My Friend Stan But Who Does He Like Best?

Monday night football. It’s like introducing an international break into the middle of the season. Consecutive away games, two Monday fixtures. At least progress was made on addressing the cost of travel to Middlesbrough:

Arsène meets the press later to talk about Monday’s game and deflect questions about his future. You know, the straight bat about you’ll be told when the time is right, etc. Interestingly, this morning sets out quite clearly that it is not so clear cut.

The board’s paper of choice, The Mirroran Ivan vs Arsène showdown, claims this summer is set for . While you would expect the manager to win such a confrontation, today’s articles are aimed at painting him as the barrier to revitalising the club.

It’s no surprise that these stories appeared. Ivan’s comments at the weekend sparked a difference of opinion between the pair which Wenger chose to play out in public. When asked about being a “catalyst for change” after the Manchester City match, he took the unusual step of openly questioning what that meant.

There was no straight bat, telling his interrogator to wait for the right moment for the announcement, Arsène simply answered that he didn’t have a clue what Ivan was wittering on about.

It was Wenger’s ‘Maggie moment’: this Frenchman’s not for turning. If change is to come, it will not be on the board’s terms; it will be Arsène’s. Apparently, there are some “final details” to be worked out on his new contract before he renews. One of them is presumably that Ivan’s public utterances must be cleared with the manager beforehand.

You’ve Gettin’ To Him

It’s all unseemly and unnecessary. The board allowed the manager to dictate the situation to this point. Instead of giving him a deadline to sign the deal, they allowed it to drift. The club is in disarray on and off the pitch. The win over West Ham was welcome but does it signal the change in fortunes needed to climb into the top four.

We’re still reliant on Liverpool blowing up to remain in the Champions League. Back to the ‘good old days’ of clawing into the elite.

The situation with Alexis continues. Arsène doesn’t understand why anyone is worried since the player has 18 months left on his contract. A look at this morning’s headlines says it all: the Chilean is ready to make a Bosman move to Chelsea. IF Wenger thinks he’s being criticised now, imagine the atmosphere if that happens. Van Persie all over: once is an accident…

Shambolic doesn’t describe the depths to which the situation would plummet.

It’s a salutary warning for Kroenke and the board. Assuming he renews, we’re in the same position two years down the line. Too much respect for the manager, too much fear; their impotence now is hardly likely to improve if changes don’t happen now.

Wenger’s blinkered view stops him seeing that Gazidis is actually trying to save him. Refusal to accept change will ultimately leave Arsène taking responsibility for everything. The board will become silent, reducing their press comments, with the manager isolated during troubled spells. That’s the ‘politics’ of the situation although Ivan’s frustration may see him walk.

That offers Kroenke the chance to shake things up, if he is so minded. I suspect the same mistake would be made as with Gazidis’ appointment. Wenger will have too much influence, to the point that the perception that we’re landed with another CEO who owes his job to the manager.

You’ve Been Gettin’ To Him

This plays out, how it plays out but it is apparent to everyone that unless Wenger decides to go, he is staying. According to the received wisdom in the press, Arsène won’t fall on his sword even if we miss out on his top four trophy.

Plans for the summer business are being made, pre-season already planned and preparations for next season beginning. Wenger’s footprint is over all of them, even the long-distance tours he detests.

Another two years of drifting, of malaise. Wenger’s chosen course is to evolve rather than go back to basics which this season has shown we need. The impact doesn’t bear thinking about if complete change doesn’t happen. The cycle of failure and excuses needs to broken but the Frenchman doesn’t seem capable of making that happen.

’til Tomorrow.

39 thoughts on “My Friend Stan But Who Does He Like Best?

  1. Morning,

    I’d expect a subtle tweak of the language if we don’t make the top 4. From CL qualification every year since he’s been at the club to European qualification every year since he’s been at the club.

  2. Greetings from a place I can’t even pronounce – Rzeszów.
    The Polish don’t really have words so much as vomit up consonants and see what sticks.
    My hostel isn’t letting me in until fucking 4pm. Bastards wouldn’t even even let me drop my bag off.
    So, presently, I am being a mallrat, mooching free wifi and a convenient couch – bit exhausted having been up since 4.30am.

  3. I see that Arsene has said that any announcement on his contract will come from the club, not from him. Although that’s obvious it does seem to suggest a slight power shift, maybe he’s realised that while he does hold most of the cards he doesn’t hold all of them.

    With that in mind I’m beginning to wonder if a DoF will be part of the deal. Maybe the delay is in negotiating between the board (who might want the new man to have at least some input) and Wenger (who would want someone with no authority but who might be convenient to deflect blame on to). Or maybe they are struggling to find someone who would work with Arsene and agree to be wholly subservient to him. In that case an inexperienced former player might fit the bill as per the leaks to the press.

    If it’s for PR reasons I believe ST’s have until the end of June to be renewed in which case we could be waiting a long time.

  4. With last years champs and prob this years champs it would appear that being a champ doesnt necessarily mean a top four finish. It also appears to be that throughout the club neither players or manager needs to clarify their intentions on stay or go. Anyway, the sun is out and i dont care today, maybe i will later but i will let you know soon.

  5. Morning YW. The situation seems like it is being played out in a political power struggle behind closed doors, it would appear that privately Gazidis and Wenger perhaps no longer see eye to eye.

    I think even Wenger most see the profound change of opinion this season towards his ability to coach the team from all sectors. This is all conjecture but Gazidis probably wants to modernize the hierarchy by bringing in a DOF etc, at arsenal but is being held back by Wenger who privately probably doesn’t understand the agree with the idea of working with one.

  6. Blimey, former Gunner Andy Cole has had a kidney transplant. Better known for his days at United and Newcastle he did come close to winning the Charity Shield for us against the Spuds in 1991. Good Luck to him in his recovery (he retains a certain amount of goodwill for me for a) famously hating his strike partner Teddy Sheringham, and b) not being Dwight Yorke who is IMO a complete scumbag).

  7. Bill,

    From yesterday the point I was trying to make is that if Coquelin can be the best defender 2 seasons ago what is stopping him from being just that again, his numbers were in decline last year and more so again this season. The only constant in my eyes with coquelin when he plays well 99% of the time its alongside santi in midfield this might be part of the reason his numbers have been nowhere near as two seasons ago but its just conjecture.
    To be honest if a little old supporter like me can dig out the stats to show his steady decline the arsenal coaches must see it too.

  8. I can hear the quotes now at the end of the 2018/19 season…

    We have shown great mental strength, for me 8th place is like a trophy!

  9. silvergunner,

    We don’t have to pull up stats or be a coach to see that Coquelin is a very average player when he came back by default, he was playing for his Arsenal life, even in a defensive role he has regressed, and adds zero to the attack, Santi isn’t available, and probably won’t be a major contributor in the future, imo Coquelin should be on his way this summer, along with some others, will it happen, probably not, the reasons YW states eloquently in his post

  10. There is no disputing Coquelin has talent.

    First of all his stats were superb for well over a year after his return – this is not happenstance.

    Further, as pointed out before, against Everton a year ago (not 2 years ago) he produced the most complete performance by a midfielder since the Premier League had started – a record which had stood for about 4 years. I believe the record still stands (its a combination of factors such as tackles, interceptions, passes etc.)

    The idea his game has totally deserted him or (revisionist history) was never there is false. He is having a really bad season, we’ve all admitted this. However my take is he is completely befuddled by Wenger….pretty much like the rest of the squad for a lot of the time.

    YW linked through to the Guardian and Barney Ronay’s comparison of City and Arsenal. His central point was in spite of the fact City were patently weak defensively, you could see where Guardiola was improving individual players whereas Wenger was overseeing players poor form.

    I doubt we have seen the best of any single player over the last few years but I have no idea why Coquelin has to be the chief whipping boy.

  11. Agree on the Coquelin question he is a decent player. Part of the problem with him this season is that he has been asked or encouraged to play too far forward which is not his game and certainly wasn’t two years ago. The same thing happened with Song a few years ago. What is nearly always the first word associated with Kante – discipline.

  12. Great stuff Yogi!

    I find the kind of war of words and ideas between Arsene and Ivan interesting. The funny thing is, Ivan seems to actually be talking about change and Arsene continues to lower the bar yet neither can be trusted.

    We are certainly in a world of shit.

  13. If this Sanchez and Ozil situations play out and both leave on a free, I actually think there are a group of supporters that will drag all of the management from London Colney including the BoD infront of the Emirates and tar and feather them.

  14. Great post yogi.

    There have been a few times in the past where Ivan and arsene seem to be on a different page but I don’t think there can be any doubt about who is really in charge. I have no idea why Arsene is not letting the club announce his new contract. Perhaps he is still holding out for an extra couple million or an extra year or 2. However there is no doubt who will be our manager for at least another 2 seasons. The status quo will be maintained.

  15. DFS-,

    There is no disputing Coquelin has talent.
    Can he sing or dance or what? I am going by what I see in front of me on the pitch, as stats can be misleading. He is not the only one by any means who has had a bad season or lost form they are just not good enough. Fully agree with you that Wenger has not improved any player imo

  16. Le Coq had been a below average player for a few years and set play out his contract in 2015. We called him back in an emergency and by happenstance the team was emerging from the World Cup hangover and starting on the best run of form from an Arsenal team in this decade. Much to everyone’s surprise Le Coq had a great 3-4 months when he first came back from loan but that was totally out of character with anything he had done before then and anything he has done since then. His performances last season waxed and waned with the whole team and he was not nearly as good and this year he has been poor enough that he has basically lost his job. He is certainly not heading in the right direction and Arsene did not spend $35M on Xhaka to sit on the bench and back up Le Coq.

  17. what in the world are you doing in the hole like Rzeszow. Is it some sort of a cruel joke someone you lost a bet to is playing on you?

    The “vomit” line made me chuckle though.

  18. Ivan better channel his inner James Brown whilst at a belly dancing class, having an epileptic fit. That’s the level of shake up needed.

    To think we’re called the arsenal yet Nike are doin camouflaged patterned away kits for Alexis’ New club and man city.
    How many boats we wanna miss?

    Once at the forefront of innovation, this mess feels surreal.

  19. C:
    If this Sanchez and Ozil situations play out and both leave on a free, I actually think there are a group of supporters that will drag all of the management from London Colney including the BoD infront of the Emirates and tar and feather them.

    It won’t happen, C, but even if it did, this is England — tarring and feathering is just not done — they would get a jolly good telling off, and be banned biscuits with their coffee for a whole day.

    All Andy. 😉

  20. HenryB,

    It hasn’t happened but thrn again did Lewandowski join Bayern on a free, so its possible just not likely. Fair point about tar and feathering, though it would be quite a sight.

  21. Separation between State and Church is what we need.

    No one person should hold this much power in any given institution. All good clubs separate the Administrative Stuff from the Technical and Operational Stuff.

    * Kroenke should hold the keys to the club, but he’s happy just to hold the keys to the bank.
    * Gazidis, I don’t really know what he does? Don’t really care, since obviously he’s not good at it.
    * Arsene, is holding the Admin, Tech, and operational all in one hand.

    And someone says “He’s not holding the club to ransom” , He’s actually holding this club by the “Balls” (Bun Intended).

    Nothing will change in this club, until the Manager is just that….An Employee, where he can come to work in the morning and find a post-it note from Kroenke that says “Thank you very much, don’t come here anymore”.

    But Kroenke has no Balls, in fact he doesn’t even have a vagina, he has nothing down there. The man doesn’t talk, doesn’t move, doesn’t do anything, why the fuck does he needs to own a football club or even money? BIG WASTE

  22. As soon as Wenger made his comments contradicting Ivan’s from days before, it was obvious Wenger was dismissing Gazidis.

    I thought there might be a second round of comments – if nothing else to present a united front to the public, to lessen the appearance of conflict behind the scenes. The fact nothing has been said inspires little confidence.

    From the Gazidis side it indicates one of two things. One scenario – he does not want to encourage further public disagreement with the progress he promised (on the clubs behalf) by refuting Wenger. The more worrying scenario being he knows that battle is lost with Wenger in defiant mode.

    This is troubling. I cannot imagine that Gazidis, who has appeared as a conservative figure took it upon himself to fabricate and announce sweeping changes – I am sure these matters would have been discussed between board members and Wenger. Which would indicate Wenger at one point was giving the impression he was open to such ideas for Gazidis to go public.

    Perhaps Wenger was never sincere during any such discussion and simply hoodwinked Gazidis. However, it would have cost Wenger little to keep the matter private and simply request that Gazidis refrain from any further talk of change- he could simply BS at pressers that ‘all options are on the table’.

    But, I rather think Wenger enjoyed the put down in much the same way he enjoys dismissing the fans who raise a voice.

    Which is all well and good until it sinks in Wenger is now not only ignoring half the fanbase but also the CEO of Arsenal and presumably board members.

    Arsenal is starting to give off a faint whiff of mad-cap dictator and banana republic.

  23. DFS-,

    Spot on.

    I do how the relationship and reporting lines work between each of the men and Stan. You would have thought that Stan would be talking fairly regularly with the CEO of one of his companies, as he is the guy running the business. There’s no way that Wenger does any of the actual business management stuff, even though he seems to have complete control of all footballing aspects of the club’s management. Maybe Stan has given so much control over the football side to Wenger that no one else has any real input. If that’s the case the club is just going to continue on as is, with average performances and top stars being able to hold the club to ransom or walk out the door. We are in the hands of a stubborn man who will continue to follow a path of mediocre football and dated tactics which have been found out by most half decent clubs. The problem with a bully is that eventually those you are bullying grow up and fight back.

    To my mind, the only way Alexis and Ozil sign new contracts is if the club give in to their pay demands and that’s bad news as it signals that the club won’t be able to attract top stars without paying over the odds.

  24. consolsbob,

    Wavey,

    Thanks.

    The problem is for all the sleuthing anyone attempts it remains opaque, but as you note Wavey, the situation really has gone to far.

    On the one hand I think the ‘Viera Option’ was a trial balloon to see if fans were receptive to it or a similar idea…but as several of us discussed that sounded like nonsense (and something I could never see Wenger agreeing to).

    However, I do not see Gazidis stating that there would be changes before having sat down and discussed it with Wenger and the board -he doesn’t strike as the type to put himself out on a limb.

    So. I can only conclude Wenger might have given the impression he was open to change, then thought better of it. He believes he holds the cards.

    I think the PR campaign of people speaking up on his behalf could have unnerved the board. It gained little traction from the likes of the forum members here, but I can imagine the board members think it carried weight.

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