The Arsenal Movement: A Board’s Denial & Arsène’s Truth

Arsène held his pre-Lincoln press conference and the immediate headlines all talked about his future. And then the board gave him a vote of confidence,

“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.”

Not so much a ‘vote of confidence’ as a pointless intervention. Claiming that they have the club’s “best long-term interests at heart” is laughable. The paralysis caused by Wenger’s own situation is damaging the short-term, with players’ futures in the air and the Academy role vacated by Andries Jonkers.

The Him

Wenger claimed there is plenty of time to appoint someone. Which is true but nothing should be decided until Arsène’s own contract position is resolved. I think he will renew, a decision which calls into question the board’s claim to have the club’s best interests at heart. The clue came when he was asked about tainting his reputation,

Look, I don’t work for my image, I work for this club with full commitment. That’s what I do. After, how will I be judged, one way or the other? It’s not too much my problem. I think I’ve shown since I’m here that first of all I love this club, that I’m loyal to this club and that I make the right decisions for this club. I will continue to do that. Of course, in respecting the values that I think are vital for me. If I cannot do that, I will not be here.

That’s man in a job for life talking.

His legacy is intact; he took Arsenal from the club it was then to what it is now. The structures will adapt with time and his record will not be altered. Neither of those will be tarnished or erased, certainly not in the way some try to pretend that the club didn’t exist before Wenger.

His reputation, in the sense of respect in football, is undamaged but what he is capable of achieving is taking a hit. PSG, his likeliest destination, in common with Europe’s other big clubs, demand titles; not just domestic, the Champions League above all else. Arsène’s track record of success in Europe is his blind spot and it’s a common theme throughout his managerial career.

Will the lack of big jobs coming up in the summer will impact on his decision?

Doubts Even Here

His focus is on Lincoln which became almost a by-product of the questions. Understandably (to an extent), he would rather talk about anything else. His problem is that the other talk is how badly the team is performing now and consistently has in the past in big matches.

But for the weekend, he wasn’t sure if the flu bug which struck during the week would have cleared up. The question for Arsène is what side to field. His natural instinct for loyalty is well and good, and I do think the usual ‘FA Cup’ side can win this tie. But he has to consider the impact of the Bayern defeat on the squad. The players gave up; beyond Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, they had no pride in playing for Arsenal at that point.

In the position of their own making after the first leg, the lack of footballing sense was incredible but they need to get back on the pitch and play again. For that reason, I’d field the same XI. Let’s face it, he’s going to have to for the semi-final and final (if we get there). Chelsea are chasing a double while Mourinho would love nothing more than to add to Wenger’s misery. Tottenham are Tottenham, who the knows what they are thinking, while Pep needs a trophy. The other semi-finalists will be highly motivated to put out their strongest side.

Maybe he will give the Cup XI a final runout against the Imps, just to keep the squad ‘happy’ for a couple of weeks. We shall see but the football returns and at least we have a match to distract us.

’til Tomorrow.

93 thoughts on “The Arsenal Movement: A Board’s Denial & Arsène’s Truth

  1. The likes of you will have finally brought the club down fourth is not a cup may be a dream later if the fans don’t want the club the owner should wind it up and sell the land for housing that’s needed

  2. Morning YW. It is like watching paint dry this unfolding drama.

    As I can see no immediate end to this stale mate, sadly a part of me wants us to get beat by Lincoln. He would not have a jambe to stand on should that happen.

  3. Orson Kaert,

    I can’t talk, I put ‘or’ instead of ‘of’ in my reply. In my defence however I can claim middle-aged brain cell decay whereas I suspect that Will is one of those young tykes that has grown up sucking solely from Arsene’s footballing teat 😉

  4. Good morning folks, I can’t see why the media bother attending Wenger’s press conferences, he never responds to a direct question with an honest answer and spends his time making inane comments designed to send his audience into a cataleptic state.

    Good old Sir Chips, he has the best interests of Arsenal’s future at heart, at future of high income, low expenditure and steadily declining expectations.

    While the ground continues to host sell out matches he and Silent Stan will be happy.

    The fact that the fans are gradually being replaced by tourists is no bad thing, after all the regulars have bought as much merchandise as they are likely to while the tourists will happily boost the turnover at the Armoury and the food and drink outlets.

    Yup, the future is safe und the hands of Sir Chips and his mates.

  5. No other comment except : HEAR IT LOUD :ARSENE OUT
    If the board renew his contract, the old specialist will shit all over the place and damage his already thin legacy.
    May be then Sir Chips will feel the heat burning under his old arse.

  6. Morning all,

    I think there was a word missing from Sir Chips statement. It should have read “best long term financial interests”. It is interesting that there is nothing on wanting the club to challenge for trophies, or about competing (rather than just participating) at the highest level. Wenger is the right man for the job if you are the owner, but not if you are a fan. I am expecting him to re-sign rather than resign and that just means more of the same. Great for the balance sheet.

  7. Hi Wavey

    Don’t you think that Wenger continuing would be more harmful from a financial perspective? I would argue that being the case with the continued protests from fans, the shelling in Europe and the performance of the team in the Premier League could potentially harm the balance sheet. Especially if there are performance related clauses in contracts on the commercial side or penalties for dropping out of the CL. I think that in the USA, franchises there are not protested against or have the organization that UK clubs have against them. Fan power here can actually damage the brand which Kroenke will not be used to.

  8. Arsene will sign for another two years unless he is defenestrated from the Emirates Stadium, and even then he’ll probably keep going.

  9. It’s no surprise that a BoD and owner and manager all in there later years cannot see the long term effect of their actions. They are turning AFC into a joke, a farce of a football club. I guess they don’t read the back pages or use the ‘internet thingy’ because if they did they would notice it’s gone beyond criticism and into a place where laughing at Arsenal is a national pass time.

    Is it the club’s best interests to be something that others laugh at? What child at school would want to support a club like that and get ripped every day at school by his mates? What young fan is going to get excited by the latest financials? What youngster is going to look forward to the CL knock out stage draw? What kid is going to find a hero at the club who will stick around when he finds out how much we lack ambition?

    Another way to look at is if you were a kid in North London which side would catch your imagination right now? It wouldn’t be us, it would be the other lot down the road. For those that remember, the Spurs team right now reminds me a lot of Graham’s early side. Just as Spurs are now we spent a few years knocking on the door before we famously finally won the title in ’89. For Alan Smith read Harry Kane, for Alli see Paul Merson, for Eriksen see Rocky Rocastle. Okay not like-for-like match ups but hungry talented young players who love playing together. and behind them a decent defensive unit and an excellent ‘keeper.

    So, Mr Chips, are you happy that your legacy will be to drive young fans into the arms of our rivals, to make us irrelevant when the big boys challenge for the top honours? See how long before the commercial revenues start to dry up and then tell me this is in the best interests, financial or otherwise. of our great club.

  10. Wenger wants to carry on, it’s clear. Kroenke and the Board want him to continue, that’s clear from the drivel Sir Fish & Chips spouted yesterday. Tony Shatwood and his fellow travellers want him to stay.

    The majority of the fans want him to go. This is going to end very badly.

  11. I think I’ve worked out Arsene’s secret equation (Guardian today) –

    defensive incompetence + appalling injury record + players played out of position + tactical naivety + repeated bottling + same thing every year + formulaic substitutions = New £10m pa contract

    Simples

  12. Having predicted a 4 – 0 drubbing at the hands of Bayern this week I think I am going to put some money on us not finishing in the top 4 this season. I think ManUre are going to pip us to fifth and not much tells me otherwise; we have been hopelessly inept this year, like someone sapped all the energy out of us before Christmas.
    I was genuinely delighted by the way we started the first half on Tuesday night, only to see the new found backbone drain away like solidity from a Richtea dunked in a hot cuppa.
    We are flaccid, the sort that comes from the manager losing the players. Can we remember the difference in Chelsea in Mourinho’s 1st year and 2nd? Or that 2nd season and Conte’s 1st? Same players, different game.
    If Wenger has lost the dressing room, it will be an ugly fight , but he will eventually go.

  13. There is as much chance of Wenger deciding to leave as there is of the fat guy in north korea giving up his rein. The guy is a dictator. He is here to stay. Unless the owner decides otherwise, but that ferrot-mustached cunt is to stupid and absent to act.

    Nicky’s right – protesting is useless, because the owners hold us in too much contempt to care what we think. So we must hit them where it matters to them – $$$$$. Stop going to the games, stop buying the merchandise. That will get their attention.

  14. As for the futbol, I would honestly drop the whole XI that started with the only 2 players that would potentially be in contention were Ox (though I didn’t watch the match he seems the only player whose name keeps popping up) and Theo (because he got the goal) but the rest, well enjoy a comfy seat on the bench.

    Cech
    Gabriel—-Mert—-Holding—–Gibbs
    —–Maitland-Niles——Ox-
    —————-Ozil—————–
    Theo———Perez———Adelaide

  15. Watching the Lyon v Roma game last night I wondered how much more value had been added to Lacazette’s transfer fee. He had a fantastic game.

    Another of the players that Arsenal wouldn’t part with £5 million more to seal the deal. That would have been £35m, his value must be pushing north of £40m now.

  16. I wonder if in the last game agains’t Everton, results in them finishing 6th and us 7th. Would this be viewed by the board as a blip or in line with their long term view. I, however would be highly amused, as it would mean no European distractions next season for a title challenge. There would then be very little wriggle room for excuses. Then Arsene can prove to us he was right all along, the only caveats to this, are the referee conspiracies and the unfortunate rain.

    Andy, hope my punctuation is ok 🙂

  17. CorpFinG,

    Bit harsh but that statement was a ‘we don’t give a toss about all the rocus’ ‘we’ll do what we want’

    Asking supporters to not turn up to games is a bit too far i think maybe late arrival or early leave but not turning up at all?

  18. michael,

    Dare I mention the agains’t? Probably not 😉

    I expect that if we do finish outside the CL places (and I really do believe that he’ll get lucky as one of our rivals implodes again) the BoD’s position will be: “Who else better than the man who managed to qualify for the competition twenty times in a row to get us back where we belong (at least until March anyway)”. The added parenthesis is of course my comment, the deluded old fools probably really do believe that one year he’ll finally crack it.

  19. Pete the Thirst,

    I have been banging on about Lacazette for the better part of 4 or 5 years now and its a shame we still don’t have him because he scores goals and scores and does so for fun plus despite being only 5’8 or 5’9 (1.74m) he is very strong and his hold up play is fantastic.

  20. Agree with C on Lacazette, but Wenger has showed us over the years that he terrible at getting the deal signed for players we have shown a lot of interest in. This is one of his many failings (the list is growing) But I’m not sure if this is totally the boards fault, was it them who continue to hold back the 1 pound to 10 Mil extra that is required to have signed a whole team of superstars over the years, or is it Wengers stubborness and ignorance to pay the market value for a decent player?

    Who have we signed up front recently who could take this team forward? Sanchez does not count as he is a winger. Edoardo? If not him it was RVP, Henry and Anelka. Bearing in mind that was over a decade ago he has clearly fallen very very short in bringing enough good players on particularly up front to win us trophies.

    People say that things wont change one bit if Wenger goes as the board will remain. However I would like to see a new manager be given the chance to challenge the board as it’s clear that Wenger does not seem to have any problems with them at all.

  21. Also if Wenger loves the club so much then he should be able to see that he is unable to take the club forward. That 10-2 defeat should be enough for him to throw the towel in.

    Now is the time for him to get out of jail and anulounce that he is stepping down at the end of the season. Only then will the fans reunite and be able to get behind him and the team and give him a send off that he deserves. Perhaps we can then win the FA cup and see the team go on a run and finish top 4. This way we all get to say thank’s to him and it leaves the club in a good position for the new manager next year. There will also be enough time for the club to find the right successor.

    This would be the honourable thing to do and we would all respect him and be able to look back at all the good he has done instead of slagging him off all the time!!

    If this does not happen then it’s going to end very badly.

  22. Great post Yogi although I must admit I miss the daily pictures from the animated movies and the Looney Tunes. Cartoon characters seem so appropriate to what seems to be happening with our clubs management right now.

    I first began to follow the blog in Oct 2008 when I started whining and complaining about Arsene’s attack at all costs ethos and lack of attention to team defense was hurting our chance to get results. Back then very few of the regulars shared my opinion. I have to admit that part of me enjoys the differences of opinion and the disagreements because I find that debating issues and hearing both sides of the story actually helps to clarify a situation. Now the fact that we need change is such a complete no-brainer and there is such a clear cut consensus or opinion that its become a lot harder to find anything to argue about. Thanks again for all of these years of providing a forum for us to discuss our favorite football club.

  23. Wilberforce,

    My guess is that it will end badly then! In all honesty I cannot see him leaving of his own volition under almost any circumstances. Even losing at home to Lincoln would not necessarily convince him it’s time to go. As you say, he’d earn a little credit for taking the brave choice and walking away for the good of the club and give us a chance to wish him a fond farewell. Instead I’m expecting our cowardly BoD to announce his new contract after the season has ended thus avoiding any unpleasantness with us dirty little oiks. Wenger said he’d make up his mind but he didn’t say anything about sharing that decision with anyone but Stan and his cronies.

  24. I mentioned the battle for life of Lucky a couple months ago. He seemed to make a bit of comeback over the last month and he looked happy and we were hopeful that he could finish his life in a reasonably comfortable manner as a pasture horse but he lost the battle yesterday when his kidneys shut down and his liver failure worsened and we had to make a decision to put him to sleep. We have only had to do that 3 times in the past 5 years and it does not get any easier.

  25. The bar will be lowered as low as it needs to be to justify the new contract.

    I really don’t understand why. The risk in keeping him seems to be more of a threat to ‘financial security’ than replacing him with someone competent.

  26. With regard to Arsene. I have no clue why anyone would leave a job that has world class wages and total control of your working environment. It’s human nature that when someone is placed in a position of unchallenged power they tend to lose perspective and make excuses rather then look in the mirror when they are trying to explain the cause of poor results. How many football managers in history have ever been in a situation where they are the ones who evaluate their own performances and decide what level of results are considered adequate. I suspect there are very few of us would give up that sort of job. I can’t imagine Arsene will decide to retire.

  27. andy1886,

    As an Arsenal supporter, I am genuinely excited to watch Spurs this season. They have in my eyes risen above the rivalry – the commitment (manager and players) and drive with which they take the pitch is a thrill.

    In a similar vein to what I said yesterday (concerning journalists and pundits of note and their opinion on Wenger staying)…how about the board simply looking across North London to our supposed inferior rivals and indulging in a little compare and contrast?

    Does the Arsenal Spurs rivalry no longer count for anything in terms of pride?

    Instead of feeling excited to watch Arsenal over the last several weeks, I feel a sense of foreboding. Here’s were we detach with reality…what board member would bother to bullshit they are unreservedly excited to watch a game at the moment?

    I’ll wager none of them, yet here we are stuck in a loop.

  28. C

    From last night.

    I can only go by what I have seen from Xhaka this season and clearly he has not been a good defensive player and he is certainly does not seem to possess the type of mental make up that is needed to be a deep lying playmaker. Most of the players who excel as deep lying player makers are much more cerebral. I have also seen no evidence to suggest that he is better then average defensive player. I can only conclude that his performances in Germany were probably over rated because of the 1 or 2 eye catching skills that he does possess. Arsene tends to over value players who have technical skill and passing ability. My only guess is that the interest you describe from Bayern Munich was agent speak. Historically Arsene has always backed off his pursuit of any player when one of the true “big teams” gets involved in the bidding which can only lead me to conclude that Bayern would have signed Xhaka if they were really interested.

  29. Bill,

    I wouldn’t trust Arsene to know a good defender if they bit him on the backside. Remember this little story care of Ray Parlour’s autobiography?

    “In the summer of 2000 a player turned up on trial at our pre-season tour. He was a tall centre-half. Now, Martin Keown was always worried about people coming in to steal his position. If we had a centre-half on trial, Martin would say he was useless. This big guy from Latvia, Igors Stepanovs, turned up. He was a unit, but seriously, he was not up to standard.

    A few of us were on the bench watching as he played in this trial game. Stepanovs is out there and every single pass he made, the boys started applauding, just because we knew Martin would be getting a bit steamed up by it. Dennis Bergkamp was sitting behind Arsène and kept doling out these compliments about this defender. “Great header! Unbelievable tackle!” Igors kicked this one ball 20 yards away from where it was meant to go but it still went to one of our players so we all stood up clapping. Martin’s muttering: “He’s not that good.” He started to point out where he missed a tackle or a header.

    That night we went for dinner and laughed about it as we were only trying to wind Martin up. We all knew Igors was nowhere near the standards set by Tony Adams, Martin and Bouldy. But Martin is such an easy target because he bites. Once someone bites it’s too tempting. Dennis seldom missed a trick because Martin would kick him every day in training. He always came out with a blinder to explain it to Dennis: “I’m just getting you ready for what you are going to face in the match.” Martin was a great player, a great character, a great winner. I think we all cared so deeply.

    When we got back to the training ground at London Colney a week later we had a surprise though. Igors was sitting there. I said: “What are you doing here?” “They signed me. Four-year contract.”

    Incredible. Arsène didn’t know we were just trying to tease Martin. He just kept listening to us heaping praise on this player. And if Dennis Bergkamp stands up and says: “What a player,” Arsène would be entitled to take a bit of notice. I suppose it looked like a bargain at around £1m. No disrespect to anyone from the lower leagues but Igors was a yard behind us on the pitch, it was like taking my brother to training.

    The next thing we know we’ve got the biggest injury crisis we’ve ever had at centre-half. And the only fit centre-half we’ve got is Igors and who are we playing at the weekend? Man United at Old Trafford. Going into the game our back four looked a bit dicey really. Oleg Luzhny, Gilles Grimandi, Igors and Ashley Cole, who had to go off at half-time.

    Dwight Yorke ran us ragged. Seriously, it was humiliating. They scored the first goal and we managed to equalise. We thought: “OK, we’ll take that.” And then all of a sudden the goals started pouring in and we were 5-1 down by half-time. There is a massive walk to the tunnel at Old Trafford and you could see Arsène was fuming. He hardly every swore or shouted but he did that day. I remember doing the long walk to the tunnel alongside Dwight Yorke and he asked: “Where the hell did you get that centre-half from?” “Look, it’s a long story …”

    We sat down in the dressing room and it could’ve been 9-1 as David Seaman actually had a blinder in goal. Arsène started letting off and he’s not a swearer, it just doesn’t suit him, and I’m really desperate to laugh. I’m making no eye contact and I could see Pat Rice in my peripheral vision sending me a look that said: “Don’t laugh. Whatever you do. Do. Not. Laugh.” Arsène was going mad. And that was the only time, in the eight years I played under him, he went crazy at half-time. He was always focused on being calm, recovering and keeping concentrated on what we needed to do. We lost 6-1 and poor Igors barely played again.”

  30. Andy

    Interesting, I had never seen that. Thanks.

    Arsene’s apparent disregard for the importance of team defense is perhaps the single most indefensible issue of his managerial ethos during the Emirates era. I thought it had improved in the last couple of seasons and he has spent some money in recent years to buy defensive players. Last summer he bought Xhaka and Mustafi. However, our defensive performances this season have reminded me of the 2008-10 era when we proudly proclaimed that we were an “attacking team” and therefore we should not be expected to play solid team defense.

  31. Sir Chips is 77, he can’t possibly have a long term view of things….it’s the way of the world.
    He is in fact dealing in exactly the opposite, the short term, hence why Wenger will get another 2 year contract.
    Rather like most main stream media, when Arsenal make a statement, the opposite is probably true. Bunch of absolute sand baggers.
    Literally, outside of Wenger keeling over on the touchline, it doesn’t matter what happens he gets a new contract. Finish 5th, it’s not his fault other clubs have more money. Finish tenth…..i feel our spirit suffered ‘a little but’ after Bayern defeat, where we were so unlucky. They can spin shit like candyfloss.

  32. Bill,

    Really sorry to hear that, I think that we all had our fingers crossed for you and Lucky. At least you gave him a chance, many other abandoned animals aren’t as fortunate for what it’s worth.

  33. ‘We respect that fans are entitled to their individual opinions, but we will always….Blah blah blah’, this is typical corporate speak, and using the term individual; meaning of no importance to them whatsoever.
    Arsene gets his new deal done and every one of us must bend over and take it cause you know it’s for the good of the club.

  34. Bill,

    He certainly hasn’t been the same player that he was early in the season for us or in Germany but its not just that, he doesn’t seem to be nearly as aggressive as he was and I’m not talking about the 2 stupid tackles but you saw he was aggressive in quickly winning the ball back but also in his reading of the game early in the season. I actually think he is a cerebral player and I do think that he could play that role for us and do so very well just sitting in front of the CB’s and breaking up play and being that player, problem is, he is being asked to do things that either still needs developing (defending in space) or that simply don’t fit his skill set (that box-to-box role that Arsene wants him to play). I’m not saying his form has been sparkling, hell far from what I have seen of him over the past 2 years prior to his arrival; but I also think that he is trying to do to much and its hurting his overall form. The interest from Bayern wasn’t agent talk as both Bayern and Gladbach spoke openly about Bayern’s interest in him but Xhaka himself said he didn’t want to play for another club in Germany but also didn’t want to sit behind Alonso which makes sense.

    The other thing for is that like at CB, the midfield pivots are a partnership and without having compliments or trusting one another, a player gets exposed. For instance, Kos wasn’t nearly the player that we know now (well not in the last 10 matches)when he was playing alongside the likes of Verm and even Djourou because they were too similar and didn’t compliment each other but also didn’t have a style that fits each other. Bring in an organizer / leader of the back 4 that will talk the back 4 through a match like Mert and now Mustafi and Kos flourishes. I think in order for us to see the best of Xhaka we need a player that is more the “worker bee” in midfield that does all the high pressing and allow Xhaka to do more of the reading and being the last midfield player. Its why I bang on about Elneny starting next to Xhaka as he is that player but also gives us consistency and offers something in the final third unlike Le Coq. Its actually why I think Xhaka and Santi would have worked as Santi likes to buzz around the midfield and do all the linking and defensively isn’t the best but he’s like that little dog that bites your ankles and won’t go away. You see the combination in all of the best sides in Europe:

    Chelsea: Matic/Kante
    Barca: Busquets/ Raktik or Gomes
    Madrid: Casermo / Kroos / Modric
    Bayern: Alonso / Vidal
    PSG: Rabiot / Veratti / Thiago / Matuidi (some combination of 2 or 3)
    Juve: Khederia / Pjanic / Marchisio (some combination of 2)
    Athletico: Koke / Saúl Ñíguez

    So on and so forth.

  35. C

    Thanks, It has been a bad week in terms of our horses. Ruby the other horse who came at the same time as Lucky has done really well in terms of regaining her weight and she had start training but it was not working. We found out that she has chronic calcific tendonopathy and probably myositits ossificans in the left side of her neck and will never be rideable and it will be almost impossible to find a new home for her.

  36. Bill,

    Really sorry to hear that as I know how much those horses mean to you all. I tip my hat off to you for not only giving the horses a chance but continuing to do it over and over again.

  37. C,

    Hi C
    Haven’t got time to debate with you, but I absolutely dont rate Mustafi as top class centre half

  38. C

    You have always looked on the bright side with regard to the players you favor and hopefully you are right about Xhaka having the potential to be better. In my experience, when we have to start searching for reasons to explain why a player has not been playing as well as we hoped, the most common explanation is he was never as good as we thought. If a player can only be good when he plays in a very specific situation or with a specific “partner” then what good is he if that is not the system we use or if the specific partner he needs is injured or loses form? We seem to play the best with a more dynamic player such as Cazorla in the box to box role and we can’t change our system in order to make the ideal situation for Xhaka or any individual player because then we would be trying to play 11 different systems at the same time.

    Time will tell how it all plays out with Xhaka. I suspect Arsene loved the idea of another playmaker whom he thought had the technical skill and range of passing that Arsene loves and Arsene over rated and was willing to over pay for Xhaka

  39. From an Amy Lawrence article in yesterdays Guardian with Wenger…

    “…Wenger said he has recently worked out a secret mathematical formula about management (he was unwilling to divulge details given the current climate of tense ambiguity about his unsigned contract extension). “I will give it to you one day,” he said. “I am sure you will enjoy it. It is an equation about a manager’s job.”

    You could not make this stuff up.

  40. I rate mustafi not so much for his defensive play which imho to start with was more than adequate it’s more for his ability to pass between the lines from center back a quality that we were lacking with mert and definitely with Gabriel. The problem is he concentration has been found wanting when our back have been up against the wall but we have to remember he is only 24 which for a center back is still quite young.

  41. Bill,

    My condolences to your family. Lucky was “lucky” to find you and enjoy what time was left. Not even that many kids around the world get a second chance from famine and disease. You are a kind person who is aware enough to see beyond oneself and make life for other creatures on this earth a better place.

    Just want the Arsenal and Arsene to take the cup and allow the man to go out on a high.
    Many will come to know mediocrity as the Arsenal we know of will descend with all the rest of stan the man’s teams. Many will get their just deserts, with a carousal of managers who will maybe get us to 4th and a trophy every 20 years. But, that is where hope is going to spring eternal.

  42. Bill,

    I’m not looking for reasons why he isn’t playing well, I’m just making an observation as I still think he hasn’t performed well since the red cards. There is a player there and its not about playing a specific system, more having players play their role that best suits their skill set. Some players just have the skill set to play in a particular role in a team and its not about playing or having different systems. With Xhaka, he is a DM that wants to and can sit deep, read the game and has that range of passing; why try to make him into something he isn’t which from the very start Arsene seemed to want to do when he said things like, “he can play that box-to-box role and push further up the pitch”; sure he can but its not what he does best. You have to either implement a system that takes advantage of the skill-set of the XI that you put on the pitch or you bring in players that fit your particular system and should somebody lose form you rotate.

    Time will tell, and I’ll be right 😉

  43. buckagh,

    Not saying he is a top class CB, yet, but he certainly has all the qualities you want and like silver said, he is only 24 years old which is still really young for a CB.

  44. History shows us that if a players form and ability to perform is dependent on playing in exactly the right system for him and having the perfect partner then it really decreases his usefulness because the system which allows someone like Xhaka to thrive might not be the best system for the team.

    For example you always wanted us to change our system which would allow Podolski to avoid playing defense and arrive late in the box to take advantage of his booming left leg. However, we also have Ozil who likes to stay forward and play as a support striker and he does not like to drop deeper to defend. If Ozil is on the pitch then we need both of our wide forwards to be willing to drop deeper and help with the defense. Having Podolski on the wing and Ozil playing in his favored role as a support striker at the same time just did not work very well.

    Ozil is another example. He likes to stay forward and and wait for the ball to arrive and he does not like to be tasked with helping to defend or move the ball forward from defense to attack. That leaves a hole in the center of midfield which other teams take advantage of. It often looks like we are out numbered in midfield and we struggle to move the ball forward quickly and we play at a slower tempo and we when we don’t get the ball forward quickly it neuters Ozil’s effectiveness.

  45. C

    The point of all of that is you can’t put together a system which is optimized to get the best of each of the 11 players at the same time. The players need to have the ability to adapt and play in the system we use. At least so far Xhaka has not done that I suspect we were seduced into over rating him because of his 1 eye catching skill. The best example of this phenomenon was Vermaelen. He was very highly rated and his price tag was high for a defender at the time we bought him. We all loved him at first because the way he played was eye catching. Even Barca was intrigued enough by the u-tube highlights and that they bought him after he flopped at Arsenal. The problem was that Vermaelen was and still is a poor defensive player and basically useless as a CB

  46. Alex Song is another example of a player that a club like Barca over rated based on his eye catching technical skill. We all knew he did not play defense but they loved his technical skill and spent a lot of money.

  47. I still have hope for Mustafi but the thing that really catches the eye about him is the ability to move with the ball and some of the passes he makes. Arsene loves a CB who is good on the ball and Mustafi certainly fits that mold. However, ultimately he is a CB and he has to be able to stay organized and defend or he is a liability.

  48. Look what Conte has done with David Luiz. He was a defensive disaster in his first run in the PL. In the right system with the right manager, players like Luiz or perhaps Mustafi can thrive but the whole culture that has developed in the Emirates era is wrong with regard to team defense. IMO.

  49. Bill,

    Why can’t you? Conte did it with Chelsea, Barca, Bayern, PSG, Madrid, hell the whole point of being a manager is to put your players in the best position to maximize what they do best. Xhaka is best sitting deep as a DM, so why not let him do that?

    Back to Xhaka, I think he has quite a few skills but some are discouraged by Arsene (long range shooting and aggressiveness) while others are preferred (passing).

  50. C

    I beat you to it about Conte. 😉

    What he has done is drill organization and a solid defensive mentality into his players. Solid defense is the basis for any title winning team and that is the single biggest failure of Arsene in the Emirates era. IMO. You combine a solid defense with enough goal scoring firepower upfront and you have a title contending team.

  51. C

    History has shown that you can win with whichever tactical system you like as long as you have top quality team defense and enough firepower upfront.

  52. The incredibly frustrating thing is that it does not cost anything to spend the time and effort on the training pitch to build an organized defense. We have more money then we know what to do with now and we have spent a huge amount on defensive players in the last few years including Chambers, Debuchy, Nacho, Mustafi Xhaka Elneny and yet we still suck at defending. Early in the Emirates era when we did not have money coming out the “wazoo” we still could have built a solid defense if that had been a priority. A solid defense would have given us a much better chance to actually compete with the other big teams but instead Arsene chose to build his team around attacking players who always cost a lot more money to buy.

  53. Bill, sorry to hear the sad news about Lucky, you did a good thing in taking him and making his last few months a good as possible.

    I wonder how long Wenger would have lasted had he not inherited George Graham’s back four.

  54. Orson

    No way to know what would have happened if Arsene had not inherited the great team defense. However, I sincerely want to believe that he was a great manager at one time and he would have done well. He did completely rebuild the back 4 to give us the invincibles. I think that winning trophies was his priority in the first first half of his reign and some degree of pragmatism and having David Dein to keep him on track helped to guide his decisions.

    I really believe that he was gave himself a blank canvas to paint whatever picture he wanted at the start of the Emirates era and he chose to build the team around the things he loved which were technical skill, midfield dominance and creativity and the attacking mentality and a youth academy. He had enough self belief to think he was good enough to make it all work. The single biggest problem was that he lost site of the importance of team defense.

  55. *** Excellent Post Yogi’s ***

    “Look, I don’t work for my image, I work for this club with full commitment. That’s what I do. After, how will I be judged, one way or the other? It’s not too much my problem. I think I’ve shown since I’m here that first of all I love this club, that I’m loyal to this club and that I make the right decisions for this club. I will continue to do that. Of course, in respecting the values that I think are vital for me. If I cannot do that, I will not be here.”

    1. No one is doubting your love for the club Mr. Wenger, but the Gorilla that killed her guard in a Zoo by squeezing him to death also loved him so much.

    2. What is your love and commitment for the club have to do with the abysmal results and stagnant progress? You love the club, you took us one level up, but you’re stuck in that level. What we are asking for is ANOTHER ARSENE WENGER who will take us to the next level.

    3. What are the values you’re holding dearly? Being Mediocre? Getting humiliated? Becoming the Bitch Club of the Premier League?

    ====

    As for Lord Ass-Monger who spoke recently, best interest of the Club my ass. The best interest you hold dearly Sir is your job and the money you shove up Kroenke’s ass year after year after year sacrificing this Great Club’s reputation in the process.

    This club has a value that cannot measured by money, and that value is History and the Trophy Cabinet which is now full of humiliating defeats.

    You all are fucking liars and disgusting.

  56. C

    Great defense is built by the whole team buying into the need for organization, concentration and the proper ethos and you can have a great defense without having great individual players.

    Great goal scoring is much more dependent on having the players with great skill. Scoring goals is the hardest individual skill in football and it’s been almost impossible to teach and you have to spend a lot of money to buy players with that skill

  57. Arsene has a wonderful template for getting a top 4 finish this season: the first third of the season when Alexis was at CF and Arsenal were pressing high (with even Coquelin getting forward to contribute to the press). Not many complaints about the backline in those days. The team was really cooking with gas. Then Arsene went mad (my theory is he thought he was losing control of the team) and started playing the French beef-cake up front and shunted Alexis off to the side and stopped the pressing.
    Will Arsene wake up? I wait to see with fascination.

  58. Bill,

    Bill, since the Invincibles, has Arsene really allowed any big personalities into the team (e.g. Roy Keane, a Rio Ferdinand) who might challenge his authority? I think that was always the big difference between him and Fergie. Fergie didn’t feel threatened; Arsene did. The reason Arsenal doesn’t have leaders is that Arsene doesn’t want them. Even Mustafi seems to have gone quiet.

  59. C

    Making the proper passes is somewhere in between defense and scoring. The team needs to have an unselfish mentality that has everyone looking to make good passes. Passing is an much easier skill to learn and most reasonably skillful players can make adequate passes and creativity can come from anywhere on the pitch. History shows the idea that a team needs a world class creative genius and multiple playmakers and a central creative hub who can unlock the defense with inch perfect final passes in the final 1/3 or someone who can make perfect long diagonal thru balls is just not true.

  60. Old man Bob, how are you buddy. Sorry I’ve been out of touch. Lots of change in life plus I’m getting old like you too 🙂

  61. Freddo.

    I don’t think Arsenal changed anything after the hot start to the season. Look back thru the entire Emirates era and we have one really good run of form in every season irregardless of which players were on the pitch and what sort of tactical tweaks we use. Unfortunately have never maintained that good form for more then a 2-2.5 months. This year our good run was Sept-October and following that with a bad run was always inevitable and it had nothing to do with Arsene changing tactics.

  62. Freddo.

    I don’t know if Arsene actively tries to avoid players with big personality. I think the culture of the whole club has evolved into passivity over the years. The only time there is any sense of urgency is when 4th place in the league is at risk or if we are in danger of missing the round of 16 in the CL group stages.

  63. Bill – I thought the team was totally different with Sanchez at CF. His mobility really pulled defenders all over the pitch and he popped up all over the place creating overloads. When he dropped into midfield Theo and even Ozil ran past him into space. There was also a lot more pressing (he really is a master at that – cf Gary Cahill at Chelsea). Arsene unshackled his one world-class player and it showed. That all disappeared when the lummox started playing CF again.
    I looked at Who Scores. On aerial duels won this season, it’s 8.8 for Andy Carroll; 3.6 for Rondon and 1.6 for Giroud. He’s not even particularly good in the air! It’s just that he’s better in the air than anywhere else.

  64. Bill – since Arsene controls everything at that club – and I mean everything – I think it’s fair to say that the passivity at the club is all his doing. It’s what he wants.

  65. I do slightly believe that Wenger would love to avoid big players, that’s why he feels forced to sign them by the fans.

    He would much prefer playing with young players to avoid the drama and easily tell them what to do and they’re happy to do it for the chance to play.

  66. Getting old like me, G4E?

    ‘Where you are, I have been. Where I am, you will be.’ Old Greek proverb which means that you can never catch me up.

    Changes? What’s going on? Last I remember you were in NY and not very happy.

    Hope the changes are for the better, my friend.

  67. Always the wiseman CBob, one always can learn something from you.

    I’m back to Arizona, didn’t like Virginia/DC area at all. Lost my old comfortable good paying job and now work in a shitty job, but I guess better than non at all. We are not all as lucky as Mr. Wenger 🙂

    I miss the old days when we talked for hours, my bad and sorry for not keeping in touch. Just feel like I need another 12 hours in the day 🙂

  68. Freddo:
    Bill – since Arsene controls everything at that club – and I mean everything – I think it’s fair to say that the passivity at the club is all his doing.It’s what he wants.

    Wenger is not a tough person himself or doesn’t project toughness, so how can he transfer that to his players? He may be strong personally with thick skin, but he doesn’t project that toughness required in the physical world of football.

    He was blessed with the tough players in his trophy-laden winning years. He changed that after the dismantling of the Invincibles and went for the puny little clever guys. But usually those artsy type of players are as moody as a bitch in heat and you can’t depend on them.

  69. G4E,

    Hey, man. As long as you are healthy, things can’t be too bad. One step back to make two steps forward.

    I wish Arsenal would take the same road. Wiser than you think, you are!

  70. consolsbob,

    It’s all good my friend, I’m doing alright and have no regrets. At least I tried something and it didn’t work.

    One of those days, I’ll come and visit England again. I miss that place very much and even that time of my life…I was still 29 years old 🙂

    Have a good one buddy, time for my 21 miles drive home.

  71. Norwich City had a good start to the season, but have since been slipping down the league.

    The board of directors recognised the problem and sacked the manager quite suddenly, the reason given was that they needed the new man to be in place ready for the summer transfer window. They want him to have the time to assess the squad and identify the new players he will need.

    Now all that seems eminently sensible to me, a pity good old Sir Chips and his cronies are unable to make the same sort of decision.

  72. Freddo @ 9:43

    I don’t understand that comment. Sanchez started all of the league games this season up to the Christmas and our bad form started well before Giroud ever started a game this year. Sanchez started the games against Man City and everton at CF. Giroud has hardly played this season and he has only started about 5-6 league games which came during the holiday period and I don’t think we lost any of the games he started. Sanchez has started nearly all of the league games at CF in the last 2 months which has been one of our worst runs of form in this decade. Blaming our poor form on starting Giroud at CF is totally inaccurate.

  73. consolsbob,

    Hey, man!

    Do you know everyone who frequents this blog on a “special” personal level, with your own lingo and chat? You can’t be the linguistic police and indulge in slag as well, you know? 🙂

  74. Bill,

    I think Barca and Spain would differ as would Germany and Bayern and thats without getting into Fergie’s Manure sides or France with Zidane and Vieira bossing the midfield picking out Henry. Think you might be underestimating creative player, there is a reason why they are some of the highest transfers of all time right alongside goal scorers and I do mean right beside.

  75. C

    The fact that a few teams such as Barca have lots of creative playmaking midfielders does not mean that its the only way or even the best way to build a winning team. Plenty of teams have won without having that technical skill and playmaking overload. This years Chelsea team and most of Fergies teams after Scholes started to fade are perfect examples. Even the teams with an over abundance of creativity and technical skill need to have great scorers. Arsenal fans know first hand that creative players are almost useless without top quality finishers. The great passing moves come to nothing without someone who is really good at scoring goals.

  76. C

    Plenty of teams have won without having the great #10 or the player who is the creative axis of the team but no team has ever or probably will ever be a top level team without a great defense and goal scorers.

  77. Begeegs,

    Hi,

    Sorry for being a bit slow at getting back to you. With every game still a sell out and the tourist demand still meaning that merchandise sales in the stadium seems pretty good, I don’t think there is much damage that Wenger would do to the financial model. I don’t even think Stan would see no Europe next season as a major disaster. He would likely asome it was a blip and that normal service would be resumed. If AW consistently underperforms Stan’s targets it would be a different matter, but they will assume at the moment that Wenger has built a sustainable model. He hasn’t failed them so far.

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