the club for years now.

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Wenger gives players fatigue pass for Atleti

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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)


Disaster draw spells the end of the road OR an extension of hell

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FEEEEEEEED ME EUROPA!

That was the call, and the footballing gods delivered.

Look, I’m not going to lie here, I see the weaknesses in what’s going on. I see the average output. I see players wearing the red and white that shouldn’t be. But damn, I’m not going to let that get in the way of my love for the competition and SUCCESS.

We’re in a semi-final. By hook or crook, we’ve managed to surpass expectations and continue the back door dream!

I put my foot in it massively yesterday when I doubted King Wele. No sooner had I lambasted his worth, than he was bearing down on goal curling a delicious through ball from the Egyptian Zidane. It was quite the goal. Spectacular. A little insight into what he could be if he focused his talent and got on with the job of being an incredible player.

Aaron Ramsey capped off the evening when the Egyptian King of Assists released him on a long breaking run. His engine powered him past the CSKA defence, his cool finish elevated the ball over the keeper, his passion for being a Europa King took us to the semi-final in non-humiliating fashion.

Sure, we can talk about how utterly average we were for the first 70minutes, but I’d only be doubling down on a reality you’re all too familiar with. Arsene Wenger doesn’t know what he’s doing and he’s being majorly flattered by a sub-standard European competition. We have floated into the semi’s without a real test, yet made a hash of Ostersunds at home, CSKA away, and Cologne in the group stages. Winning it will of course feel glorious, but I still think the trophy would need context when they review Wenger at the end of the season.

I mean, talking about winning things is ultimately futile now we know we have Atleti over two legs.

I’ve seen crazier things happen in football, but I’m not sure a team that ships two goals against a bunch of cloggers is going to be able to deal with the intensity of Atleti. Diego Costa, Griezmann, Saul, Oblak, Koke… it’s a wet dream of a squad, managed by one of the most tactically astute coaches in the world.

We can’t match them for quality, fitness, desire or smarts… I really can’t see this working out over two games.

Still, it’ll be a spectacle. There’s no better way for Wenger to show he’s up to it. We spend more than them, we have a richer squad, so there’s no excuse. If we win, then Wenger should carry on for another year, if we lose badly, it’s curtains (should be). There will be no glorious failure, there will be no story of progress because it’ll mean the first proper team we met we were spanked.

Also, for more perspective, be honest with the season. We’re firmly rooted in 6th place, and the team has been playing 1 game a week. Champions League football with this squad and manager next year will be absolutely horrible unless we have a new coach.

We should be going all in on Allegri, arguably the best coach on the planet at the moment.

Right, I uploaded the wrong podcast yesterday, sorry about that. Get on this real one. We were a bit pissed, so I’m not sure about quality. I also did a piece on radio drunk as well.

Things I learnt that do not sober you up:

  • Pizza
  • Loud music
  • Intense docu-dramas
  • Showers
  • Phone calls with an irate girlfriend

But what is a man to do? We just made the semi!

SEE YOU IN THE COMMENTS

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