Arsenal’s Jacket Of Frustration Fits Too Tightly

I was spoiled for choice this morning. Not from a range of healthy options for breakfast or anything like that, just which lyric to use for the headlines. There’s a rich vein to mine with this morning’s thoughts. Mesut Özil’s reactions in the White Hart Lane tunnel yesterday left me wondering if I could pun my way through The Sunday’s I Kicked A Boy. Yes, I thought about it, I genuinely did but I didn’t go there.

Unlike Mesut, he went for his drugs test like a good little soldier. He didn’t want to because he was sick to the back teeth with losing and I suspect his own – and the team’s – performance. Mind you, if he thought it was bad after that defeat, choosing Diego Maradona after his 1986 ‘Hand of God’ moment and then putting Terry Butcher in the same room, was less of a good idea. In case you’re wondering how that’s Arsenal-related, Kenny Sansom was one of the other players as well.

Özil’s reaction might be the most heartening thing you read this morning although the bar is admittedly set very low as far as Arsenal in the Premier League are concerned. His frustration with himself, with the performances, with everything, ought to inspire some soul-searching on his part. I like the German as a player; silky skills, thoughts, pace as well but I fear he is already too far down the path of Nicholas, Marinello and a host of others to rectify his standing in the eyes of some: a huge talent but wasted at Arsenal.

Lead Inside My Boots

Perhaps that’s ‘wasted at Arsenal right now’? In big away games, he’s proven no more than a passenger but that’s as much to do with the team performance as it is with his own. For £42m, you expect a star to light up games, to lead by example and to take the bigger stages by storm. It hasn’t happened but if you look at our results in those games, other factors also affected performances. Pinning the tail of that donkey on Özil is harsh.

However, that doesn’t let him off the hook. Dennis Bergkamp was similarly gifted – probably more so – but his attitude sets him several levels above Mesut as a player. The Dutchman, unhesitatingly the best Arsenal player I have ever seen, possessed a will to win allied with a determined spikiness. He was rarely bullied out of a game in England. He could be, don’t get me wrong but not very often in the big games.

Crucially, he was a member of a better team, one where he knew flakiness wasn’t tolerated. Arsène had a dressing room of leaders who knew how to take care of the mental side of the game themselves. They were flawed; never succeeding in the Champions League is one example, losing the title at Leeds another. But never the consistent lack of strength we’re witnessing.

The frequency with which it surfaces suggests that it’s part of the club’s fabric, a manifestation of the culture at London Colney. Serenity is key to Arsène with former players suggesting the manager “shuts down” any aggressive criticism of players. That’s his style and with his history and power at Arsenal, that’s his choice. It worked in the past because of the likes of Adams, Keown, Vieira, and a host of others. That was their personality.

Beat That

This dressing room is different; there are winners but not winners with Arsenal. FA Cups are great for supporters but players hold loftier ambitions. The Champions League is beyond us and getting further away; loftier ambitions never to be met. The biggest prize is set to elude Arsène nor is time on his side to win the Premier League title again. There are too many replacements needed for this squad to take the next step. If they were going to, this season was it. Runners-up last year, a positional improvement year-on-year, remains part of the rubble underfoot.

As a combination of people, I suspect it’s a good group for the manager to have. I don’t believe that it is serene with new age music floating through the speakers in all buildings. Yet the necessary friction for success is missing; you don’t have to be an insider to see that. There’s a collective responsibility but no accountability, and that’s a problem for the board and manager.

I know people think Arsène gets a rough ride but Arsenal are a weak business, as well as a weak football club. Financially strong but poor in every other aspect. There’s no need for micro-management; that’s different from strong management although the weak frequently confuse the two.  Arsenal has absent leadership; Kroenke, Gazidis, all of them. The board leaves the manager to face the criticism on his own, never offering backing, just silence. Their problem is that now too many believe Arsène should walk away. There’s a proviso to that; it’s social media and our friends we talk to. For the most part, like-minded individuals and therein is the danger. However, blind loyalty to the manager is not the same as loyalty to the club. What’s good for the two are not always mutually inclusive.

Spirals

Until Arsenal resolve issues off the pitch, on pitch is going to remain a shambles. The manager has no new ideas to take on board beyond those he finds outside of the club. It’s stale; bringing in a director of football, as welcome as it would be, is being touted as the panacea; it won’t be if that person is a Wenger acolyte. Unless the director of football ushers in a new era at the club, beginning with a major reshuffle of the coaching staff, he is only replacing Dick Law. As much as Dick is an issue, he’s not the most urgent problem to resolve.

So much needs changing that it is a huge problem, masked from the majority shareholders attention by continuing financial strength. My feeling is that he will walk away just before the rot becomes apparent in the financial statements. Kroenke, the sporting loser, is not going to be financial one.

To stop that, change needs to happen. The directors are not turkeys voting for Christmas so Arsène is the sacrificial lamb at their altar. The first change is always managerial in these circumstances and much-needed. When that has happened, we’ll see how many of the board need to go as well. My guess is that not all the ones who need to will do so.

’til Tomorrow.

85 thoughts on “Arsenal’s Jacket Of Frustration Fits Too Tightly

  1. *spongeing*? 🙂

    Hardly! I’ve more than paid my way.

    Off to Canada on Thursday – just recharging in Paris after a 7 country manic month and a few too many bus journeys.

  2. Morning YW thanks for the good read. I am just disillusioned with the club.
    That was a North London Derby for Christ’s sake to loose the game in that fashion was another in the long list of embarrassing results this season. My gut feeling is that just changing the manager without ripping out the whole backroom staff would be folly. The guys at the top of the pyramid will be harder to oust. Continued resentment towards the powers that be will eventually force change.

  3. I agree with all of that. I am not so sure tht those who have the power do. I wont be surprised if there are no changes within the structure. The people that have the power dont appear to agree, and if they do why haven’t we heard it.saving it up till the end of the season for a nice surprise ? I dont think so. In my career similar things happened, (not football) . Very rarely do players get rid of a manager, very rarley, the fans. To think or to hope that the board or the manager or owner views this issue in the exact same way as us, all i can say is i have seen no evidence of this.

  4. Back in the eighties/early nineties AFC and the Spuds competed on a more or less level playing field (if anything the Spuds were bugger spenders). Under Wenger we’ve comfortably had the financial upper hand – even during the so called ‘lean years’ (check the wage bills or financial results if you don’t believe that). Now take a look at the records of GG and Wenger away at Sp*rs (from the Online Gooner):

    Graham: Played 12 Won 7 Drew 2 Lost 3
    Wenger: Played 25 Won 6 Drew 12 Lost 7

    So what is the difference? I’d say that Graham appreciated what these games meant and Wenger simply doesn’t care. And that’s a message that the players have absorbed.

  5. @Mo,
    You talk much sense. I hope those who will not accept pragmatism, will read and understand what you say. 😉

  6. Alexis has had the treatment, now it seems Ozil is getting it through briefings in the press:

    Mesut Ozil is ‘demanding’ that Arsenal more than double his current wage to £300,000 a week, according to the Daily Mail.

    Ozil’s current deal at the Emirates Stadium expires in summer 2018, and negotiations have been put on hold until the end of the season.

    The German’s form of late has noticeably dipped, and the Gunners are fighting a losing battle to qualify for the Champions League next season.

    The club have offered Ozil a contract worth £250,000 a week, but Sami Mokbel of the Mail reports that he is holding out for £300,000.

    Arsenal are ‘reluctant’ to agree to such terms however, and have expressed ‘frustrations’ over the Germany international’s dedication in training, as well as his recent performances.

    When they get an idea into their heads (*cough* war chest) there really is no stopping them running it into the ground.

  7. I suppose Ozil is at least showing some passion. His displays have been mostly anonymous away from home this season, much like the rest of the team.

    The Gooner review of the match alludes to Ozil’s performances at his post match parties being much livelier than the displays on the pitch. Explains a lot.

  8. andy1886,

    is it worth it?! on current form he isn’t worth £3 a week.

    Wengers record against the top 6 away is so shitttt its unreal.

  9. Silvergunner

    Re your comment about a long list of poor performances

    Interesting debate on the Arsecast podcast about whether this is the most dispiriting season in recent times – comparing it with seasons where we have flattered to deceive or – almost challenged right until the end.

    I think, given that we were building on possible progress last season, and were at the summit – albeit v briefly around the turn of the year, the nature of the performances since then have really sucked the life out of things for me – and yes, I think this is the worst season I can remember in maybe thirty years.

    The list of diabolical performances against good, bad and indifferent sides seems almost endless (Boro, Leicester at the start of the season, Watford, Bournemouth, Palace, West Brom, Everton, Man C, Liverpuddle etc) and the players who don’t seem able to deliver what we have seen them do before covers much of the squad – players stagnating and going backwards, systems tried and cast aside, players who might make a difference underused..

    Far harder to pick out any silver lining or performances that made me sit up and think wow…

    My balance – we have been spoiled and have had lots of success – and or roller coasters where we we might get an unexpected high.

  10. DALM,

    The difference for me with other periods of poor results is that we actually have a squad that is talented enough to challenge for the PL. Looking back we’ve had some poor seasons but when your squad consists of Morrow, Selley, Hillier, Hughes, McGoldrick, Kiwomya, Helder, Carter then it’s understandable (they still made it to a ECWC Final though). But this set of players should be doing much, much better.

    That’s what makes it so bad. The components are there but it’s like having formula one car assembled by a five year old with obvious consequences.

  11. DALM,

    Dalm, I don’t mind loosing our away record is there for all to see against the top 6. What I find hardest to understand is why we didn’t go back to the same starting 11 as the man city game, a game where the players showed some kind of fight.

  12. andy1886,

    Andy,
    You are spot on about the components and the sum of all the parts. Some of GG’s players were not as technically gifted as current players, but they worked together and they had a will to win. None more so than our very own Romford Pele – a bit of a donkey as a player, but he would run through walls (the 4 lagers at half time helped to numb the pain) and knew that The Arsenal had to beat the spuds in the NLD.

    Taking your F1 car analogy a step further… I’m expecting a new shirt sponsorship deal this summer. Honda. Arsenal and McLaren – all the resources, most of the parts, undermined by one significant flaw.

  13. DALM,

    The thing is: there was no progress last season, despite all the stars aligning in Arsenal’s favour. We finished second only because Spurs completely fell apart (despite being the closest challenger to Leicester) and 10 points behind the mighty Leicester City – not much progress really.

    As my uncle, a farmer, used to say about investing in his business “if you are not moving forward, you are going backwards” – this is very much what has been happening at Arsenal – a failure to invest properly when necessary, coupled with a lack of desire/ambition to achieve anything other than a 4th place finish/reaching the round of 16 in the CL has lead to a gradual decline.

  14. Might be a day for me to talk anything but Ozil cause I know how this is going to go. Excellent stuff Yogi and I think the one thing that you bring up is that the team that Bergkamp played in didn’t put up and everybody could be counted on, certainly can’t say anything like that about this lot. I mean players were happy that Sanchez was dropped after the training camp bust-up, I have no factual information, but I bet there were quite a number of bust-ups with the likes of Viera, Keown, Adams, Henry, Freddie, Lehmann and that lot.

  15. silvergunner,

    I actually agree with you about the line-up, the other thing is that we haven’t really had any consistency in the line-up since before the Everton and Citeh week when we were still at the top of the table. It seemed after those 2 matches there hasn’t been any consistency in the line-up or style of play or really anything, its not knowing what or who is going to play match in and match out with the benching of Ozil and Sanchez being the tipping point.

    The thing I don’t understand is how Arsene can consistently talk about dropping players for poor performances, yet you see some like Giroud continued to be played.

  16. C,

    Go on, let’s talk Ozil 😉

    It’s probably in the interests of both the player and the club that they part ways in the summer, especially if Wenger signs on for two more years. At least that’s my opinion. I don’t think that we can get the best from him in this team and with the game plan employed by this manager. With the right players around him and working to a coherent structured plan he could be a super asset. In a system with no clear plan or individuals to build a platform that he can work from it’s a pointless exercise.

    I see that the club are looking to get their money back but I don’t think that they will get even close. And I think that they will take a hit on the transfer because the alternative of a disaffected player seeing out his contract is disastrous. Ozil may be prepared to stay but if he does his career is only going in one direction. So IMO probably best to take the best offer we can and move on.

  17. Its amazing how much the ownership means for a club. I am a fan of Pittburgh Steelers in American Football sport and they are owned by the Rooney family. A family who care deeply for their franchise, but do it in a way where they dont mess around to much with the sport side of it all. They hire people they trust and are knowledgeable and have had great succes following that model.

    On the other side you have a family like the Kroenkes who only care about the financiel side of things. All their sport franchises/clubs are in a right mess, cause they dont really care as long as they make money. As long as those asshats are the owners nothing will change.

    I am starting to pity AW some, cause as you say YW, he is out there taking all the shit by himself eventhough the situation is as much on the board and the owner as its on him. Sadly AW has to carry the most of the blame, cause his teamselection this season has been mindboggling. I dont think there is 2 consequtive games after christmas that has had the same lineup. That tells me that he is looking for a solution by suffling players in and out of the lineup instead of lokking at the tactical part of his team and through that method he will not find an answer. He needs to realize its his tactical ineptitude thats the root of all this.
    I saw a comment yesterday about gifting him the PL championship should he announce that its his last season next season. I know it would never happen, but its still a scary thought cause in his current state of mind thats exactly the reason he is looking for to justify him staying on even longer.

  18. andy1886,

    I agree 100% with parting ways with him. And I dont believe one second he is ready to stay either. I call that article in the Mail pure bollocks, but should Arsenal be that desperate and it come to fruition then they are more stupid than I thought they were.
    I see quite an exodus this coming summertransfer. I dont think Ox, Sanchez, Perez, Özil or Wilshere will be in the squad when the next season starts. Those players could still contribute, but I think they are dead set on getting out. Then you have the players who are getting up there like BFG and thats even more players leaving.
    We saw some lean squads while we still had heavy debt from the stadium, but could be even thinner come next season

  19. Raven,

    Agree Raven i think we are in for some years of mediocrity. But the ownership wont change unless we become less financially viable. We all hated Abramovich with his oil money but you can never question his desire for Chelsea to be a big club and has been seriously ruthless to managers for far less than we have seen with wenger.

  20. The only reason to be positive about ozil is in the hope that somebody pays somewhere close to what we paid for him…..and given the club have let his contract run down, that’s unlikely. He is certainly not worth 300k a week – four Deli Ali’s anyone ? He has a poor attitude as far as i’m concerned, and we cannot afford to play these type of players at the rate we are regressing. Noticed a few ex arsenal players have really laid into him recently, which tells an important story of what is likely going on behind the scenes. I do however feel some sympathy for him, had we actually bought the players to complement him in the first place, or even after one season, then the whole thing would have had a chance but instead he has that plank giroud as the only official striker….the drunk paupers benzema. No wonder he wants an unrealistic salary, he wants out. Again, wenger didnt go get ozil because he was proactive, ozil phoned him up because real madrdi wanted rid ! Another accident rather than part of a plan, see wellbeck etc etc. I suppose we can only hope cristiano or messi give him a call this summer !

  21. andy1886,

    That is actual very reasonable and not at all what I thought I was going to get from really anybody today when it came to Ozil, who would have thunk it.

    I think, similar to Sanchez, if Arsene stays I could see Ozil just playing out his contract and then walking. If you watch his performances for Germany at the Euro’s or even now, the difference in the way he plays is night and day. Yea he doesn’t get all the assists like he once did (though with a better CF for both Germany and Arsenal I would put quite a bit that those totals would rise quickly) but he is clearly adding other things to his game like goals and making more runs into the box, or starting the moves and not always being the final pass in the move. The problem is, as you rightly state, because there is no direction or structure currently, you don’t get the best from him.

    I know people will look at the price tag but lets be honest, transfer fees are all about how much somebody is willing to pay for a player. the other thing is that he isn’t necessarily the player that will drag the rest of the team on, he will just play. For instance, against Spuds, would the narrative of his impact have changed if Ramsey puts his foot through the ball after Ozil picked him out perfectly in acres of space, absolutely, or if Welbeck finishes the move, absolutely the narrative changes. I think people want him to be something he simply isn’t, he isn’t the midfield general that dictates the tempo of a match like Veratti, Xavi, Silva, Motta, or even Gilberto, Viera or that ilk; he is more Inesta, Bergkamp, players that play higher up the pitch and dictate in the final third.

    For me at least, the current problem is that the supply line in midfield isn’t working. Xhaka has a really good range of passing but his is more about getting it to the flanks or balls over the top. Arsene continuing to trot out Le Coq in that link role is becoming more and more laughable and Ramsey simply wants to make runs and score goals. The supply line isn’t just an Ozil problem though, it affects our whole attack.

  22. Dalm your 11.34 really sums things up well…..especially, “Far harder to pick out any silver lining or performances that made me sit up and think wow…”
    Given we are supposed to be football artists, this is the most damning bit. We do not even entertain anymore, we do not play attractive football. We are the bland blancmanges, without identity.
    I wouldn’t care if we lost 4-3 to Tottenham or 5-3 to Bayern, it’s the way we play and the manner of our defeats that leaves such a bad taste in the mouth…..we’ve been sold a total pup about this philosophy! It’s sport, you play to win. The rest comes afterwards.

  23. Raven,

    I used to work for a Pittsburgh based company around the turn of the millennium, spent a week or so there every summer so I’ve followed the Steelers since then. Given that you’re a Steelers fan isn’t ‘Raven’ an unusual choice of blog name? 😲

  24. I think the problems at the club are enormous and from the outside there appears almost a fear of dealing with them.

    In any other major European football club of our size Wenger would have to go however we are now 6 games from the end of the season with no clear apparent plan for the future other than him staying. Were such a plan in existence then surely it would be known to the media by now. Stories of links to Allegri did the rounds for a while and are now redundant. Stories of backroom changes involving the return of ex-playing heroes, nice on the surface but will it really change anything.

    Wenger reinvents himself with his defensive back 3. Bollocks, Wenger gave it a go almost as a last means attempt to save his skin as he was running out of ideas. Managers don’t so dramatically change their beliefs after so long in the game. We stumble past the mighty Boro and get a fortunate deflection of Robert Huth, sandwiched in between a Wembley victory where in hindsight City should have put us away.

    Meanwhile players are sinking, good players have become poor players, others even appear to the viewing eye to have thrown in the towel – this would be the only explanation I could give for the performances of Olivier Giroud in recent weeks, or even Mezut Ozil.

    Players who do well are dropped (Holding), others come in from the cold (Gibbs).

    So fast forward 4 weeks to the season end. 4 weeks!!!

    Ozil and Sanchez will be sold, forget this nonsense from Wenger about keeping them to their contracts. We won’t pay them what they want, they may not actually want to stay, so gone.

    Chamberlain?? A move may be best for him, for his career, find a manager willing to put faith in him and play him week in week out instead of one minute being a wide forward, then a reinvented centre midfielder, next thing a wing back. From his own professional perspective a move is best.

    Wilshere?? An odd one of course given his injuries but again why sign just to have a 20-30m price tag put on his head when he invariably cannot break into our first team.

    One or two others, Elneny and Perez for example, must wonder why on earth they were signed and perhaps start to think of greener pastures.

    There is a few other fringe players who will be gone, in some cases no harm. Chambers, Debuchy, Sanogo, Campbell – all still club employees.

    Who is to sort all this out?? Wenger?

  25. andy1886,

    Its a nick I have had since my early schooldays. So its a nick I had well before Ravens was even formed. In fact I am sure they stole it from me…yes I am that great 😀

  26. Raven,

    That is what I was thinking to, well outside of Jack. I think there will be an exodus because I’m not sure Aresnal under Arsene are quite ready to spend what is necessary to buy the required players. Why have we chased CF’s for the last 3 summers yet not actually bought one and the signing of Perez, who I think would have been fantastic on the LW hasn’t been used but when he has regardless of who he played against played well.

    Frustrating times at Arsenal for sure.

  27. Raven,

    Didn’t know you were a Steelers fan, are you a Penguins fan as well? If so, surely you are concerned with Crosby like I am but think that we still have more than enough to beat the Caps.

  28. Great post Yogi

    I have spent a lot of keystrokes regarding Ozil in the last 1 1/2 years but I think Lee Dixon summed it up when he was doing the TV commentary during the Spurs game. Ozil is very talented and has the ability to do things that can potentially win a game. However, he brings nothing else to the table and the rest of the team has to carry him and he is a liability when he is not doing those magical things that win games. Unfortunately for the last 16 months he has not been doing those things he needs to do in order to make himself an asset. He is in his late 20’s and he is just not the same player he was 5 years ago. Players begin to fade at different rates. He has been playing at the top level since his late teens and I suspect all of those games have taken a physical and mental toll. His stats with Germany in the big tournaments have also declined in recent years. It’s possible a change of scenery might help but I am not sure how much mental and physical energy he has left in the tank. It would be a huge mistake to give him a big money long term contract. IMO

  29. Raven,

    Ha, you should have taken out a copyright on it before those johnny-come lately’s stole it from you 😡

  30. C,

    I am not full pittsburgh in my fandom. Hockey is NJD, but I did enjoy watching the Mario lemieux, Ron Francis and Jaromir Jagr lead Penguins teams. yes I have read about the Cross checking he took from Niskanen. Smells alot like a payed job. With a healthy Crosby Caps dont stand a chance. Dont they have a Bob Probert/ Marty mcsorley type player to protect those skill players?

    If the info in that link is true then its pretty damning towards AW and all his talk about a restructure at the club. But if its enough to force him out then I am all for hiring a DoF.

    I think we see an exodus of players this summer, cause I think the owner wants to trim the wages and other costs to fit with non CL football. The other reason is that some of them simply wont sign a new contract and that forces the hand of Arsenal to sell..again Kroenke probably want to recouperate some of the money he paid for them when they were signed

  31. It’s such a fucking mess.

    It’s not that Wenger does not care. He is just unable to affect any change.

    I am currently thinking about Liverpool and how collectively the Supoorters there have collectively made their feelings known. Whether it be in support of The Dockers, The Hillsboro tragedy or against The Sun, Newspaper. If my fading memory is correct there were protests against Fenway Sports.

    If 5000-7000 turned up at Highbury giving it lots and then there was a Walkout – boycott after 70 mins ( when AW) traditionally makes a sub it would cause a ripple or two on t’other side of Atlantic.

  32. Raven,

    Ahh, nothing wrong with the NJD, I actually was a massive fan of Brodeur and that Devils team he led for all those years, was always a pain in my ass. We actually do have players that protect our skill players and I fully expect one of them to have a go at some of the Caps in Game 4.

    I agree, that article is damning if true and I do think that an exodus is going to happen or at least you will hear about quite a few of the players that will want out if Arsene stays especially if new recruits of top quality aren’t brought in and done so early in the window to show some intent. I too think that some won’t sign but then you have those that already have which leads me to think that the likes of Giroud is partly a reason why we won’t see a new striker come in.

  33. C there is zero chance of Ozil and Sanchez seeing out there contracts if a new deal is not agreed the club will sell them, no doubt about it, Regarding your link story, if true maybe this will encourage Arsene to walk,

  34. I know that most of what we read in the papers about Arsenal transfer targets is total bull shit, but the only player consistently linked to Arsenal is the Southampton central defender Van Dijk. With five competent defenders in Merts, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding and Chambers on the books why do we need another when our most urgent need is a central striker.

    Wenger mentions Mbappe, and then says he expects to be priced out of a move for the player. How can that be allowed to happen? If he wants the player and believes he is worth chasing then surely he is worth whatever the price. A typical Wenger headline grabbing sound bite.

  35. buckagh,

    I could see Ozil seeing out his contract and leaving on a free but Sanchez I could most certainly see being sold which would set Arsenal back.

  36. But but but Pires said we were going to sign him ?!! And now his Dad has mentioned umpteen clubs he follows, funnily enough none of which were Arsenal. Seems he likes an old lady !
    What was Pires thinking ?
    What was Gazidis thinking when he said we could compete with clubs like Bayern ? Presumably an Mbappe, for example.
    What is Wenger thinking ?
    Why do we now not know the answer, “very soon” he said ?
    So many questions, no wonder the players are all over the shop, uncertainty, no unity, no clear direction, no apparent ambition……where do i sign said mbappe?

  37. Orson Kaert,

    I think that the ‘price’ is a red herring anyway. While price may be one issue I believe that Wenger knows damn well that given the options that he is likely to have Mbappe would not chose Arsenal over any of them even if we agree a fee with Monaco. So the fee issue is used to simply avoid the fact that he is unable to attract top players to the club because winning trophies is their real motivation and he cannot deliver that.

  38. We have spent plenty of money in this decade but the way Arsene has built the squad just has not worked. The biggest single oversite is not finding a CF. In this decade he has brought in Chamakh, Gervinho, Podolski, Giroud, Sanogo, Welbeck and Perez. How can we compete for a title when those are the player we have to count on to score our goals? Arsene actually over achieved when he did not have as much money to spend but for some reason he lost his way when our finances improved around the beginning of this decade. The strategy has been disjointed and hit and miss. Even Arsene only has 24 hours in a day and he has to sleep for 6-7 of those. The field manager should be spending his time managing what happens on the pitch. It’s seems unreasonable that anyone could do a good job of being the field manager and a director of football all by himself but that is what Arsene wants. 8-9 years of stagnation is all the evidence needed to prove that he tried to bite off more then he could chew.

  39. Ras,

    Wenger’s skin is as thick as a Rhino. Fans walking out early won’t make a blind bit of difference to him. If he can’t now see the problems will only be resolved by his walking away he never will.

  40. I’ve read stories from a number of sources over the years that certain players have been bought without Wenger’s blessing. This may explain the eccentric behaviour in dropping players or not even playing them when it’s clear they are needed. There are a number of players that come to mind:

    Arshavin
    Podolski
    Campbell
    Elneny
    Welbeck
    Perez

  41. Pete

    All of those players were post-Dein. I do not for one minute believe they were bought without his say-so. If they haven’t got the bollocks to sack him, they haven’t the bollocks to sign players without him giving the nod.

  42. I agree with Yogi. Who else would be making the decisions.

    The job of field manager and Director of football should both be full time jobs. I read the the other day that Arsene thinks we should do a better job of finding players like Kante or Mbabbe before the rest of the world learns about them. However in order to do that you need to be searching the whole world and considering dozens and dozens and dozens of players and watching hundreds and hundreds of hours of film. The process of looking for those players for the next transfer window should have started long ago. How can Arsene be doing anything like that when he has to be on the training pitch trying to fix a team that is falling apart in front of his eyes.

  43. So, what to expect?

    – we finish 6th and lose the FA cap final,
    – Gasidis promises to rebuild and introduces some cosmethic changes, like a DoF who is interviewed by Wenger,
    – Wenger signs a 2 year contract,
    – many key players leave in the summer: Sanches, Belerin, Monreal, Ox, Cazorla,
    – a few new signings arrive late in august,
    – the start of the new season is average, with a signifficant deep in the form when combined with the Europa League fixtures and injuries,
    – the press tries to get Wenger fired, but the fans, which is to say the remaining fans, are apathic,
    – the Board says any changes in the middle of the season would counterproductive,
    – Wenger says to judge him in may,
    – we are knocked out in the quaters of the Europa League by Sevilia, and finish 6th in tbe EPL,
    -in may Wenger says he never walked away from a contract.

  44. A player like Xhaka looks really great on a U-tube compilation of some of his eye catching long passes but that does not tell the real story. On the other hand a player like Kante does not stand out as much because what he does is not a individually eye catching. You have to watch how he controls the midfield and disrupts the other team and you can’t really know that unless you watch him play for several games. We spent more money and bought Xhaka about a month before Chelsea bought Kante so the evidence would argue that Xhaka was higher on the priority list for Arsene then Kante which was clearly an error in judgement. I think Arsene wanted someone he thought would be a another technically skilled playmaker.

    The other problem is that if you had watched Le Coq play in his break out year you would have thought he would be another Kante. Unfortunately, Le Coq has never been able to replicate that form. You can’t make accurate decisions based on a single 3 month adrenaline fueled run of form from a young player. Arsenal are probably in the triple digits for young players that we have become excited about only to realize they were not as good as we thought. However, once those players demonstrate that they can replicate their good form the whole world learns about them and they are no longer under the radar.

  45. Yogi

    Another great picture for your post. Beauty and the Beast is probably my favorite non-Pixar Disney movie.

  46. Bill,

    A Club of Arsenal’s stature should be doing a lot better in its search for new players. However we are straddled with Messr Best who is known throughout the Footballing fraternity as not being very competent. He has missed flights and managed to cock up possible signings for Arsenal.

  47. Ras

    One of the points of all this is to suggest just how difficult it is to find great players before they become known to the rest of the world. C and I have been debating this for years but it’s almost impossible to accurately evaluate U21 players. Yaya Sanogo, Benin Afobe and Chuba Akpom were all incredibly prolific strikers on their U21 teams. On the other hand I just heard on the radio that Harry Kane was once on Arsenal’s books as a youth player but clearly no one thought much of him

  48. Talking Wonga for Arsene’s war chest I’m going to take a punt ;

    Sanchez – £30M
    Ozil – £20M
    Wilshere – £15M
    The Ox – £25M
    Ospina – £7M
    Chesney – £10M
    Gibbs – £8M
    Perez – £10M
    Debuchy – £2M
    Campbell – £4M
    BFG – free
    Sanogo – £5M (paid to the buying club)

    So , that’s around £130M for Arsene to splash out with …a very scary thought.

  49. Paulie Walnuts,

    That may get you three good players. A CF and two midfielders. How about 15m more for Walcott and 20M for Giroud? We could buy a proper wide forward maybe with that.

  50. Paulie Walnuts,

    Fair summary, I think we’ll get more for Alexis with multiple interested parties, Ozil? may stay, Wilshere I expect to get a new contract. Perez might stay – as a replacement for Alexis (cheap in house solution), Debuchy on a free and Wenger to claim Sanogo has been unlucky with injuries and gets a new contract and a pay rise 😨. You know it’s gonna happen 😜

    Oh, and it’s going to be three years not two. My prediction.

  51. Paulie @ 7:40

    Last season we spent $86M without selling anyone so you can add at least $70M to that number which gives us closer to $200M.

  52. Bill,

    As long as AW isn’t spending it we could get 5-6 strong players around which to rebuild the team. Much needed.

  53. This CL semi-final has been pretty boring so far. Atleti can’t get anything created for Griezmann.

  54. Obviously we are not going to buy Ronaldo but you need top quality goal scorers on your team if you are going to challenge for league titles and go deep in the CL. All of the technical skill, creativity, midfield dominance and ball possession comes to nothing if you don’t have players who finish the moves and score goals.

  55. Some pretty telling stats from the Online Gooner:

    * In the last 24 away games against current top 6 rivals, his record is W 0 D 7 L 17 – 7 points from 72.
    * This season, in away games vs the other sides in the current top 10, his record is W 0 D 2 L 6 – 2 points from 24.

    No sane person would give this man a new contract,

  56. looking at the champions league semi final…. Arsenal can never win the champions league in the next 20 years…. just imagine Cristiano Ronaldo… compared to our own star striker Giroud…. Arsenal is a joke…. though I blame the fans buying season tickets… you whites are really rich and privileged…. am a Nigerian, there is no money for such luxury… can’t even find cash to further my education

  57. Limestonegunner,

    I was actually likely to get RSI from typing all the players we could / should flog so Walcott & Giroud were omitted from my list.

    Maybe I should have gone for a who should stay list , as it would be much shorter.

  58. I think it bears underlining we spent 113 million Euro in the transfer market and only made 10.3 million Euro in sales, in spite of having several players we could have moved on easily (such as Campbell, even though I believe he should be in the squad).

    Outside of the two Manchester compulsive spenders, Liverpool are net positive and Spurs and Chelsea spent a fraction of what Arsenal did. They spent, but then moved players on, often profitably.

    Out transfer policy is yet another opaque mess. I do not believe Wenger himself ‘scouts’ but obviously signs off /approves players.

    From that point things deteriorate further. High value players have entered the squad this season and lost their way from a lack of direction (Mustafi and Xhaka), some are picked or dropped on a whim no matter their form (Holding, Elneny) or marginalized in a petty, spiteful manner (Perez).

    Looking back over our key spends in recent years, Ozil is a shadow of the player he was and Sanchez is likely a ‘want-away’ – now equal parts productive and wasteful.

    This is where I shudder regarding a potentially extended future under Wenger.

    Anyone is welcome to pretend Wenger has something inspired left in his managerial tank (though I think it borders on the perverse at this point) but this season has proved identifying, spending and placing new players into the squad is now an utterly redundant exercise.

    If Wenger could not improve the team with this last clutch of recruits, why would he be sanctioned to spend further?

    I have asked this before and I will ask it again. If the board/owner holds faith in Wenger and is offering an extension then logically, they believe he made correct moves in the market this year and the new players were/are good.

    Therefore, why not drastically limit spending and have Wenger prove the players were worth the 100 million spent.

    Color me dumb-ass, but I can’t imagine the conversation between Wenger, Gazidis and Board.

    We spent 100 million Euros then dropped points and three places in the table.

    Now let’s discuss the summer’s transfer budget and targets?

  59. Another hat-trick by Ronaldo, go on Arsene put a £100 million bid in for him. You know it makes sense!

  60. Of course even if Real accepted such a bid, there’s no way Ronaldo would sign for Arsenal even with the massive draw of Europa League football next season.

    But at least Wenger could say he tried. A bit more positive spin.

  61. andy1886,

    Yeah, I heard those stats discussed recently and they are shocking – but so illuminating.

    Yet you still have the likes of Gary Neville stating if we pull off the FA Cup, people should regard this season for Arsenal as a success.

    I think we live in an age where true objectivity and accountablity have left the building.

  62. 1) Kroenke will not leave till he has to put his hand in his pocket to support the club financially, which may ironically happen with next seasons revenue losses.
    2) Wenger will have to be fired but would never resign. The board however are unlikely to fire him as there is no plan B.
    3) we need a radical overhaul of the squad, but which players who could improve us would sign given the current structure and shenanigans going on now.
    4) we need to be ruthless with players who are more often injured than fit and we need the wage structure to be reexamined. That might focus the players’ performances.
    5) barring a miracle it is hard to imagine CL football for the next few years with this lot in charge
    6) personally I believe relegation is more likely than ECL over the next 5 years if we keep on like this.
    7) I cannot believe Dein thought Kroenke was what Arsenal needed.
    We have gone backwards with Stan whilst all of our rivals have improved incrementally . Very sad to see.

  63. Perez was supposed to be out for three weeks. He’s now been out for six. Is there something we’re not being told?

  64. freddo,

    Yes, he works and presses too hard for Arsene’s liking and he also is what we need on the LW that would move Sanchez to CF and we all know that Giroud must not only be in the team but start even when he is playing like shit so Perez stays out of the match day squad.

  65. C

    To be fair to Arsene he has been trying everything he could think of to try and get the team out of a This funk. He tried multiple combinations of players, different formations. He has even gone away from his ball possession ethos to some degree. He has rotated players in and out of the line ups more then i can remember and he has dropped many of his old favorites (Giroud, Ramsey, Wilshere ,Ox down the pecking order and either sent them on loan or significtly decreased their minutes.

    I think you are probably not being realistic if you think Perez would be a difference maker and be immune to whatever mental demons have affected the squad this year.

  66. freddo,

    I believe on the weekend Wenger confirmed Perez was now fit…. but patently remains iced out.

    You might as well ask what has been going on with Elneny. He is evidently now on the shit list also.

  67. This is professional football and not my grandsons U10 league where everyone is supposed to get a chance to play in every game. There is no rule that a manager has to make sure that every player on his 25 man squad gets to play a lot.

    Perez and Elneny are both somewhere below #20 on the squad depth chart so they are not going to play much outside of the low leverage early round cup games. We went thru this with Joel Campbell last year. Do you really think perez or Elneny are going to be game changing impact players?

  68. No manager runs out player #22 on his squad in high leverage games unless he is forced by injury. Conte probably had not gone below #15 or 16 all season

  69. Bill,

    But thats not entirely true. As you stated yourself he has tried almost every possible lineup he could think of, but he have never given one specific lineup time to gel into a solid unit. Its been going on from game to game and I bet if you look at the games since xmas there isnt 2 consequtive games that has had the same lineup. If you can finds it, it has happened once or twice, but thats it.
    Just goes to show he doesnt have an answer, but its his own doing cause he have never bothered to drill a base structure to play from. I know I have siad this before, but its obvious there isnt a defensive structure, a attacking structure or a full team structure. Its like the funkis artists of the 1950ies and 60ies; just putting up different pieces and call it a work of art while its really not remotely so.

  70. Bill,

    It seriously baffles me, your compulsion to reduce squad players.

    I’ve saved this for you specifically- its Pochettino from two weeks ago. I was not going to post it but you come again with squad ranking and diminishing.

    After Spurs 4-0 victory against Bournemouth, Pochettino was asked about the return of Kane in that game. He simply noted it was great to have Kane back, then pivoted instantly to these comments…

    …”but for me it means a lot the team, the squad, we care a lot. 24, 25 players – they need to feel they are a very important part of the team. Everyone will have the possibility to play and today was another example.

    Football is a qualitative matter, it’s not about names, in eight or nine months, in the whole of the season they are all at different times very, very important.

    Football today is going in a completely different direction… today if you show a strong mentality in 24, 25 players but you are not capable to rotate to give opportunity to all, and all feel an important part of the project, it’s so difficult to win titles”.

    Perfect. He, for one (or Conte) does not appear to be branding players as # 22.

  71. Wenger looks to me like a man with a jigsaw puzzle, he has all the pieces but has lost the picture.

    He spends his time trying to match the pieces up, but has no idea where they fit or what the completed puzzle should look like.

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