Arsène Stumbling Into Contract Deadline As Players Speak Out Of Line

A stunning turnaround in the Camp Nou last night. Imagine an Arsenal performance with that intensity and belief from kick-off. No, me neither.

The stiff upper lip and sense of fair play frowns on the theatrics which have dogged European competitions since their inception but the Arsenal fan in me sees a job opportunity arising in Paris this summer.

Not that it will happen, according to David Hytner. Amid the litany of mismanagement from the board, is this gem:

What remains clear is that the chief executive, Ivan Gazidis – who in effect runs the club on behalf of the majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke – and the chief negotiator, Dick Law, retain faith in Wenger.

So that’s the owner whose bottom line pushes along nicely and two directors who owe their jobs to Wenger; cronyism is alive and kicking. Perhaps we should start referring to Arsenal as the Establishment Club, once again. Hytner delivers a killer line,

It should also be noted that they do not believe there to be an outstanding candidate on the market to replace Wenger.

I was tempted to end the post there, leaving that line hanging there for all to see but no, there’s more to come.

What Do I Get?

These are the people who are charged with assessing whether anyone else could manage Arsenal Football Club. The instruction from Kroenke is business first, football second. A treble-winning manager, a four-time winner of Serie A are available this summer, as is (most likely) a manager who, despite similar financial constraints as Arsenal, managed to win a couple of European trophies.

The best at delivering profits. The club is in a mess at the moment, with a significant number of contracts reaching the point where it’s sign or sell, including key squad members. I can understand the Sanchez and Özil situations; the board has no control over them in that negotiations have already stalled.

It’s believed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is holding out for more first team football. On Tuesday night, even with the match running away from us, he was the only player who didn’t give up. He’s the only one who escapes any criticism for his performance. The others? Towels wafted through the air in the most unforgivable manner. I can take defeat but not trying or having pride in Arsenal? Playing in the centre of the park unleashed Ox but it’s pretty certain that Wenger will play Iwobi and Özil ahead of him. Little wonder he is rumoured to be unwilling to sign a new deal

All of this is swirling around the club with the manager’s contract at the eye of the storm. This remember is a man who claimed he is logical enough to know what is best for Arsenal Football Club and put that ahead of himself. I’d say that is royally undermined by the continued lack of a decision. Arsène is stumbling into a contract renewal, punch-drunk from criticism and a squad which he is unable to motivate.

There’s A Harmony In My Head

The players remain loyal to the manager but they are undermining his authority. Per Mertesacker, for example, giggling at the question over whether the players backed Wenger did nothing to reinforce the feeling that they believe in him. As I said on Tuesday, Arsène answering the question did more PR damage than he can imagine, or probably even cares.

Having called the newspapers out over the story of arguments and fights, Wenger’s claim that they never happened is being destroyed by leaks from the squad itself.

Below is verbatim from The Guardian:

There are certain things that happen at training grounds,” Walcott said. “I’m sure it happens at every other training ground, most of the time, really. You don’t see it often at Arsenal. Things have happened. They need to stay in the dressing room and the players and staff need to sort it out. We are in it together here. We can’t be fighting each other.”

Arsène Wenger has been the focus of supporter ire at Arsenal but Walcott said the players had to take responsibility. “He [Wenger] will take this on himself but us players need to look at ourselves,” he told the Evening Standard. “The manager has been taking a lot of flak in recent weeks and us players have been accepting it, but we can’t.”

“We should have been smart and just [opted for] damage limitation, really,” he said. “It’s just a big shame. People will be saying that we don’t care and stuff like this but, obviously, we do care. There’s loads of players who are very hurt, completely, in the dressing room. We need to move on very quickly from this disappointment. It’s going to show if we’re ready for the fight towards the end of the season. Trust me, we are.

A Different Kind Of Tension

Theo’s always talked a good game and he’s right, the players are equally to blame. It’s something they are all culpable for but Arsène built the squad, trains them and instructs. That includes on Tuesday night when the message from the bench about closing out the game with the draw which we had. Instead, to Bayern’s delight, we pushed forward, looking to score. Where’s the logic in that? Why didn’t Arsène or Steve Bould get into the technical area and below the orders?

They gave up as easily as the players.

Look, it’s a mess and a point where the board – Ivan – needs to come out with definitive statements. Arsenal are spinning out control in the PR sense and in reality. The latter is more damaging in every way but the former makes life a little easier in solving the latter.

’til Tomorrow.

65 thoughts on “Arsène Stumbling Into Contract Deadline As Players Speak Out Of Line

  1. Jonny,

    Ha! Only if it matches Arsene’s own opinion of course. I suspect that his radar, and that of the club is firmly fixed on ‘Radio Funbus’. When it comes to dissent they’ll do a Nelson (protest? I see no protest!).

    He’ll sign I’m 100% sure of it. Deep down I don’t believe there was ever any doubt that he would. He’s just been unfortunate in that he likes his disciples to beg him to stay but this time events have caught him out. If he’d had any recollection of March’s past he would have signed up earlier.

  2. Not much of a say it seems:

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he will consider how he is viewed by supporters when weighing up his future at the club.

    “Yes, I consider everything. It will not be the most important factor,” he said.

    The most important factor should be is he the best man for the job? The answer is clearly ‘No’ so bye-bye and thanks for the memories.

  3. Good morning you happy campers, hi di him! Orsey can’t hear you, HI DI HI!

    The reference to the holiday camp comedy TV series is aposite, bungling management, customers getting a raw deal and infighting among the staff. Spike came up with his funny policeman character, maybe the modern equivalent is the funny football manager, accident prone, myopic and floundering.

    I like the Ox story, a source close to the player (his agent?) says the lad is afraid his progress has stalled due too a lack of regular first team football and adds that both Liverpool and Man City are interested. Maybe his all action performance on Tuesday was an adjunct to his agent generated rumours.

  4. If he signs he will get continual abuse after any loss. Too many are now no longer just sitting on the fence now with their views on him. If he does sign he will have very little wiggle room with supporters.

    In other news reports say oil has been offered a bigger deal to stay. Also alonso has said he will retire at the end of the season, what a player he has been.

  5. Whoop-de-fucking doo.

    Results may yet have a say but you’d have to think he is staying…

    Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick says:
    “We are fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate. We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart.
    “Arsène has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way.”

  6. Walcotts (attributed in a headline) comments that the team must now play to save the managers job – floored me.

  7. To Mr Wenger ,I have one thing to say to you . Au revoir and to ozil …. o.. and Alexis farewell and thank you .Hope the ox stays. New manager plzzzzzz.Oh and ozil.malacka.

  8. “In the last nine years only once have we been the worst performing English club in the Champions League.”….wenger trotting out the old best of the worst line. what lofty ambitions he has, what positive messages he sends the squad.

    of course he’s signing a new contract, if he’s that bloody foolish, selfish and deluded then i hope he, and the club, enjoy the total bloodbath of their own creation. nothing will change except the growing sound of discontent and outrage. he is carrying his own cross, sad.

    old keswick waffling about long term ambitions…..not much use are they when we are left miles behind. if they had long term ‘ambitions’ that were in anyway about football they’d get a new coach. barca last night showed us up nicely, and our comeback would have been even ‘easier’. the game all but gone, did they concede four, no they scored three. we are shockingly lightweight, owner through management through players. quite how, or when, they will announce this new contract, is a mystery….my money is after the season’s end to avoid any adverse public reaction. it would be totally out of the ‘stuff the fans’ textbook.

    and as for that bbc ‘journalist’ trying to claim the ownership are desperate for trophies, how much are they paying him ? Stan is on record saying exactly the opposite, odd he had such an unlikely about turn. What was he saying about not getting into football to win trophies. Lies upon lies upon lies.

  9. Afternoon I see Wenger has now rounded on Theo.

    Peut etre je ecrit une lettre en Francais pour Messr Wenger en Francais peu etre, peut etre il lire cest lettre et decide a quiite Arsenal? Qui sais.

  10. The foundations are crumbling, Ospina wants away because he only gets to play in the cups, picking the ball put of the net ten times in two games won’t advance his claims much. Cech unhappy that he’s not picked for the cup games and his only chance of a trophy lies there.

    Bellerin a target for Barca, and every other top club in Europe. The Ox wants out, Ramsey should be out. Sanchez and Ozil look certain to go.

    Doesn’t leave much of squad does it?

  11. Fans: “Look how far we are from the best”
    Arsenal: “Look how far you are from the worst”

    That is the difference, ambition versus fear of failure.

  12. silvergunner,

    Yup, Alonso is by far one of the best midfielders of his generation as he played just as big a part of that Spanish revolution as both Xavi, Inesta and Busquets did. Truly a world class player who was elegant both on the ball and in the pass but what people often forget is that he has/had a nasty streak about him when it called for it.

  13. It is descending into farce which beggars belief.

    Forget the opinions given on blogs such as this. Forget below the line comments in the national papers.

    How many journalists of repute or well-regarded pundits are advocating for Wenger to stay?

    So Kroenke, the board and Wenger are ignoring the whole lot?

    To be honest I don’t believe Kroenke has any deep opinion on the matter. The board – spineless to a man – sit passively as his career disintegrates in front of them.

    As for Wenger, his grasp of reality is now so questionable, it struck me he is in need of an intervention.

  14. I think we can safely assume there is no way Sanchez will stay.
    Ozil must be a likely departure.
    Cannot see Perez staying.
    I’d definitely sell Ramsey.
    No idea what is going on with Cech but Ospina must surely want out the door.

    No way would I let Oxpot leave – he has been showing real signs of coming good this season and played all of his best games in an Arsenal shirt (well he is 23 after all).

    We can bring back Chesney and, personally, I very much think we should. In fact, I would certainly consider bringing him back as number one and promoting Martinez (who recently signed a new long-term contract) to number two.

    This still leaves an enormous amount of work to be done in the summer.

    We still need a midfield enforcer, Coquelin has had serious wobbles and Xhaka, even on the rare occasions he has played well does not look remotely like the right player (as a foil, an anchor or a leader). In fact, in his first season, he has been mostly characterisable as an outright liability.

    We need maybe another 3 or 4 players in addition to that.

    More than anything we need a new manager and new ideas – this one has been shown he cannot be trusted to make the right decisions or the necessary decisions.

    And even if he could be trusted, does anyone outside of the usual voices actually think he is the right man to get the best from those players..?

    Rhetorical question…ignore me. 😛

  15. Well that statement wa pointless it’s done to apease the die hard Wenger out brigade if anything enraged them more.
    It’s a PR disaster.

    I agree with you jonny we should rid ourselves of Ramsey he has his chance in an arsenal shirt will always give 100% for Wales can’t say the same for Arsenal.

    It seems incredible to think we still need to strengthen our midfield but for most it’s clear that’s been our major floor against well organised teams.

    We should 100% try and secure ox on a long term deal, I truly believe he has a good future ahead of him.

  16. Ramsey will be great for another team – I don’t blame him for not playing well really (I think he tries).

    He is the type of player who you could build a style of play around (as they did with Wales effectively giving him a free role) he is NOT a winger nor any kind of DM – if anything he should have been in competition for Ozil’s position.

    AW has never utilised him well and nor will he – it would be a waste of his abundant talent and career for him to remain with us.

  17. Its funny because I truly think that some of the players are unintentionally and indirectly no behind the manager. For instance, Mert laughing and my immediate thought was that he knows that the dressing room is fractured and that quite a number of players want him to leave because they don’t feel that he can bring them silverware while others want him to stay for fear of being sold.

    I do think that Ozil and Sanchez will be off IF Arsene stays but I think that should Arsene leave, both players will stay which would be the best situation because its better to add top quality players to those that already are here than to lose the 2 that we have and then need to not only replace them but add to them.

  18. Wenger should at least reject any pay rise when he signs the new contract.

    He won’t of course but…

  19. Jonny,

    It’s pointless getting a defensive midfielder when the guy in charge will do his best to convert them into an attcking forward or drop them.

    Wenger stated a number of years ago that the defensive midfielder was redundant. He got rid of Gilberto, sold Porpoise Head (Diarra) to Portsmouth and introduced us to the non-tackling Denilson. He encouraged Song to become a no 10, when he should have been defending.

    Coquelin looked ok just doing the defensive midfield role, but has been encouraged to break forward, and Xhaka at the moment looks a million miles from a defensive midfield.

    Any defensive impulses in midfield are discouraged, hence the defence are regularly overwhelmed.

  20. Jonny,

    A 50% pay cut would suffice with only 12 months on the table and include appointment of a directory of football as a prerequisite.

  21. Jonny i’d be with you bring back Szc although perhaps also keep Cech for one more season and play on form and merit, keep both hot, and Martinez as 3rd. Cech, for me, has been rather an underwhelming signing, i was over the moon when we got him but he is no longer nearly the player he once was, doesnt have the same aura and i dont think he ‘adds’ that many points to our season, as they say a great goalkeeper should.
    We always have an enormous amount of work to do, but as we know from history we never do it, or never do it properly. I can see several players leaving and not being replaced. Couple of ‘promotions’ perhaps one or two middle of the road signings. Keep it cheap, that’s the idea of the men at the top – get away with as little as possible while trying to maximise return with cl qualification. Good business but terrible news if you are a fan. I mean who gets into football to win things, utter madness.

  22. Damon,

    I’d be interested to see where the Ox will fit in, and with who. Or I would be if he wasn’t odds on to leave. Who knows what the squad will look like next season, if Wenger stays he’ll have a right mess to sort out and I wouldn’t trust him to have a clue how to go about it.

  23. There a single doubt in my mind that he will sign a new contract, the only doubt I have is when they choose to announce it, maybe April 1st!!

  24. Is this stat right, Ozil and Sanchez since both have arrived playing together (14/15) have either assisted or scored 102 of our 191 goals for 53.4%.

  25. YW,
    I would have applauded your effort to work ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays’ into the write up.

  26. The board believe Arsenal will finish the season strongly and Wenger can take the club forward next year, they do not see an adequate replacement manager available.
    Board is calm and a 2 year deal is still on the table.

  27. I don’t mind that everybody’s (not) happy nowadays at the Arsenal.

    After all , all we get are promises.

    Just a thought – could Arsene stay if we lose to Lincoln ?

  28. Spy,

    Funny that, no evidence that he can do that – as he failed to do so this season. And in Europe has failed to do so for seven seasons on the trot.

    Basic bullshit 101 I’m afraid. Sir Chips wouldn’t know a good manager even with a neon ‘World Class Manager’ sign flashing above the guy’s head. And we all know the contempt he has for his customers (sorry, fans).

    The whole lot of them need to go. Arsene, Ivan, Dick, and Stan. Bunch of clowns.

  29. Pete the Thirst,

    Spot on with that post.

    Surely the midfield was supposed to be Wenger special focus? It was luck Coquelin and Cazorla combined and then excelled – it was never by design. And like you, I have maintained Wenger has pushed Coquelin forward (he didn’t just take it on himself)and it has been a frickin disaster.

    Just one probem aspect of Wenger staying – why bother signing anyone? The majority lose form-Xhaka and Mustafi- and in cases like Perez, are marginalized. Seriously, why allow him to sign anyone else?

    Everyone can see this.

  30. Lyon vs Roma has been pretty decent so far
    DFS-,

    Completely agree on this, especially on signing players when he signs on for another two years.

    What I find interesting is that Wenger clearly still has control of players. The examples being ones you reference, Xhaka and Le Coq. They haven’t stuck two fingers up at him (yet?) and said “I know my own game, I’m not listening or trying this crap”. They are carrying out his commands. I don’t think anyone thinks Le Coq suddenly thinks he’s a creative player that should be high up the oppostion half regularly. Xhaka I’m lost with tbh, as is he. All at sea.

  31. Well, the board came out and spoke nothing, other than basically saying the club’s long term interest (Money) is all that matters and Fuck Off fans.

    Not realizing that this will keep the club in the negative spotlight in the media for the rest of the season or until some questions are answered.

    Robbie, the guy with Arsenal Fan TV said it right “Why is a manager allowed to hold the club at ransom at every contract renewal? he says the same thing every time, I will decide at the end of the season.”
    No, a lot at stake here and you need to decide now. Either sign the damn contract and we or at least me can go missing for the length of the contract, Or say no I’m not signing and we “the club” can start planning for who’s next.

    The problem is the board is inept with Football matters, they’re scared shit to make any decisions without Wenger, or they just stiffing the fans and want the money regardless of anything else.

    I’d actually go back as far as Fizman and the rest of them. They all cashed in and told us they sold the club to the best man. Well, not really, maybe the best man for collecting money bags and hiding in the shadows like a freaking coward.

    Fucking bullshit all around.

  32. On 11 April 2011, two days before his death, he sold his Arsenal shares amounting to 16.11% of club’s stake to KSE, due to his declining health.[10]

  33. Damon,

    Regarding Xhaka, I can’t work it out either.

    I presume half the problem is there is a strong culture of ‘accepting things as they are’ at Arsenal.

    Incoming players are unwitting – they obviously think they will find a culture of ambition coupled with organization. I presume initially they are thrown with what they face.

    Whilst the players obviously maintain levels of fitness and strength – it appears tactics dissolve into vaguaries – hence the decline in form (or organization) with Xhaka and Mustafi. We have seen the same with Chambers and Gabriel for example.

    (By the by, I have a theory those who do have an inclination to be a little more aggressive and energetic (at training) might result in being marginalized – I suspect Elneny and (specifically) Perez fit that mould. It bugs Wenger who wants to see pretty, endless passing routines, by all accounts. I pose thats why he likes Iwobi so much- Iwobi always strikes me as being in training pitch mode, constantly making pretty little one twos – I’ll bet Iwobi is compliant at training) .

    Back to the culture.

    Take Walcott for instance. I think it revealing he has come out and talked about the need to play for the manager. He strikes me as someone that should have been pushed twice as hard as he has been (and I am a fan) – more should have been demanded and expected of him on a regular basis.

    He is someone who is aware of fans criticisms but has failed to lift his game on numerous occasions over a span if seasons – he is patently (most of the time) in a comfort zone (I laughed the other day to come across an article when Walcott signed as a teenager. Wenger, instead of playing him sent him on holiday to relieve his stress and tiredness).

    So, a new player enters the club and starts to establish a relationship with the squad including Theo. I find it hard to imagine Theo projecting anything but an easy going, chilled vibe (ditto numerous other players).

    I am sure many a new player questions what they find, but are surroounded by individuals who are fine with the regime, accept things as they are and then encourage the new players to do the same.

    It’s a nice gravy train to be riding.

  34. Perhaps this helps explain human nature

    The numbers also show that roughly one in three businesses pass to the next generation. Just about 10% of family businesses pass to the grandchildren’s generation. Still fewer make it to the subsequent generation. Regardless of the reasons, family money seems to move away from that which created it. Among wealth advisors, there is a saying: the first generation makes it, the second generation spends it, and the third generation blows it.

  35. The Arsenal Chairman is quite right. Arsene Wenger has a contract until the end of the season, when the question of his continuing as Arsenal manager will be decided. Not now.
    G4E quite rightly referred to Arsenal shareholders selling out to the wiles of Kroenke and then completely destroys his argument by suggesting Arsene Wenger “holds the club to ransom at every contract renewal”.
    It’s about time the present position was made clear.
    1. Kroenke senior is by far the most major shareholder. He and his son are on the Board and his word is law (whether we like it or not).
    2. The Kroenkes are experienced investors but have no interest in association football.
    3. Arsenal FC have thrived financially since the appointment of Wenger as manager, over 20 years ago.
    4. We have a new stadium, a regular entry in the lucrative CL competition and increasing TV and advertising receipts.
    5. For the Kroenkes and their investment, there is no incentive AT THE MOMENT to get rid of the manager of their successful business.
    6. At the season’s end there are a host of alternatives regarding the future of Arsenal’s manager and I would respectfully suggest we all await that time before a decision on the future is reached. 😉

  36. Knobby,

    No, I would rather he pissed off (sold his shares), cause he is cancer to a sports team regarding ambition. All you need to do is look across the pond and see how his american franchises are doing and you will see a clear picture.
    I actually wonder if he even realizes there is something called relegation in the EPL, cause there isnt in the US. My biggest fear is we end up like Aston Villa, because we have an owner who doesnt care.

  37. Great post yogi

    Love the picture of Woody. Toy story is one of the top 5 animated movies of all time. Love the green army men.

  38. Knobby,

    Why would I? 1) I dont have that kind of money and 2) I am just a lowly archeaologist who loves football. never ever ran a company
    But here are a few pointers
    -Looks like Sanchez, Ox, Ospina and a few others want out of the club. What signal is that sending to potential new players that a teams top goalscorer want out?
    -The only person with both power and football knowledge at the club is AW. Will the corperate stooges on the board have any idea who they want if AW decides to leave
    -There is a great chance that Arsenal will finish outside top 4 this year and if that happens how will Kroenke react. Will he be offensive and release money to sign players so we can regain our fabled top 4 spot or will he go defensive and shut off the money for new signings?
    -Will the club be able to sign a new contract with Öxil if they cant/wont meet his demands
    _Will the club hold a firesale this coming transfer window for all the players whos contract runs out in 2018 or will they let them play out their contract knowing that they will lose alot of money on that move?
    -Will the board realize that is the start of a potential downward spiral if they make just one wrong decision?
    -It only take one bad season to get into a situation that will be very hard to turn around

    Without any football people at the deciding posistions at the club (The board) these are genuine concerns, cause how will they react if just a few ogf the things that can happen in fact do happen. When I look at the corperate branch, one thing I always see is cutbacks when things get hard.

  39. nicky,

    The big problem is that Wenger is NOT going anywhere. He is going to get another two year contract, no matter what happens this season. The board loves his bead-eyed approach to recruitment. It will NOT bring in a big-name manager who will undoubtedly demand a huge war-chest. That’s what really frightens them. Everything else is just a big fan-dance. Arsene isn’t going anywhere. I fully expect that, in two years time we will still see Giroud starting for Arsenal and running around like he’s wearing hobnailed boots.

  40. Nicky-

    It’s a discussion board to express opinions, created by YW and greatfully accepted by all.

    I am not quite sure why you keep trying to tamp down opinion….

    “…regarding the future of Arsenal’s manager and I would respectfully suggest we all await that time before a decision on the future is reached”.

    It’s an online forum, why is there a need to wait to express an opinion?

  41. DFS-,

    DFS – I think that is all very perceptive. It’s interesting that Arsene often buys players like Xhaka and then benches them for quite a while because, he says, he is inculcating the Arsenal “way”. I suspect that the real reason is that he is encouraging unquestioning subservience to the views of the great man.
    I sense that Perez is being punished because he hasn’t been quite as subservient as required. He was demanded game time and Arsene doesn’t like that one little bit. Giroud, on the other hand, is compliant, so he gets another contract. Maybe it’s a french thing?
    Then we come to poor old Sanchez. He’s had Bielsa, Pep and Sampaoli as managers. He really knows a thing or two about football (particularly pressing) yet he just sees the tactical incoherence mentioned above (we have the ball and then you have the ball). He was an absolute star at CF at the beginning of the year and the team was cooking with gas, but now he’s back on the wing? I suspect that is because he has, in some way, pissed off Arsene and that is a semi-punishment. I bet Arsene is totally pissed off about the way Sanchez tries, every game, to wave players forward to press. Arsene is the only person who decides those sorts of tactical issues. Sanchez is getting too big for his boots.
    I sense that, below his calm exterior Arsene has a monumental ego (much bigger than Maureen’s) that only accepts “yes” coaches and “yes” players. He is a huge passive-aggressive. That is why things so often go off the rails.

  42. And maybe Arsene tends to save his bacon time and again because, when faced with a real existential threat, he’s able to put aside his anger and pick the best side? Will we now seen Sanchez back at CF?

  43. Xhaka is the perfect example of how misleading U-tube scouting can be. He makes about 1-2 eye catching long passes per game that look great on U-tube highlights.

  44. freddo,

    We are on the same page.

    You are correct with Sanchez. I believe Wenger does not want a captain on the pitch because he does not like anyone stealing his leadership thunder – not because he wants a ‘team of captains’.

    A couple of other specifics.

    I love Danny Welbeck’s enthusisam to defend from the front (like Sanchez) – but, there are been times when he has patently been told to dial it back. When he first came to Arsenal he pressed like crazy, then dropped it several notches.

    In terms of enthusiasm and how this ‘strikes’ Wenger, I am convinced he was going to sideline Elneny until injuries intervened. When we signed him, like everyone I researched him and found nothing but good reports. He was a quick thinking player who had an engine that just did not quit.

    As we already had the ‘Campbell situation’ developing, I (seriously) kept notes on Elneny’s failure to get a game. Or rather notes week in and out from our pressers about how Wenger responded to polite questions regarding when we were going to see Elneny play.

    Wenger gave a serious of (in hindsight) really disingenuous answers concerning Elneny’s fitness, readiness for the PL, the need to strengthen and then even a phantom injury over a span of several weeks.

    I felt I had Wengers number on Elneny. He hit the training ground a real live wire and rubbed Wenger the wrong way from the get go. Not only his enthusiasm, but obviously the idea might have the talent to displace a favored son such as Ramsey.

    He then debuted in an FA Cup game and looked good…to be promptly dropped. Fans started asking for his regular inclusion (a la Campbell which Wenger obviously resents) and the only reason he did feature (and prosper) this year was we went through an injury spell (although as someone said recently, actually Elneny is still not truly bedded in).

    Now it is the same scenario with Perez.

    “I sense that below his calm exterior Arsene has a monumental ego”

    Yes, and the ego is matched by obstinacy!

  45. Bill,

    Xhaka has nothing to do with a perfect example of youtube. Bayern don’t chase and bid on players that are just youtube sensations. The problem is, Arsene wants him to be Vieira and he is more Silva: sitting deep, breaking and reading play and dictating from deep. Problem isn’t Xhaka, its the application of Xhaka.

  46. DFS – Definitely agree with all that. Amazing really. Sanchez is probably the greatest forward-defender I have seen. Playing for Chile / Barcelona, I have seen him sneak up on players from 30 metres and pick their pocket (catching them totally by surprise). He started doing that again when CF (e.g. Gary Cahill at Chelsea!). Now, that’s off the agenda. Welbeck, Sanchez, Ramsay, Ox, Coquelin. They should be crushing sides with their pressing. I don’t think there is much wrong with Arsenal’s backline. That’s a symptom of the poor defending from the front.
    But I do think Arsene’s problem is more than obstinency. I think it’s passive-aggression. He quietly gets even with players that don’t kow-tow.
    And, eventually, of course, young impressionable players wake up to him: Ces, Ox, Wilshire. Wait a few years until Bellerin works out that he is really being stifled.

  47. DFS – And, I suspect, Ozil with his rather passive nature has been the perfect player as far as Arsene is concerned. That’s why Arsene has continually supported him at No 10 until it was impossible to hide that Ozil was stinking up the room.
    It would be wonderful if they replaced him with Isco, but why would Isco waste his time on Arsene.

  48. freddo,

    Well, the flip side to this debacle is just that – which top players will feel inclined to come to Arsenal at this juncture?

    I think the board and fans who refuse to look objectively at the failings are a serious problem (especially as Wenger has cited them as leverage). This season we brought 4 players to the club.

    Holding – a young player and even if garnering attention his spare use is understandable.

    Perez came as a senior player with a very good reputation (playing and socially) to get marginalized.

    Xhaka and Mustafi came with serious reputations, made an initial impression and then spiralled down along with the general form of the team.

    Imagine if Sanchez leaves.

    It will be virtually impossible for Arsenal to replace him, period. However, who would want to join the club with this cloud perpetually hanging over us? Anyone with true ambitions will steer clear of Arsenal until the club finds itself on a solid footing.

  49. Agree. I see there is now speculation in the press that Thierry Henry is in line to become the next manager. Makes perfect sense (to the board). They will get someone they can control (who won’t ask for too much money) and someone they can sell to the fans as a big part of the club’s tradition. Whether Henry is ready for the transition from Deputy Manager of Belgium to Arsenal is another matter.
    At least, Arsenal is still interesting anthropologically and sociologically, if not footballogically.

  50. Oh, and Martin Keown says that Arsene will only leave IF he wins the FA cup and gets a top four finish. If he doesn’t, he will hang around and fight on. That must thrill a lot of fans.

  51. DTS – Or, to sum it all up. There is a reason why people complain that Arsenal doesn’t have any leaders on the pitch. It’s because the manager doesn’t want leaders. He wants Arsenbots. There is no other explanation. Arsene doesn’t like big personalities. He had a few with the Invincibles. But maybe after that he decided he was a genius and could dispense with them because they threatened his authority. Fergie, on the other hand was always prepared to tolerate big personalities (e.g. Roy Keane) provided they didn’t start disrupting the team. He was also prepared to bring in good coaches with up-to-date ideas. He didn’t feel threatened when he had to concede authority. Maybe, in the end, that was the big difference between Arsene and Fergie. It’s also why Fergie was prepared to walk away and Arsene can’t.
    I’ve never liked Mourinho. But, in many ways, Arsene’s recent behaviour makes me think more favourably of him. Mourinho is a less complex personality. What you see is what you get. With Arsene, it’s a hall of mirrors …

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