It’s easy at this time of the season to be consumed by the ‘ifs, buts, and maybes’ of a season, of what’s gone wrong. The spin doctors tell you that it’s either the blue kit which is a jinx, casting a spell on our abysmal away form. It’s so bad that not even George Graham’s worst spell was this dire, which is saying something.
If it isn’t the blue kit, it’s the negativity surrounding the club which is casting its bad karma in the air, man, and don’t spread the bad vibes. Which is bizarre since our home form is third best in the Premier League, trailing United in second by one goal. If anywhere was going to suffer from negativity, it would be the Emirates.
Which points us in one direction. Maybe we’re just not very good. We have some good players but as a team, we’re a bit crap. None of which is earth-shattering, but at the very least it ought to stop us being mentioned in the ubiquitous ‘who Arsenal/United/Liverpool/Spurs/Chelsea must sign to be contenders’ articles. But no, not at all.
We could fill one of those articles ourselves. We need to sign a new manager, coaching staff, goalkeepers, centre backs; the list isn’t endless but then again, our pockets are far from being deep enough to sign every manager, coach or player that we need.
In short, we’ve turned into the Liverpool side from 1991 to this season. Occasional flashes of brilliance but overwhelmingly mediocre. The major difference is we’re not going to win the Champions League. Not during this manager’s reign, anyways.
His time was 2004 to 2009; that was Wenger’s golden period as far as the competition is concerned. That’s the time we genuinely were one of best eight teams in Europe.
God, You’re Square.
It’s why there’s so much nostalgia about the club. Sunday, for example, was ‘celebrated’ as the anniversary of ‘Dennis Bergkamp Day’ in 2006. We beat West Brom 3 – 1 and the great man set up the second, scoring the third with his own customary brilliance. His final goal for the club in a fitting environment. Short of being in front of the North Bank rather than the Clock End, there was nothing more to make the moment any more perfect.
But we’ve resorted to celebrating run-of-the-mill matches. That match is only memorable for being Bergkamp’s last goal, nothing more and frankly, is that something to be happy about. A tinge of sadness, appropriate for the way the performance at Newcastle unfolded.
Now, we’ve must look forward. Some believe the empty seats are finally affecting those board members who were previously loyal to Wenger with more ‘persuaded’ that this summer is the time to part company.
In the past, that’s been the cue for a cup triumph so will Wenger deliver the Europa League this season? Even if he does, someone must be in his ear to tell him to walk away on a high; third time lucky and all that. I suspect his answer would be just one more try at the Champions League.
Enos, for a man who keeps on telling us this is his investment, Arsenal is a business, is surprisingly sentimental. His departure won’t be governed by raw data, but if the board sees a tail off in renewals of the ‘corporate’ seats, particularly with a new tier being installed, then the pressure may be too much to ignore.
Yeah, Sure, OK. So Long.
What a state we find ourselves in. World Cup years are always tumultuous in terms of managerial change. The club may never get a better chance to find a top-quality replacement for Wenger. Not until 2022, at least. That may well be our best bit of transfer business this summer: a new manager.
Certainly there’s a school of thought we could achieve more with someone new at the helm. A new way of thinking, a different footballing philosophy. There’s an element of truth in that but new personnel are also needed for that to work. We saw on Sunday how fitting square pegs in round holes neuters individual performances. We also saw how shambolic some of our experienced players are; there is no one soultion to Arsenal’s woes.
The question is whether there is a will to fix them. I’m not convinced I like Enos’ answer to that question…