When the Players No Longer Trust the Manager, Only He Loses

Yesterday was the sixteenth anniversary of Dennis Bergkamp’s goal at Newcastle. You don’t need pictures to already see the glorious pirouette in your mind. The unending spiral which snares Arsenal cruelly exposed in these moments.

Comparing Arsenal of then with now is nothing but an exercise in self-flagellation. It causes you pain and achieves nothing. Wounds never heal; a constant flow of salt intensifies the self-inflicted anguish.

The wreckage of the club is laid bare in this morning’s back pages. While the broadsheets are not beyond some creative storytelling, it’s pretty obvious that the tales told to the likes of David Hytner are true. Painfully so, for they chime with many of the questions we’ve been asking.

Arsène and his coaches don’t come out of it well, but then neither do the players. It’s a story of who loses more and the tide is turning against Arsène to the extent that another Round of Sixteen exit is likely to see an announcement of his departure this summer at the very least. Ivan’s 2011 words haunt the Frenchman at every turn,

“Ultimately Arsene is ultimately accountable to the fans — they ultimately make judgment. If you are seeing the relationship between the fans and the manager break down over time that is unsustainable”

Not only the fans but the players. Forty minutes the dressing room door remained closed on Thursday night following the final whistle. During that time, Wengertold the players they were playing for their futures. The summer is to see a big clearout, he told them, and many wouldn’t be here any longer. Himself included is the unspoken part of that conversation.

This followed a team meeting on Tuesday. Players holding team meetings without managers or coaches is nothing unusual. We hear of other clubs doing the same, of previous iterations of the Arsenal squad doing so as well. An honest assessment of the state of play is good and the body language of the players on Sunday and Thursday suggested that it was a good idea.

We’ll Bring the House Down

The leaked conversation doesn’t paint anyone in a good light. It’s pretty obvious the relationship between players and manager/coaches is broken; “We are a big club,” one player is reported to have said, “but we need more help from the coaches.”

Crumbling psyches crying for help met with the answer which underlines that when Wenger goes, without exception the whole of the first team coaching staff follows him out of the door. “It’s not going to happen,” came a voice. “We need to find the answers ourselves.”

The fabled football status of a manager losing the dressing room. Not a situation foreseen at Arsenal; the squad adore the manager so the received wisdom declared. That fallacy is laid bare this morning; the end of Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal world is nigh.

Despite this, two away wins and the 2018 which leaves us dumbstruck, will be forgotten by many. As celebratory notes of the ‘fightback’ fill the air, we’re left wondering if there are two Bloomingdales in this town.

It’s time for a revolution at the club. No more hiding from the board; Josh Kroenke, in favour of change last time round, carries the weight of powerbroker now. This might not be a good thing; his track record with the USA franchises is mediocre at best.

An energetic coach, one to reinvigorate the squad and the club. Apathy holds sway at the court of King Arsène and there’s a feeling that he is Canute now; the tide of change is one that he cannot hold back, no matter how hard he tries.

My Friend Stan

Change will be involuntary. Wenger made it clear he honours his contracts, conveniently forgetting previous attempts at walking away. Arsenal doesn’t owe Arsène Wenger a living.

The lack of comparable opportunities at elite clubs drives his refusal to countenance an early departure Bayern, PSG, Real all want success in Europe and Wenger has no track record to substantiate any claim in this arena. He’ll get you into the Champions League but never win it. The same goes for the Europa League.

International opportunities will arise this summer, they always do after a World Cup. In his dotage, this suits Wenger. The day-to-day strain is gone and for many countries, qualification for tournaments is success. A template for Arsène if ever there was one.

But it is the here and now which matters. If the manager and coaches respond correctly, we’ll see a vast improvement on the pitch. Problematically, I don’t believe they know how to respond. Genuinely, how can they start coaching defensive tactics now? That begs even more questions, deeper scrutiny. While going back to basics is often the answer, why is it taking a team begging for help and dismissing those in charge to change?

This isn’t the nadir; we will go lower.

Which is where the board and owner step in. Arsenal Football Club sold us a move to the Emirates as ambitious. Now it is contemptuous of supporters in allowing this situation to drag out through the back pages. It is obvious that the players are no longer playing for the manager.

Stan makes this call. Yes, the board and senior management recommend change but he must be sold on the replacement. That part of the equation has yet to happen.

The revolution will be televised.

’til Tomorrow.

43 thoughts on “When the Players No Longer Trust the Manager, Only He Loses

  1. Morning YW – I thought that last post had a bit of a ‘Matt’ fell about it!

    Surely even Stan can see it’s over now? As Junior is in town maybe he can deliver the bad news to Arsene.

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bad news is left to Junior to deliver. Ivan in the room might be too provocative but can’t see Stan doing the dirty work.

  3. YW,

    Yup, Ivan will be sitting in the background nodding like one of those toy dogs you used to see in Ford Escorts.

    Arsene is no Canute though, contrary to popular belief he was trying to demonstrate to his courtiers that he wasn’t omnipotent, that was only true of God. That Arsene would ever be so humble.

  4. Morning YW excellent post. Yes the tide is high, no more shall the supporters of Arsenal continue to weep by the Rivers of Babylon.

    Yes I think young Josh is going to have to deliver the final coup de grace .

  5. Morning
    Yogi, perhaps you decorate the blog with bunting when he has gone, and it can’t come soon enough. Ok we might go backwards before we go forward, but so what, we can hardly get worse as it stands….or can we?

  6. The article is incorrect (or should be) that the other coaches would leave too, having not performed. Wenger does not allow them to do their job. He still takes the same old, same old training sessions (aged 68) and does not allow Steve Bould (for example) to be other than a YES MAN. Read Alan smith on that situation – only recently. AND read the following from 5 years ago !!

    ” Arsenal’s faltering season is being hampered by growing tensions between manager Arsene Wenger and his assistant Steve Bould.

    Sources claim Bould, who replaced the retired Pat Rice as No 2, has become increasingly marginalised at the club’s London Colney HQ in recent weeks.

    It is believed the title-winning defender, whose salary of £1.5million is half that earned by the England manager Roy Hodgson, has grown frustrated at his lack of input into first-team matters.

    Certain players are also understood to want more defensive-based training sessions on a regular basis.

    Distance between Wenger and Bould, a former Arsenal defender, is so big that, when the boss missed training the day before Arsenal were beaten 2-0 at home by Swansea, fitness coach Tony Colbert took the session.

    ‘Arsene Wenger, because he has got a massive ego, because he’s a dictator when it comes to Arsenal Football Club, he’s not allowing Steve Bould to do any work,’

    ‘He’s got a reputation for developing players. Maybe he did that six, seven years ago. He’s actually putting players backwards now.

    ‘I’ve seen Gervinho play for the Ivory Coast before he came to Arsenal, he was a good player. I saw [Andrey] Arshavin play for Russia and Zenit St Petersburg, he was a good player. I’ve seen [Aaron] Ramsey play for the Welsh Under-21s, he’s a good player.

    ‘Arsene Wenger is not doing enough on the training field. He’s not coaching the players, they have got no game strategy and, because he won’t let anyone else do it, Arsenal are going backwards and some of their players are going backwards.

    ‘Sir Alex Ferguson is not a coach. He doesn’t know how to put on a session, so people tell me. But what he does know is about the game, and he realises that, to get the best out of his players, he has to get the best coaches.

    ‘That’s why he’s had some Dutch coaches underneath him.

    ‘He’s made sure his number two is not just a yes man, which Arsene Wenger likes to appoint. He’s appointing people that are going to be tactically superior, who are going to take all his players out on the training field and work hard tactically and technically with the players.”
    Date December 2012

  7. Failure to qualify for the CL for 2 consecutive seasons is going to be 80 million of lost revenue.

    Theres a first time for everything and I don’t envisage Arsène being allowed to see out his contract . He’s gone at the end of the season whether he likes it or not.

    Jardim of Monaco is the Man. A Top Coach he is. There are a number of German candidates. The Napoli Manager would be a left field candidate. He’s very outspoken on a number of issues homophobia being one. So he might ruffle a few feathers. Football wise is up there.

    Anything other than convincing performances and wins in the next 2 games, sees the the erection of the Gallows upon which Arsène is to be beheaded commenced in earnest. Ivan ‘ Robspere ‘The Terrible will not want to be seen with blood on his hangs

  8. Wenger needs to go, no doubt about that, but it’s a shame it has come to this.

    A quick look at Wenger’s Wikipedia page and you can see that he has nothing beyond football. His wife left him in 2015 and his daughter has gone now too. The affair he had a few years ago with a French lady probably didn’t help to endear him to his Swedish wife. Ferguson at least had a life beyond football, wife, grandchildren, horses, a seat at Old Trafford and so on.

    What will Wenger do when the door at Arsenal slams shut? His standing is so low in the football world now who would take him on? Maybe a French speaking African nation after the World Cup? He surely must be looking at his own options.

    And I really like Gil Scott-Heron too. Was just listening to ‘the revolution will not be televised’ the other day’ and the great ‘The Bottle’ from the album Pieces of a Man’ . Very apt for Wenger’s predicament.

  9. James

    We all make our beds. His life is what he has made it. I have no sympathy for him. An intelligent man, and he clearly is, does not allow his life to become such a mess.

    He has no external factors to blame. He is not ill. He is not poor. No, he has built his castle on a hill and has chosen to live in splendid isolation.

    I might pity him but I don’t feel sorry for him.

  10. consolsbob,

    True…I have to admit I don’t really feel sorry for him. He for sure is the architect of his own situation. His stubborn ego-driven personality has blocked the best interests of the club and in recent years I feel he has put is own needs ahead of the club.

  11. Difficult to know how the club will impart the news that he is surplus to requirements. Maybe a ‘Dear John’ letter first? His ego is so huge that sitting opposite him and telling him might be too hard.

  12. Not to get ahead of ourselves. We have been sure that he had to go before.

    Would any of us be surprised to see him here still next year?

  13. consolsbob,

    Unfortunately I suspect you might be raising the most likely outcome.

    Boards seldom judge situations in the same way workers or customers do.

    A board’s objectives (as I’m fairly sure you know yourself), are from a completely different perspective, so what we as fans see as obvious, are not seen in the same light by the board.

  14. Bring back the deadwood. All is forgiven. Eboue, denilson, bendtner, vela, senderos, djourou,…come back!

  15. Good evening all it’s 7pm here, Mysore, and after a swim and a couple of cooling beers I’m completely relaxed as I feel sure Wenger will be gone in the summer if not before.

    There would be no point in cutting off the head and leaving the corpse of the coaching staff behind.

    So the dressing room door remained closed after the latest debacle, if that’s the case how does anyone know what was said in the room?

    Wenger is teetering on the edge of the abyss, one more loss, in the league plus a defeat by AC Milan, could see the ground cut from under his feet and plunge him into eternity.

  16. > Mysore

    That’s rather more information that we needed. Suggest you get some cream to make yourself feel better.

    People have been talking out of school. Players’ agent(s) briefed Hynter – Koscielny is the one who was believed to have welled up with tears while Cech’s Mr20% is being blamed for the leak.

    As for the City match, it’s believed Arsene ‘supporters’ within Arsenal itself briefed the Times over what was said in the dressing room.

  17. consolsbob,

    No I wouldn’t be surprised, I’d be dumbfounded, this board is absolutely irrelevant in this decision, it is down to the Kronke clan, and even if Stan can’t bring himself to replace the manager I feel confident that Junior can and will do the right thing by the club, if not for football reasons, but on business ones alone, if not then we are in for another year at least of talking the same bollocks that we have been talking about for years now,

  18. Some, though only a minority, on here actually believe Wenger will still be our manager next season. In life there are always those who say that just because something has constantly happened before, it will go on happening. I mean , of course, Wenger still being employed. On that level of thinking we would never have invented the wheel. There would have been no progress in anything! In short that is crazy thinking, IF you can even call it thinking. It is entirely obvious that billionaires are more financially astute than we “prolls”. And when their golden goose is threatened as Arsenal FC’s future financial value is, then billionaires take action. Need I point out to these doubters that APATHY, as amply demonstrated on Thursday, is a killer to big clubs. When half the fans who have already paid(season tickets, mostly) choose to turn their backs on the club they love, the club is close to being in mortal danger of its life at top level. It is as serious as that and Kreonke is astute enough to know that. Look at Leeds, Villa, Forest, Derby, even Wolves, who only now look like finally returning to top level. When I started watching football , Wolves won the title and fa cup and were a huge club. Do not think it can’t happen to us. Even Man Utd were relegated around 1980 (ish). A blind person can see the inexorable drift away from the top strata and though it should have happened a full decade ago , IMO, (and I have been urging his sacking on various Arsenal sites since 2007-8 season) his sacking is VERY close now. For certain. PLEASE , ANY DOUBTERS, DO ENGAGE YOUR BRAINS.

  19. Yea Jon Fox, it is more a question of people thinking how Wenger has survived so long, like a cat with nine lives. It’s because it has taken so long for it to happen, that is the reason why some people are skeptical.

    The man will not resign, mutters some inexplicable dross such as ‘he respects his contracts’; he cant inspire the team and he wont allow better coaches on board.

    In Josh we fire, so we can re-hire.

  20. jon fox,

    Thanks for patronising us. Please post again when you want to state the bleeding obvious.

    Millionaires.More finacially astute than us prols? You are very funny.

  21. swansea on fire….. 4-0….Tottenham Are very much head and shoulder above arsenal and their wage bill is half of ours with more exciting younger players

  22. Liverpool demonstrate why I don’t believe your brilliant “creative” players break down defenses. I think attacking at pace and getting the ball into the penalty area before the defense can set up and organize is the thing which breaks down the defense. Liverpool had about 80% of useless ball possession in much the same way that we struggle. However they created a turnover and about 5 seconds later after a nice pass from Ox (who seems to be getting better as a central midfielder) and it was 1-0.

  23. Having a purely creative player or even 2 in your line up can be a good thing but creativity can come from anywhere on the pitch. If you attack at pace whenever you have a chance then you create high percentage chances without having to wait for your worlds best #10 to make that final killer pass. Its exponentially simpler and most players can make that final pass when there they have time and there is open space and an open player to receive the pass. Its also much easier to finish when you get the ball in dangerous areas and have more space and time before the defense can organize.

  24. Ox made the critical pass for Liverpool’s first goal. He a poor decision on one play in the second half when he had better options but you can see him drive the team forward at pace with ball at his feet. He did that from the right wing last season and now that we have lost Sanchez and Ox we don’t have anyone who can do that for us. You don’t need to be a silky smooth technically brilliant player to be effective and create chances.

  25. So, according to the usual thinking, Burnley have now reached PL safety on 40 points.

    We have 45.

    New bar level. Never relegated under Wenger.

  26. Liverpool’s second goal is another example of how effective they are when they quickly move the ball forward. You can see how much more difficult it is for the defense to mark players, track runners and control the dangerous space in front of goal when the defenders are forced to try and defend while moving backwards towards their own goal.

  27. Barring no bad slip-ups from here on, we should make the Europa Leagues spots for next season, hopefully not the qualifying rounds, and visits to Ukraine, Slovakia and the Artic Circle. Yeah!!!! Great season!!!

  28. We have far more pure technical skill and pure creativity on our squad compared to Liverpool. However they are much better at creating percentage chances for their goal scorers. I have no way to prove this but Mo Salah is currently tied for the golden boot and if he played for us I bet he would be struggling just like Lacazette and he would be considered a disappointment.

  29. wow… emiliano martinez start for Getafe against real madrid… Let See how he performs… i will rather have Him instead of cech and ospina

  30. What is there to prevent Ozil or Wilshere from making it a point to push the team forward at pace? I know its not necessarily their job to drop deeper and push the team forward but shouldn’t their job be to do whatever is needed to help the team get better? They either can’t do it or they are not willing.

    I am not making excuses for Arsene and I have been in favor of the team getting a new manager since 2009 and I am 100% in favor of sacking Arsene tomorrow. However this is not rocket science tactical analysis and the players have to see the same things we do. Arsene is telling them to slow down and not making the players wear a 50 pound backpack when they go on the pitch.

  31. Arsene is not telling them to slow down. I think you know what I meant but leaving out the one word changes the meaning.

  32. Who gives a shit. Long may the misery continue. It’s our penance for supporting Arsenal.

  33. Morning

    Some thoughts from yesterday’s highlights. Bill has beaten me to it with part of it. At least I know it’s not just me then eh?

    So, The Ox is starting to look like a bit of a cheap sale to Liverpool imo. We all saw flashes of what he could do but with no consistency. He’d have a great game in six or seven. We didn’t know his best position and played him all over the pitch. As a result he was stuttering into the best years of his career, about to become another early man.

    He’s now got a stable role in a side that is handsome to watch. In return, he’s started to look consistent. I’d expect him to start to have prolonged spells of form at the peak of his powers. It’s the next step.

    £35m will seem a sad price tag when that’s happens. Sadder still is the fact we couldn’t give him the platform to be this player. How many others have there been that we’ve labelled “deadwood”?

    Whilst I would not say that Kieran Gibbs has found his level of football at West Brom (he’s better than a Championship level), I do feel that moving him on and bringing in Kolasinac made us stronger.

    With that said, Gibbs looks to be in fantastic physical form. To be visibly changed at this level of athleticism means a massive change has happened. Why?

    My point is that, for me, these are just two recent examples of players that Arsène either hasn’t been able to fulfil their youthful potential or has not had in a physical state suitable for he modern game. Both of which were two of his supposed strengths.

    If he can’t bring those qualities, I ask, what does he bring to the table?

  34. Footnote to that comment; wtaf is going on with Kolasinac?

    Made a superb start and looked to be a great signing. Now the lack of game time is starting to feel like he’s going to be one of boss faces that doesn’t fit in at Arsene’s Arsenal

    He’s one of the players that makes me think this is a good squad of players and with a few shuffles, a new broom could knock them into decent shape pretty quickly

  35. Having touched on Liverpool with my Ox comment I would add they are one of my three favourite prem teams to watch at the moment. I’d like to think they’ll be a bit closer to challenge next season but they’ve got some holes to fill. One of which being Emre Can, who I believe has signed a contract to join Juve in the summer. Highly underrated player imo that they’ll do well to seamlessly replace

  36. Damon,

    Agree with all of that Damon. Klopp is doing a good job but remember how the AKB’s hated him because he was a strong candidate to replace their messiah? When he didn’t immediately win the title they mocked him, every loss they told us how awful he was, yet how many of Arsene’s babies would get into Klopps side now? And what do the AKB’s have to say about that?

  37. andy1886,

    We missed a trick then but I’d still take Klopp now. Think he’d do okay with what we’ve got. Sadly I think he’s started a project there that is a way off being finished in his eyes

  38. andy1886,

    And we are getting a first hand view of what he might have done with our players, as he is now molding Ox and developing his potential.

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