Barely A Murmur About West Brom, Theo Or Arsène

The weekend is upon us, with West Bromwich Albion hosting The Arsenal. Pulis lays in wait, with his rambunctious team, in a fixture which will be anything but plain sailing. Or given the circumstances, plane sailing?

You’d struggle to notice much about Le Boss’s press conference yesterday. There was little coming out of it. He sat in a moral kiosk on things, such as Craig Shakespeare – “You don’t judge managers on three games” – and you don’t judge them on 1,000 either, in his book. Much longer timescales than that.

On Leicester being the last English club left, he didn’t answer the question because, “I don’t believe people are really interested in it.” He’s right, because the conversation inevitably leads back to his habitual failure in Europe – he’s the only manager to have lost all three club competition finals and never win one – and of course, Bayern. And the media gave him a free pass. The club has journalists running scared at the moment, that’s for sure. No contentious questions permitted.

You sense press conferences have become tiresome for him but there’s a disconnect in his head about why. It’s only because six months down the line, he still hasn’t come to a decision on his future. Out of the title race, out of Europe; both ticked off the list, so the situation is no different from previous years. There’s no reason not to decide any more and let’s make no bones about this: there’s never going to be a good time to announce he is staying. Ivan and the board will get grief, no matter the time and place of telling people.

I’d argue leaving it to the end of the season is worse because it will intensify criticism of the club when new signings are slow to be announced. The usual stonewalled answer of “We don’t talk about transfers” is going to fan the flames, even if it comes on the back of an FA Cup win. Neither club nor manager cares particularly about supporter reactions but going into a new season, devoid of optimism? It’s a recipe for disaster.

We shall see.

Laughing

Gareth Southgate delivered a timely wake-up call to the whole of the Arsenal squad. Theo Walcott was delighted to receive an envelope with the Three Lions crest on the outside. Probably joked with Mel and the kids that it had lithographed signatures from all the players, with the FA being a bunch of cheapskates.

When he opened it and saw a self-penned poem from the England boss, he was expecting some management-speak to motivate him. Instead, Gareth proved the lie of the chummy pizza ads and Mr Dull image he’s cultivated:

There once was a winger called Walcott
Whose career at his club went to pot
He couldn’t get in the side
Playing up front or out wide
So others are in my squad and you’re not

Hope you have a great a great birthday,

Love

Snozz (or Mr Southgate if you want the chance of recall)

It’s no surprise Theo has been dropped. With nearly half-a-century of caps, he still hasn’t nailed down a place in any England side. A goal every seven games is far from a good return, especially for a forward while Southgate is just the latest boss to be unconvinced by Walcott. Even Arsène was last season and to some extent, this one as well.

Wenger defended his charge with the usual banalities about being a “complete player” but we know it isn’t true. He is in good form but that doesn’t hide the transient nature of it.

Talk About The Passion

“He does better in the tactical part of his game and works hard defensively and offensively. [Theo] has been less injured as well, that helps.

“[Walcott] has turned up in big games as well, he can score goals in big games. He showed that against Bayern, he scored the goal and I think it was a penalty on him and he can influence games.”

If I have a major criticism of Theo, it’s the lack of leadership. He’s a senior pro but there are no signs of him taking the squad by the scruff of the neck and dragging a better performance out of them. I don’t expect him to wear his heart on his sleeve in the way Alexis does, but his refusal to take on responsibility for the whole team is symptomatic of late-era Wenger’s Arsenal.

While that seems contradictory to Arsène’s claim about influencing games, it isn’t. Wenger, in my view, doesn’t demand enough from Theo. This year is the first time since 2012/13 he has reached double figures in goals. You can point to a major injury a couple of years back and I agree although in 21 appearances, anyone with aspirations to play centrally must be hitting 10+ goals. Last season, Theo made 42 appearances and scored 9; in Arsenal’s formation, that’s not good enough, there has to be more from him.

And I think that’s going to be the recurring theme in retrospectives about his career; there was always more to come but it never arrived. Theo’s a decent player, don’t get me wrong, but definitely one who has never lived up to the early hype.

Maybe that hype was wrong, overstating the case. Maybe Germany was his false dawn and we chose to ignore it. At 28, he doesn’t have much time to change that.

Sitting Still

Arsène’s future still haunts the club. This morning sees The Sun claim he’s staying because he is taking an interest in the redevelopment of Hale End. I think he’s keeping his career options open and has submitted his application for the job of Academy manager under an assumed name. Will Ivan notice the familiarity of Arnold Wagner’s achievements?

Academy boss would suit Wenger down to the ground. Coaching without pressure. He doesn’t have to win trophies and he’s made no secret of his disdain for transfers; Arsène could train the youngsters to play football properly, and then as they get older, his successors at the first team can train them to win.

Arsène stays as a coach and remains at Arsenal; we get an updated manager. It’s ‘win-win’ baby, you know it.

’til Tomorrow.

 

 

54 thoughts on “Barely A Murmur About West Brom, Theo Or Arsène

  1. I’m sure any new manager would love to have Wenger waiting in the wings going ‘Tsk, tsk’ or whatever the French equivalent is when he abandons tippy tappy football for a more aggressive style 😉 Seriously though YW, I’m sure that you were just kidding?

    Hopefully an announcement will not be delayed until the summer. I’m sure there are a few of us who would like the chance to throw things/burn something/kick the cat/dog/goldfish (wearing cushioned slippers of course) when that happens. And the fun bus people can either organise a great big party or a group booking at Dignitas (I’m a bad person I know, I blame Wenger naturally).

    All this and still no clarity on any of the ongoing contract negotiations, or on the future of those (Ox) where no negotiations are even taking place. Whoever is running the shoe come August may find a much depleted squad to deal with. So no money left over for a top class striker then. Same as it ever was…..

  2. Good morning folks, another anodyne press conference, the hacks know they are a waste of time, the pressers not the journalists, although……As I was saying they no longer bother to ask an awkward question as they are well aware they won’t get an honest answer, just the usual bull shit.

    No Theo, Danny or Jack in the squad, yet the Ox is picked and Rooney dumped. A wtf moment when I read that Defoe had been included. The men in white coats are on alert Gareth.

  3. Morning,

    Depressing ain’t it?

    It seems like a transfer window multiplied by 50. The lack of any information of substance is as damaging to the club as anything else. It sends a message that those in charge have absolutely no idea what’s going on and fans the flames of rumours of unrest. Maybe they are paddling like mad below the surface, but it all looks pretty unorganised and amateurish to those looking in.

  4. When a player is 16 years old and given the label, potential.
    For me , I remember thinking Theo will be the next 30 plus goals a season. Those were the expectations I placed on his young shoulders. He was being bigged up all over the place. He never really had a chance of reaching my expectations but that’s football. It seems to me that most others had a similar expectation of the boy. All of a sudden he got older without me noticing and I hear that he never fulfilled his potential, I disagree. He never turned out to be exactly what I hoped for but then neither did I. Man utd current youngsters are being given similar headlines today though a few years older. Theo is a good player and unfortunately for him was too good at 16. Hope he gets a hat trick at West Bromwich and turn the light on another average England manager

  5. I do find it comical that Leicester are the only English club left in the CL. I mean, this club is fighting for their PL lives yet found a way to do something that the rest of the clubs couldn’t do, advance. The funnier part of it is that the man they sacked played a major role in them advancing by his tactics in the first leg and really bringing in Ndidi who is Kante like in everything that he does for Leicester (don’t believe, watch him play). Futbol is a funny ol’ game as the old timers say.

  6. Morning YW win win ehh!?
    Wouldn’t that be lovely?
    On Walcott when he looks back on his career I’m sure he will be dissapointed it hasn’t been more fruitful. But in fairness to him he has been immeasurably better this season. Just keep it up till the end of the season.
    So we play against the orcs of West Bromwich tomorrow lunchtime

    ———- Giroud
    Sanchez, Ox, Theo
    —— Ramsey, Xhaka
    Monreal, kos, Mustafi, Bellerin
    ———— Cech ——-

    But we know Iwobi will most likely gym the nod over Perez. Yes I would leave Ozil on the bench still.

  7. So Leicester got Atletico, our conquerors Bayern got Real, it’s Juve against Barca and Monaco play Dortmund.

    Not that the CL is of interest to Arsenal fans come April 🙁

  8. I actually think Theo has suffered from teh same thing that Ramsey and Jack are suffering from, while all are certainly talented players that offer something to your club, they have had a major injury that took something off their physical tools: 1/2 yard off Theo’s pace, Jack’s short bursts of quickness, Ramsey a yard or more off of everything. The other part is that while surely he is a motivated player, he wouldn’t have last this long if he wasn’t, I do think that Arsene’s laissez faire approach didn’t push him hard enough, like there was much more but wasn’t quite achieved. At 28 though I still think that should another manager come in and demand more he would rise to the occasion.

  9. andy1886,

    I’m really really interested in that Monaco v Dortmund match, to clubs that have no fear and will go for it but at the same time are actually good tactically. Bayern v Real is the makings of two heavy weights in their primes while Juve v Barca will be all sorts of fun tactically. I think Athletico are going to take apart Leicester, because while Leicester did play well, if Sevilla were more clinical the tie would have been over; Athletico have 3 players in Carrasco, Griezzman and Gamerio who won’t miss and while Athletico have struggled this season, I can’t see them losing this one.

  10. silvergunner,

    Ox is injured and facing a late fitness test, I wouldn’t start him. Ramsey, nope and the same with Giroud. For all the talk from Arsene about and actually dropping Ozil and Sanchez for their play, he should drop Kos too who has been in terrible for and has really cost us the last 10 matches or so. I would give either Gabriel or Holding the nod. Gabriel has played well adn sitting next to Mustafi who is the vocal leader, he can just play instead of trying to think his way through the match. I know Arsene won’t drop Kos but he certainly should.

    Cech
    Bellerin—-Mustafi—-Gabriel—Nacho
    ———Xhaka———Elneny——–
    —————Ozil—————
    Theo——Sanchez——Perez

    Though I know either Welbeck or Iwobi gets the nod.

  11. C,

    c I think Leicester might just surprise a few people last season they proved everyone wrong, they might just do it again. Now I’m not saying they will win it but….
    On a similar note I found it hilarious Nasri got so narky with vardy.

  12. silvergunner,

    I think against another side that isn’t always up for the fight or likes to attack, yea; but I think of all clubs for Leicester to play Athletico is like playing the a much much better version of yourself…

    I thought the Nasri Vardy thing was quite hilarious, at one point I thought that Nasri was going to go all Zidane on Vardy.

  13. Boro Primorac apparently gave an interview and stated:

    “Wenger isn’t considering leaving Arsenal,” he told Croatian Newspaper Jutarnji List.

    “Of course it is ugly to lose 5-1 twice in the Champions League, even though it came versus Bayern.

    We understand how fans are not happy, neither are we. But as for critics, there are no less grateful persons in football than fans and ex-players.

    “Arsenal’s strength in the past 20 years has been Wenger. It is not all about results, but also business part of the club that matters.”

    “There’s been many similar stories in the past 20 years since I’ve been working with Wenger. But I will never go to that Turkish club.”

  14. C,

    If those are real quotes then I think that the fans have every right to be pissed off. I’m pretty sure that Wenger does know what he’s going to do and if so to mislead or obscure his intentions (probably with the encouragement of the board) until for example season tickets have been paid for would be appalling.

    As for “It is not all about results, but also business part of the club that matters.” that says all you need to know about this regime and why Wenger and Primorac need to go. Their business should be 100% focused on putting a winning team out and winning trophies. Leave the business to the board and the owner.

    And to call fans ungrateful – who does he think pays his wages? Without fans the gravy train runs dry.

    If this is true, and we may well get clarification later, then he deserves the boot.

  15. C
    If that interview is true, its a damning indictment of the club in terms of footballing ambition.

    “Arsenal’s strength in the past 20 years………

    It is about results, results on the pitch, generally reflect the income by commercial donors.

  16. Sack Primorac.

    That is a disgraceful interview, absolutely contemptuous of the ‘paying customers’.

  17. andy1886,

    My mate sent me an email with the subject line, “You won’t believe this shit and I think its real”.

    I think most supporters are coming to grips with the fact that Arsene looks likely to stay but still know that if he does things will get worst and its best for all parties to have a clean break. The biggest thing for me is the players, either they are all playing dumb OR they have no idea what he is going to do which makes no sense as to why he wouldn’t tell the players, basically his employees what was going on. To deceive not only the supporters but your employees is IMHO shameful, the very people that report to you (players) and have supported you (supporters) for 20 years, to drag it out even though you might already know is ridiculous and if he is holding out for the business part of it then I’m not sure how you defend that.

    The funny thing about the business part of his quotes, is that more and more you are seeing Arsenal management talk about the business and less about the results. Its all about making the business model failing to realize that if your club is successful, your business will be successful. I mean look at the likes of Dortmund and Juve who were in Dante’s hell financially, but once they started winning everything changed and now, successes both on and off the pitch.

    Ungrateful, well, those sound like the exact words that Arsene and the club have been speaking about supporters.

    I’m interested to see if these quotes are well and truly real (they are making the rounds for sure) and if they are then there is literally no defending this regime and if the players want to leave then maybe they are looking around and seeing a sinking ship and don’t want to go down with the Titanic.

  18. michael,

    consolsbob,

    And an incredibly stupid thing to put into print too. My understanding is that Primorac earned Wenger’s eternal gratitude for his part in exposing corruption in French football when Wenger was at Monaco. I’m not sure how that entitles him to an extremely well paid job for life at Arsenal though.

  19. Well, thanks for filling in around 300 words in tomorrow’s post. If only I hadn’t used the Boro’d time headline already…

  20. YW,

    My pleasure, I figured you have written so much, the least I could do was give you 300 or so words, plus the match tomorrow; you may just have to put out those quotes and a predicted line-up and watch the comments flow….

  21. This has become a soap opera grind I now find unforgivable – people claiming to have the ‘best interests of the club’at heart acting in nothing but a self-interested manner.

    It hard to recall an extended period of feeling unreservedly happy as an Arsenal fan.

    I can dream a little and imagine a change in the club’s structure – a new manager in place readying the squad to face the season, revitalized, and how exciting that would be. Then the idea of Wenger extending for another few years intrudes and I feel utterly drained of enthusiasm.

    There surely have to be key parties at the club who grasp this is how so many of the fans feel at the moment – I believe a majority. So the idea they can be ignored (defied?) is bizarre verging on self-destructive.

    I had always wanted Wenger to leave on a high point until this latest chapter began to play out. Now I simply do not care. In fact, if he extends, I hope it all blows up in Wenger face (along with Koenke and the board’s).

    FFS, somebody needs to get a serious grip at Arsenal.

  22. YW

    Great post. Thanks again.

    I agree that Theo has never lived up to his potential. Young players with unfullfilled potential is a constant theme of the Emirates era. However, the reality is that Arsenal is not the only club whose youth players rarely live up to the hype. The difference with us is that a huge part of the strategy of Arsene’s Emirates project was the belief that Arsene could build consistently build superstars from young talented players. Most clubs recognize just how completely unpredictable young players are and they don’t count on players like Theo or Diaby or any of the dozens of others as a critical part of their long term strategy. I can’t really think of any big clubs in this decade that have developed a home grown superstar. Even Barcelona has developed a some squad players but when they need to replace a critical player in the starting 11 they buy an experienced player They know they can not afford to risk the uncertainly of a younger players developments in a critical squad position.

    Regarding Theo he has actually come closer to developing his potential then almost any of the other hundreds of younger players who have come thru the ranks over the years. Theo was utterly miserable and arguably one of the least effective player on the team last season. However, the fact that on his day he can score goals makes him important and something that is in very short supply on our squad and without his contributions early in the season we would not even be in 5th place right now.

  23. I don’t have as much problem with the things Boro said because he is just trying to find some way to defend his boss and he certainly can’t point to results so he has to say something that feels positive.

    What I find interesting is that he does not think Arsene is even considering the option of retirement. It’s my opinion that Arsene never has even considered that idea and he was not even considering the idea of stepping down before he signed his last contract. The thing about an emotional decision after the FA cup final was rubbish. There is never going to be a good time to announce he is staying so why doesn’t Arsene just announce his intention so we can all move on and accept the reality.

  24. I think the reality is that everyone on the board and at the club knows that Arsene will be the manager next season so its business as usual.

  25. Arsene’s charisma is undeniable. The fact that he still has as many supporters as he does after 7 years of result stagnation is amazing. Arsene makes his life easier by surrounding himself with AKB’s like Primorac.

  26. The 10-2 was avoidable. It is unacceptable at this level for Wenger to continue to be out thought on the tactical front.

    We have a good squad and a good tactical manager could get much better results out of this team.

    We are of course missing leaders and goal scorers. I think we have enough good defenders who would improve with some proper defensive coaching and team tactics.

  27. DFS-,

    I completely empathise with your feelings.

    It all just feels all so predictable. No joy, no expectation of achievement or glory.

    The antithesis of top class sport.

  28. Bill,

    I think the striking thing about Boro’s comments is the fact that he seems to be deflecting all blame and continues with the growing uncomfortable trend of quotes from Arsenal management that the business seems to be more important than the results on the pitch which is a shame. For instance, Leicester (though I am fully disgusted at how the players and upper management treated Ranieri who NOT ONCE even now has thrown a single player under the bus) has grown financially leaps and bounds because of their results on the pitch. Same with Athletico, Dortmund and Juve (after their financial troubles and scandals), Sevilla, Monaco sustaining even after their oil money started then went away, etc..

  29. Why the hell can’t we just talk futbol?!?! Arsene, Boro, Gazidis, Chip and the rest of you upper management; SHUT THE FUCK UP AND EITHER MAKE THIS CLUB GREAT AGAIN OR GET THE FUCK OUT SO OTHER PEOPLE WILL!

    The thing that is also interesting about Arsene’s comments is that for all the talk of oil money, his wage structure was a spectacular failure with hindsight yet he continues to be one of the highest paid managers in Europe not just the PL.

  30. C,

    Very true C. You can only become one of the biggest clubs in the world by winning major trophies, not by marketing spin and branding exercises. We will never qualify for top tier status while we aim so low on the sporting front.

  31. Whats funny about Theo scoring 102 goals in 373 appearances in all competitions (238 starts & 135 sub) is that still, if he continues at Arsenal, can pass the likes of Baker, Herd, Stapleton, Lambert, Smith, Lewis Bergkamp(in 423 appearances 120 goals), RvP, Hulme and David Jack by next season

  32. Good Afternoon Guys,

    You all seem to be enjoying a little gentle navel gazing, and why not? Of course you might be working yourselves into an early grave fussing about Arsenal, when it might be a lot more fun pulling the wings off obnoxious bastards like Moaninho, or the loser Pep. [I know – he is a brilliant manager, but — he is not one of us!] 😀

    Even that tart Roy Keane has said that he is royally pissed off with the once special one and his persistent moans about fixture congestion for poor old Manure [not that any other club has such problems — oh, yeah] and feels the need to spend another £300 million to make him feel better — wait —- hold the ‘phone — oddly enough, that is about the same amount Pep thinks might make him feel better, too, and also help his lot to win the CL next year, or the year after, or the year after that, or …….

    Oh, go on, admit it — the above makes you feel better — at no extra cost — and even you must feel the vibes, C? 🙂

    Yes, I am fine — thank you! And good to see you strutting your stuff, guys.

  33. C

    The only reason Theo has gotten so many chances over the years is because
    Arsene has not bought a quality impact goal scorer to replace him over the years. Right now Theo is one of only 3 players on the entire squad who is a threat to score in double figures in a league season so there is no other options.

    Regarding the club and its talking about business, its not surprisning that they would fall back on anything they can find which sounds positive when the pressure is on. They know they would be ridiculed if they tried to to say that results have met expectations. The financial excuse has always been the fall back position and they can point of that the club is well run since there is not much else they can say.

  34. HenryB,

    Haha it actually made me laugh, You know I am not working myself up into an early grave, I just think it hilarious (though admittedly it royal pisses me off) that it went from a high note in October and early November to beyond anything that I have seen in only 4 or 5 months.

    I read Pep and Mourinho’s comments and they are quite a comical duo, they should go on tour together 😉 ! The thing with both of them is that they have rightly said and demanded more of themselves and their players while we sit and hear Arsene say that everything is “going okay” while consistently lowering the bar with his comments.

    Well on the bright side, if we beat West Brom, Arsene will at least get the chance to say that injuries were the reason why are season was derailed 🙂

  35. I didn’t know he owned a Honda. Put him in the boot, I’ll drive.

    Sam:
    I’m trying and failing to envisage a scenario where Wenger leaves the club of his own accord.

  36. Does anyone know of any gooners in real life who think it’s best if Wenger stays now? The only goons who want to carry on with the carry on are the divas and the ones they let in the ground near the front next to the bench. Every gooner I know or meet has had enough of the monotonous damp squib we have now become.

  37. Dukey,

    Actually mate, I do, there are some stragglers that think its best and that this summer he will buy a CF and that will be enough to keep both Ozil and Sanchez while also having them sign a new contract. Most of the pro-Arsene brigade at the pub I go to from time to time say just from the toxic nature he should leave but the couple of stragglers think he is building a top side.

  38. HenryB,

    Actually, it’s not a question of being angry in the classic ‘mad as hell’ sense – that ship has sailed.

    It’s more a dull ache of frustration (now years in the making) of zero progress on any front. Frustration peaks from the disbelief it is an endless cycle for (potentially) the foreseeable future.

    We spent 90 million on transfers to push for the title – done as much to extend Wengers career as to win the championship. Let’s not forget we came off a season where signing an aged goalkeeper had been the sum of Arsene’s prior ambition.

    At what point will Wenger be held accountable – we invested/spent 90 million to what end?

    As I have noted before and above, I long since lost faith in Wenger’s capabilities.

    What I am now coming to terms with is Wenger’s control and influence is pervasive to the point of degrading the organization – there appears to be no one with a spine strong enough to demand positive change.

    I suspect the club verges (and verged last season) on what should be described as a type of collapse. I am sure there are key parties (as noted above) that are well aware of this. On the one hand we have Wenger loyalists who know which side their bread is buttered (admin, coaches and some players).

    On the other hand I presume we now have many individuals who are frozen.

    In spite of the professional ‘big club’ impression Arsenal projects, they grasp how incompetent the club is at its core. They know a regime change will expose the faultlines and weak points – even if simply behind closed doors to an incoming manager- and it embarrasses the living crap out of them.

    Hence, no action, no one of consequence stepping forward to attempt to usher in a new era which is completely demoralizing.

  39. I will say I do agree with Arsene that Xhaka is treated a bit unfairly with the yellow cards and it seems even a soft first foul is considered a yellow for him but not for others.

  40. C,

    I disagree on one level. Is he dealt with somewhat harshly – yes.

    However it is solely because of the red card baggage he brought with him – compounded by no attempt to address that impression by Xhaka himself or Wenger.

    That’s why I no patience for fans calling for the ‘hard man’ syndrome to manifest itself – it did and it was clumsy/petty rather than hard. That type of play is not going to get a pass in today’s game, period, repution or not.

  41. DFS-,

    I do think reputation plays a part but should it is the question I have? The answer is absolutely not. Yes he has put in a couple rash challenges but I do think some of his yellows are unwarrented.

    The othet thing is that he will learn, I think he will for sure. The other part is that his manager hasn’t helped him up to now.

  42. Has anyone taken cogniscence of the latest from Ozil and Alexis?

    The club were in full trash mode on Alexis, which was a pretty clear indicator he was on his way out and they were trying to deflect the blame for that.

    It’s clear that the club are looking to some way to protect season ticket sales (like they do every year), as well as look for an opportunity to announce Wenegr’s extension, which might look a trifle risky right now.

    Traditionally they’ve waited till the end of the season to minimize opportunities where fans can protest, but I suspect they might have decided to offer Ozil and Sanchez whatever they want in an attempt to justify Wenger staying on: “look, our superstars are staying because Mad Bob Wenger 🙂 has said he’s staying”.

    The sad reality of this is we probably could have kept or bought many players we’ve lost or missed out on if we’d paid them the going rate at the time instead of lowball in it as a corporate strategy.

  43. C,

    Actually, I think you know this C, thats what bugs the hell out of the sitution the most for me- that Wenger did not either take the disciplinary record into account or then work with Xhaka to address the issue.

    I might be critical but…I do not believe we have seen anything like the best of Xhaka.

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