Say it for long enough and you might start believing it. Former Spurs owner and Chairman Alan Sugar most definitely believes it. Put a microphone in front of him a couple of days before the North London derby, and you know he can’t help himself. “The Arsenal players are useless and they know it”, he pronounces. You’re waiting for him to fire Wenger and the entire team before you remember he’s not on The Apprentice.
A savvy businessman for sure, his sale of the Alan Michael Sugar Trading Company (AMSTRAD) to Sky to allow them to flood the set-top box market a stroke of genius. Does that allow him the right to throw punches at Arsenal? The judgement is probably “Who cares”; everyone else does anyway.
As far as I can recall, St. Totteringham’s Day eluded us only last season. They’re loving it though at the swamp. They don’t care, they believe they’ve got our number. Ask their gardener or tea lady, and you can bet your bottom dollar they have a copy of the same hymn sheet in their pocket.
Coffee Anyone? It Smells Like It Can Wake You Up
Arsène doesn’t need to do a team talk for tomorrow. All he has to do is hang Alan Sugar’s words in the dressing room and point at it. If that isn’t motivation enough, I don’t know what is. If you believe Mauricio Pochettino, we’re playing the best team in the world tomorrow. Personally, I think Mauricio drank quite a bit of his own Kool-aid after Spurs ‘aggregate win’ over Real Madrid. It would be missing the point though if we batted away the mind games and pretended they didn’t get to our players. Our players are on Twitter, they read the papers and blogs, they watch sports news and listen to radio.
When 11 football writers from a newspaper give their view of how many Arsenal players would get into the Spurs side, its hard to ignore. Only Sanchez gets into 10 out of the 11 fantasy combined XI, Bellerin into 7 of them, and Koscielny into 2. There’s no sugar-coating how useless the media believe Arsenal is. I would suggest that the match report and the “Arsenal are in crisis narrative” have already been written. Chefs prepare their bits and pieces well in advance of the meal hitting the stove, journalists pre-empt what to write.
Arsenal fans of course have their own view of the quality of the team, albeit laced with a romanticized loyalty to the club they love. As for Ivan Gazidis and the board, I’m reminded of Comical Ali, Iraq’s Minister of Information during the 2nd Gulf War. Comical Ali stood in front of the world’s cameras promising everyone that Baghdad was safe and the coalition forces would never get to it. Only in the background, a tomahawk cruise missile was unleashing fire and brimstone and it was impossible for the cameras to miss.
Crisis? What Crisis?
It’s said that the worst thing you can do is let a good crisis go to waste. For Arsenal to stop sleep walking into the long grass of mid-table mediocrity, the board first has to accept that we have reached the point of diminishing returns with Wenger and possibly with Stan Kroenke.
Like many fans, I will bleed Arsenal on match day and unequivocally support the team on the pitch to do what they have to do to get a win. But in the cold light of day, it doesn’t help anyone to pretend that we’re not heading for the long grass. The light at the end of the tunnel is more likely an on-coming train.
There’s a lot of management speak about discussing issues and agreeing things in the summer. You don’t have to be a genius though, to figure out that before and after the World Cup, the circus of Arsenal’s transfer window will be in town. That’s before we even deal with the question of whether Wenger’s contract will be renewed or whether succession planning will start.
When you’re incapable of seeing the wood from the trees as the board has shown us they are, then something has to give. Arsenal is walking into a cluster foxtrot, if I can borrow from American military parlance. The dilemma for most fans is what to do about it. Is Alisher Usmanov the saving grace? Is Aliko Dangote, a life-long Arsenal fan who has expressed interest in buying the club the answer? Can fan ownership provide a different direction? Either way, something has to give.
Did Someone Mention Mike Dean?
For the rest of the season at least, the players have a job to do to try and arrest the rot. There’s the small matter of the North London derby tomorrow, too early for my liking. I get nervous when we have early kick-offs, not least because in recent years, some of our players have shown that they’re still asleep that early in the day. It doesn’t help that it’s the first game after an international break following a painful defeat at City.
Like YW, I’m not terribly excited about the thought of Mike Dean officiating, but that’s besides the point. We still must turn up for the game. I still shake my head at the thought of Dean celebrating a Tottenham goal against us a few years ago. He would argue that he was jumping up to stretch, but what a time for a referee to pick for a stretch and jump. The reality is, Dean won’t win, lose or draw us the game. The players must stand up and be counted.
I want them totally pissed about being called useless. I want them angry. The players need to get on that pitch and at the minimum, get us back our bragging rights. We have a wild card in Alexandre Lacazette. Hugo Lloris may know him well, but Tottenham defenders haven’t played against him. The thing is though, you know Wenger will dumbfound all of us with his team selection, right?
Have a great day good people. Meanwhile, check out the new playlist on Dad’s Jukebox and the return of the compilation album.