Return Of The Arsenal Superhero


I am not sure a superhero costume is necessarily the right thing for him. Indeed, I would argue that he isn’t one but to some it doesn’t matter; Arsène is in trouble, send for him. Niall Quinn has called for David Dein to return to Arsenal to give the club a better chance of success. According to Quinn, the day Dein left was the day Arsenal stopped being a football club. It’s a commonly held view that conveniently omits the truth; one man saw this period of prosperity and engineered both Kroenke and Usmanov’s arrival. The aspect he didn’t share is the stadium; he wanted the short-cut of being tenants (or owning) Wembley Stadium when it was being redeveloped.

The question of Dein’s return follows the same spurious logic about Arsène’s own future. His contract remains unsigned and the stories emerge of the board becoming nervous about whether it will be. Or how, as John Cross puts it this morning, you should be careful of what you wish for, David Moyes at Manchester United proves what happens when you try to replace a manager who is pivotal in a club’s history. I believe the biggest mistake United made was letting Ferguson have any part in the selection process for his successor. It strikes me as human nature that he would choose someone to whom he could relate, someone who seems like a ‘mini-me’; a protegé. Arsenal could fall into the same trap by letting Arsène have too much influence when the time comes. Reportedly, the Arsenal hierarchy are concerned he has not signed the contract. I cannot see why, Wenger has left renewals until the end of the season before but like a large number of supporters, they have known no other manager and recall the last time around when Arsène signed quickly during the season.

Be careful what you wish for is a mantra coming into play now. Every replacement for Arsène is disparaged as being unproven in the Premier League, no trophies to their name. It is a false refuge; if we apply that same criteria to the players, what money Wenger has spent has been wasted. We don’t have a Premier League champion in the squad, probably haven’t done so since Michael Silvestre left. Think about the spurious logic I just applied to players before you apply the same false rationale to the future managers of the club. This is about Arsenal’s future; I have no issue with either end of the spectrum, like most I occupy the middle ground capable of joy and despair in equal measure. Sometimes, emotions are rawer, memories of some wins and defeats linger. Losing to Chelsea has seared into my psyche and I am not alone in that. But the season has not imploded because of Stamford Bridge, arguably the defeat at Anfield was more damaging as it was the beginning of a run of seven games which has seen just two wins and two draws with the team at the top of the table and relishing the upcoming clashes with rivals, failing miserably in them all.

The first half of the season spoiled us; Aside from Villa, Arsenal won matches that they previously come a cropper in. Or did they? I cannot see one where that scenario fits, indeed there were two out of the norm which were the opening day defeat and the win over Liverpool. Everything else pretty much went to the form of the last few seasons. The difference was that the fixture list brought them all into one run, much like the tail end of last season. Arsenal capitalised and built up a head of steam but rather than being a marked improvement, were they flattering to deceive? The failure to take more than two points from four key matches before Christmas suggests that to be the case. Hindsight suggests that the first warning signs should have registered when an exceptionally ordinary Manchester United side won at Old Trafford in the November meeting between the two sides. Of course injuries play a part and losing Ramsey and Walcott has hurt. Wilshere too but the recurring them in all of this is that there was an opportunity to rectify that and that was spurned; another familiar theme of recent windows. The squad was left light through under-investment and now Arsène is reaping the reward.

And the summer’s movements are already well under discussion. At least Team Sagna are not being slow to leak news of other clubs interest in Mr Consistent. Latest to offer him a three-year deal are Manchester City, reportedly at £90k per week as opposed to the weekly wage of £60k over two years. Presuming that this is correct and you have to allow for both agent and club spin on the situation, you have to wonder why City are interested and willing to tie the player to a three-year deal. They can afford to will be the quick answer; so can Arsenal. It just begs the question as to why one club only values over-30 players at two-years (with an option according to some) and others are more phlegmatic about it; perhaps more practical. It used to be the acknowledged policy for those approaching football’s pensionable age to be given a rolling one-year deal, now they are getting two straight years but to me that devalues what a player is bringing to the squad. Sagna still has a season and a half of first XI football in him (at least) and more importantly, that is allowing Arsenal to bring through whichever youngster at a slower pace, making sure their adaptation from reserves to first team is smooth, that they are pushed into the first XI on a regular basis when ready rather than out of necessity. Signing the full back for longer this time allows Wenger to address more urgent needs in the squad and not have to worry about replacing Vermaelen (I am convinced him will leave this summer) as well as finding new midfielders and another striker. At the last count, the squad felt about half-a-dozen players short if Sagna leaves; Arsenal are incapable of sealing that many deals in one transfer window, they simply are not geared up to it.

At the moment, Arsène is woefully short of options to offer any respite to his players who are shorn of confidence and self-belief. City are probably the best and worst of opponents to face; good for the players to be facing a tough match, a win would do wonders but a team more geared to ruthlessly expose weaknesses, you could not wish to meet. A pity the walking wounded are not fit but even if they were, a place on the bench is the best we can hope for.

’til Tomorrow.

140 thoughts on “Return Of The Arsenal Superhero

  1. unless we keep clean sheets in the last 7 games, our defensive record hasnt improved from last year at all..
    and unless we score more than two goals per game, our attacks not improved either..

  2. Two Spuds supporters, Lional and Eric, are walking along a country lane when they meat two Arsenal supporters walking in the opposite direction. The Arsenal supporters are carrying two massive salmon.

    The spud supporters ask, “Where did you get those?” and the Gooners reply, “If you go back along the lane there’s a bridge, you take your mate by the ankles, dangle him over the bridge and as the fish swim by he grabs them”

    Great say the Spuds supporters and continue walking along the lane till they get to the bridge. Lional takes Eric by the ankles and dangles him over the bridge.

    30 minutes go by, Lional shouts to Eric, “Have you caught anything yet?” and Eric replies, “No not yet Lional”

    An hour goes by. Lional shouts, ” Eric, have you caught a fish yet?”…. the reply comes back, “No Lional nothing yet”

    One and a half hours go by, “Anything yet Eric?” the reply “No Lional, haven’t got anything yet”

    After two hours, Eric shouts up, “Lional, Lional, pull me up, pull me up quick” and Lional shouts back, “why Eric, have you caught a fish?

    And Lional shouts back, “No, there’s a FUCKING TRAIN COMING”

  3. Mental superflow in top team sports is extremely rare. You need a long run of bad results or bad luck, then start rallying back and have enough top quality to not get caught out when faced with equal or better opposition. I don’t remember a run as spectacular as Liverpool’s for a long time and kudos to them! It’s all just clicked, BR’s man management, battling to keep Suarez, the shrink as well.

    Overwhelming squads like Man City and Chelsea (or PSG and Bayern) don’t flow, but they have the confidence of superiors. Arsenal would be difficult to flow, Arsène being in a long time and the “getting a new manager trick” thing usually lasts only a short time.

    And what Man United are going through is an unflow of the worst kind! It’s strange to feel sympathy for something that was your worst enemy just 10 years ago.

  4. That should have been.. Eric shouts back, ………I really do need to proof read my text before posting lol

  5. Really guys come on!

    So what do you expect AW to do in a press conference, simply say we are fighting for 4th, when we are not mathematically put of the PL title? You guys certainly do an excellent job of being extreme when upset!

  6. Team Spirit is right, no matter how improbable, mathematically, we are still in with a chance of the PL. It’s not over till the final whistle of the final game of the season.

  7. @Northbank

    True enough, mathematically I’m still in with a chance of winning the lotto this week 🙂

    Oh, if I do… drinks on me 🙂

  8. @MA

    I saw those and I hope those aren’t true. 2-3 years ago I would have gladly taken M’villa but since then I haven’t seen much of him but if Rubin Kazan is so willing to let him go then he must not have impressed there.

  9. Pires always just seems to make sense and I wouldn’t mind him joining the staff sooner rather than later:

    It’s very important to buy the other striker because maybe you can play 4-4-2. The priority must be a new striker to play with Olivier Giroud.

    For the moment, it’s a good season. They are fourth and they are playing against Wigan in the semi-final of the FA Cup.

    On Saturday, against Manchester City, it’s like a final for the future. If Arsenal win, it’s possible to win the title. You never know when you’re talking about football.

    I always believe in Arsene Wenger, in this team and the players themselves. I’m confident for Arsenal.

    If we lose against Manchester City, the season is finished in terms of the Premier League.

  10. MA

    Personally, on Saturday I think City are going to pull our pants down, grease us up and aim for penetration….. I really can’t envisage any other outcome.

  11. Don’t worry you will still be allowed to rejoice when we beat city on Saturday

    Even if you always already knew we will lose since it is written in the stars and not the outcome of how the game of football will pan out over 90+ minutes

  12. Team Spirit

    I’ll eat more than my hat if we beat City…. I’d eat me trousers, shirt, shoes socks and lucky knickers and then run around Avignon naked

  13. Hello,
    Based on the insteresting readings across the board, I feel like an endangered piece writing this. Do not worry chaps Arsene would leave when he wants to or when someone wants him to be that his creator or his boss.

    The goal post from the media has been changing frequently this season as this group of players was underrated, why would the Arsenal fans of the so ”called middle ground” feel the need to change their views of what Arsenal as a club and Arsene achieved since the move to the stadium is beyond me: Pure revisionism I must say. I have seen all sort of stats being thrown around – it is baffling.

    No one is going to convince me at this stage of the seasons that all these 9 years have been the same, please do not even try. It has been hard, there has been lots of joy as well. We have had nights, days, months, trips where we could wear the jersey and hang around in town in many parts of the world with pride.

    I want Arsene and Ivan to do just more and better than they did last summer, keep all your best players and strengthen – success will follow. Pointless arguing that we have been saying the same thing the previous 4-5 years. Even if as fans we would admit it, we were a selling club between 2008-2012.

    The Prof has his responsibilities in that but from what I undrstand that cycle came to an end this year. Funds are available, why would we not make this squad stonger, why would Arsene keep ”his ways” and buy smart as he did in that remarkable first part of his reign?

    And to those Klopp-ers where is Dort in the Bundes right now?

    Months ago almost everyone on this board agreed that Arsene has earned the right to be the first coach t enjoy this new era (yes Bob the end of an era for me since that Article last year I was hoping for was that one – the balance the books era)

    Quel monde de fous ce football?


  14. i think at this stage the city game is damage limitation..
    put 11 men behind the ball and make sure we dont get beat..

    the game against everton is a must win..a 6 pointer..if we win that 4ths pretty much tied up..

    then we can concentrate on wigan…

  15. Ok then MA… please leave ur hat for a better use than food though… am a gracious winner. LOL

    NB1969…Eat an entire wardrobe? Seriously? Nothing is that serious… its not really in the realms of la la land for Arsenal to beat city u know… its these pesky last few games that is causing this level of panic…

    Relax people!

  16. @ Foetry, more eloquently put that i managed i think…

    This season is definitely the beginning of a new cycle!

  17. Well TS. You have always been an Arsene supporter above all else. Good luck, I hope you are right but your rather superior attitude is based on just that, a sense of superiority.

    People here are quite capable of seeing the world and making a judgement. So, it doesn’t agree with yours. That’s how it is.

    I wouldn’t dream of saying that you are a fool. Why do you feel able to tell so many that they are? Live a little, savour the world in all it’s differences. You might be right. Then again?

  18. I agree with so much in this incisive post, YW. Artful, concise, and full of thoughtful analysis.

  19. weve always been a selling club under arsene..

    anelka – overmars..

    buy small, sell big, buy small…

    the term resale value is very much a wenger moulded term when it comes to transfer market strategies…wasnt something new in the last 10 years it was just more emphasised because we werent winning trophies and werent paying our players enough so they were leaving at will…and the landscape of the game had changed he no longer has the best scouting networks nor does he have first pick of an unknown batch of french players from a golden era to replace the players hes sold..

    i very much doubt arsene has desires to spend 60mil per transfer window…hes had money to spend for years hes either mispent it or stashed it as the bank account shows…

    ozil was the exception but he had no choice in the matter as ivan had told everyone weve been keeping our powder dry and were after the rooneys of the world and not only the fans but the players in the team were looking forward to a superstar signing..even then – it was a botch job of a window with millions at his disposal just as the previous years have been…

    if anyone thinks hes going to suddenly change philospohies and spend 100mil chasing trophies when hes only considering another two years in the job they are seriously mistaken..

    he’ll keep doing what hes doing and put the majority in the bank and thats why stan and ivan want him to stay forever…

  20. Team Spirit

    As has been said several times today nobody is panicking.

    Furthermore , if you actually read the majority of posts the last few games have just reinforced rather than formed opinion.

  21. C, I agree 100% with your comment at 3:52. I don’t want to call for his head or make it all about the manager. I feel the club hierarchy too is complicit. There is a job to be done this summer–lots of purchases needed–and it needs to get done by our club do AFC can succeed. If AW does it, fine. But I have been saying the last couple of weeks as YW did in the main post that I don’t think we can do that amount of business– so the key is keeping Sagna and Vermaelenlen so we can concentrate on bringing in 3-4.

  22. I hope Liverpool wins it if we aren’t going to do it. At least there is hope that money can be overcome. Tbh, ManU did it to some extent as well under Fergie.

    However, it will reflect poorly on us. That is the reason many will not want Liverpool to win.

  23. C, how can one get tickets to the Red Bulls Arsenal match. I could drop down there perhaps–and tell IrishGray too.

  24. @ Consols, Either you are mixing me up with someone else or else am definitely baffled at where you get the impression i have a superior attitude… definitely not my intention….

    Rather attempting to tone down on the level of extreme reactions i see. I have never thought we all needed to agree, Should that stop me from stating my own observations? Am definitely baffled.

    Am naturally a more optimistic person than most, not so much to do with being an AW supporter above all else. he has his faults and ironically, unlike people that would say DB!0 or Henry is god for example i don’t believe any human is perfect and never makes mistakes. So i have not said that all is perfectly excellent, extremely good etc. just not as bad as claimed either!

    Someone says he sees us being totally beaten on Saturday, nothing else and i say it is rather determined by what happens in 90 mins plus of football and that means i have a superior attitude?

    sincerely with all my heart, i am baffled at your take.

    i understand you are not saying i actually used the word “fool” to describe anyone so pls explain how u came to the conclusion i am calling everyone fools?

    The core of the points i have tried to make are
    * I think AW can still take Arsenal forward
    * All of the last 9 years have not all been the same with different factors contributing to not doing as well as expectations, key among which was selling star players along with injuries; team rebuilding; players not just turning on in some games, tactics not working out, officials intervention, among others
    * This was the first season we have not sold a key player as if we are compelled to, and we are likely to continue like this except for those that actually want to leave eg fabianski, which is less about money and more about playing time. and Sagna whom i think we can still keep… Walcott’s contract negotiations spring to mind
    * The season is not yet actually ended so anything can still happen

    Apart from sounding very optimistic compared to other outlooks where are this great superiority and insults hidden? I genuinely want to know

  25. I do agree that the philosophy is not going to change over night. But who cares really, we just want more success on the pitch so as long as we do the absolute necessary in this ”new era” to have a squad that can compete. I salute and respect the philosophy and also feel that it would have been a sensible move not to increase the tickets prices for a couple of years at least. But I would have to disagree that we have always been a selling club.

    When the Overmars and Anelka’s of this world were being sold, I mean throughout the first part of Arsene tenure, we always had replacements. Selling back then did not weaken the squad and that difference to me was fundamental. Post 2008 when we sold our best players it was always detrimental to the quality of the squad despite making huge profits funds were not re-invested to get the quality we used to get prior to the move to the Emirates. No need to elaborate on the hows and whys it has been debated over and over.

    And it is really unfair to be comparing Fergie’s successful years to Wenger’s entire 15 years. Why should we venture into re-writing history when we know that Arsene out performed anyone else on the pitch in England in the first decade of his reign?

    On that note JJ, we know that Fergie’s won a lot more but it is false to state he did so by selling also his best players. The only Utd player I see as one his best at the time of sale was Ronaldo? A part from him he always managed their careers the way we did with our best till 2006-2007.

    My opinion anyway

  26. i think you misunderstood my comment..
    i dont care about utd, my point was we shouldnt be comparing us with them after fergie left in regards to arsene leaving because the circumstances are totally different..
    one manager won everything, year in year out, the other has not won anything and accepted 4th as success for nearly a decade..
    utd always had an uphill task replacing someone who won everything in the game for 20 years..
    us being afraid of wenger leaving after the last 10 years smacks of lack of ambition from an owner who knows no different, certain fans who know no different, and fans who refuse to let go and think hes still the same manager he was 16 years ago..
    he isnt, and hes reaching retirement age, and no amount of investment is going to solve the issues he has with tactics against the big teams and his inability to keep key players fit for a season..

    thats my opinion..

    and if he stays then so be it.. but ill be hugely dissapointed that hes chosen to stay, even though hes already questioning his own abilities by not already signing a new deal and even if he does its a only a two year one..if the doubts are there now about our long term future its time to step down.

    and if he stays because the board havent got anyone else lined up and they need time then its just gross negligence because lining someone up is something they should have been doing last year when he was entering the final year of his contract….but thats something weve been used to at arsenal over the years, leave it until the last minute, make a panic decision and then hide behind the balance sheet when it goes tits up…

  27. I think you have to temper this sort of discussion with a bit more calculation as to what is best for the club. Whilst I agree he has reached a glass ceiling somewhat of his own making, I don’t agree that switching things round would necessarily get us closer to our goals. In fact it may well leave us further afield.

    I do not agree that Wenger has not paid attention to squad depth.

    This squad is comparable in number and quality for most parts. Where it is marginally weaker (which translates to a massive advantage to them) is up top where we have been lightweight to all 3 peer competitors this season. This is a slight but significant difference.

    Wenger has consistently been 2-3 players short of competitive over the last 5 to 6 seasons. we are about one player short this season so there is improvement. Unfortunately it hasn’t entirely translated in terms of league finish (a t the moment at least)

    I agree that Wenger’s mistakes were largely done last summer where we added Ozil but may have lost out on primary targets (in Higuain and Suarez) permutating how we can accomodate a bid for the german at end of window. The timing to let go of the Suarez chase was also wrong. We held on too late and lost our secondary targets.

    OTOH, I’m not sure it is as easy to castigate him this January as many of the players mooted were too old (Berbatov, who would not have come on loan and would be on our books for 2-3 seasons with a high pay check even if he failed to materialise his advertised potential), not fantastic (Mitrogolou) particularly considering the players that may come available this summer, or cup tied.

    So on balance, I don’t think it is entirely an issue with team depth. We have as many players as any team including City but are at present out on 4 influential players in ozil, Ramsey, Jack and Walcott. If it were City it would be akin to Silva, fernandhino, Rodwell and Nasri for argument sake.

    Nor can we say he has to add an unecessarily larger number than say City due to our poor injury record. We have two spare against them in midfield which is where we are hardest hit, and have been lucky up top and in defense where injuries have been less of an issue.

    Rather I feel the central problem with Wenger (particularly against the better opponents) has been his tactics. He isn’t a poor tactician by any means, but (particularly in the first half of his reign), his market acumen covered up cracks where he enjoyed a monopoly on foreign players which coincided with a bumper crop in France. The league has changed with many less illustrious teams able (and willing now) to afford foreign players (say le newcastle) and there has been a squeeze in the talent market overseas from both above and below in the league. new money lined entrants in Chelsea and City have also ensured that the players we once were able to bring in on the cheap are now over inflated largely beyond our means till recently (and even so we have limits to consider where they do not)

    Thereby tactics have come to the fore front and in that Wenger is failing. Remember the game when RVP shot a look at the bench when Wenger decided to withdraw our most effective player (I believe it was Chamberlain)? I think the writing has been on the wall for some seasons with the senior players that have left disatisfied with the tactical approach as much as the fialure to add in those seasons (with a fair amount of greed of course thrown in)

    Now the question is IF we move Wenger on, who can we bring on that will push the club aong in the right direction?

    Reactionary calls for the likes of Martinez on one good season with Everton feel me with dread. Moyes was similarly touted for his over achievement with the same club over 7 seasons.

    Klopp is another flavour of the month but aside from whether he would actually see us as an improvement on Dortmund, we should also remember that Wenger’s classical music beat out his rock and roll, and this is from a manager who isn’t the best tactician in the land over here.

    I think the argument in favour for a replacement now would be :

    1) Wenger has lost faith in his own ability to carry us beyond a (admitedly) very high stagnation point of a consistent 4th place finish and CL.

    2) We don’t think Wenger’s tactical approach will afford us any better joy in coming years.

    3) It is a world cup year and a number of managers will be out of a job come after summer. perhaps a good time to shop around for the successor.

    yet we should also be mindful that Wenger (even if he decides to depart) will see this as a personal project 9which to be fair to him it has been for 17 seasons through good and bad). he has laid the foundation to turn things round with the club having a slew of exciting young talents married with more practical heads who have recently signed extensions.

    We should also remember that whilst Wenger has not bridged the gap tactically against the big teams over several seasons now, that he has managed to tighten our defense by and large where he was once viewd as incapable of building a proper defense. So the gaffer does have a capacity to learn albeit perhaps at a slower rate than you or I would prefer.

    I think if we find a manager that can truly bring the club forward, we should bite the bullet. But this will be likely tempered by who Wenger feels is his successor, if supposing he decides not to extend. Despite recent failings, his stature in the club is such that he will have a say like it or not.

    remember the board will also cast a wary eye on the happenings at UNited. they won’t want to take full blame for the annointing of a dud and draw heat down the line. they’d much rather have Wenger sanction the move and cover their arses in that respect. They are after all suits.

    So it really boils down to Wenger. Who does he feel shares his similar ethos and is that person ready at this point to take the reigns.

    Call for change is easy but getting someone in who can deliver maybe not quite so. The safe option IMO is to bring someone with a fair amount of pedigree as a stop gap if we do not find the person to take on the job for the long haul.

    There is no reason o believe that Klopp successful at Dortmund will share equal success here in England given our spending habits. This isn’t going to change drastically IMO even with a new manager.

    Nor will someone untried like Martinez be a preferable choice. May as well get Laudrup last season then.

    There are other managers currently engaged in national squads in Blanc, HIddink or Klinssman who may offer interesting options. In Klinssman, one has an ex Spud player who has revolutionized German football. Ex United, Blanc is a steady manager guiding a weak France through a difficult period.

    Hiddink because of his age is likely a better stop gap.

    All 3 share similar attacking principals, some perhaps a bit more pragmatic than Arsene, some less experienced and perhaps with more maverick qualities. But all 3 are proven on the big stage and crucially have an interest in development which fits Wenger’s ethos.

    If none are ready to take on the job at the moment that Wenger feels are worthy to succeed him, it will then depend I feel on whether he can engineer the consolation prize in the FA cup and possibility to bolster the case a 3rd or better finish. if so, he may elect to give it another year or two in transition.

    Well, we’ll see which way the wind blows but I must say it isn’t as simple as just changing the zipper on a malfunctioniing jacket (although it should be) surely. We have as much to expect should change for the better in aspiration and delivery with a new manager as there is to protect in what we have now at minimum with Wenger ‘s consistency over the years. The balance is at the moment tilting in favour of course on the former.

  28. YW:

    “Be careful what you wish for is a mantra coming into play now. Every replacement for Arsène is disparaged as being unproven in the Premier League, no trophies to their name. It is a false refuge”

    Absolutely, Wenger himself was signed with unproven quality in the Premier League……….and guess what, the Man who had the Guts to bring him in was David Dean.

    In my opinion, David Dean made a mistake by selling his shares away. It was a tough decision that he had to make. His shares could have been a bargaining chip or they could have been utterly useless if he waited too long.

    Coming back to the club may be difficult, but in any case, we need someone with Guts, like him.

    Nothing lives forever……

    How the days have changed? A few years back City used to shit in their shorts thinking of playing us . Now, we are dreading their visit?

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