If Stan and Josh, Ivan and the board have five minutes, reading Richard Williams article in yesterday’s Guardian would time well spent in understanding why they are deeply unpopular. The final paragraph is a killer:
“What fans really want from an owner, whatever his or her background, is the sense of an authentic personal commitment. The vacuum left by its absence tends to be filled, as can been seen in the season’s final stages, by a cynicism that stinks the place out.”
The weekend isn’t giving Arsène any respite from managerial shenanigans. There some spin against him surfacing, with claims that Wenger is blocking the board’s desire to have Thierry Henry back in the fold. Now, I am naturally inclined to be cynical about such notions. After all, what better way to paint the board into a positive light by ‘leaking’ that you want a club legend to return?
And what better way to defend yourselves against the inevitable criticism than with the retort, “We tried but Arsène didn’t want it”? The problem is that it makes the board look weak if Wenger is blocking change. If they genuinely want someone at the club, the manager is told that Henry is joining and if you don’t like it, don’t let the door hit on your arse on the way out.
Except I, not for one minute, don’t believe the story. It is too obviously trying to make Junior – for this is Josh’s idea – look good in supporters eyes. Even for a board as useless as ours, this saga would be plumbing new depths of incompetence.
Left To Blind Destruction
Henry himself casts doubt on that solution. Writing in The Scum, he questions the state of the club from a player’s perspective. And not just any players, the best in the world:
“It kills me to say this as an Arsenal fan, but my old club are not an attractive destination any more for the top, top players.
Why would the leading players who can have a real impact in the Premier League and improve that Arsenal team come to the Emirates?”
He rules out the Champions League as a motivator in choosing clubs, pointing to Kante’s move to Chelsea and Ibrahimovic joining United. For the latter, it was a chance to join one of the biggest clubs in the world and a massive payday.
For the former, he was sold on the vision. Don’t forget, Chelsea were in turmoil last season with Conte just arriving to a squad in disarray. So, please, tell me again how changing the manager will deter players from joining.
“But competition for trophies is the key. If you are a director of football and you work for Arsenal, how do you attract a big player?
I’m not suggesting people aren’t doing their jobs at Arsenal — just that selling the club has become increasingly difficult over the last two or three years.
I don’t see anything to attract the big players.
That’s a damning indictment of the way the club is perceived, if true. While it just Henry’s opinion, it also cannot be ignored as a grotesque truth about where we are now.
We Would Go On As If Nothing Is Wrong
Despite his belief that he can solve the problems, Arsène has nothing to persuade players to join. Respected as he is, Arsène, if Henry is correct, is no longer a selling point. Certainly he can’t answer the question on how the team will improve otherwise he would be doing that now.
We are in the same place as twenty-one years ago when he arrived. Now though, Wenger is not the breath of fresh air to revitalise a stagnating club; quite the opposite.
Now, we know Henry is a pundit and needs to stoke the fires with controversy. Applying the same cynicism to the Kroenke spin, it’s easy to see him as picking the scent of dissent and running with it. And I agree, there is an element of that. However, the questions he is asking are the same as those running through everyone’s minds. The difference is that he does have a unique perspective on it all.
The only remaining question is whether he’ll get the chance to rectify the matter at some point in the future.
Finally, here’s something I prepared a little earlier for tomorrow night’s game at Middlesbrough.