Arsène’s Future Farce: No More Heroes

The febrile atmosphere around Arsenal at the moment, lends itself to all manner of mischief. Arsène’s comment on Saturday that his future was decided played out as expected. Claim and counter-claim, wild stories and baffling leaps of, well, logic isn’t the right word.

Summing up the situation at Arsenal, none of them are easy to dismiss as folly and invention. It began with the pilot of the plane flying the pro-Arsène banner claiming his clients wanted the world to know they were from Hong Kong. No-one knows why but it fed the conspiracy.

If I remember this correctly, Sir Chips’ family firm has offices in a Hong Kong backstreet and because of that, the chairman’s family were behind it all. It’s a more complex plot than a Jack Reacher film. My initial thought was just because the family which owns my local Chinese takeaway is from the same country as the head of the Ministry of State Security in Beijing doesn’t mean they are communist spies.

Team Wenger then spun a yarn about a one-year contract being signed. Why anyone would believe a one-year deal is on the table is beyond me, although to be fair, why I disbelieve it is almost beyond me as well. Anything is possible.

And the topping off the madness, German newspaper Bild got bored of lambasting Donald Trump and reported that Arsenal had approached Thomas Tuchel about replacing Wenger.

Something Better Change

And you thought the international break was going to bring some relief from the madness.

In truth it should end it. There’s no reason for Arsène’s future to be shrouded in secrecy any longer particularly since he taunted the press after Saturday’s defeat.

There’s no good time to announce he is staying. Holding on until after the FA Cup final is a risky business, not least as there’s (a) no guarantee we’ll make it to the final, and, (b) even if we beat City, losing in the final isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. It’s too high risk a strategy for the board to pursue. Or at least, you’d think so!

But they won’t have to. Arsène, according to the Daily Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson, is staying. The boardroom is expected to resemble a US presidential husting with chants from Chips and co, of “TWO MORE YEARS! TWO MORE YEARS!”

Wenger, it’s claimed, will tell them he believes that he can drag the club out of the worst run of form since Stewart Houston found himself able to delegate cone duty.

Just as Sir Alex Ferguson deferred his retirement out of vanity, Arsène in those circumstances, would be doing the same. Form, as we all know, is transient. A run of defeats is less easily turned than the other way round, but the public image of the squad is one divided. Not among itself, although there’s an element of that, but one which is not responding to the manager.

Burning Up Time

The question for Kroenke to deal with is whether Arsène remaining in charge will damage his investment. Financially, the club will take a hit next season by playing in the Europa League. Missing out on the Champions League was always something which was deemed temporary in budgetary terms; now it looks like being a reality, even if we suddenly find a rich vein of form.

Too many stars need to align for us to finish in the top four. The results this season suggest we’ll struggle to win the big games and we need others to hit a dip in form, and we’re running out of games for that to happen.

While to many the Europa League is an anathema, it could easily prove to be Wenger’s redemption in some minds. Winning the competition brings a return to the Champions League, and ends his unenviable record being the only manager to lose finals in all three European competitions and not win any of them.

Again, I see that as a vanity project. It’s not about what’s good for the club, it’s rehabilitating Arsène.

However, it’s about money and Kroenke’s view of his investment. Don’t kid yourself that there is any sense of loyalty from Stan. Wenger delivers the financial results he wants through ‘Player Trading’; nothing more, nothing less. If Arsène spent £200m each summer, the American would be a lot less forgiving, I’m sure.

No More Heroes

Retaining the Frenchman as manager is a huge risk. The protests aren’t going to disappear overnight and it’s this aspect I find hardest to reconcile in terms of Wenger’s future.

The arguments won’t change but the intensity will. Every defeat is seized on at the moment but we took until the autumn to get here, or even see where it was really heading. If Arsène renews, I’d expect an unforgiving atmosphere from Day One.

A new season wouldn’t bring new hope and the board know it; rocket science, it most definitely isn’t. Nor is it so crass as simply getting behind the team and accepting nothing will change. I think that argument misjudges the mood. Many supporters will see that as the gauntlet being thrown down and will rise to the bait. It’s going to get a lot worse with Wenger before it gets better. That’s if it ever does.

These are strange times at Arsenal right now and everything is guesswork. How the club has got itself into this mess is poor leadership. And sadly, that’s the only way we’re going to get out of it.

’til Tomorrow.

150 thoughts on “Arsène’s Future Farce: No More Heroes

  1. Good morning folks, according the the Sun after Saturday’s game Wenger told Pulis he was staying on. Now why Wenger would even speak to Pulis I can’t imagine as they apparently hate each other, and to confide that sort of information is beyond belief.

    Still I suppose it’s all part of football’s rich tapestry.

  2. “Many supporters will see that as the gauntlet being thrown down and will rise to the bait”

    I think that nails it YW. I suspect that most ‘WOB’s’ are like me, moan a lot but ultimately too lazy to do much else. But it gets to a point where you feel these people are actually taking the piss out of us and laughing when they do it. At that point (and we’re reaching it around now) we start to get angry and get off our arses and fight back. Some will say “it isn’t going to make any difference, blah, blah, blah” but it’s going to reach a tipping point soon where enough people will be motivated to make things really ugly. And Wenger isn’t going to be the only target.

  3. To do list at arsenal next season should be

    * no european football (the players should enjoy the dividends of absolute laziness)

    * no wenger (possibly replaced by allegri)

    * a massive clearout of our paps ( in order of increasing papness)

    ospina

    walcott

    iwobi

    giroud

    cazorla

    mertesacker

    gibbs

    coquelin

    ramsey

    gazidis

    kroenke

    and the other deadwoods i can’t remember right now.

    arsenal needs to be great again.

  4. Good one Yogi,

    We are the only club in the league where it’s just impossible to know which way it will go. The whole world knew Mourinho wouldn’t last at Chelsea after last seasons start. Same as Raneri, Moyes and Van Gaul.

    I struggle to understand why so many people, especially pundits have said that Wenger has earn’t the right to choose when he calls time. 3 titles in 20 years and one CL final? We’ve always been a good cup team and Wenger has built on that but Is his CV really that impressive?

  5. I think the spuds are getting worried aswell. Talking to a couple lately, they are all staunch akbs. Been told the usual guff, spoilt, careful what you wish for etc….even we’ll end up mid table the grass isn’t greener… Well the grass has gone yellow and patchy now. A nice shade of turquoise would do.

  6. Morning all……was hoping to find someone on here with a bit of inside knowledge that could enlighten me…….the wait is doing my nut in !!
    I don’t know what way to call it .
    I know one thing-for someone to be in a position to choose whether he leaves or not after the couple of months he’s had is reflection of his employers.And that is piss poor.

  7. Plan A – Sterile possession allied with an admirable commitment to porous defending.
    Plan B – blame everyone else.

    Wailesy:
    Dukey,

    I love to know what plan A has been

  8. Just to demonstrate the level of insanity and the desperation that AKB’s are sinking to I refer to this little gem that Knobby posted last night in conversation with Bill (context is Bill suggesting that AW had a comfy gig on a great salary):

    “Pep gets three times that amount..
    And he has won??”

    🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    As the answer is (and Pep has only been in senior management since the 2007/08 season):

    Six League Titles
    Five National Cup Competitions
    (three league and cup doubles in that number)
    Two Champions League Titles
    Three World Club Championships
    And we don’t even have to mention minor cups like the European Super Cup or Charity Shield equivalents.

    Yeah, pales into insignificance next to two FA Cups doesn’t it?

    And just for the sake of completeness if the cry is “at City” the obvious reply is that he hasn’t even completed a season there yet which would make winning a title or a cup impossible at this stage. Still, never let a little thing like that get in the way of a pro-Wenger argument eh?

  9. We keep hearing about how the arsenal business model is the envy of the world but does the farce happening st the club not prove the fallacy of it all

    Arsaene like most dictators has put himself firmly in a position where Stan and the kangaroo board are scared stiff of sacking him and the AKB will tell you be careful what you wish for…stick or twist

    If it’s not out of very poor management how is an buisiness worth over £1bn depend solely on 1 man does it not prove what has been wrong with the club all along..

    When 1 man is solely in charge it’s the best thing in the world…if he us delivering ie SAF but if he’s not ie AW you get stuck..

    Ask your self if something terrible happens to AW like ill health from all the stress does that mean the arsenal FC as a buisiness is no longer?..l tell you life wil go on and we won’t miss AW that much tho we will still have fond memories

    There are darker days ahead…but unless the fans force Wenger out of the club shameful as that maybe it’s the only way he will leave ..

    Sadly there will be no glorious exit for him…

  10. It’s a monumental shit storm.

    Why anybody can even contemplate him staying is just beyond me.

    The club, our club, doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It’s all about Stan’s balance sheet and arsene’s ego.

    It really is hard to believe that we have fallen so far since those halcyon seasons not so long ago.

    In truth, he should have left several years ago before the dry rot set it at the club. It’s not a pretty sight.

  11. It is funny how spurs fans want Wenger to stay. I mean since when do they ever want the best for us. I think they know what we have become with Wenger, a team who lose their bottle annually.

  12. If he is staying and was still prepared to smirk away to himself in the press conference after the west brom game then i fancy he is going to find a whole lot of bile coming his way. he deserves to drown in it. i find his holding our club to ransom horrible…..the thought that he is the person to repair the damage he has created…..those are the kind of total morons who run the club. i hope the share price implodes…..but again to all arsenal fans stop buying the product, if you have to go to games dont buy the food/merchandise why anyone would feed this ponzi scheme is beyond me

  13. i dont’ warm to many members of our squad but that could be the arsene wenger brush they are being tainted with but i would implore them to down tools and make sure this man is fired. not only is he ruining the club you are wasting yuor careers playing for him…..”come on guys stay next season we may even get back into the top four and the champions league”

    if i was a player i would tell a club with that sort of ambition where to go and that is half the problem we now only attract players who aren’t ambitious enough. if they are, they soon leave.
    what an elite club we have become.

  14. 9 points further up the table – they probably paid for the other fucking plane.

    Dukey:
    It is funny how spurs fans want Wenger to stay. I mean since when do they ever want the best for us.I think they know what we have become with Wenger, a team who lose their bottle annually.

  15. The funniest thing about this whole situation is that people said that Ranieri needed to leave because it was clear the players were playing for him and they were regressing yet the exact same thing is being said about Arsene and people think are wanting to offer him a new contract.

  16. We’re missing a trick here, maybe we could do a big reveal show. Sell tickets, get some singers in make a big night of it then at the end we could have a river dance with Wenger in the middle, then the curtains can come down…. A big drum roll as the audience wait… The curtains go up and…. If he stays he is there smiling or if he’s off there could be an empty stage. What do people reckon?

  17. What stan doesn’t understand anymore is that the league has entered a new paradigm in which there are half-a-dozen highly competitive teams (at least) which means the old days when Arsene could deliver a top four finish without spending a lot of money are over. So Stan is being loyal to a model that doesn’t work anymore and that is going to cost him financially, big time.

  18. Dukey,

    Only if we get him to stand on a trap door – seeing that smile disappear would make my day. Or in the spirit of Wile E Coyote we mark his spot with a great big ‘X’ and club together for an anvil 😉

  19. The new Clough – we will be “relegated” from the top 4 this season and have no hope of returning with that clown at the helm.

    The he should have gone after Hull at the latest and really (with the benefit of hindsight) should have gone after we lost to Brum in the League Cup final in 2011. That was when I first thought that we maybe needed a change but was not yet ready to accept the reality.

    I find myself in a quandary – if he signs on do I give up my membership? I don’t use it anymore to buy tickets – I even turn down freebies these days – but it means never being able to get tickets again. It doesn’t cost much but I want nothing to do wit Arsenal while Wenger or Kroenke is there.

    It sounds strange but I feel like a fraud being a member whilst hating what we have become so much. Yes I hate it and being honest I despise Wenger (maybe this will change in 10 years when he goes) but will always despise Kroenke.

    The real Arsenal died when we left Highbury. We won’t be back.

  20. “Many supporters will see that as the gauntlet being thrown down and will rise to the bait.”

    Bring it on!

  21. Alex Ice Cream,

    The CC Final loss to Brum in 2011 was the game that tipped me over the edge. Beaten by a poor side with a basic set piece goal, and a goalkeeper/defensive howler. Not dissimilar to the goals conceded at West Brom.

    That he is still in charge 6 years later making the same mistakes tells a story.

  22. Arsene and Arsenal are certainly the gift that keeps on giving at this moment and just when you thought things would go a bit quiet after our poor run and Arsene wouldn’t say shit, then he does.

  23. Arsenal denied the Tuchel contact.

    Leicester match is rescheduled for Wednesday April 26, 2017, 7:45pm. So now the fixture list looks like this:

    Citeh (H)
    West Ham (H)
    Palace (A)
    Middlesbrough (A)
    Citeh (FA Cup)
    Leicester (H)
    Spuds (A)

    Mates there is a real possibility that this is going to become a real shit show if our form doesn’t change.

  24. Freddo judging by wengers comments that due to tv money champions league qualification is suddenly deemed not crucial then they know exactly what has shifted…..it works a charm for stan, highest prices in the world, relatively low wages due to lack of ambition/performance, tv money keeps rolling in…..on the rip off party goes. he’s perfected this model in the usa many times over.
    again all arsenal fans should stop feeding this parasite, it is the only way but then again football fans are known for being sheep, hence why people like stan love it as a business and clubs like newcastle still have ashley running them. fans in germany dont tolerate being ripped off, why do those in the uk ?

  25. Pete,

    I remember watching the Brum final thinking “if we can’t beat this lot, who can we beat to win a final?” The first game that led me to be enlightened was when we lost at home to Hull in late 2008.
    Serious teams don’t lose to newly-promoted clubs at home. I spent the next 2-3 years unhappy about the state of what was happening but the Brum final was when things started to become much clearer. I just lived in denial for a while before coming to the rather obvious conclusion.

    Its the same problems – or problem – Wenger.

  26. Great post yogi

    I am sure Arsene would love to win the league or the CL or another FA cup and to have the fans happy as much as anyone. However, the frustrating thing is the way he has allowed the culture of our organization to evolve, trophies and fan satisfaction are not mission critical. The only thing needed to make a season successful to achieve the minimum goal of a top 4 finish. You set the bar as low as needed in order to feel that we have done an adequate job and the result is there is no real pressure to do anything different to break out of the status quo. I am sure that if we do miss the top 4 this season it will be dismissed as a one off and the only thing that will put real pressure for change is a couple of seasons in a row finsihing outside the top 4.

  27. Arsene is the one who has been put in charge of making the decision about his job status . If he does not sign a new contract then it will essentially be a case of Arsene sacking himself. Very few people are really good at accurately judging their own performances and I have never heard of a manager who actually believed that his club would be better off without someone different at the helm. Why in the world would Arsene or any manager voluntarily sack himself from a $9-10M year job even if he did believe it would be in the best interest of the club?

    The bottom line is that I would be complete shocked if Arsene was not the manager next season.

  28. Morning guys as we all grow increasingly dissolutioned with AFC the status quo sees us at best standing still with respect to other ‘top’ clubs at worse and more probable is we will continue to loose ground on other clubs around us.
    The board must ask can Wenger still inspire the players to perform to a sufficient level? Of late the answer to that is a resounding no. So why not let draw a line under his reign.
    I am perplexed no other top club would be so blinded by fear of change.

  29. Just seen the ultimate in stupidity from an ‘AKB’. Apparently, if everyone had got behind the team, we’d be on course for the treble this season. The TREBLE, people. Look what you’ve done.

  30. YW,

    Guess the forgot about the part in the CL Group stages when Cavani missed something like 12 clear cut chances against us. Or they forgot when Bayern was basically in 3rd gear but when they decided to shift quickly through their gears they smashed us 5-1 and 5-1 and while they brought on the likes of Douglas Costa, Renato Sanches, Rafinha and Muller; we brought on Giroud, Le Coq and Ozil with the flu.

  31. You’re deflecting C.

    Admit it, even in America, you’re still deeply complicit.

    A supporters job is to support – I’m sending Delia Smith your way to have a fecking word.

  32. Alex Ice Cream,

    Yes I remember the Hull game. I met a Hull supporting friend after the game, He looked like he had won the lottery.

    I think past glories meant I gave him a long time to sort things out.

    We got lucky to make it to the CL final in 2006, and we almost won it. 2008 we blew up when we had a good chance to win the PL. 2009 CL semis, when United destroyed us at home. After that it started to go downhill fast. 2011 CC final was a disaster. The goals shipped in big games has become embarassing: 8 at United, 6 at Chelsea, 5 at Liverpool & 5 against Bayern over and over.

    I enjoyed the 2 FA Cup wins, but it’s now clear we’ve been papering over the cracks for a good while. We’re in terminal decline with a boss who is losing his marbles.

  33. Jonny,

    Please don’t, I would rather have Flamini’s mum than her!

    I refuse to admit, I mean come on, I was the flag carrier for Denilson!

  34. We have talked about this a lot in the past but most people tend to see what they hope to see rather then what actually happens. C and I disagree about some players and the success of our youth program so we each tend to focus the things that support our own belief. Arsene is the same, he really wants to believe he is doing a good job and he wants to continue to be the manager so he focuses on the things that support him and finds excuses and blames uncontrollable circumstances to explain the things which go against his agenda. It’s human nature.

  35. The fact that none of us are very good at accurately judging our own performance is the reason there needs to be someone besides the manager judging his performances and results. Unfortunately there is no one at Arsenal other then Arsene who critiques what Arsene does.

  36. Yesterday, the link that YW provided to the blog post following the defeat to Swansea (0-2) in 2012 was an excruciating reminder of how long this saga has been playing out.

    Every criticism of Wenger today (including playing a game about leaving) was being levelled back then. Every single one – it’s like time warp.

    The arguments were mature, the result of an extended period of what several concluded was dubious management – and some argued (for obvious reasons) questions had been surfacing since 2008.

    How AFC are still at this impasse is beyond me.

  37. YW,

    Aha!! So it’s the best fans that win the titles then, not the ones with the most money! Silly me. Funny that, I always thought that Chelsea fans were a pretty sad bunch really, but I guess not.

    Logically then we should follow their example. How did they get to this point? I remember! They hounded out their most successful ever manager a few months after he won the title, got a new manager in and now they are odds on to win the league!

    Genius! So what we’re being told is that the answer is….WENGER OUT!!!

  38. The fun bus is a quadruple Decker and a microcosm of the real world unfortunately.

    How else do you explain trump.

  39. Pete,

    It seems that our journey has been a similar one although I think that we got to the CL final with a bit more than luck. We still had winners in that team like Jens, Henry, Pires, Gilberto, Freddy as well the boy-genius Cesc. We did it with defence though – Keown’s influence no doubt.

    The cracks have been papered over and its only now when you look back you can see for just how long. The 2008 season was the turning point. The horrible, horrible Brum game (them again) when Eduardo had his career taken from him started it all off, the late capitulations in key games when in the lead – Chelsea away, Lpool in CL QF and ManU away then set the team’s psyche for a decade. Hello and Flamini leaving finished it off as we had no money to replace them supposedly. This ushered in the era of the disaster that was “Project Youth” and we have never been the same since.

  40. Classic double speak. We heard: compete with Bayern. Saw the stadium, team and thought it plausible. What they really meant was: price out real fans and replace with tourists.

    I was after a title, at our level, why not, its not unreasonable. Then it shifted to at least compete.
    After that Fab debacle where Barcelona basically mugged us off in public and now with Manuel openly mocking us in public. After all the hammerings, chokes and so forth. It’s at a point where I’m longing for the time when pride and dignity has been restored.

    The armoury has been stocked with super soakers in a water drought.

  41. Alex Ice Cream,

    The thing that worried me was that in January when it seemed we had a real title challenge on our hands Wenger refused to enter the transfer market and potentially add that little extra something that might see us over the line. We had just made a £20m profit on players in the summer so the money was there. Wenger said he was “happy with what he had got”. It looked like complacency and so it turned out to be.

    This then became a common theme. Whenever we threatened a real challenge Wenger rested on his laurels come January and every time we failed to stay the course (Kallstrom anyone??). By then I wanted Wenger to leave, his repeating the same errors and his refusal to win any other way than ‘his’ way was obviously damaging us. But he kept finding excuses and plenty of supporters to back them (some valid, many not).

    Now nearly a decade later the penny has dropped for the majority of supporters, the only question is how far are people prepared to go to get him out? This season may be too late, but if he signs on again (as I believe he will) I’m convinced that there will be enough opposition to ensure that he doesn’t make it to the end of that new contract.

  42. Might be the wrong audience at the wrong time, but, hey, worth a go….

    I’ve 4 tickets for the rescheduled Leicester game. Sat together. I’d be happy to let anyone here have them. Otherwise, I’ll be returning them. Let me know this week if interested.

  43. Andy

    2008 aside there have been no title challenges and buying in Jan would not have helped. What is very clear now is that even if we spent hundreds of millions it would not be enough! Wenger’s recruitment is awful – look at the dross in our squad. He bought Xhaka -a regista/ no.4 and thought he was a box to box player. He bought Mustafi for £35m, a player who does not understand the concept of goal-side. He bought Lucas and plays him after Iwobi and Theo. Look at the 2 keepers – one is old and way past it, the other is a never was and never will be. Gabriel is average on the best day of his life. Ox is a terrible winger (but looks better in the middle) Ramsey is a pub player who scores the odd great goal. The only players that I have no doubts over are Kosielny, Sanchez and Santi before the injuries. The rest are nice to haves at best and utter drivel at worst. I don’t want Wenger to spend any more money as it will be wasted. 200m a year in wages anyone?

    Even the best players need some direction, plan, formation. We have nothing at all and all but the very, very best would struggle in this set up, never mind the rubbish that we have amassed over the years. The idea that we would challenge with Wenger as manager with some spending in January is utterly false. Wenger could not win the league with Messi, Neymar, Suarez and Sanchez upfront and with Courtois in goal and Kante in midfield. He has become a serial loser.

  44. A few days ago, I posted a hypothetical question about Everton beating us in the final match of the season to take 6th place and us 7th, thinking that will probably happen before that now…a good late run of results and other blowing it seem a bit fanciful after Saturday.

    While Ivan “Nero” Gazidis appears to be fiddling, I can’t help thinking that he is so stupid not to see which way this is going, but it is hamstrung by that American penny pincher. I could be wrong, but a comfortable £2.5m a year away from any flak, would be hard to walk away from on a principle.

    Further, if he is staying, but what yardstick does he use to believe he can turn things around. Not a term I have ever used against him but delusional fits a treat.

  45. Alex.

    I joined the blog in Oct 2008 and early in that season was when Arsene really started with the “we are an attacking team” and defense and Manu Almunia would take care of itself era. It was clear to a few people back then that we were never going to score enough to compensate for all of the goals we conceded but Arsene and most fans thought he was special and could make it work. Everyone was really excited about project youth and thought Arsene’s idea of building homegrown stars from a youth academy was the way of the future. We all loved the Carling cup teams and most fans and even the English media believed it was only a matter of time before that group of youth matured together and became Arsene’s next great team. There was also a real belief among fans that the big spending teams were all going to go bust and Arsene’s fiscal conservatism would leave us as one of the last teams standing.

    It all really fell apart and all the high hopes of the 07-10 time period came crashing down in the second half of the 10/11 when we were leading the league in January and then totally fell apart and completely melted down after losing the Carling cup final against Birmingham. That summer Cesc left and we realized the entire generation of young players were all going to be a bust. The next season saw the 8-2 loss at Old Trafford and the trolley dash that brought Mert, Arteta, Chu-Young Park, Santos, Yossi Benayoun etc etc etc.

  46. The strange and counter intuitive thing is Arsene’s results were much better in the 07-10 when money really was tighter. We challenged for a title in 07/08 and we went deep in the CL several times in the 06-10 time frame. We have completely stagnated and even gone backwards in this decade since Arsene has started to spend a lot more money. Our net spend has exceeded Chelsea since 2013 and we spent more then $100M in fiscal 2016. Despite all of that spending, last season we could only collect 71 points and this year we are having perhaps the worst run of form in more then 20 years and we are on pace to collect only 70 points.

  47. I see that top 4 is no longer a KPI, basic comment “been there, done that”, apparently tv money has replaced those concerns, which kind of indicates that the board and Wenger are running on an ROI model that works out the best “bang for buck”, which, luckily for all of the fans, means that we can aspire to a lower standard to hit that sweetspot on income vs expenditure going forward.

    Wenger’s all but told us that in that he is not allowing it to influence his decision (apparently he sees “the bigger picture” – whatever the fuck that is, but it sure isn’t winning or “taking the club to the next cliche” in any manner that aligns with the fans (customers)).

    Bob doesn’t have to worry about tripping over the bar anymore, the paving has been lifted and relaid on top of it, and it’s now well out of any hazardous reach to any of us, or indeed, for Wenger.

    I suspect the board regard “fans” as a problem (bloody entitled plebs what!), and would prefer a model that sees wide-eyed one-off tourists filling the stadium so they maximize “the franchise” sales and none of those pesky protests or noise to hinder the slumbers on the pitch.

    Pretty soon we can enjoy cheap imports from wherever on the pitch (time for old Chips to lean on his families opium trade traditions, perhaps with the old spot of slavery thrown in eh?).

    Old Stan’s not used to the whole relegation issue though, so I doubt that’s factored in anywhere (too big to fail, obviously).

    If Wenger signs he’ll deserve everything he gets, I will have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever, no matter who confronts him and says whatever to his face, he’ll have earned it.

    There’s an Afrikaans saying: “kry vir jou”, which is difficult to translate but basically aligns to a combination between “you reap what you sow”, and “get in there” in a very sarcastic tone.

  48. Alex Ice Cream,

    Not sure I agree with the challenging in January bit tbh. We were within a win of United in 2010/11 and actually topping the table in 2013/14 come the TW but did nothing and fell away. Of course the argument that you couldn’t trust Wenger to spend the money wisely has merit too, but he didn’t even try, which is a damning thing in a sport where first is everything.

    Other than that I agree. It doesn’t matter who he buys, if he had an unlimited budget I doubt he could win another title.

  49. Arsene actually tried to rebuild a version of project youth starting around 2011 when he bought Jenks and Ox and brought Gibbs Wojo and Wilshere into the side and Walcott looked like he might finally be coming good. The was the much hyped “English Core” which was supposed to mature together into a perennial title contending team.

  50. So here is something else I am wondering that Yogi has brought up; just how loud will the protest get? Obviously there will be some sort of protest when we face Citeh after the break, but what happens if we get down early, do the supporters in the Emirates protest even louder or do they support the players and not the manager? Our next two matches are against Citeh (Pep + big club troubles for Arsenal under Arsene in this last decade) and West Ham (Kos has nightmares of him and they are pretty good from set pieces) both at home, should we lose both of them; I wonder just how loud the protest will get.

  51. C,

    The biggest galvanising thing for the protests will undoubtedly be Wenger signing a new contract. If/When that happens results will be almost irrelevant. Any improvement we know will only be temporary, continuing bad results merely what we expect. He’s too far gone to recover and many of us have had too much of this to be pacified by a short term upturn.

  52. Bill,

    You forgot Ramsey re-signed too.

    Isn’t it funny that of that group only Theo (to some extent) and Sir Sczny have actually had any success in taking steps in their career? Ox has been at best uneven and when it does look like he might be somehow figuring it all out, injuries strike him down. Gibbs is a LB who can’t defend, Jack can’t stay fit, Ramsey can’t stay fit and when he is only shows glimpses but doesn’t look a player for Arsenal, Jenks is a RB who can’t defend. Arsene and injuries really fucked that up huh 😉 .

    The interesting thing about Project Youth is that it continues to be the running theme since the Invincibles; “Arsene’s inability to complete a team”. Think about it, Project Youth had everything but a GK and a solid CB pairing. You had Cesc, Nasri, Theo, RvP and that lot starting to figure it all out, had Clichy and Sagna (funny how both are still playing a pretty high levels and have found some success) yet Arsene neglected the CB position and the GK (Sir Sczny wasn’t ready) and thus we fell off. Then you have our current team, this team has one glaring hole and that is at CF; yet Arsene refuses to buy one.

  53. C

    I suspect that Arsene will continue the waiting game with announcing his intentions about signing a new contract. I think he will sign another contract irregardless of the results for the rest of this season, however, I really think the only possible way that he would decide to retire is if we continue to struggle and fall further out of the top 4 race. If we start to play better and draw or win against City and win against West Ham, whatever doubts Arsene might have would evaporate. I think we all want the team to win every game and hope that we finish in the top 4, however, sad as it is to say, finishing in the top 4 this season could be a double edged sword over the long term if it convinces Arsene to stay.

  54. Interesting comments from Howe on Jack and why he was loaned out:

    We couldn’t think more of the player, so if there was a chance for us to maintain our relationship beyond this season we would certainly look at that.

    “But the loan was very much put in place for Jack to try to play football, stay fit, express himself on a really good platform, then make his own decision on where he goes next.

    “I haven’t spoken to him about his future yet. We are immersed in the season and trying to fight for every point we can get.

    “Any talk about the future is for the summer.”

  55. Bill,

    I joined the blog in the summer of 2008 and was swiftly categorised as a “Doomer” by Frank, Passenal, Ateeb (who had never even been to a game) and a few others. The loss of Hleb and Flamini and the capitulations of the previous season left me worried but I was nowhere near being a Wenger out man then. I felt that he could turn it around but then the reality of the stadium move meant that we were struggling to keep pace with others.

    I have nothing against youth at all – far from it. The Ajax team of 1995 was simply brilliant and who could forget GG’s young team of Rocky (RIP legend), Thomas, Merson and even for a while Hayes and Quinn. My issue was the quality of these youngsters. By 2008 (2006!) I saw through Theo, Denilson, Eboue and Clichy who were never, ever good enough. Senderos had gone from really promising to shite very quickly. In 2005 only 4 youngsters stood out – Diaby, RvP, Senders and Cesc. By 2008 it was clear that only Cesc could be relied upon. Diaby was assaulted and RvP constantly injured. Rosicky was out for 2 years, Pires was made to quit by Wenger not offering him a 2 year deal worth 55K a week(!!!) and being subbed in the CL final, DB10 retired and Campbell, Cole, Gilberto, Freddy, Jens and Henry were sold or moved on. That was a huge vacuum in quality and experience which we simply were never going to replace no matter how much money we had and we didn’t have that much. Hleb and Flamini quit that summer to hasten the demise.

    We had a dodgy keeper, suspect full backs and defenders that did not compliment each other (Toure, Gallas), no defensive midfielder or dominant centre back with a flaky striker in Adebayor who wanted out and a crock in RvP. It was the sheer genius of Cesc that kept us up there for those few seasons until RvP took over the baton in 2011. I think Cesc was our best ever creative midfielder, yes even better than Brady. I think he had 19 goals and as many assists in 2009 or around there – he was like 2.5 players, unbelievable.

    This is why I was such a “Doomer” but I felt that Arsene could turn it around. Between 2009-2011 I become less and less convinced but was not thinking of Wenger out until the 2011 Brum final. Since then the penny has dropped and now I am as anti-Wenger as you can get.

  56. Not sure how loud it will get or for how long (please God don’t let it stop) but I remember Andrew and Robbie sitting on the fence less than a year ago. It’s fair to say, they’ve gotten off that fence.

    It’s down to the players now, they’ve got to swallow their pride and take one for us. We’ve chosen the route of humiliation so at least do that right and go out with a hilarious bang.

  57. andy1886,

    I agree but the thing is, how ‘loud’ will the protest get? How far are people willing to go should he sign a new deal for any length of time? I think its obvious that people are fed the fuck up and I could make a legimate argument that results now don’t even matter for most as the worst is always expected by most. I really do wonder just how ugly things will get and how loud the protests and the supporters have to be for the club to well and truly do something as to my mind, nothing at this club surprises me anymore.

  58. Andy,

    Do you really think that Wenger’s bottlers would have lasted at the top of the table come April or May at any time since 2008. Come on?! Really?

    You know the answer: they would have folded like the shite that they are. They only get a run together to finish 4th when the title is beyond them. As Bill has pointed out we have finished closer to 5th than first every year since 2008. How would this have been avoided with a couple of buys in the odd January?

  59. Bill,

    Funny enough I’m not completely sure Arsene wouldn’t sign even faster if it was clear we weren’t making top 4 because then he could, at least for the group still firmly entrenched with him including Arsenal management, ride the wave of “I can get us back into the top 4” which would almost be a rallying cry for him to get a new 2 year deal. I think its clear that top 4 is going to be a struggle to make at best and there is a real possiblity that we don’t even make top 6. I agree, top 4 is a double edge sword but then again, dropping out of the top 4 is too.

    Shame one man holds so much power at a club where his own personal mantra when it comes to players is that, “Nobody is bigger than the club”.

  60. C @ 2:51

    For better or worse I still think we have a good chance to make the top 4. ManU has a brutal run in and they have the Europa league which can get them into the CL without finishing top 4. If ManU struggles in the league games then we only need to win most of the games against the mid and lower table teams and hope that either Spurs implode again or Liverpool hit a run of draws or lose a few unexpected games.

  61. Alex Ice Cream,

    Simply because Arsene didn’t necessarily drive our title wins in the first part of his tenure. The likes of Adams, PV4, Keown et al did that on the pitch. Without them I honestly believe he would have won sweet FA. What we were missing were one or two personalities like that who could lead the side on the pitch, an anti-Gallas if you like. If he’d have signed one or two of those we could have won a title despite, not because, of him in those seasons.

  62. Andy,

    I 100% agree that it was the players that Arsene inherited that drove us to the title and without them he would have won nothing or very little. It was George who gave us the winning mentality – something that Wenger has no clue about. he has had over 10 years to build this into his players and he has just bred more and more losers.

    I 100% disagree about the odd player making the difference. Arshavin did that in 2009 and it was nowhere near enough. Where do you get an Henry, Bergkamp, Adams or Vieira from never mind in January? The team flattered to deceive. I think some signings could have improved us but not enough as we had too many flaws. In the early days of success we only had to beat ManU. Abramovich, Citeh changed that and then briefly even Lpool under Rafa were contenders.

    The bottom line was that our financial problems and the huge loss of experience would have made it tough for any manager. Add City and Chelsea to the mix and you can see the problems we had. I think that Wenger did brilliantly to keep us up there (but not real contenders) in the face of the competition but the 2011 Brum final proved that he was no longer a winning manager. He had the superior team and finance but still lose to Alex Mcleish’s Brum. The dye was cast.

  63. C

    I don’t really see that a 1 or even 2 year hiatus from the top 4 would be a long term problem for recruiting players etc.

    The critical thing for this summer is to sign Alexis and bring in a couple of other impact attacking players and rebuild the mentality of the team defense.

    If I had a choice of managers who might potentially be available this summer, Simeone would be head and shoulders above the field for me.

  64. Bill

    Agreed. ManU and Chelsea have not struggled to recruit when out of the top 4.

    Our problem is that if we have world-class players they eventually leave as they realise Arsenal under Wenger is a waste of time. First Cesc, them RvP and now Alexis who is gone and who could blame him. He would stand a better chance of winning the Prem if his 2 dogs were in the first XI.

    I don’t include Ozil as he is not world-class. I would actually get rid of him as I don’t like the formation with a number 10. Even worse I hate gutless players and Ozil’s balls are so small that you need an electron microscope to find them.

  65. The thing that goes against our top 4 hopes is Spurs and Man City have a moderate lead on us and I don’t expect Man City to collapse. In theory ManU’s schedule and our games in hand make Liverpool and ManU our most likely targets to sneak past but Liverpool has the easiest run in. Liverpool has played all 10 of their games against the other top 6 teams so we have to rely on them to drop unexpected points.

  66. Alex

    I think recruiting players is mostly about how much money you are willing to spend for transfer fees and wages. However, if we lose Alexis it will mean completely rebuilding the attacking part of our team and I can see how that might make some impact players who have a choice of teams think twice before they decide to come to Arsenal.

  67. Alex

    If we really are going to rebuild a team with mental strength and rekindle the fire in the belly in our squad the last thing we need is someone like Ozil. He sat out the first couple of games in 2014 after the World Cup and Euro2016 and he completely disappeared on the pitch in mid December when our bad run really started against City and Everton. He has sat out several games in 2017 because of various mystery illnesses. Despite all of his technical skill and talent, he is certainly not the sort of player you count on when the team needs a spark.

  68. Bill,

    That is the thing, all those things happen to happen PLUS we need to find form and it doesn’t bode well that the first two matches back are against Citeh and West Ham then you have FA Cup with Citeh followed by Leicester, Spuds and Manure finishing off with Stoke and Everton. Not only do we have to find form but we have several clubs in our last stretch that lets face it, we don’t fair well against.

  69. We have argued about this endlessly in the past but Arsene’s decisions to rest several of our key players for a couple of league games at the start of the season after the World Cup and Euro 2016 looks like a very bad idea at this point. Does anyone really think that resting those players is helping the team now? Those points we dropped did not seem that important back in Oct but having any of those 5 points right now would be huge.

  70. Bill,

    I think it would be a problem if we are not willing to pay the wages, which if the club doesn’t want to pay Ozil and Sanchez and they are already here, imagine how much those impact players that you want and we need will want to come to Arsenal with no CL futbol?

    Problem with Simeone is definitely on the shortlist if I had my choice but head and shoulders is certainly a stretch for me.

  71. Bill,

    Bang on about Ozil; the ultimate flat track bully. I saw him v Bournemouth last season and he was sensational – he created a record 9 chances (only for Theo to miss a couple.)

    He disappears when it matters and certainly will not drag you out of a hole if you need it. I wouldn’t even have offered him new contract – I toyed with the idea of selling him last season as he had 2 years left. He is a polite brat who thinks that different rules apply to him. No wonder he he is pro-Wenger – no other manager would put up with it. Mourinho’s quotes in Ozil’s book about him giving 50% sum him up. Why put this in your own book?

  72. Can anyone tell me what the hell Steve Bould does? Because I was under the impression that being part of one of the most successful defenses in modern Arsenal history, he’d have at least some clue on how to teach our lads to defend! Or at least the basics!

    Please don’t kid yourselves into thinking that Wenger will go. He won’t, he’s on a cushy little number and he’s arrogant. He doesn’t give a rats **** about the fans. There are always more to replace those that dissent.

    The fact that the board lack the foresight to see that winning things, grows your brand identity and means you should reach a wider audience. Which means greater profits from Marketing/commercial deals. But obviously the risk involved (because evidently there is an element of risk) means Kroenke is happy to settle for the easy money and a bonus for Wenger.

  73. One of my not so secret pleasures is to visit a number of Arsenal blogs all with diverse leanings – if AW is used as the yardstick – to chat, to see what the mood music is to have the occasional laugh and so on.

    The vast majority of bloggers are decent, honest Joe’s, who if you strip away the acrimony shown towards each other because of the Wenger issue are all basically just Arsenal supporters, whatever their leanings are.

    For a boring middle of the road blogger, like me, with my own views that do not now, and never will, conform to some ridiculous acronym, it is becoming exceedingly difficult to get back to talking about anything other than that bloody – Wexit : Wenger Remain, Wenger Out without saying anything that falls foul of oe side or the other — so I don’t say anything, other than there is a time and a place for all of us – and when your time is up — it is up — and no amount of pondering will ever change that. And that includes Mr Wenger.

    There are other critical issues that confront us – the management of the transfer budget; the growing greed of the already greedy players and their agents; the inertia of the Arsenal owner; the stagnation of the first team coaching when compared with other top teams; and purely from a Gooner fan perspective – the shipwreck that is the playing style of Arsenal, and the dramatic loss of entertainment value for any fan watching the tedious and torrid fare put before us is simply unacceptable and unsustainable. But no — let’s keep on, keeping on about Mr Wenger and his future cogitations, as if our opinion matters one iota in that respect.

    Damn, now I have made a point – all the above – bar the ownership issue – will be laid at the door of Wenger, I suppose.

    Dante’s 9 Circles of Hell is upon us and whatever the result of Brexit or Wexit featuring AW, it will continue – doing no good for him, the fans, or the club. What a to do!! 🙁

  74. Henry

    The greedy players are only looking out for their own best interest. They just want a fair slice of the huge revenue pie that is world football. They deserve to have the money as much or more then most of the owners, IMO. Most players are not business savvy and if they did not have agents to handle the business part of their careers then the club management would walk all over them. YOu or I would do the exact same thing if we were lucky enough to be professional football players. Not much we can do about the inertia of our clubs majority owner.

    All of those other issues you are concerned about including the transfer budget management, coaching stagnation and playing style all revolve around Arsene since he manages every aspect of the football operations of the club. The fact that he is holding the club in limbo while we await his big decision is another major issue. It seems very appropriate that Arsene is the focus of so much attention.

  75. Bill,

    You are entitled to your opinion, but how you can condone ‘greed’ which is defined as ‘an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.

    For every £10m or £20m per annum extra that a player gets it means a continual disgraceful increase in costs for fans paying for seats. Not something you have any problem with being thousands of miles away, and never going to games. [Just ask Andy and other fathers just how hard that is to pay for kids who want to go as well.]

    It comes out of the billionaire owner’s pocket really? What world do you live in?

  76. consolsbob:
    It’s a monumental shit storm.

    Why anybody can even contemplate him staying is just beyond me.

    The club, our club, doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It’s all about Stan’s balance sheet and arsene’s ego.

    It really is hard to believe that we have fallen so far since those halcyon seasons not so long ago.

    In truth, he should have left several years ago before the dry rot set it at the club. It’s not a pretty sight.

    Someone chastised me the other day for saying Wenger is holding the club to ransom. He does every contract renewal. I don’t think any big club in this world put their fate in a manager’s hand as we do and for 20 years running.

    Don’t know what the freaking problem….He’s a fucking manager, he doesn’t own the damn club. As if because he moved us to the Emirates we should let him ruin the club or run it to the ground.

    The only two things/people allowed this longevity is Arsenal Football Club and the Fans….Everything else including the owner is replaceable for fucks sake.

  77. Henry

    Both the owners and the players should take pay cuts and pass the cost saving to the fans but that is not going to happen.

    The ticket revenue is becoming a smaller and smaller piece of the revenue pie as TV money and sponsorship money skyrockets. The players are the ones the fans come to see and they deserve their slice of those other revenue pies as much or more then the owners, IMO. Only a few players actually make the sort of money we hear about and most average players only hang around and make money for a couple years. You can blame the players for ticket prices but in reality owners are almost all wealthier then all of players on their roster put together and owners do not lose their jobs when they lose a 1-2 yards of pace at age 29 and owners are not at risk from losing their jobs if they tear ankle ligaments. Owners are ones who decide on the ticket prices and they are generally in a much better position to sacrifice a bit of revenue if they kept the price of tickets a bit lower. I empathize with the players point of view much more then most owners. I hope that makes sense.

  78. H

    I think as time goes on, the payment of players from gate receipts becomes less relevant. We’re just coughing up for the admin departments now. TV companies pay for the players these days. We’re nothing to the club. Beyond being an irritant. If Arsenal could play the games behind closed doors, they would.

  79. It has started to go that way already, Yogi, with more and more [paid for] seats going empty.

    The costs to local fans of tickets and transport has increased appallingly over the last 10 years, and as far as I am concerned there is a definite element of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    Of course the sponsorship monies from various sources has dwarfed the ‘take’ from ticket sales, but that is no comfort to fans faced with increases in already overpriced tickets – and however it is spun, greedy bastards are still greedy bastards in my book and anyway, whatever we pay those f*ckers they are not doing it on the pitch, and I would boot half of the current squad out.

    Cut back on the salaries of the undeserving and pay the market price to the very best, because that it is the market price – and not just greedy b*astards chancing their arm, and not holding up their end of the bargain by giving their all and winning against teams like West Brom.

    No wins – no trophies – no deal – they can just f*ck off!

  80. Without Özil, the percentage of wins of Arsenal decreases to 12% this season (source: positively Arsenal). Food for thought.

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