Manchester City: Could be a messy…

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Office dog as happy about his birthday as Arsene was about his 1000th

Humphrey the Office dog as happy about his birthday as Arsene was about his 1000th

Nightmare news crept onto social media yesterday, David Moyes had been sacked. What a disaster I thought… then it was all revealed. Some clever tinker had set up a fake Telegraph journo account and leaked the news. What a LOL. Honestly, when I found out, I was like, wow, so clever.

I had some more chats about the ol’ protest thing yesterday with a few pals who support teams that aren’t so elite. The vibe was quite similar to mine, but more along the lines of…

‘You’re going to protest against Arsene Wenger? Isn’t that a bit, you know, classless?’

Can’t disagree there. I’m not sure I want to be part of an angry mob chanting for the manager to leave the club. I mean, I know it sounds hypocritical, because I write this. However, any decision should be made in a rational way. I think his performance this season has been pretty poor considering the start. I think the club will have noticed the gaps in the ground for the Swansea game. If shit hits the fan against City, they’ll hear the boos.

Simple fact is the only way the club reacts is when something happens mass scale. Flying a banner over the ground? Oh for f*cks sake, grow up…

If fans want change, the protest has to be on a grand scale. So white handkerchiefs in the ground could be one way. Turning backs on a game could be another. Not showing up like the Lazio fans did a few weeks ago.

But be honest, is that what Arsenal is all about for you? I love my club. I want a better Arsenal. But I’m not going to war on match day. We have management in place to make those decisions. They’re paid the big bucks to sort that. As soon as it becomes a precedent that fans can remove management, it becomes a sh*t fest. We become London Geordies.

Each to their own, but I’d guess most Gooners feel the same way, because it’s unlikely 60,000 will be there shouting at a gate. I also don’t buy into the ‘at least they’re doing something’… hey, so is that guy whose been protesting outside Westminster for 10 years, you don’t see him bringing down Government anytime soon.

For me, the protest, the banner and the online petition are someone’s 15 minutes of fame. 8 people, speaking for 60,000… or 6million. The AST have a questionnaire out soon. The answers will go global in the press. That’s pressure. The BSM will hopefully sort their survey out this year and give it more credibility under scrutiny and that will be newsworthy. More pressure. Ivan will meet with fan groups and hear their voices. He’ll hear the frustration. That’s pressure.

You’re dealing with a rational management team that are people who feel pressure and react to the online noise. Is that enough to see a reaction of sorts? Hopefully. Enough for Wenger to lose this new contract? Doubtful. The only way he’s going is on his own terms. The best we can hope for is he goes, the second best is he stays with stipulations.

… but listen. All this is just guff from me. If the fans want to burn down the stadium in a Simpson’s style riot, that’s up to them. I’m just here to give my two pennies. I’m all about organic grass roots action. I just happen to think we have a pretty good fan infrastructure in place already… and credit to the club, they do take time out to listen to us. Which is brave. Imagine hosting a fan forum? 200 angry fans, armed with more passion and knowledge about the club than you have? Hard work.

Anyway, more important things are on the horizon. We have Manchester City at home tomorrow. Now, you have to go into games thinking there’s a chance of winning. There always is. Sometimes, when you least expect it. Tomorrow, is one of those ‘least expect it’ moments. I don’t mean to be a downer on this game, but reality is this… we have most of our top players out. We are playing our third game in a week. City are on fire. It’s going to be really tough.

Having Vermaelen in the backline, ring rusty and lacking in confidence is bad news. Having a real lack of creative flair is also a problem. Having no pace in your starting 11 immediately plays into the City sides hands tactically. It’s a bit of a nightmare really. I fear another mauling unless the manager tries something new. Give Gnabry a go out wide. Interestingly I’d heard the reason he hadn’t played was because of a lack of effort on the training pitch, hopefully he’s addressed that. Play a 4-4-2… Giroud feeding Yaya. I don’t know. Try something, because if you don’t Arsene, it’s game over for our season. If Everton with their game in hand and beat us. We’re in trouble without the wind in our sales.

Few interesting Wenger comments from his presser. Firstly, he retaliated to Scholes comments stating he’d managed no games… hmmm, he’s kind of won a lot of trophies through his his 20 year career. Not sure you need to be a manager to have an opinion on football. He also blamed injuries on luck again. What are you gonna do eh? Also, Ramsey starts training next week.

Right, it’s Friday. When your desk friend leaves their computer unlocked, send a seductive e-mail to someone quite obvious in the vicinity (important you can see them)… but here’s the trick. Set the e-mail to a 15minute timer. When they sit back down at their desk, the e-mail goes out and they’re sitting there.

It caused a punch up in our office once. An absolute classic piece of office bantz.


Protest is futile

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Oooooh, a table. But not an Ikea table.

Someone presented a table to me this morning. Not an Ikea table. Oh no. A table that outlined Arsenal’s net spending since we last won a trophy. Something like £7.5m. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to think, but in seasons gone by, it was probably, ‘incredible’, interesting now that the narrative has changed.

I’ve been bemoaning the lack of spend for a few years, but that, for me, has merely been a cover up for many of the other deficiencies that have crept into the set up. The interesting comment that came of the back of that table was…

‘I don’t even think that’s his biggest problem’


Outside sentimentality, why would you keep Arsene Wenger on?

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This match report might be a bit all over the place, you’ve had the structured argument over the past three days… this morning, I’m just totally drained by it all. I feel like a Wrestler whose been in the Royal Rumble for 2 hours… tap me out, I need a glass of water and a cry in the changing rooms.

Sadly, I can’t help but feel a deep depression after every collapse like the one we’re currently going through.  I can imagine the pain is even sharper for the fans that let Wenger back into their circle of trust. Being let down by that man isn’t a ‘thing‘ for me anymore. I know what’s coming. It’s the fans that say things like, ‘I’d give him another year’, why? There’s no answer unless it’s the fabled ‘but who?’, or ”we owe him’.


Discuss: 5 of the hottest Wenger replacements

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So early rumours suggest that the Arsene retirement theories might not hold much weight. Jeremy Wilson has stated in The Telegraph that Arsenal will look to tie him down to a two year deal and they will begin the search for a new manager now, with Martinez and Klopp heading the queue.

Now, for me, that’s a shame. When your manager rolls into a press conference and states that there was no rational explanation in being spanked 6-0 by a rival, you know you’re dealing with someone who is unconsciously incompetent. There are a whole raft of reasons we continuously get found out against big name opposition. Sadly, nearly all of them centre around manager ineptitude.

Back to the manager hunt. As I said yesterday, the new person coming in will hopefully have a solid base of contracted players to work from. I think the club will be keen to bring in a manager they can make King, rather than one of the old school elite like Ancellotti or Van Gaal.

There are lots of exciting names around Europe, all who come with their, ‘I’d prefer Arsene’ tags. Gary Neville came out and said a new manager and £100m spent won’t guarantee success. Point here is that no one thinks it will. What you can be pretty sure about is £100m sitting in a bank and a squad being managed by a manager stuck in his ways won’t guarantee us success either. A change is the more likely of the two to give Arsenal fans what they’re looking for.

So who is there in Europe?

Rudi Garcia, the man who won a title with Lille and helped Hazard and Gervinho flourish. He’s now at Roma doing fabulous things again… and he’s rekindled Gervinho’s flair. Who knew? Again, a clever manager with smart training and great vision when it comes to the game.

Jurgen Klopp, everyone’s favourite to takeover from Arsene. He’s a long term manager having spent 7 years in his previous job with lowly Mainz. He’s a fearsome character that boasts a many layers. Charismatic, scary, warm, humorous… He has it all. He’s also crazy about the detail and his fitness vision for Dortmund. What he did with that club a few years ago was nothing short of genius. Their training techniques are space age like, their scouting network is absolutely top notch (the global equivalent of where Arsenal were in the early 2000s) and his style would fit perfectly for us. Fans point out he’s having a rough time this year, sure, he is, but when you’re so far away from Bayern in terms of finances and their strategy is to pinch your best players, it’s quite hard to compete. As Rapha Honigstein pointed out the other day, QPR have a bigger wage bill than Dortmund. Think about that as they move into the quarters of the Champions League.

Roberto Martinez: Now look, I was one who was guilty of not quite understanding the Martinez fascination by many clubs and fans. I thought his philosophy of great football at Wigan was admirable, but he didn’t really have the players to make it happen, which felt like a bit of a blight on his ability. He was trying to funnel a vision into a group of players who couldn’t act it out. Well, he landed his move to Everton and now that vision has been realised. He’s well prepared, he’s very tactically aware, he’s thorough (watching previous games up to ten times to analyse) and he’s likeable and charismatic. Does he have the pull of world class players? Does he have the strength of character when the chips are down? I don’t know. But he’s a man you could make king.

Stoijkovic has thrown his name into the ‘ I’M AVAILABLE’ hat. Now, I don’t know that much about him, but I do know this… he’s close with Arsene Wenger. They talk all the time. Now, if there is ANY lesson to learn from the appointment of David Moyes, it’s this one.


I don’t’ think I can be any clearer than that. Arsene Wenger is a relic of the past. He can’t possibly recognise the talents you need to be a good modern day manager, because he’s not a good modern day manager. Wenger doesn’t even recognise the reasons his teams are being spanked by good modern day managers. Under no circumstances can the king maker of the next manager be Arsene Wenger. The decision for the new manager has to come from Ivan. Not the outgoing manager. The whole point of a new manager is to get the club back. Get a real structure. To never let one man assume so much control he can’t be touched or held accountable.

Diego Simeone is the latest hot stuff on the block. He’s had a pretty mental career for a 43 year old. He’s managed about 10 clubs. He won trophies for Estudiantes and River Plate. He had some less fun times in Italy and Spain before taking over at Atletico in 2011 where he won the Europa League, the Super Cup, the Copa Del Ray… and now he’s contending La Liga this season. He has a team of attacking flair players built around tactical astuteness common in the new breed of up and coming managers. He also boasts the same reputation a man like Guardiola had as a player. He has that fire and drive that made him so hated among England fans in the 98 World Cup (I think it was 98).

The interesting thing about football managers is that they have great stock, then it disappears. People are so up and down on them because the career trajectory of a manager is supposed to be up, up and up. That’s not how you develop unless you’re a freak of nature like Guardiola or Ferguson. In the real world, you make some mistakes, you take some jobs where the working situation doesn’t suit you. Where the clients are wrong. Where the culture is alien. But, if you’re good, you find your way in the end.

Laudrup has a bad season after winning a cup for Swansea and he’s snarled at as a ‘ oh you rated him’ type of manager. Frank Rijkarrd rejuvenates Barcelona and wins a Champions League, has one bad year and he’s castigated as a poor manager and doesn’t get a decent job again. People forget Arsene Wenger was sacked by Monaco. Jurgen Klopp bombed about at Mainz after failure to rewin promotion for the second time. David Dein bankrupted a sugar factory. Henry Ford, Walt Disney and even HJ Heinz went bust before they found success.

It’s the failures that make you stronger. It’s the failures that help you round yourself as a person. It’s the experience that come with failure that show strength of character.

Which is why I find the mentality to football management so immature. Not that I’m demanding a failure, more that I think snorting at Klopp after a bad year or questioning Simeone because he’s taken shocking jobs in the past is a nonsense.

You’ll always find a reason to stick with top 4 mediocrity. It’ll always be a gamble to go with something different. But for me, football is about glory. Chelsea are the most unstable club on the planet, yet they have way more trophies than us over the last 9 years. I’m not saying I want that type of managerial merry-go-round for us, but I am saying I’d like some of that drive to be the best. To go the extra mile. To create some history outside of a stadium fans are still cooing about 10 years later.

London Living Wage

I spoke the other week about how ridiculous Arsenal fans are for crying over my assertions that Abou Diaby should be told to sling his hook. I find it absurd that people can genuinely argue the continuity of his contract despite offering almost nothing to the cause for 2 years… or much of the last 7 years (on £65k a week).

So here is my issue. A real cause is people who want to work. People who want to earn money for their families. People who don’t want to take handouts. These people work as cleaners, handymen or just general hired help. If they live in London, it’s generally way more expensive, so the minimum wage is grossly under what they need to sustain a living.

Cue the London Living Wage.

The sum for London Living Wage is set at just £8.80 per hour and is calculated by professional statisticians and economists for the Mayor of London.

The cost of paying this to the 817 part-time employees identified in the last Arsenal accounts would be less than a fortnight’s wages for Ozil.

For people who struggle to heat their homes, feed their families and lose hours they could be with their families whilst they run several jobs and travel long distances by bus as the only transport they can afford, Arsenal adopting the London Living Wage would be life changing.

Arsenal reach out to poor communities abroad with some incredible charitable efforts. They support superb causes like Save The Children. They have some fantastic local causes they look after as well. As a club, we have a conscience we as fans can all be proud of… so why not look after the people who are trying to look after themselves?

Why not look after the people who look after the club everyday? That make the match experience clean and comfortable? That work horrendous hours to ensure the basics are done correctly?

It’s not just Arsenal who aren’t playing ball here, but Arsenal are leaders. Arsenal boast class. Arsenal should be taking the initiative here. After nine months, the guys and gals behind this initiative are still no nearer an agreement. I find this pretty upsetting and disappointing.

Now, I don’t want to go all militant on this, but if you have a spare 25 seconds, click the below button and tweet Arsenal to show your support for our temporary workers. This is an important cause. We should show our temporary staff the same empathy we show our players.


Arsene exit strategies

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I’ve been writing articles like the one I penned yesterday for the best part of 7 years, but never have I had so much reluctant agreement. Hardened Arsenal fans from all spectrum’s of ‘Arsene Wenger belief’ all in acceptance that change has to come. Today’s focus will be along those lines, but maybe we’ll bounce around a bit more.

Firstly, the FA Cup. What does it now mean? Well, firstly, it’s an opportunity for the manager to place some sort of progress on the season. As it stands, it looks like we could just be aiming for 4th. All the teams above us in the league banged in 5+ goals this weekend, so the momentum really isn’t with us. 4th isn’t really progress, though clearly, the fact we’re where we are right now is still a massive jump in comparison to last season. So no baby out with the bath water. How Wenger, has that team, in the position it is right now is nothing short of a miracle. One average striker, poor approach to tactics and a flagrant disregard for player fitness and we’re contending the league. Work that one out?


I hope Arsene doesn’t sign

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1000 games. It’s a big number. The managers first 500 games were all about changing the world. He did that. He introduced a powerful brand of stylish football that put Arsenal on the map forever and changed perception in a quite unbelievable way. Arsene Wenger was the man who took a wire basket making company and turned it into the biggest marketing brand in the world, he was the person that made Burberry cool again… he was the guy that set the bar in North London.

The second 500 games, the success has been a different kind. He masterfully meandered the stadium move, keeping us competitive, an incredible achievement that is possibly one of his finest. However, the last 5 years have seen him fall off the elite manager train. The last 500 league games have seen him lose his touch in the transfer market, fall behind in the world of tech and consistently lose his way against top teams.