Scapegoats, Microscopes and Not a Lot of Football.

Scapegoat. Interesting word, supposedly originating from Leviticus. The spelling now and usage is old English, which is quite apt when you think about it in the context of the current woes of Arsenal. An olde English football club in decline. Rudderless, or run by people drinking copious quantities of Ruddles; the outcome is the same.

Steve Rowley, chief scout, finds himself under the microscope this morning with reports that he’s considering his future at the club. It’s not the first time this situation has arisen and according to reports, he feels he’s the scapegoat for our woes in the transfer market.

There have been issues with both scouting and transfer business, with Dick Law returning to the USA! USA! USA! for family reasons. Rowley is apparently next in the firing line as we go full on Billy Beane with StatDNA. There’s nothing wrong at all with using analytics; it’s how you interpret the data which is the key to the process.

Our transfer record suggests the problem isn’t with the analytics but other parts of the process are broken. However, if you want to effect change as Ivan tells us he does, heads must roll. I’m surethere’s a metric which tells us the scouting department overachieves for its budget.

The popular belief was that Arsène’s departure would lead to a steep decline unless it was handled properly by the board. We can take it as read it won’t be and the slide into obscurity we’re currently witnessing will be much steeper than thought.

George Graham’s team was declining through poor investment in the transfer market. Wenger is heading the same way albeit in a more sedate fashion. Post ’91, we finished 4th, 10th, 4th and finally 12th in the season Graham was sacked. We’re not quite that Jekyll and Hyde yet.

Eyes Down, Looking for Numbers

Wenger future is decided next summer. If the club is to be restructured and the manager’s role divested of tasks, it means Arsène giving up power long before then. Maybe forcing him just to focus on the first team is what is needed for the last hurrah!

However, the longer the situation goes without an appointment as ‘sporting director who is definitely not a director of football’, the less likely it is that the Frenchman leaves at the end of this deal; a one-year extension is coming.

Every aspect of the club is scrutinised like never before. Scouting, medical, commercial; everything is under the microscope. Manchester City’s results put pressure on the commercial department although we don’t know how much of their ‘improved’ performance is down to income from related parties.

It’s more pressure, if the club wants to compete with the likes of City on the pitch. If we’re going to do that, we need as Ivan put it, to be better at everything: scouting, medical, commercial, etc.

We also need to play our strongest side. The omission of Alexandre Lacazette was simply baffling. His goal proved he is ready for the highest level, as does his £52m price tag. Even by Arsène’s standards, it was a perverse decision which suggests he hasn’t learned from the 4 – 0 drubbing at Anfield.

That said, the point at Stamford Bridge was won without Özil, Sanchez or Lacazette in the starting line-up. But it feels like a lifetime ago with too many disappointments inbetween for it to be relevant any longer.

The North London Derby will tell us much about this Arsenal squad and the manager. It’s four years since we beat them at home in the league, an unhealthy reminder of the early 1980s when they were ascendant in the league.

It’s the Hope Which Kills Me

Which is the basics of it all: the football on the pitch. Too easily forgotten amid the headlines which scream crisis. Alexis is leaving in January, or maybe not. Özil is available for £30m or is close to signing a new deal. But only if he can have the Number 10 shirt; it’s important for his ‘brand’ y’see. Jack Wilshere, peeved at giving up the number 10 shirt, is off on loan but only after signing a new deal.

It’s all fluff. The international break is perfect for this kind of story, saved up when there are no matches of import at club level. Tonight sees the beginning of the World Cup qualifiers and good luck to Northern Ireland, Italy, Republic of Ireland and Croatia as they seek to win their way to Russia next summer.

’til Tomorrow.

78 thoughts on “Scapegoats, Microscopes and Not a Lot of Football.

  1. Good morning Yogi, oh great defender of bears. Or at least one particular Peruvian bear. Who will, incidentally, make his final literary appearance in St Paul’s Cathedral. The final book in the series written by the recently deceased author Michael Bond will be published shortly. Paddington at St Paul’s.

  2. AW is too entrenched in his habits to go for one last hurrah even of next season is to be his last. Even when we’ve been in pole position to win titles (07/08 still stands out in my memory) he takes the conservative route and will not dip his hands in his pocket to try and see us over the line. No matter where we finish he’ll convince himself that we need only minor adjustments to be champions again. And for the umpteen season in a row he’ll be wrong.

  3. Fine post Yogi thank you.

    Jack Wilshire eh! Southgate has said Jack must be starting in the Premiership before he can be recalled to the England squad. Meanwhile, the lad has been linked with a January move to Crystal Palace currently rock bottom of the Premiership under the Jurassic management of Roy Hodgson. No long term prospects of Premiership starts there! Think again Jack.

  4. For those of you who hanker after some technological help for our beleaguered referees, VAR will be in use at tomorrow’s England/Germany friendly.

    However, there will not actually be a Video Assistant Referee on duty. The on-pitch official will view any replays on a pitch-side monitor and make up his own mind possibly with the help of the fourth official.

    Replays will not be shown on the stadium screens, so the mugs (sorry, paying fans) will not be able to see them.

  5. Ian,

    That in itself is laudable, but where does your chosen preservative feature between the namby pamby Robinson’s thin cut Golden Shred and the full on macho Frank Cooper’s Vintage Oxford.

  6. Tried marmalade and marmite(think thats how you spell it), might sound crazy but wasn’t a fan which is strange because I love a good homemade jam and a friend of mine makes a wonderful peach preserve.

    Another one of those things that taste varies depending on which side of the pond you live on

  7. Shame on you for not mentioning our Arsenal youth performing well and the legend that is Nketiah banging in 4 goals 😉

    Anyways, good stuff though.

    Somebody has yo be at fault for our horrid transfer business and since they are too gutless to sack Arsene then his Chief Scout must go. If they want one for cheaper than what they were paying him, I’m available.

  8. Back to the matter in hand, there can be no change or improvement with Wenger entrenched at the very centre of AFC. Nor will that situation change until the present Board of Directors wakes up to the fact that the football side of the club is in a steady decline.

    Tinkering around the edges, blaming scouts and administrators will do nothing. Only radical surgery to remove the cancer at the heart of the club will bring about any improvement.

  9. Great post Yogi.

    I agree with you. The real problem is Arsene and I think it’s very unlikely that he will voluntarily give up his control over the football operations of the club. He demonstrated his resolve with the contract battle last year and there is not reason for him to soften his stance.

    I agree with orson’s comment at 12:18

  10. C @ 12:02

    “Shame on you for not mentioning our Arsenal youth performing well and the legend that is Nketiah banging in 4 goals 😉”

    That sounds impressive but you forgot to mention that the opposition was the Faroe Islands U19 team in a 6-0 game. Based on the results I have seen from the Faroe Islands teams at other levels, losing by only 0-6 probably feels like a moral victory for them. Past results suggest that it might be more of a curse then a blessing for Eddie that he has overtaken Reis Nelson as the new fan favorite U21.

  11. Bill,

    Don’t care who he scored them against, he scored 4 goals plain and simple so well done to him. Anybody who thinks that he has overtaken Nelson is crazy to be honest. The other strange thing is that one does there only have to be one youth that is spoken about as potentially busting through?

    FFS, its the holiday season and Arsenal isn’t playing, just be happy for the lad and stop being Bill the Youth Scrooge of ACLF! 😉

  12. I look at Untold Arsenal once in a while to see an opposing opinion regarding the current state of all things Arsenal. The conspiracy theorists are in full flow and they believe with all of their hearts that their is an organized and long standing anti-Arsenal conspiracy that everyone in the English FA and ref fraternity. Fans truly do see what they hope to see when they watch football games..

    Their best evidence is the fact that our penalty differential is the worst of any of the top 6 teams and the only possible explanation they consider is corrupt refs. I would argue that the reason we concede more penalties is over the years we have never been a team that stresses defensive organization and we have a tendency to make mistakes especially against teams that counter attack. A lot of penalties occur when you are trying desperately to get back when the other team has drawn you out of position or you have gotten on the wrong side of ball such as Sterling getting behind our defense against Man City. That seems quite straightforward to me. The reason we have been awarded fewer penalties is a bit harder to explain but I suspect the fact that we do not tend to counter attack as much as other big teams and we allow the opposition defense time to organize means we are less likely then the other big teams to draw penalities. Admittedly the latter explanation is a bit weaker then the reason we concede more penallties but it makes a lot more sense then believing in a well organized top level anti-Arsenal conspiracy.

  13. Orson Kaert,

    I found it puzzling that Jack wasn’t called up due to lack of playing time, but that Drinkwater (who declined) was called up even though he has made fewer appearances this season. I’m not saying that I necessarily want Jack to be called up, but the England manager’s reasoning is strange.

    International friendlies are pointless affairs which tell you nothing about the team, or the opposition. If we get a proper shoeing in the two friendlies the press will be all over it, whilst any win will be played down as meaningless. The play-off games, on the other hand, may be entertaining to watch.

  14. Wavey,

    I think Southgate’s decision takes into account Jack’s injury record. Let’s face it we all hold our breath every time he gets in a contact situation.

    What’s your position on marmalade? 😀

  15. Bill,

    I think we do get awarded a reasonable number of free kicks outside the area, which would tie in with your comment. If we are playing sideways outside the area we are inevitably going to pull players to the ball and collect fouls further out. When we try to play through the opposition are well set up to rebuff our attempts to break into the area.

  16. C

    My son scored 5 goals once in his U12 team and it did not matter to me that we won the game 14-0 and the team we played against had lost all of their games that season by double digits.

  17. C

    The reality is that I was happy for my son to score but I really felt bad for the kids on the other team and I wished we would have let them score a few goals.

  18. Orson Kaert,

    I’m a bit of a heathen on marmalade I’m afraid. I’m not averse to the odd spot of marmalade, but I don’t have a particular preference. I do like Roses lime marmalade from time to time though.

  19. I am sure the explanation for our penalty differential being the lowest of the “big teams” is multifactorial. Someone has to be the lowest and with only 6 teams the chance that it’s completely random is 18%

  20. Orson Kaert,

    ” Nor will that situation change until the present Board of Directors wakes up to the fact that the football side of the club is in a steady decline”.
    Orson, there is no board at Arsenal. There is Arsene and Kronke everybody else is window dressing, as for Steve Rowley leaving, he wont be missed imo,

  21. Bill,

    Well done to your son for that! You surprised me right there I have to admit, didn’t see you saying you wished the other team scored given how much you enjoy clean sheets 😉

    Yea, its tough when your that age but trust, I have been on the losing side of a few batterings myself and kids today and back when I played are massively different. There was no participation trophies for me so I took losses hard while today’s kids get participation trophies and they just laugh off a loss and on to the next one

  22. Bill,

    We agree on jam or jelly with crunchy peanut butter especially when its homemade, non of this extra processed stuff.

    There is a farmer that I have gotten really close to and his wife makes some truly delicious crunchy peanut butter and jam or jelly.

  23. C

    I agree that we shouldn’t make much of Giroud scoring for France against weak teams or Özil playing well in games when Germany wins against hopelessly over matched teams. You know that I have always said that you look at international records with a heavy dose of skepticism and you have to judge players using the same criteria.

  24. Bill

    > lost all of their games that season by double digits.

    That’s always been the way. When I was a kid, we played a team whose motto was ‘if we keep it single figures, it’s a result’. They knew they weren’t good enough for our local league but they still played because they loved football.

  25. I think marmalade should be left to respectable, well-mannered bears.
    That is to say to Paddington Bear, who I suspect is the only bear who has ever tasted/eaten marmalade and he is fictional.

    I know, I know, I should not have said that — revealing Paddington Bear is a fictional bear is like the first time someone says that Santa Claus is really your dad.

    Of course when I say ‘your dad’ I meant he was my dad, obviously – he can’t be everyone’s dad can he — that would mean that not only is Santa fictional, just like Paddington Bear – oops – he is also the dad of millions or gazillions of other kids dads’.

    Sorry lads, it’s a cruel old world — and now I am off to tell the girls in the office + C, that Bo-Peep didn’t have any sheep, cos she is fictional too. Oh, the tears will flow. 😀

  26. YW,

    When you said; -“When I was a kid, we played a team whose motto was ‘if we keep it single figures, it’s a result’. They knew they weren’t good enough for our local league but they still played because they loved football.”

    Your anecdote sounded like the perfect definition of sado-masochism.

  27. Yogi

    You can’t tell a U12 player to take it easy and let the other team score but my kids have been on teams that lost big and whenever our team is winning big I always secretly hope the other team scored a few so they have something to celebrate

  28. Bill/C,

    Come on, make your minds up lads — are you going with jam or jelly? It’s the same stuff, innit? 😀

  29. Bill,

    True but just FYI, last time Ozil played they played a good team in Crotia so it wasn’t a hopeless team but I get what you are saying. International futbol is difficult but I was speaking more on the lower youth levels and good for NKetiah to bang them in along with Willock and Nelson to play well too. The youth international futbol is honestly quite different because you have younger players from a lot of these smaller countries actually playing well but as they develop and their senior national sides have more or less money for development; that is when you start seeing the gulf in talent of say a Germany and a Denmark

  30. C

    We love to hike in the mountains when we are in Colorado and we always make crunchy peanut butter and jelly on toast as the go to lunch that I put in the backpack.

  31. Bill,

    Your comments about the big winners and big losers @ U12 level football is a credit to you – and shows you are a really nice man. 😀

    Naturally I would have said if I was you – “get out there and whup ’em good — 14 : 0 ?? – it shoulda, coulda been 20 : 0 — no marmalade or jelly for you guys!! 😀

    But then – I am not nice.

  32. Yuck, Bill,

    And then you go and ruin everything — “we always make crunchy peanut butter and jelly on toast as the go to lunch that I put in the backpack” fancy you making the kids eat soggy toast and jelly!!

    Cruelty, I say — shame on you!! 😀

  33. HenryB,

    Morning mate,

    First off, how dare you say that Santa Claus was your dad, we all know that Santa Claus is not only the big fat white man with the great beard that lives up North but also that he is near and dear in the hearts of millions of children like myself and will ALWAYS be there. You adults can have your non-sense but Santa Claus is real.

    Paddington Bear, well he is a sublime bear, poor choice wanting marmalade over a freshly jarred jam or jelly, but still a sublime bear non-the-less.

    How dare you same that jam and jelly are the same, I’m offended! Jelly is juice based, meaning that inorder to make jelly you crush the fruit and then strain out the juice heat with sugar and pectin normally to thicken it up and then jar. Jam is crushed fruit with all the seeds and no straining and normally jarred from that point.

    So yes there is a difference and when it is freshly produced, o it can take you back to when you were a kid and make you feel all warm and nostalgic inside. 🙂

  34. C

    If your goal is to get the right answer then it makes sense that you would want to judge different players using similar criteria even if you like one player and not the other such as Giroud and Özil. If international performances are important for our evaluation of one then the same criteria should apply for the other. No?

  35. C

    > am is crushed fruit with all the seeds and no straining and normally jarred from that point

    No, there are seedless jams. I’ve seen them on supermarket shelves.

  36. YW,

    Don’t buy at the supermarket, I have little old farmer’s wife who makes mine and it comes seeds and all….what a sheltered life you live 😉

  37. C,

    You have a point there, I guess. Jelly is as you say made from fruit juice, and Jam is usually made from pieces of fruit or whole fruit – I can recommend strawberry jam – mmmmm – but there are jams made like jelly, in that the fruit is cooked, then sieved and is clear when put into jars.

    I think the English call ‘jam with fruit in it’ a preserve. But this conversation has exhausted my limited knowledge on the subject, other than to say that ‘jelly’ in the UK is usually fruit juice with gelatine, and looks clear and wobbly and mostly served as dessert with cream.
    It can also have fruit added to it, such as strawberries (OK, I admit I love preserved strawberries) 😀
    and it is mostly eaten by kids at parties — and me — I love it!

  38. C,

    There aren’t too many little old farmers’ wives making peanut butter in the UK, whether they are close to you or not, so it usually comes out of a jar and is really only so-so.

    But you are correct, or was it Bill, that crunchy peanut butter with jelly thickly spread on toast is wonderful even out of a jar — but does not sound too great out of a rucksack! 😀

  39. HenryB,

    It has been a conversation all brought about I think by Orsey talking of putting it in the fridge or some non-sense.

    Anyways, back to futbol. NKetiah banged in 4 goals and naturally Bill said pump the breaks so all is right in the world 😉

  40. “We also need to play our strongest side. The omission of Alexandre Lacazette was simply baffling. His goal proved he is ready for the highest level, as does his £52m price tag. Even by Arsène’s standards, it was a perverse decision which suggests he hasn’t learned from the 4 – 0 drubbing at Anfield.”

    To learn from mistakes, one would have to admit a mistake was made in a first place. Arsene didn’t.
    Instead, something about “special circumstances ” and players having been distracted by the transfer window.

    It’s fairly easy to convince yourself of the anti- Arsenal, league-wide conspiracy if
    you’re inclined to this sort of thing.

    First, you deny or gloss over any decision that might benefit your team
    ( Kolasinac push on Stering ) , but emphasize every decision going against you
    ( Monreal foul on Sterling).
    The blown off side call for City’s third just puts the icing on the conspiracy theorist’s cake and from their point of view, City got all the calls.

    The second challenge is of particular importance because it ties in with my first paragraph and has to do with admitting to your mistakes in order to learn from them.

    If your player gets red carded for what was almost an identical foul ( Koscielny on Lewandowski in the return leg of the CL v Bayern) and every referee agreed with the call but you claim it was a clear dive , what are the chances you are going to learn from it and perhaps avoid this sort of challenges? Slim to none.

    Wenger is particularly adept at this sort of thing and every “soft” penalty against Arsenal is “scandalous ” , while he bends over backwards to justify and explain any call going his way.

    Who knew that advantage, when player is brought down in the penalty area, is not to call a penalty but to let him get up and continue trying finish the play with a speculative shot on goal – Mustafi/Rodriguez in west Brom game – according to Wenger.

    Deflecting attention from Arsenal failures by blaming referees, transfer window, the away goals rule , you name it. Arsene is rather good at it.

  41. You know what, C, now that you say; “we all know that Santa Claus is not only the big fat white man with the great beard that lives up North but also that he is near and dear in the hearts of millions of children like myself, and will ALWAYS be there.” it worries me a lot!!

    Your description perfectly fits a big fat white guy who lives ‘oop North’ in the UK, and his name is Fat Sam and that would be shattering, if true, 😀

  42. OK, C, back to more Wenger bashing football stuff — saying that, I am changing my mind – I think Untold Arsenal are right – it is all a conspiracy of the PGMOL to spoil our Xmas’. 😀


  43. HenryB,

    That would actually be more devastating than finding out that my mom and dad have been Santa Claus all this time!

    I forbid you from saying that again, Fat Sam is not Santa Claus, Fat Sam is a despicable human being while Santa Claus brings us all joy and in return we bake cookies and leave him milk or egg nog (o so delicious) and might even spike it a bit so he can stay warm! 😉

  44. Tom

    I agree with all of your points. We have talked about this before the but the way the game is officiated means that inconsistency from refs is unavoidable. That inherent inconsistency makes the environment ripe for the conspiracy theorists who will remember forever the calls that go against us but conveniently very quickly forget the ones that go in our favor. In their mind a stat such as our penalty differential can only have one explanation and they don’t consider any other possibilities. The real objective should be to get the correct answer but that is the last thing they want to do. All that said its not surprising since a lot of fans would rather blame something outside of our control when we underperform expectations and with a segment of our fan base the real goal is to blame anything but Arsene.

  45. C,

    I was not being serious — conspiracy my ass — but each to their own — for example, I still believe that Yogi is a post-writing elf. 😀

  46. Henry

    In order for there to be a conspiracy like this over many it would to involve a lot of people including administrative people in the FA and PGMOL who would have access to emails etc. A single low paid administrative assistant could sell one email to a tabloid and make lots and lots of money and keeping something like that a secret for a long time would be very difficult.

    The other issue is what could be their motive? There has to be a lot of money involve to motivate that many people to do something illegal for that many years so how does keeping Arsenal down bring in the extra money needed to keep the conspiracy alive? Historically Arsenal is one of the PL best know and most followed teams and like him or not Arsene Wenger has been one of the leagues “rock star” managers. That sort of world wide attention is what drives television interest and the world wide television market is the biggest driver of PL revenue. The FA and PGMOL would have every reason to want Arsenal to be successful.

  47. HenryB,

    Rubbish, if anything Darius aka “insert one of his many names” is the Friday post writing elf and Yogi is the drug dealer who keeps us coming back even during International futbol 😉

    By the way, I found it funny people said Ozil doesn’t deserve the #10 shirt over Jack because should Jack stay fit he deserves it; funny how that works since the whole notion depends on JAck staying fit and neither have signed a new contract……

  48. If the conspiracy was funded by book making or betting consortiums then they would have every reason to alter the results in a random fashion. The last thing they would do is focus on a single team like Arsenal.

  49. If the conspiracy is funded by the country that owns man city the why let Chelsea win 2 of the last 3 titles and why focus the negative attention on Arsenal? Why would anyone who is paying big money to influence results against Arsenal ever want Leicester to succeed?

  50. Orson

    To each his own especially when comes to taste buds. If you dislike chunky peanut butter then it just leaves more for C and me.

  51. Bill,

    …..and welcome to it. 😁

    We have all, in the past, scorned so called Spursday night football, the League Cup and even the early matches of the Champions League. Now, however, we need to take full advantage of these competitors, not the CL, to blood our youngsters, assess their abilities and potential with a view to fast track them into the first team squad.

    Under the present Arsenal regime we are never going be allowed to compete in monetary terms with the financially doped elite teams. Our owner is congenitally unable to contemplate spending the kind of money necessary to match those clubs. Consequently it is imperative that we develop our youngsters and use them to bolster our squad.

    Wenger has become so conservative in his outlook, in order to preserve his own job, that he is afraid to give the kids their chance less a few losses increase the rare likelihood that Kroenke may begin to doubt his omnipotence.

  52. Bill , they ( The FA and PGMO) let us win the FA cup to give us hope and keep Wenger around so they can torment him and us in the league.
    I know, it’s a bit convoluted but still true 🙂

    In Europe, they keep the foo firmly on Wenger’s throat because he refuses to “play ball “in a corrupt system.
    Money of course is the main reason, that’s why the Greek referee sent Koscielny when Arsenal were hot on a come back trail to overturn the first leg deficit of four goals- something never done before btw.

    The Germans bailout of Greece needed a payback and what better venue to do it in than a football match.
    Lucky Bayern 🙂

  53. Orson

    During the Emirates era, Arsène has been more aggressive then any big team manager in the world with playing time for his younger players in the cup competitions and even in the PL. All of the minutes Ox was given over 5 years and last seasons bet on Iwobe are a couple of recent examples.

  54. Tom,

    I believe everything you say — and I even believe there is a crock of —– gold? —– at the end of the rainbow. Altho with all this corruption it will probably turn out to be a crock of ugh argh gurrrr them gurr ugh .. bast*rds .. are infamy .. infamy .. they’ve all got it in for me. 🙂

  55. Bill,

    In the cup competitions maybe, but in today’s environment he needs to be much more willing to introduce the precocious talents into the first team on a far more regular basis. The only one that I can recall off hand is Iwobi, and he is hardly a good example.

  56. And in another example of poor refereeing Northern Ireland concede a penalty when the ball hits the Irish player on the back. The player picked up a yellow and is banned for the second leg as well. Video replays really need to be the norm, as Northern Ireland could well be out of the World Cup because of a ridiculous decision. There was apparently a blatant red card tackle from a Swiss player earlier in the game as well apparently (I was still commuting so missed it).

  57. C,

    The only form in which I will eat peanuts is roasted and and salted, and then only if accompanied by copious amounts of beer.

    I’m sorry if I offend your finer feelings but in my opinion peanut butter is a definite YUCK!

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