Arsenal – So What Is the Solution?

WTTGT Writer: Nicholas Charles

Now that the dust has finally settled on yet another disastrous defeat against our supposed closest rivals on Sunday I have decided to return to my laptop and share my thoughts. I honestly thought that we would beat Manchester United which would put me in an uplifted mood to write something positive about our club – how wrong was I!

Whilst I do want to follow the masses by having a rant over the internet I think it is now imperative that someone within the hierarchy of Arsenal to find a quick solution to our ever increasing slump. If they cannot find a solution then they should step aside and find someone who can. This message is directed to both Arsene Wenger and our Board of directors. I am not trying to be dramatic but the first half was quite possible the worst and most inept performance by any Arsenal team in the last 15 years. We could not pass the ball, retain possession for more than 10 seconds, struggled to clear our lines and simply sat back and witnessed wave after wave of attacks by Man United. It was inevitable that we were going to concede in that half I was just amazed at how long in took. I was also not surprised about the statistic that showed we only had a miserable 32% possession in that half. The last team to dominate us like that at home were Barcelona and Man United are not even in the same league as them. What angered me the most about our performance on Sunday was the fact that we were playing a VERY average Manchester team without Ferdinand and Vidic in defence, yet we made them look great.

Objectives of our club

Correct me if I am wrong but I was under the opinion that the main reason for us moving to a bigger stadium was to remain financially competitive, so that we could compete in the transfer market in order to buy and retain the best players. Instead it appears that this increase in revenues has actually resulted in us spending LESS on transfers. How does that make any sense? This is why I have to question the objectives of those that run our club and I include Arsene Wenger in this too. Although in public Ivan Gazidis, Stan Kroenke and Arsene talk positively about the ambitions of the club in reality the facts prove we are a selling club with a need to retain large profits and hoard cash. Money may not guarantee success, as evidenced by Liverpool this year, but selling your best players and not replacing them does guarantee failure.

Mistakes Made by Arsene Wenger

I have been a resolute defender of Arsene during these troubled times and I still believe that he has earned the right to be given until the end of this season to turn our fortunes around. The problem is, if we want to progress as a football club we cannot continue to look back and admire Arsene’s successes. It has been seven years since we last one a trophy and the clock is ticking. There are many problems with retaining managers for too long – just look at the last year of Brian Clough’s reign at Nottingham Forrest which ended in relegation. I am not saying that we are going to get relegated, we are not that bad, but the fact is both our football team and our coaches are looking very stale. They seem to lack ideas and confidence.

Although everyone spoke about the bizarre substitution of Chamberlain, I felt that Wenger made a bigger mistake with his tactics and choice of personnel. On Sunday Arsene started the game by playing the slowest right back in the country, Djourou, against Nani, one of the fastest wingers, and a half fit Vermaelen against Valencia. The result was an embarrassing display of football by a team desperately short of confidence. Both the goals we conceded came from very poor play on the flanks. The first goal came when Djourou tired of being given the complete run-around by Nani just stood off Giggs and allowed him all the time in the world to pick his cross which found an unmarked Valencia at the far post. Vermaelen was actually standing behind Valencia when he scored. However some credit must be given to Wenger to realising how bad Djourou’s performance was and he substituted him before the start of the second half. Nevertheless the goal we conceded in the second half was simply awful. Valencia turned Arshavin like he did not exist and then continued his run into the box without a single tackle coming from the full back – TV.

Arsene seems to making the same mistakes repeatedly probably because he is so stubborn with his methods that he thinks that his decisions will, by some miracle pay off. A half fit TV should never have played on Sunday. Ignasi Miquel did not play too badly against Swansea and should have played on Sunday. Also it is obvious to all that Djourou is an average centre back and an awful right back yet Arsene plays him ahead of Nico Yennaris. He also has unwavering faith in players who consistently let down our team. None more so than Walcott and Arshavin

Nevertheless I go back to my original comment in that I still admire Arsene for what he has done for our club. He has been our most successful manager ever and it’s for that reason that I strongly think he deserves the chance to turn our fortunes around. However if he fails, then this issue cannot be left to drag forever. The problem is that there is no one on our Board with the guts or vision to act for the benefit of our club to make the serious decisions.

Since 2005 I have been praying / demanding for the club to invest in the squad. I always felt that we were at least 2 players short of becoming a dominant global force. Instead we followed a strategy (primarily caused by our move to the Emirates Stadium) of selling our best players and replacing them with youngsters who had potential. Apart from Fabregas, this strategy has failed miserable. I feel that our club has gone backwards in the last 4 years and the tide must be stopped. The problem is who will stop the tide and make us a force again? I am genuinely hoping that Arsene is that person.

Potential Solutions

  • Firing a manager, in my opinion is not a solution but replacing the manager can be – unless there is already made world class replacement (maybe Pep Guardiola) we should not entertain the idea of firing Arsene Wenger.
  •  The coaching staff must be reshuffled and new blood needs to be brought in. A good start would be to bring in a new assistant manager, someone who can provide another opinion to Arsene rather than to simply be a “yes man”. Just look at how many assistant managers Sir Alex Ferguson has had over the last 15 years.
  • The current Board of directors is desperately lacking a genuine football man who can bridge the gap between the manager and the Board. Arsene has been given too many responsibilities. He cannot be blamed for our lazy Board. He should only look after team affairs including actively searching for new players to improve our squad. The actual money side of negotiating transfers and contract extensions must be left to another person. We have been lacking this type of person ever since David Dein was ruthlessly kicked out for ironically trying to get Stan Kroenke on the Board!

Only time will tell if the action required will be taken but I am not holding my breath. At the moment we are floating without any real direction, watching whilst other clubs like Spurs over take us. There is an up and coming dilemma that our Board has failed to see which can result in a potential crisis at our club and that is the renewal of season tickets. After all how many gullible fans are willing to pay for the most expensive tickets in the UK to watch a team struggle to reach the top 6?

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3 Responses to Arsenal – So What Is the Solution?

  1. Stuart January 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    You really need to rethink your comments about the club moving to a new stadium in order to compete in the transfer market.

    Yes that is exactly why we moved to a bigger stadium but we need to finish paying for it to see the benefits. The quicker the debt is paid, the less interest is paid meaning more money for transfers rather than interest on bank loans. By paying it off earlier we have saved millions which will only be of benefit in the long run, we just have to make a few sacrifices. Football player salaries have also increased dramatically since we moved to the stadium so realistically, any extra revenue achieved is only going to be absorbed by paying higher wages to keep / attract players, part of the reason that Arsenal hired Wenger to establish a youth structure in the first place. If we didn't have youth, we would have no players during this period and things would be alot worse. I commend the board for their forward thinking and Wenger for the results gained during this period, yes there have been tough times like the present where we have under achieved but we have also seen times where the club has over achieved. If you compare where we are pound for pound with all the other clubs, I believe we come out on top. We also had to mortgage our sponsorship deals to get paid up front meaning we had less bargaining power giving the sponsors the control but once the debt is paid and we can switch our sponsorship to more lucrative deals things will be a whole lot different.

  2. bradkc@snakebite.com January 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    If the strategy is to clewr the.debt asap then come out and say that.play the.kids and stop.buying average players on £60k a week plus. i would rather loe with kids than dross. squillaci almunia fabianski rosicky benayoun arshavin park.chamakh can all do one as far i as i am.concerned even mertesacler and santos were hardly great buys. along with bendtner.denilson djourou and vela they should all be moved on.

  3. Stuart January 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Yes, I agree, the list you provide there are sub standard players especially as we have experienced the likes of Fabregas, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry, Campbell…. but I can't see it as being as simple as just offloading them. We have these players as the board decided in the first place that youth was the way we were going to go whilst developing the stadium and paying for it. There also has to be someone who wants them or the other alternative is to pay them off for the remainder of their contracts and replace them with someone else but this would be too costly and again we wont definitely be getting a player who performs at the top level consistently.

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