Arsenal, A Club On The Road To Nowhere

Looks familiar. If you’re of a certain age, Arthur Askey, Dennis Norden and Bob Monkhouse spring to mind. Arsenal supporters think of players whose time at the Emirates invariably ended in varying degrees of acrimony. Fabregas, van Persie, Henry, Nasri; add Alexis Sanchez to that list.

Three of those left the club under a cloud, the other with a certain amount of goodwill. Alexis is an interesting case which could go either way. Until now, he has kept close counsel; no stories of any substance have leaked about contract talks, or where he sees his future.

Will that change now the PR wheels are spinning to save Arsène’s reign?

True Stories

Sunday’s papers, on the back of Saturday’s defeat and the severe criticism Arsène received, were briefed with stories of training ground strops, dressing room bust-ups and a manager who questioned the player’s attitude, as well as his effort. That last gem comes from the Mirror, which also re-asserts claims of Arsène’s contract waiting to be signed.

The problem is that these stories are so obviously pro-Arsenal that I find myself questioning some of the aspects. Principally, it’s the claim about effort. If Arsène doubted Alexis, the rest of the squad are in a boat which is shipping water at an alarming rate.

Don’t get me wrong, Alexis isn’t perfect – far from it – but as far as working hard on the pitch goes, I can’t find a fault big enough to warrant criticism from the manager. That’s effort alone, before you talk about lost possession or selfishness; I’m aware of his faults, and I’m guessing some of it comes down to interpreting the word “effort”.

Physically, I can’t understand criticism, but efficiently? That’s a matter of interpretation. A goal every other game undermines criticisms about efficiency, and 20 in 34 this season certainly puts critics on the back foot. If anything, putting focus on a player delivering underlines the failings of the rest.

Burning Down The House

The thing with the story is not so much down to Alexis as damning the Wenger regime. Arguments among players are commonplace and there is no law which states they have to get along. Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham hated each other but formed a remarkable partnership; that’s one example.

We, as a club, seem obsessed by harmony, without accepting that friction can be a positive dimension to any team, irrespective of the field in which they work. It’s how it’s managed which is the key.

Alexis, it’s alleged, pointed fingers at various points in time, others did the same after he ‘stormed out of training’ having been told he wasn’t starting at Anfield. If true, quite right he was pulled up by team-mates. And I have no issue with him calling others out, provided he accepts he too is at fault. That’s part and parcel of football.

But underlying all of this is the reason for the story’s leak. My own view is that it is trying to deflect the negativity to the player, away from the manager. The club is well aware that the star striker leaving will reflect badly on the manager and the state of play around Arsenal at the moment.

Speaking In Tongues

Alexis is the star, the popular player. These events are revisiting old times and none of us wants to go back there. However, it seems that we are. All of the reports tell us that the club has been aware of his intention to leave for some time.

If that is true, we are told much about the malaise at Arsenal. Instead of proactively sourcing a replacement, the star player is being thrown under a bus to save Wenger. As if this is going to put Arsène in any better light.

The reality is that far from putting Alexis in a bad light, stories like this reaffirm that other players lack the drive to succeed. They’ve reached the pinnacle of their careers and are comfortable with that. Few of Arsenal’s squad warrant interest from any of Europe’s elite clubs. There aren’t enough who are hungry for success to drag others along with them.

Alexis threw down the gauntlet in terms of work ethic and they didn’t pick it up.

Road To Nowhere

If you look back at Wenger’s successful sides, they’ve all had a spirit long missing from the squads of recent years. You can’t regain that if key players leave.

In a similar vein, Ian Wright claimed Mesut Özil pulled a sickie rather than suffer the ignominy of being dropped on Saturday. Özil is a precocious talent; he’s the sort of player who is a joy to watch, the kind of player you want in your side but one who will never carry one on his shoulders.

What a state the club is in. The manager whose popularity declines with every passing day, star striker doesn’t want to be there and a board too paralysed by fear to act.

A club on the Road to Nowhere.

Dad’s Jukebox

Seek comfort and solace in a stonking playlist. 1994, Rock ‘n’ Roll Stars is here.

’til Tomorrow.

118 thoughts on “Arsenal, A Club On The Road To Nowhere

  1. Damon,

    Whatever we wish for in the ownership situation we have to recognise that the Kroenke family are here to stay.

    There is no way that they will consider selling up either to Usmanov or anyone else. They are wealthy enough to resist any offers made and are in a position of total control without having to own all the shares in the company.

    Usmanov is a total irrelevance, he may have 30% of the shares but has no say in how the club is run, nor does he earn one penny from his holding. In effect his shareholding has zero value, as there is no market in Arsenal shares.

    The Kroenkes are here and we are stuck with them.

  2. You’ve also got to remember that Sanchez has had some incredibly impressive coaches (Bielsa, Pep, Sampaoli) who instill in their teams an aggressive risk-taking approach to football. The Arsenal Way must seem pretty bloodless after those sorts of coaches.

  3. Damon,

    Clubs have nearly always been owned by one major shareholder or family, including Arsenal.

    Abramovic = Chelsea;
    Enic International an investment company, owned by J Lewis = Spuds;
    Abu Dhabi United Group (Sheikh Mansour) = Man City;
    Fenway Investment Holding company = Man City
    Arsenal Holdings PLC = Arsenal
    And so on.

    The names are a bit of a give away – so Kroenke in another shirt – all the same, same.

    I’m afraid you are dreaming.

  4. Orson Kaert,

    The only way they go is if the club valuation reaches such a level that they want to bank the profit or if interest starts to drop and they bail out before the price falls too far.

    That’s why I’d be happy to see all the leeches like Sky etc. lose interest. Most of the additional money goes straight into the pockets of the players and owners, it hasn’t benefited the fans, far from it. Let the tourists go to the opera instead, give football and Arsenal back to the real fans.

  5. andy1886,

    Since there are no shares on the market, there is no share price to rise or fall. The value of the club is whatever the majority shareholder deems it to be.

    The only thing that could influence the ownership is bad publicity, an empty stadium tonight for instance. But we all know that is not going to happen. The income from TV either Sky, BT or any of her source, is guaranteed. Expenses are kept under tight control and the latest figures show an increased profit.

    As I said earlier, the Kroenkes are here to stay.

  6. Unfortunately Stan doesn’t care that the club has become something of a laughing stock. On the BBC this morning they have a little article on things more likely to happen than Arsenal progress to the next round of the CL. These include England winning the next world cup, the next James Bond being a woman, and proof of alien life being found in 2017.

  7. Is today’s column going to be about dropping to sixth? That is where we are going to finish the season unless we have an easy run in and even then we are not finishing top 4. I just couldn’t be bothered to check out who we are playing next in the EPL.

    We are blaming our top player, leading goal scorer, and shining light of effort and guile in a dull weekly grind; even dropping him from the starting team. Pathetic. If he is leaving, milk him, he will play any time anywhere; if he is staying love him, he is the only player that deserves it, week in week out and Greedy? That comes from playing with people who are not making the grade.

    Wenger’s excuse about the long ball rings like a hollow death knell. I am the first to say we don’t use the tactic enough, but not because I want to change to that style of football, but because we are so predictable, don’t vary our game plan and so are easily read, easily defended against and our lack of defence is now legendary as we throw the kitchen sink forward to support the same tired form of predictable play. Sanchez and Ozil are the only ones that can achieve the technical level that would support the dependence on that style of football.

    What is more, I didn’t notice the change in the style of play against the Puddle, so we ended up weakening the side for nothing.

    The season has rapidly become horse shit and so is what is coming out of the club in their defence.

  8. Henryb,

    Bonjour Henri. The difference I see is that Chelsea, City’s, Man U and PSG have respective CEO’s what ever you want to call them WHO want to WIN.

    Arsenal Liverpool ( Fenway) are hamstrung by mediocrity boat. We have Americans owning the Clubs and for whom lets be honest do not give a damn what happens on field.

  9. Yep we are now officially a joke of a football club. Send in the clowns. Oh wait they’re already here, sitting at the round table

  10. Damon,

    “I think Usmanov is seen as preferable simply because he’s not what we’ve got now”.

    No, I do not think that on any level.

  11. DFS-:

    “I think Usmanov is seen as preferable simply because he’s not what we’ve got now”.

    No, I do not think that on any level.

    Fair enough. Are you in favour of him taking the helm? If so, would you let me know why please?

  12. Send in the clowns…

    Isn’t it rich?
    Are we a pair?
    Me here at last on the ground, Giroud in mid air.
    Send in the clowns.
    Isn’t it bliss?
    Don’t you approve?
    Sanchez keeps tearing around, Xhaka can’t move.
    Where are the clowns?
    Send in the clowns.

  13. I don’t think we have a prayer but…..m

    Perez ——- Welbeck ——- Theo
    ————— Sanchez ————
    ————- Ox, Xhaka
    Gibbs, Mustafi, Kos, Bellerin
    ———– Ospina

  14. Damon,

    Orson has already pointed out Ushmanov cannot take over anything.

    He is proud of his AFC holding and says he will hold it for his family, but he cannot wrest control unless Kroenke would sell and as Orson and I said earlier he has no compelling reason to do so. He is vastly wealthy and his wifes family even wealthier (the richest family in the US).

    As for Usmanov. In the first place he is a man of ambition and a great interest (lifelong) in sport.

    Without much fanfare or publicity he has supported (lifelong) fencing on a global level and is now president of the governing body. He has sat on olympic councils, donated considerable funds to charity (some years over 100 million dollars )and set up trusts to support athletes in their retirement.

    Anybody who has reached this wealth is not without skeletons in their closet, but thats pretty much par for the course (I could go on a rant about how the Waltons (Kroenke’s wife) bilk the US economy …)

    However, if the board had of allowed Usmanov to take over, his ambition would have been for Arsenal to rival the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, to be the dominant team in the PL. I believe it would have become his passion project.

    I am glad he stipulated he wants to hold his shares as at least this blocks the possibility of Kroenke owning the club lock, stock and barrel. I was concerned when Moshiri (his long term business partner and friend) took over Everton and then received sponsrship from Ushmanov – I thought it might indicate he would sell out of Arsenal and partner up to take Everton into the future.

    Anways, Ushmanov would have driven Arsenal in the manner Abramovich has driven Chelsea. That might not be everyone’s cup of tea but as far as I’m concerned I’m a fatalist and it’s the world we live in.

    I’ll take an ambitious Russian over an absentee landlord American any day of the week.

  15. So much for Bayern fielding a weakend side. Official line-up:

    Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck, Walcott, Alexis

    Subs: Cech, Gibbs, Gabriel, Coquelin, Ozil, Lucas, Giroud

    Bayern Munich: Neuer, Hummels, Martinez, Rafinha, Alaba, Thiago, Ribery, Alonso, Vidal, Robben, Lewandowski

    Subs: Ulreich, Costa, Bernat, Muller, Kimmich, Sanches

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