Chelsea: The Banter Years and Big Club, Little Club

So, we’re back to fifth thanks to Chelsea collapse at Manchester City. The flags and bunting are out, street party booked in celebration of winning the fifth-placed trophy. It’s either that or we’ll be celebrating the use of the firing squad because if we finish sixth, we deserve it…

As is always the case, we reach for spurious comparisons when someone fares worse than ourselves, particularly close rivals. I found myself a little disappointed at the final whistle that City hadn’t run up seven, eight or more but they suffered the age-old footballing problem: four-up at half-time and the foot came off the gas completely. Still, 6 – 0 isn’t to sniffed at.

The result raises the prospect further of Sarri getting the royal order of the boot. The immediacy of Premier League football demands results, i.e. silverware, or the sack. It’s got to be the right silverware as well. None of this breaking yourself in with a League Cup or using it to keep the winning habit going. Nor the Europa League; that’s only good enough for Champions League entry.

Comparisons between Arsenal and Chelsea inevitably point to the club’s reaction to such a defeat. The presumption is the Blues will sack him, maybe not this week but if they are humiliated at Wembley after losing to United in the FA Cup? Let’s just say that packing his case might be a good idea.

Arsenal never let trivialities like thrashings bother them. 8 – 2, 6 – 1, 6 – 3, and any number of 5 – 1’s, not even if they came in the same season. It wasn’t the Arsenal Way nor do I think it is now. The board then was spineless and remains the same while Enos doesn’t care enough about Arsenal; he’ll only care if the bottom line suffers.

The Great Pretender

Is it a clamour for changing that attitude? There’s certainly a groundswell of thinking we should act in a similar way regarding the coach. Some want Unai Emery gone now – some didn’t want him in the first place – and there are even those who noticeably don’t like the man because he isn’t Arsene Wenger. When even the Frenchman’s ardent admirers are calling people out on it, take a good look at yourselves.

That isn’t a good reason to want him out nor, I’m going to say, is not wanting him in the first place. Unai Emery is the Arsenal gaffer for this season and unless there is good reason, next week as well.

We demand an improvement on the pitch and while it isn’t as pretty as peak Wengerball, neither was last season. As for tangible improvements, we’ve have already taken two more points away from home than we did in the whole of 2017-18. OK, so it was a low bar but nonetheless, we’ve done the business there. We’re on course to at least match the home results so it’s a step forward overall potentially.

In terms of Emery’s longevity, there will be an element of results-based assessment. However, as important to Arsenal is stability following the departure of Wenger. That, to the club, is vital. If you look at Liverpool’s fall from grace in the 90s, United post-Ferguson, stability isn’t an over-rated virtue. But you’ve got to get the appointment right and support the manager.

To be honest, Arsenal haven’t done that. They did in the summer to some extent but investing in the squad via one loan signing this winter? Behave yourself if you think the club didn’t throw the coach under an oncoming bus in January

Brave New World

There’s no point in us changing managers every season or two, we don’t have the finances to do so. To have that turnover of coaches, you must back them in the transfer windows. If you can’t do that, then at least have the common courtesy to show some loyalty. And in the board’s defence, they do.

OK, so it’s inertia on their part and an unwillingness to make a decision. But hey, it’s a positive new world we inhabit.

Elsewhere, everyone’s getting uppity about online abuse (rightly) and criticising players. The latter is nothing new and players have been hounded out of the club before, even those who came through the ranks. The difference between then and now is (a) the volume which is far more than before and (b) the instantaneous nature of social media.

The gamechanger in fan empowerment wasn’t Twitter, it was fanzines. Prior to that, discontent or ridicule fermented in small groups before spreading. Fanzines gave fans a voice and the readership for views to be aired. Social media is the Premier League’s equivalent and is a global phenomenon, much like the brand itself.

It isn’t right or proper behaviour by any standard and tells you everything about the individuals involved. You wouldn’t want to mix with them offline, that’s for certain.

But abuse and criticism shouldn’t be conflated. Criticism of a player is opinion and no matter the welter of season-long statistics produced as a defence, if he had a stinker on Saturday, he had a stinker. Playing in and out of position is more pertintent than 15 pre-assists (whatever they are), 5 assists and 1 goal.

Criticism of a player is debate, abuse is not. Recognise that difference when you make a point as well as when you defend someone.

’til Tomorrow.

28 thoughts on “Chelsea: The Banter Years and Big Club, Little Club

  1. I’m amazed at the negative reaction to the victory on Saturday. Imagine if we’d drawn or lost?

    The ‘identity’ nonsense created by some journalists has grown a life of it’s own. I’d much rather a win than a loss from a side playing with ‘identity’.

    I vividly remember Arsenal getting bashed 8-2 (EIGHT) at Old Trafford. We had a clear identity under Wenger then. One of the most embarrassing days to be an Arsenal fan. That identity didn’t lessen the embarrassment.

  2. After reading the blog post of Ornstein’s interview on the arsecast, I think a lot of things made sense. Like I mentioned on some other site, I believe this season Emery has been given a free pass, next season when the club has undergone player restructuring then we would be set to be competitive.

    So it also means our real target is to go as far as possible in the Europa League this season, as it is the back door to the UEFA Champions League.

  3. Pete the Thirst,

    Quite agree Pete. Win first, the identity or style that’s become a ‘thing’ here at Arsenal during the Wenger years should very much be secondary. Reminds me of Spurs in the 70’s and 80’s, no titles and their so-called ‘style of football’ was all they had to hold on to. Why on earth would you want to support a club like that?

  4. Pete the Thirst,

    What a day that was.
    I was in a tent at Reading festival waiting to see either Gogo bordello, or The Mongol horde, and there was even shocked whispers passing around the crowd about Football! The age of the beautiful game was over. Mosh ugly. Take the points.

  5. Afternoon,

    The job of Arsenal coach/manager was always going to be a bit of a poison chalice as the Board already gave Wenger the last of the cash they were willing to stump up.

    We haven’t improved defensively and the new recruits at the back have been very much a mixed bunch, Sokratis just needed a decent CB to play alongside (not Mustafi) and it was always likely to be 50:50 as to whether Lichsteiner (at the grand old age of 35) would have the legs for the PL. Maybe Cahill would have provided another experienced option at the back if we had arranged a loan deal for him – at least he knows the PL.

    Some of Emery’s tactics have been questionable, as he has played into the hands of teams like Liverpool with his set ups, but he’s also managed to get some good results out of the team.

    The first season AW (after Wenger) wasn’t got to see the team suddenly beating all-comers and challenging for the title, so a place in the European spots with us maybe finishing as high as a CL qualifier has at least maintained our standing.

    My fear is that Emery gets us into the CL spots and the Board decide that he doesn’t need a complete overhaul of the squad after all. Maybe a season outside Europe will hammer the message home, but then the WKBs will resurface to remind us that even in his darkest days, he still kept us in Europe.

  6. The Mongol Horde would have beaten Arsenal that day!

    ferkov:
    Pete the Thirst,

    What a day that was.
    I was in a tent at Reading festival waiting to see either Gogo bordello, or The Mongol horde, and there was even shocked whispers passing around the crowd about Football! The age of the beautiful game was over. Mosh ugly. Take the points.

  7. Thanks for the post and chatter all. Lacazette is a man on fire right now. Yesterday someone mentioned he is like a player from an old age. He is old school, no nonsense. Fights for every ball. He sucks it up, puts his head down and runs, closes down, hassles, tackles etc. You see him jumping for every ball, going against brute CBs.

    I thought ainsley made some pretty brutal passes (cant make that square infield pass from the RB sport) but was confident on the ball. He pulled a couple tricks, not afraid to take on the big baddies. He is lightning quick and agile, good control. Some good bursts down the right side and of course a great ball for his assist. Ainsley made a couple of good decisions and pinpoint passes when bombing down the right. Is it true he is a CM? How can he not be a winger?

  8. In the beginning, then at the end of your piece our opinions run concurrent, veer in the middle, then meetup once again.

    It was never supposed to be like this. It wasn’t the plan. And yes, it was the online presences and social medias that changed the plan.

    Wenger was to have had another season at the helm. Allowing Sven, Raul, Huss and Ivan time to bed-in as a team. Making the transitions less-hectic– both in the backoffice, and in offloading dead-weight from the club. But the hounding from the digitali was merciless. The brand was being damaged. Arsene had to go.

    Believe it– that Gazidis departure was imminent from the moment Wenger’s fate was determined. We’re not talking May. But last February into early March– Arsenal losing to Swansea, Spurs, Ostersunds and City twice. Writing on the wall, Ivan The Cautious was likely planning his escape that far back.

    The plan for a peaceful coup was rocked by forces not in the club’s control.

    Had Arsene stuck for another season? Had Gazidis not fled the ship? Sven might have had more influence– and stayed. The offloading of dead money on the roster might have moved more smoothly without the influence of the needs of the ‘Newman’, Emery.

    Arsene would have taken the bullet– for the club he loves– still loves– for whatever occurred this season. The hierarchy would have gelled to a greater degree.

    We would be just now lining up Wenger’s replacement for a transition this Summer– Sven pegging the group of players to chase down. Raul’s tentacles already deep into the market.

    Ivan would be working out the finities of bringing his favorite, Mikel Arteta, into the fold. Three seasons under Guardiola’s seasoning. A proper hand-off to a former Gunner, keeping traditions intact; protected.

    But no. The worst instincts of the fansbase won out. And here we sit. With a good manager in Emery. Waiting for the finances to catch up with the timing of Plan A– in order to accommodate the needs of Plan B. And there is no Plan C.

    There’s no need to call for patience. It’s what the masses called for. It is what it is.
    I was a Wenger fan. Still am.
    But Unai Emery is man toting the bale now.
    And I’m all for standing behind the Newman until the cash is made available to enact his plan.

    jw1

  9. jw1,

    Tosh, I am afraid. It may not suit your agenda but the Board could easily have chosen to keep Arsene if that had really wanted to. Social media and the fanbase forced their hand? I see no evidence that the cipurrent owners give a fig for the fanbase.

    Smooth transition? Does that include the panic buys of Auba and Mustafi and the ridiculous new contract for Ozil? Those decisions alone have hamstrung the current manager.

    Arteta as the chosen one? Do me a favour.

    Delusional stuff.

  10. “The plan for a peaceful coup was rocked by forces not in the club’s control.”

    Well winning a few of those matches you mentioned would have helped. Rather more a force that the club was in control of and nothing to do with the fans at all. But Wenger was a busted flush and had to go.

  11. Good. Just a few points flogged.
    Appreciate that.

    But note where I mentioned the ‘The Arsenal’ brand was being damaged. Media, both traditional and social made a point to show ’empty seats’ at the Emirates on several occasions. When the confluence began having an influence on attendance– and emphasized visually and globally– the axe was wielded sooner than planned.

    Fact is that more and more of the revenue that runs this club is generated by TV rights. Not just domestically– but more and more globally. The club’s brand has a value far beyond England. There are far more Arsenal fans worldwide that invest smaller amounts — probably (IMO) exceeding what domestics spend. What happens in the fishbowl locally only affects the global brand value– when negative– broadcast– and regurgitated ad infinitum online.

    BTW bob? No less than Ornstein had announced the probable selection of Arteta in late-May:
    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/44165995

    Gazidis was the driver behind that choice. Likely outvoted by the Sven, Raul, Huss troika. Ivan knowing full-well he had a foot on the plane to Milan by this time– tossed in the towel.

    Et voila! Unai Emery was pulled from the magic top-hat– out of nowhere. Not on anyone’s radar. A second coup occurring in the midst of the first.

    jw1

  12. Good point about the value of stability (and the implied “decency”), YW, and I wonder about the fan-climate at other top 6 clubs. I’m sure it’s great at City, Chelsea, et al, when they win silverware but what is it like when they win nothing? Look at MU after SAF left: David Moyes, who had been considered a good, up-and-coming coach, was hounded out and (you could argue) his career destroyed because he wasn’t Ferguson (who recommended him for the job) and because the team needed re-building. And, three coaches later, they’re still in flux.
    Flash forward to now, and to think of Arsenal doing something similar is repulsive.
    And if we did, and if we could afford to, who would it be? And with what result?
    The Arsenal I grew up with was renowned for many things but one above all – class. That’s about the only thing you cannot buy in football today.

  13. Great post yogi

    I have no problem with criticizing a manager. I have been doing just that for the last 10 years on the blog. Its a sports blog and giving fans a venue to debate opinions is one of the things sports blogs were created for. I understand the disappointment so far with Emery in regards to the team defense and I am fully in agreement with the idea that he has not done nearly enough to fix that chronic problem. However, I think we need to give him time. Arsene left him with an extremely weak and unbalanced squad and its going to take time. However, if we miss the champions league this year and next year then I will be calling for a new manager also.

    With regards to debating the merits of different players the same thing applies in terms of debating opinions.

  14. Andy

    I like Ramsey but if everything that article says is true then he is almost certainly over rated by the rest of the world. He is not that good. It has been said many times on this blog that Ramsey would not be a regular for Juve, however, that is definitely not what they have in mind. However, I fully expect that by the end of next season the Juve fans will be scratching their heads wondering why they would spend that much money for a player who is not a difference maker. One thing Ramsey has in his favor which will endear him to the fans is that no one will ever question his desire and his energy.

  15. jw1,

    Yep, plenty of empty seats. Might it have been that the stuff on show was not just poor but that there was no prospect of improvement under Wenger. Of course the media told the story, its what they do.

    No need to lecture on damage to ‘the brand’ because, first, we understand the concept and secondly, I don’t give a monkeys. Stan doesnt show much concern to my eyes either. How many kids are choosing The Arse to support now, do you reckon? A winning side captures new supporters not one starved of proper investment after years of mismanagement.

    As for Arteta, yes, we can,and did, read that and similar ‘insights’ but the notion that he would have been a success is the prest speculation with all of his so called apprenticeship. As for Gazidis and the other suits, don’t give a monkeys about them either.

    Gazidis was always a slimey self publicising bugger. Non us knows what happened or what the ‘process’ was, not you and not Ornstein either.

  16. consolsbob,

    “… because, first, WE understand the concept and secondly…”
    Speaking for everyone or royally?

    Did not express Arteta would have been a success. Simply explained the alternate reality that looked likely before the plug was pulled.

    As far as kids following Arsenal– your move would be to abandon the brand altogether.
    Yep, screw it. We don’t need dollars, yen, ringget, pesos, yuan, rupee… nope.
    The rest of is pretty unimaginative boilerplate bob. Found on any social media of the moment last Feb-May. Glad you had a good rant.

    jw1

  17. jw1,

    Ferkin av a look in the mirror fella.
    Rant u say?
    I wonder how long the Wenger embers are going to burn bright enough that we have to be subjected to these outbursts of fairytail ends to the era.
    I was sad to see Wenger go , particularly in such circumstances of failure, but then again I was sorry to see GG go too. Enough already.

  18. Michael,

    For sure it is, but it’s also an interesting contrast with last January when Ozil could have been on the end of similar offers but they didn’t materialize. At least not until Ivan’s brain fart moment.

  19. If you think that was a rant, you need to have a chat with my wife or any of my friends.

    As for the snidy ‘Royal We’ dig, I assumed that your post was aimed at the wider readership rather than just me. The same readership which I have been debating with for several years now, some of whom I have shared beer with.

    Abandon the brand? What do you support a football club or a pair of shoes?

    By the way, I don’t use social media at all. Too many idiots who think they and it matters. I suppose you think that your jottings are blindingly original not th banal old rubbish that I, amongst others, churn out here.
    jw1,

  20. Yeah.
    Heh. Why I read ACLF’s posts daily– and rarely comment.
    Always, always interesting-with-wit above the reply button.

    Blindingly original bob? Me? No.
    TBH I was commenting to the rather clever writer of the post.
    On his opinion, my opinion how they were alike and different.
    Then? Like a drunk at the bar mid-morning– your opinion mattered more.
    Yes, I’ve read enough of your banal old rubbish– below that reply button for years now —
    to expect somethinsomethingharumphharumph from you.

    /rant 🙂

    jw1

  21. jw1:
    Tellyawhat?
    Read this– then tell me if you don’t know more about Arsenal today– than you did yesterday?

    Without siding with anyone jw1…..you really are a pretentious git-a trait I find intolerable in any human being.
    Out of interest-have you read replies from Totteridge?…..a fella that claims to know the inner workings of the club….yeah,righty ho.
    https://arseblog.news/2019/02/ornstein-on-the-arsecast-the-full-transcript/

    Some very good stuff I’ve not found elsewhere.

    jw1

Comments are closed.