Champions? You’re having a laugh

Champions

“Samir Nasri hits out at Arsenal: this is why they’re struggling to win titles,” roared the headlines in the Daily Star. If the answer Samir, is that the first team squad should go to America and have an IV drip put into their arms with an unidentified substance pulsed into their veins, we’ll stay as also-rans rather than champions. Just to be safe, like.

Thanks very much for your concern, though.

I did go and read the story to save you the effort and basically, it’s a rehash of an interview he did with a French magazine, Onze Mondial, with nothing much to say on the subject. New stadium build affected recruitment, board unwilling to go into debt to buy players. Yadda, yadda, yadda, as I believe our American cousins are want to say.

One great phrase though which ought to be borne in mind when thinking about the FA Cup is, “Since I left, they have won two Cups. They are trophies and all trophies are good to take.”

Which is a hard viewpoint to argue with although I wonder if he would be so positive were the EFL Cup the subject of the day?

FA Cup fourth round draw

The FA is a more realistic target although that may be doubtful. Southampton or Norwich City away. History says we want Southampton to win; every time we’ve played them in the FA Cup, we’ve reached Wembley. Or maybe the final is a better claim: 1927, 1979 and of course, 2003.

Norwich? We’ve never lost an FA Cup tie at Carrow Road which is a good sign but given the last meeting was in 1974, it’s not a particularly relevant statistic. That Arsenal beat anyone in 1974 was impressive; it wasn’t a good vintage. I’ll skirt over the only 4th round meeting with the Canaries. We don’t want to mention that they beat us 2 – 1 but that was at Highbury, so it doesn’t count, does it?

But we all want to be champions

It’s the bane of Arsène’s life. Everyone bangs on about the ‘Invincibles’ and that pesky 2003/04 season. Once the FA Cup was landed in 2014, it was always going to be a Premier League title-winning millstone placed around his neck.

More than a decade on and Arsenal managed, in my view, just one genuine title challenge in that time: 2007/08. Alex Hleb, a member of the team, admits that the terrible injury suffered by Eduardo was the reason that squad didn’t become champions that season.

Speaking to Sportskeeda, the Belarussian confirmed what many of this think. Life at Arsenal lacks the cut-throat edge which marks out the difference between champions and the rest. He was, he said, “at home, really comfortable.” At Barcelona, “it was different”.

The players at that time were protected to some extent, from the weight of expectation as everyone adjusted to the new stadium and its’ impact on the club. That and a promising young squad playing vibrant football. There was a bright future albeit one with clouds.

Hleb’s departure was messy. No mention of the Milan ice-cream fiasco in the interview but he admitted he was on the verge of joining Bayern Munich until Barcelona wouldn’t leave him alone.

But why won’t we be Champions, Alex?

Like Nasri, Hleb has a view on why Arsenal won’t win the title. “They lack stability that results in dropped points,” and, “it is hard to recover lost points,” in the Premier League.

It’s hard to know what stability we lack. The XI doesn’t change very often; Wenger is a keen proponent of the notion that players can play their way back into form. Like a lot of former players, Hleb remains loyal to Wenger. That’s loyal when it doesn’t conflict with their self-interest in leaving the club.

In his opinion, Wenger won’t leave, and he “still has got a lot to give to the club; he is always full of ideas.” Being “full of ideas” doesn’t necessarily mean they are good ones.

But Hleb is another who believes you have to be careful what you wish for. Some killer insights, “if a new coach comes, it would be a different team,” dim the main thrust of his point which is,

“There is no guarantee that Arsenal would remain a bright team like they have been for many years. You can take Manchester United’s example after Sir Alex Ferguson retired.”

You can indeed take United as an example. Moyes, a Ferguson-lite, proved hopeless. Van Gaal was simply bizarre but in keeping with his previous career, a disastrous appointment after leaving the Dutch job, as Barcelona found out a decade before.

Arsenal should take heed. Wenger-lite is going to damage the club more than a complete change of style.

Change for change’s sake isn’t the case here

As for Hleb’s claim that we wouldn’t be the same bright team is probably better put as we wouldn’t be the same club. That’s the idea of changing coaches, as I understand it. There’s something wrong, or stagnation has set in, and you need to fix it. If you wanted the same club, you wouldn’t bother bringing in a new manager.

Every one of us has a view on Arsène’s future which influences our portrayal of the next manager. Will Mesut Özil’s recent interview with Kicker speed the process up?

The danger for Arsène in announcing his intentions is that the club goes into a tailspin and falls out of the Champions League. But holding on to the summer is as damaging. Arsenal are left with less time to plan for the next season – I don’t have confidence that the board will act swiftly to replace him – unless the new manager is ‘appointed’ but not announced before the end of the season.

Guardiola guided City’s purchases while in charge at Bayern and the contention that Joe Hart only had a couple of training sessions leaves me nonplussed; the Spaniard watched all City’s games – by his own admission – and made up his mind about the England ‘keeper then. Hart had a couple of sessions and didn’t do enough to change Pep’s mind. A subtle difference.

Not that Özil believes Arsène will have to leave. He remains confident that winning the title shouldn’t be ruled out. The German believes that just as Leicester overhauled us, Chelsea can be caught too. OK, so we were only a point clear, and it was easier to reel us in. But I like his optimism, nonetheless.

Which is more important – Champions or Champions League?

This season is proving the obsession with Champions League football is madness. Chelsea, out of Europe, are top. Liverpool, out of Europe, are second. There’s a theme that their squads are benefiting from less football. It gives the managers more time with the players while their squad members aren’t short-sighted enough to believe they will never reclaim their place at the top.

Özil repeats the fear that we could drop out of Europe altogether. It could happen but with our wealth, we ought to be able to strengthen the squad sufficiently to haul ourselves to back into the top six. If dropping out of Europe for a season is the price we pay to solve our problems or refresh our thinking, then it is a price worth paying.

Change is going to happen but change for change’s sake isn’t the issue here. It’s about improving the club’s on-the-pitch performances to challenge for the title. If you think Arsène is the man to do it, that’s fine. But not changing through fear of change, which essentially underpins Hleb’s opinion, is madness.

’til Tomorrow.

83 thoughts on “Champions? You’re having a laugh

  1. Quite right YW, failure to change through fear of changing is madness (there’s a popular book “Who Moved My Cheese” for those who have trouble countenancing the prospect of change btw).

    The ’07-’08 side could have won the title that year with a few older wiser heads in the mix. When faced with adversity (points deduction, incarcerated captain for example) the old Arsenal would have used it to drive them on. But AW’s Arsenal has a very different mentality.

  2. I guess it is my fair to suggest that the post continues on the issues raised yesterday- change. Your initial posts on the subject spoke to a wholesale change in the organisational ethos, especially at board and executive levels. You seem to have pointed your guns at the manager lately, presumably because of his contract situation, but I was just wondering if that’s a slight change in your view of what needs to happen. Is it your view that the “stagnation” is at technical level that a change in the manager will likely arrest the “malaise”?

    Personally, I would like the manager to call it quits, only because I believe in the injection of fresh ideas at coaching level. Especially if you are going to be bringing in top managerial talent, not the romantic notions of Howe, Henry etc. In saying that though, I am not in the school of thought that says we will never win a title with Wenger in charge again. If it had been up to me, the biggest change I would like to see is at board/ownership level.

  3. Highbury,

    No, one thing at a time. Get a new man in then get a more dynamic board. Board won’t change all the time AW is here.

  4. I think that not playing in C L maybe partly the reason for chelsea and Liverpool holding top spots, but for me it’s more about having a better 11 playing at the moment, with their best players more consistent. There are a lot of teams below us who don’t play as many games as we do because there 11 is not as good or consistent. We don’t have that yet this season. I’m hoping that everyone’s form improves soon because then I belive we might just show everyone what a good side we are

  5. Dukey,

    In reply to your Rambo comment, I don’t hate Ramsey at all and have said on numerous occassions that he is a good player but he doesn’t fit at Arsenal.

  6. Good morning, thanks Yogi for the post, some good discussion points to chew on.

    Let’s be realistic, the Kroenkes are here to stay. When Stan steps down his son is ready to step up. Arsenal have manageable debts, a growing income and are in no way costing the Kroenke empire a cent. There is no credible opposition to the way the club is run, Usmanov can do nothing but sit on the sidelines and nurse his 30% share holding. The entire management of the club are all Kroenke appointees or are mere figure heads who fill seats on the board for purely cosmetic appearances.

    With such a situation, there is no prospect of any kind of radical change in the boardroom and, therefore, no prospect of radical change in the playing side of the club.

    As much as many of us would like to see a new, vibrant manager it seems a fact of life that Wenger is here to stay for as long as he wants.

  7. C:
    Dukey,

    In reply to your Rambo comment, I don’t hate Ramsey at all and have said on numerous occassions that he is a good player but he doesn’t fit at Arsenal.

    Agree 100 percent.

  8. Orson Kaert,

    Orson you hit the nail on the head. AW is here to stay as long as he wants but I suspect this will be his last season. The problem the board will have is with their next appointment. They might get lucky and pick the perfect replacement but more likely is we go through a transitional period in a similar way to Man U. This is where if thing really go south that the board not the incumbent manager might start to feel the heat from fans. But that my friend is full of ifs and but and 100% a while away.

  9. Top stuff Yogi!

    Maybe the lack of stability that Helb is talking about is in mindset, that inability to take every team seriously. I mean we heard is from our, *cough cough* Captain and Ramsey after the FA Cup match against Preston, something to the affect of “we underestimated them”. I think that speaks volumes to a lack of stability in thinking; or the fact that we hear time and time again about the mental strength of players. If we had such mental strength then we should probably show it from the off and not when the match looks like its out of reach.

    As for whether or not he is staying; the more I think about it the more I feel like he is, why else would the likes of Giroud, Santi, Jack, Mert, Ox be given new contracts?

  10. Zelalem is apparently on the brink of a permanent move to Dortmund with his contract set to be up either this summer or the next at Arsenal.

    Granada have confirmed the departure of Toral with his loan move to Rangers moving closer. Shame as I think he should stay at Arsenal and could be a real asset.

  11. C:
    Dukey,
    In reply to your Rambo comment, I don’t hate Ramsey at all and have said on numerous occassions that he is a good player but he doesn’t fit at Arsenal.

    Or maybe he just fits too well enough in all the numerous positions he has been used. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t he been at both wings, at #10, MC and covering some minutes at RB? Certainly this has affected his perfomances.

    As has been discussed, he’s most likely at his best in the box-to-box midfielder role (although for Wales he does #10 very well). He knows it, Arsène knows it. They must have discussions about this on a constant base.

    As a manager, I would love to have a player who can play several roles. As a player, I probably would not like it, but would feel honoured to do the job even when the short-sighted critics aim at him.

    Aaron seems intelligent and sincere. If he could find happiness starring for Wales and being the best all-round player at Arsenal, I wouldn’t want him to leave.

  12. C:
    Zelalem is apparently on the brink of a permanent move to Dortmund with his contract set to be up either this summer or the next at Arsenal.

    Granada have confirmed the departure of Toral with his loan move to Rangers moving closer. Shame as I think he should stay at Arsenal and could be a real asset.

    Isn’t their manager reportedly in the frame to fill the great man’s shoes? Might be good education for Zelalem before he signs back hahahahaha

  13. FinnishHit,

    Yes but he did those in a different make-up of Arsenal, the squad has evolved from those days and that is why I say he doesn’t fit, he seems to excel at just roaming freely and not being disciplined but the free role isn’t his. Those squads when he played on the wing or at RB were when Arsene was trying to put him on the pitch and make him fit or when we had a rash of injuries; now nope.

    The other thing is, this isn’t Wales, he isn’t the main attraction and the squad won’t be built around him like it is when he plays for Wales. That’s the difference and its why I say he doesn’t fit; its easy to be a big fish in a small pond, harder when you have to be a small fish in a big pond. Am I saying he is shit, no I never have; but I will say he doesn’t fit at Arsenal and especially when Arsene tries to jam him in the XI and try to make it work.

  14. Nice post YW

    During the weekend’s FA cup football, I caught some of the highlights of the Reading game. Whilst they were pretty bad on the day, no shame in losing to United.

    I got to thinking about Jaap Stam there. Now, let me start by saying I’m in no way campaigning for him to be our next manager. But…

    He struck me as a bit of ying to Arsene’s yang, which is perhaps what we need when the time comes. YW has touched on it in today’s post but I’m going a bit further, saying we almost should be looking for the polar opposite.

    He’s won everything as a player and although isn’t a managerial behemoth, would command respect in the dressing room immediately. I’ve never met him, but imagine him to be a hard line disciplinarian, simply because that was how he played. He’s got Reading organised and has a system. Anyone who competes in the Championship as a manager deserves respect. The quality isn’t always there, but it is a massively competitive league.

    I can’t see him taking any shit or prima donna stuff, he’s been at big clubs as a player in recent times, so the money and the ego isn’t new to him. He seems pretty measured in his interviews and comes across as someone who thinks about things and doesn’t just shout and scream for the sake of it. Like there’s more to him than just what I’ve outlined, perhaps?

    As I said, I’m not asking for him to be the man, but it’s the kind of man, in terms of style of who I’d like to see next. (I know a lot will say that Simeone fits that bill, but there is something about him that just doesn’t sit right to me. I don’t know what, but there’s something) Trouble is, it’s about the polar opposite of who I think our board will go looking for.

  15. Morning,

    I’m convinced that Wenger will sign up for at least 2 more years. He is a stubborn man with a specific view as to how a club should be set up and it seems unlikely he would get that elsewhere. Even if he did get that kind of control, it would still take some time to put all of his systems in place. He doesn’t strike me as a man ready to retire either.
    The Board at Arsenal get everything they want with Wenger in charge. Trophies are simply icing on the cake to keep the fans happy. If we don’t win trophies there are always more fans. The waiting list at the Emirates is still fairly long and the TV money just seems to be rising.

  16. Bleeding el Damon, I’ve just chocked on my roast chicken with plum vine cherry tomatoes, parsley and basil leaves and a drissle of honey mustard dressing toested pannini! . Jaap staaam!

  17. Wavey,

    Pretty sure that you’re correct in everything you say there. Another two years, basically, because they can get away with it. Financially, of course. No other metric matters

  18. I’m becoming more convinced by the minute that Wenger will re-sign in the summer. One only has to listen to his oft repeated utterances about “mental strength”, “strongest squad for many years” etc etc to realise that the man is either blind to criticism, or so totally deluded as to be immune to it.

    Over twenty years he has put his stamp on every aspect of Arsenal’s footballing activities. The squad is his squad. The coaching staff is his coaching staff. The tactics are his tactics. The medical staff are his medical staff. Nobody has dared to say a dissenting word about any single item in the way he runs his side of the business.

    Gazidis has deferred to Wenger throughout their relationship and has always made sure that funds were available for player purchase, admittedly limited by the stadium project, but sufficient to at least strengthen if not rebuild. Latterly there has been a big boost in those funds.

    There can be no manager anywhere, in any sport in the world with so much control yet with such little pressure to improve results, to win significant competitions, to turn the club into a truly world class entity.

    Why, under the present regime would he consider, even for one second, stepping aside?

  19. Berahino to Stoke would be really interesting is West Brom accept the big from Stoke especially since they already have Bony and Crouch.

  20. Cohen Bramall
    about whom we have heard damn all
    cannot be compared to Belotti
    whom many believe to have been fathered by Totti.

  21. Damon –

    Interesting post and idea concerning Jaap Stam.

    As regards the comfort zone that is Arsenal, I am sure it takes some beating. It is not difficult to understand why some are content and credit where due, the club plays the most stylish football (at times) in one of the coolest capitals.

    The comments C referred to post game (Giroud and Ramsey taken aback that PNE came to play) echo similar admissions in recent years i.e. post Monaco etc. and this is the most confounding aspect of play at Arsenal.

    It’s verging on moronic to pose if Arsenal had played focused and determined in each game from the start of the season, confidence and our points tally would be considerably higher. Hardly a revolutionary thought or something out of left field is it?

    That we don’t is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, swaddled in a duvet coat which you can’t zip.

    If anyone (Wenger included) could instill a consistent sense of purpose from the first whistle, we would be in the running for the title.

  22. The other interesting transfer news is that Mourinho is allowing Schneiderlin to move to Everton if the clubs can come to an agreement.

  23. Yup – as every day passes the season shrinks just a little more and I do not sense anyone has anything resembling a plan of succession in place.

    I’d be startled if anything develops and this is bearing in mind we could (for the sake of argument) end up sixth.

    We’ll likely exit the CL (to minor consternation) have a late run in the FA Cup then exit (to minor consternation) and then scramble to place wherever. If we get fourth, lets face it, the spin will be- job done!

    If we don’t secure fourth, would the board act? I can’t see it. They’ll choke and say it’s too late to bring anyone else in for the start of the new season, besides which Wenger is owed…

    For now, my guess would be if Wenger’s situation remains ‘unclear’ through January, it’ll still be ‘unclear’ come May.

  24. -DFS,

    I completely agree. I think many would say the same.

    We have a very good squad. It is currently less than the sum of its parts. A lot of managers could achieve more than we currently do without changing a single squad member.

    There has been chat ongoing, today included, that the problems at the club aren’t just with the playing side. To force change elsewhere in the club, we need a massive snap to the culture of comfy that is prevailent. If we have another man at the helm who, whatever his style of play, take a laissez faire attitude, nothing will change at board level.

  25. Schneiderlin to Everton makes total sense.

    He never wanted to go to Manu U in the first place – he thought he was heading for Arsenal.

    Wenger stiffed him and then so did LVH. It appears by the time Mourinho arrived Schneiderlin had had enough of the Old Trafford experiment.

    He needs to get his head straight and re-uniting with Koeman could be the perfect thing to get his career back on track – I hope it works out.

  26. -DFS,

    Schneiderlin sitting next to Gueye would certainly give Koeman exactly the type of midfield that he likes to have. It would certainly make Everton stronger and a real threat for top 5.

  27. Great post yogi. Another masterpiece

    I don’t believe that Arsene is waiting for to see the results of this season before making a final decision regarding a new contract. That would be the worst thing he could do to the club. The club needs time to find a replacement and they are certainly not going to be looking for someone before Arsene declares his intentions. Imagine the utter chaos in the board room if he surprised everyone and decided to retire in May. Those who believe we will bottom out after Arsene leaves are more likely to get their wish if Arsene does that. How are we going to find a decent manager if the process can’t be started until May or June? Arsene understands that as well as anyone and while I am not a fan of Arsene I don’t think he would do that to the club. However, what that does mean is signing a new contract is almost a certainty, for better or worse.

    I don’t really have a good explanation for why he has not signed yet. The best I can think of is that since the board would never give Arsene a drop dead date, the longer he waits the more leverage he has in any negotiations. I agree with Wavey at 11:46 and there is 0% chance to Arsene would change clubs and give up the situation he has built for himself here but a stray rumor about PSG or some other big club certainly adds a little more leverage.

  28. If we had a choice of the next manager, I think Simeone would be perfect. Arsenal will never be the biggest spender in the PL but just like Klopp, Simeone has thrived in that sort of environment and he would bring the pragmatism and be the change of pace that the club needs. I can’t imagine there could possibly be a better option. Atletico is struggling a bit this year and this could be the perfect time to make a pitch for him to move on to a new challenge.

    If Arsene truly loved the club, instead of holding us hostage until he decides to sign his next contract, he would announce his retirement and help us to recruit Simeone and do everything he could to help make the transition easier. Arsene already gets a statue in front of the Emirates but if he did that I would hope the club would build a full Wenger museum and perhaps even name the stadium, Wengers Emirates stadium. I know none of that will happen but its a nice idea.

  29. We are, again, short of numbers and class in midfield. Cazorla, Coquelin, Elneny, Wilshire all missing for one reason or another.

    A premiership experienced reinforcement is available at a reasonable price. Why not hijack Everton’s deal and buy Schneiderlin?

  30. That old saying ” if it swims like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like one, it probably is a duck”( if that´s how it goes:-) can most likely apply here.

    If the owner wants it and the manager wants it then it´s probably a done deal.

    The one thing that can stop it is us, the fans. That the Emirates become hostile, fans stop buying season tickets, subscriptions, shirts etc to such an extent that the brand takes a hit and it shows an impact on revenues.

    I think that´s how you affect Kroenke. Apart from revenues no interest in Arsenal matters.

  31. Orson Kaert,

    “Nobody has dared to say a dissenting word about any single item in the way he runs his side of the business.”

    Maybe because all the ex-professionals having been at all the jobs in the club have seen hands-on that Wenger is still top, top quality? On what kind of insight and knowledge do you base your opinions on?

    I’d agree that Schneiderlin could be good stop-gap solution with our current midfield injuries, but would he want it? And what about the stability of the squad? Mou?

  32. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,
    Hostility will harm the club and it would have long-lasting effects: the image of a club with fan power volatility would make signing players and managers difficult and/or expensive.

    AWO’s could just stop going to the games if they don’t like the current scenario. It would help the club, the players and fans on both sides. If it leads to the end of the season ticket queue, then AWO’s point will be well made and the club will have to re-adjust.

  33. FinnishHit,

    It doesn’t require much insight to recognise the simple fact that Wenger is in total control of the football side of things at Arsenal. He decides who plays, and how. He decides who the club sign, or at least try to sign, he decides who gets a new contract or not..

    In my opinion, and it is just that an opinion, The board are entirely happy with the status quo, as are the majority of the players. One only has to lock at the interest, or lack of it, that other clubs have in signing our players, with the notable exception of Sanchez and to a lesser extent Ozil, to see that we do not have a surfeit of superstars in our squad. Good players, some very good but not the top level players who could bring us the success we all want to see.

    All are well paid and comfortable, they know that Wenger will retain them well beyond their best before date as evidenced by the contract extensions on offer to Giroud, Cazorla, Mertesacker and Coquelin.

    All of which leads me to doubt the ambitions of both the club and the manager.

    As far as the fans are concerned the whole situation mirrors almost exactly the Brexit arguements, some are dissatisfied with the present situation but scared of change, some are determined that change is the only option, some will sit firmly on the fence and hope, just like Mr. Micawber, that something will turn up.

    I’ve been a supporter of the club for over sixty-five years, I don’t have the time to wait for that, but I would like to see just once more Arsenal crowned champions. Unfortunately I don’t think Wenger is able to grant me that wish.

  34. Orson

    More quality bodies are always good but the things Schniederlin brings and the position he would play are similar to Elneny and xhaka. I don’t think either elneny or schniederlin are really defensively oriented center mids and so far xhaka has been underwhelming as a defensive shield so all 3 probably are best suited for the cazorla position. Le coq is our best defensive mid and assuming he plays in most high leverage games we could only use 1 of those 3 players in any game.

    We already have spent a ton of money to cover that position in 2016. Elneny will be back in 3 weeks and both wilshere and Ramsey bring something quite different but each can play the cazorla position behind Ozil so that spot is well covered. I would rather we save our powder and spend the money on a player that could really make a difference such as a CF. No?

  35. Dukey.

    You are almost certainly right and I strongly suspect that when Arsene is ready to retire that he will have the biggest single influence on whomever the board chooses as the next manager. I would not be surprised if Arsene hand picks the guy and brings him into the club to work under him for a couple years. .

    Myself i think we need a complete break with the status quo and change in philosophy but that is unlikely. Simeone is a pipe dream of mine and as you point out highly improbable.

  36. I have been underwhelmed by Monreal in think he and Gibbs are much closer to par this season. Is Monreal on the slide?

  37. Hi C,

    Continuing are chat about Toral and the apparent imminent transfer on a permanent deal to Rangers, it seems that part of Arsenal’s reluctance to extend his contract (admittedly hearsay) is that he has always had some sort of congenital knee defect, which could go at any time.

    Who knows? I am always ready to believe anything when it comes to football transfers. 🙂

  38. Bill,

    AW should have zero input into the next managerial appointment. In fact I do recall he stated previously that he would not influence the decision. Of course the BoD (“if he doesn’t have a plan we keep quiet”) will try to get his recommendation because they have no idea themselves about finding a successor, and knowing Arsene he wouldn’t be able to resist giving them the ‘benefit’ of his wisdom.

    Either way I’m sure that the search for the next AFC manager will come with a large ‘consulting fee’ for KSE 😉

  39. OK, @ 3:19

    I have to agree with the opening three paragraphs about AW and his control of the footballing side of the club. [Of course that control is granted to him by the owner – implying he is satisfied with the status quo.]

    As a fan, I can understand that from the financial side of things the owner can do as he pleases, but many fans would just like a new brush to be brought in to make a clean sweep of the clubs footballing side, and change the ethos that all other clubs have become familiar with and know how to play against.

    Wenger himself should understand that as it is what he did back in 1996 – all thriving clubs, like all successful businesses, need to change the management, the players and the philosophy to add that edge which encourages greater achievements.

    I think there will be changes this summer – but then I have been saying that for the last 4 seasons. 🙂

  40. Andy,

    Wenger did say some time ago that he would not have any input into selecting a new manager, you are correct. The implied wisdom was that AFC would use Head Hunters.

    Look at what happened when Fungus Face Ferguson chose, Moyes and then LVG – and that worked well did it not?

  41. HenryB,

    Yea, even if he does have a bum knee, at present, we actually need him to make up the numbers an the lad is quality so mine as well use him. My question would be, if he does have a bum knee then how does he pass a physical 😉

    I heard it wasn’t a permanent move, just a loan move.

  42. If Wenger leaves this summer – would not expect him to buy any new players this January, both because the players would be reluctant to join a club where the manager was going, and the Board would not want to commit a lot of money for players that any new manager might not want — again like tureen at Old Traffic.

    So – no new players = Good ——- new players (other than youngsters) = Bad for those seeking change.

  43. C,

    The fact it was referred to as ‘congenital’ implies that he was born with the problem, a bit like people born with a congenital heart problem – they can be fine all their life, but …. it can go at anytime, and in the high risk world of professional football maybe the club would not want to take a chance.

    Don’t forget – this is all hypothetical and I have not heard where the rumour originated from.

    Like you, I would want to keep him, but realistically he does not have much chance for that.
    His contract expires this summer, and with no extension offered that implies he has no choice but to hit the road. 🙁

  44. C,

    Hello C I think Everton are going to need a lot more than Schneiderlin to get them challenging.

    Not obviously being privy to the Managers thoughts I have no idea what he is going to do. He is as we know going to have to have to depart at some point. Ma raison d’etre the sooner the better.

    What lies in store when a new Manager eventually come in nobody knows. We will just have to All wait and see. If for some reason that we are in the doldrums after the departure of AW for a season or to so be it. Change is constant

  45. HenryB,

    They are saying its a 6 month loan deal, but if its a knee, then lets play him and use him; there is a reason Barca fought so hard to keep both he and Bellerin. Shame really.

    His knee could go at any time, I get that. Its still baffling to me….nevermind I won’t start down that path.

  46. Ras,

    They will need more than Schneiderlin but I’m not talking about challenging for the title, I’m talking about challenging for a top 6 spot.

    I do wonder if people are scared of change based on when Fergie left which, lets be honest, that squad wasn’t nearly as strong as the one we have Fergie just knew how to get the most out of it and RvP was basically scoring a every week.

  47. C,

    Depends who the manager is. Szczesny needs a strong manager, his discipline problems make that clear, to get the best out of him and fulfil his potential. I don’t believe that Arsene is the type of manager that he responds to. Under say a Simeone I think that we’d see a far more focused and dedicated player.

  48. C,

    The current (lesser) players are foot soldiers and would be needed whoever the manager was.

    Where there might be problems is withSanchez and Mesut.

    Özil seems happy to re-sign, but wants to know what AW’s plans for the future are — whereas, Sanchez just seems totally peed off at the moment – perhaps with AW buy perhaps he does not want AW to go.

    It all becomes difficult to read – and really we are all guessing at what is going on.

  49. C,

    Cech has been OK, but not as good as I had hoped. Ospina has never impressed me, and I would rather have Chezzer instead.

    As usual we are looking at this from AFC’s point of view — but I am not sure Chezzer wants to come back – ever.

  50. andy1886,

    What if I told you that he has been really good in Roma, he has actually matured and has been superb. I do get what you are saying though, lets not also forget that he was young like most GK’s and people, you get better and more mature with age. He is having a really good 2nd season which is better than his first which is saying a lot. I think while he might have the occasional moment of madness, I can’t think of a GK that hasn’t or doesn’t not named Buffon even the likes of De Gea, Neuer, Courtious and others.

  51. HenryB,

    I think Cech has been what we needed as far as a commanding senior head while we wait for the younger lot to mature. Ospina, I think he was always bought to be our Cup Keeper, and he is a good shot stopper but not necessarily what we need. Sczny is better than people want to accept.

    He might not want to come back but I have also seen reports he does want to come back. The strangest thing for me about people not wanting him back is that he had some disciplinary problems and a bad half season that saw him smoke; yet they forget that just 3 years ago he won the Golden Gloves and was widely viewed as one of the best young GK’s in the PL along with De Gea and Courtious. Funny, people bang on about Ramsey, Ox and JAck having it in their lockers because they have done it before yet don’t remember Sczny doing it for us and now doing it for Roma over the course of 2 seasons running.

  52. HenryB,

    I know they are foot soldiers but I think it would be quite interesting to see what a new manager would think about the likes of Santi, Mert and Giroud who are all 30+ getting new deals.

    The Ozil and Sanchez situations are probably the most difficult but its quite telling that both have spoken about simply not knowing what Arsene is going to do and want clarity. I would imagine that both would be happy with a new manager because I think more so than now, the new man would build around them and what they do and how they want to play, whereas we know Arsene doesn’t appear to be necessarily doing that.

    The thing that is probably the most difficult though is the fact that there are quite a few that will need to re-new their contracts while Arsene is at the heart of it with clarity on the situation and none being provided.

  53. I know you are a big fan of wojo and I have not followed him this season but everything I read about him last year said he was OK but certainly not one of the best young GK in the world. I thought the real reason he went back on loan this year was they were not anxious to buy him.

    The problem for Wojo is that he has shown in the past that he can have a good year and follow that with a couple of years that were bad enough that we had to replace him. Lots of players including Ramsey have had one really good year that they never replicated. In addition having a good year now does not mean he has conquered whatever demons caused him to melt down. He probably needed a change of scenery and the risk of him losing form again probably increases if he returns to same manager and the scene of the previous crime. Arsene would have to keep him on a very short leash. Nothing can hurt a team and its season faster then a GK who malfunctions for any reason and it would be a huge leap of faith and a lot of finger crossing and risk if were going to trust him as the #1 GK. If he was the worlds best GK it might be worth the risk but I have not heard of anyone who rates him as highly as you do.

    From wojo’s standpoint why we he want to come back and play for Arsene. After what happened last time, wojo has to know that he will watched very closely.

  54. can you just imagine? after freezing sakho from the first team since August, Liverpool still have the effrontery to demand for a transfer fee of 20 million? do they want to spoil the career of the guy or who in his right mind pay such amount for the dude? I will rather buy Rob Holding for 2 million instead…. they must be smoking wet pawpaw leaf at Liverpool

  55. Orson Kaert-

    Excuse the late reply regarding Schneiderlin.

    When the Schneiderlin deal to Arsenal fell through it was under-reported as it was at the start of the window and reporting at low ebb, but the Telegraph was one source that claimed things turned nagative to the point of nasty.

    Schneiderlin coming to Arsenal had been discussed for over two years openly, obviously the two clubs have good history.

    However, Wenger had already been forced to bring Coquelin back for half the season and he produced.

    My belief was this rankled Wenger no matter Coquelin saved the day, as he underlined Wenger was capable of big mistakes (Coqulein himself, not having a midfiled enforcer of quality, under manning the position itself period).

    When Southhampton and Schneiderlin approached Arsenal to conclude the deal they were shocked to be dismissed out of hand. Man U stepped in, Schneiderlin refused them and returned to Arsenal to resolve matters. They were dismissed for a second time and the Telegraph implied he seond dimissal had been a rude (to the point of offensive) one.

    I believe Coquelin (on a persoanl level) had embarrassed Wenger, underlined the midfield had been left weak for no reason over an extended period…therefore bringing Schneiderlin in would simply amplify the idea Wenger’s midfield policy had been midguided for years. Of course no one else would care and everyone would embrace Schneiderlin and the progress.

    So Wenger dismissed him in a petty manner (which is ludicrous as we then later bought in Elneny and the Xhaka)

    Schneiderlin to Arsenal under Wenger at this point would have never happened, much as I agree with everythng you said – particularly as we need to think long term regarding the Cazorla.

  56. -DFS,

    I never believe too much that the papers say, even The Telegraph. They’re all only too well qualified in adding two and two and making a million. I slight hint, a misquote and anything at all can be made of it.

  57. Bill,

    No, the reason they took him back on loan was that Arsenal wanted 15+m for him, Roma upper management even spoke publically about it. Last season and this season he has played really really well and is helping them truly challenge this year while having a decent run before falling off last season. Plus, if he was just “Okay” why were they so desperate to bring him back?

    GK’s are a different breed, they truly get better with age, hell look at Courtious last season, he was bad but the talent is there and before you say, “well look at what he did at Athletico”, remember how incredibly good that back 4 is/was. Lets also not forget that he won the Golden Gloves then had a up and down season battling with Ospina and thr following year was sent on loan. Glad you admitted that you don’t follow him at Roma and as I mentioned, you can’t classify GK and outfield players the same. Yes he might still have a mistake in him, but please please please name me another GK not named Buffon who doesn’t and that is including Neuer, De Gea, Courtious and the list goes on. Sczny just needed to mature and mature he has as has his game. Cech has at best one more season at Arsenal and Ospina while a good shot stopper, isn’t the answer long term so I think he should be brought back and allowed to battle for thr #1 shirt. He has actually spoken about wanting thr Arsenal #1 shirt.

    I would love to continue but have to cook dinner and do the daddy thing. Until tomorrow mate!

  58. C

    $15M is not big money in today’s football and if they liked Wojo so much and needed a GK then why wouldn’t Roma buy him?

    Wojo was one of the most hyped academy players of the Emirates era and Arsene put a huge amount of trust in him and made him the #1 GK as a teenager. Arsene does not drop players he likes very quickly but wojo
    let him down twice. If you really believe the problem was all between wojo’s ears and it’s recurred before then how can Arsene trust him now? GK is not an outfield position. If the GK loses focus there is no one to rescue him.

  59. Orson –

    All well and good, but there are facts. When I say reported undeneath I mean in a verified manner.

    Schneiderlin had been openly discussed as coming to Arsenal for two years (reported)…

    Koeman stalled it for one of those (reported)…

    Schneiderlin and his representatives approached Arsenal as the window opened and were dismissed (reported)…

    Man U stepped in but Schneiderlin refused their offer (reported)…

    Schneiderlin returned to confirm Arsenal’s position (reported)….

    The process had taken several weeks and finally he accepted Man U’s second offer(reported)…

    These are facts.

    What is not factual or verifiable is my own speculation – that it was Coquelin’s return to the team that proved both blessing and an embarrassment for Wenger, and this fuelled the petty dismissal of Schneiderlin. Wenger had loaned Coquelin for two years, his contract had months left – Wenger gave the impression Coquelin was of no value.

    I had my thoughts already but when a few mentions surfaced concerning the acrimonious nature of Schneiderlin’s dissmissal, it all fit.

    I wanted Schneiderlin here for years and thought we would have a fantastic midfield with him playing alongdside Coquelin.

    But, color me this…we have been linked with Schneiderlin historically. The entire football world knew LVG benched him as did Mourinho and he was now on the outs at Man U.

    Yet, in the press, not a single piece of speculation, murmur or rumour, not the most fleeting of ideas that he might be a fit for Arsenal.

    My speculation again, every reporter knew that coffin had been nailed shut two years ago.

  60. C

    I thought Fabianski was the Poland GK in euro 2016. If wojo was that good then he certainly would have beaten out Fabianski for Poland’s #1

  61. Sczny ranks in Serie A this year:

    Save %: 1st
    Clean sheets: 3rd
    Saves: 4th
    Penalty kick saved %:tied for 5th at 50%
    Shots on goal faced:7th at 84 shots on goal faced
    Goals against averaged: .95 (only Buffon is better at .87 and they are the only two under 1.0 goals against average)

    Stats prove he is quite the GK in a league that is dominated by defense and GK.

  62. C-

    Yes, agree with you about Everton. Many things in place for them to really come into their own in the near future.

    An historic club with a great fan base who are now on the best financial footing they have enjoyed in decades. In Moshiri they have an ambitious owner (majority) who is receiving additional support and sponsorship from his ally Ushmanov.

    He bought a very capable manager to the club, Koeman, who can attract players. In November Moshiri stated Koeman would be active in this transfer window and would get unreserved backing and so he has.

    They also just produced plans for a stunning new waterfront stadium at their AGM. That location might not get approval, but they are going to build anew regardless.

    Its an exciting time for Everton.

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