So what Arsene Wenger angle could I possibly take this week? Well, it’s one that has driven my nuts in recent years and that is the lack of accountability for poor performances. Particularly as a result of our collapses, in particular I’m looking at Newcastle and Anderlecht.
So what do I mean by accountability. Well, it’s certainly not Wenger hanging out players to dry in the media. It’s his selections.
Following our collapse at St James’ Park we made one change for our following game against Wolves, that change was an enforced one as Abou Diary got sent off. Against Swansea at the weekend, there was again one change this time due to injury (Mikel Arteta).
How can our players not face the prospect of a game on the bench as a result of their poor performance? There is an argument that we don’t have the personnel to adapt but we had experienced internationals on the bench on Sunday. Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky or Jack Wilshere could have been selected. Is Calum Chambers worthy of a starting place? Is it worth giving Hector Bellerin a chance? These opportunities arose but all were neglected in favour of trusting his players. Yet we lose a game that really we should have won but what did we expect from a side that clearly never learns from its mistakes.
Lee Dixon did an interview several months ago with Amy Lawrence about Wenger reaching 1000 games but there was an interesting quote lurking towards the end of the article.
“I like Arsène a lot. He’s got a really cool sense of humour, he can be really funny, he laughs at himself. He can be difficult at times – he is not very good at confrontation which you would expect him to be. He finds it very difficult to front you up and tell you why he’s dropped you because he cares about you, so it is very difficult for him to look you in the eye.”
So we have a manager that struggles to deal with confrontation. That’s a very poor quality to display as a manager in any business area, let alone in charge of a football side. How do you get results if you all you do is place trust in players? What you will get is the same mistakes repeated time and time again and that’s what we have.
The fact is that quote is proven by the two line ups. Wenger is too weak. He undoubtedly cares about his players but there has to come a time when they become accountable. It’s no wonder players are disillusioned on the bench, They’ll be sitting there thinking, I can do better or I deserve a shot but nothing comes from it. The lack of rotation is criminal and Wenger wonders why players pick up injuries later in the season. How Aaron Ramsey commands a place in this side at present is beyond me.
Speaking of the bench, why isn’t it utilised more? On Sunday Wenger made reactionary changes and it had little impact but what was the purpose of the changes? The Yaya Sanogo substitution was entirely wasteful, we need a goal and we bring on someone who has never netted a competitive goal, yet we have a German striker whose only redeemed quality is his clinical finishing and he’s left getting splinters in his back side.
If Wenger doesn’t rate Podolski he needs to go. He can’t expect players to stay and not get any game time. Maybe it’s his inability to deliver bad news again. Joel Campbell is clearly not rated, yet Wenger decided to keep him when there was a £10-15m price tag talked about and now what will we receive? £5-6 mill possibly?
Then there’s my personal favourite Tomas Rosicky, he got given a new contract and for what purpose, he never plays (which I won’t contest too much) but it’s more mismanagement. It would appear from player comments that they aren’t spoken to about the decision behind their non-selection. How and what do they need to do to get a game? Surely you at least dangle the carrot?
Wenger has two opportunities to seriously impact games, one is half time team talks and the other is his substitutions. They are far to scripted, as we frequently see the 70th minute change. Football isn’t that easy. You have to adapt, yet we are far too rigid. Let’s not forget on Sunday that this side had fallen to pieces against Anderlecht and yet Wenger didn’t think his substitutions would give us the best chance to see out a 1-0 win. The mind genuinely boggles.
I’m tired of the same old mistakes. Pro-Wenger supporters will blame the players, yet if you compare the line ups from Newcastle to Anderlecht, you’ll see only one player remains from our dark Saturday afternoon at St James’ and that’s Wojciech Szczesny.
So with an entirely different side, we have the exact same issues. It’s not the players, it’s the manager. He was once a trendsetter now he’s just a stubborn man. They don’t have the belief, you can see that in big games, they expect to fail. Maybe the issues come from higher up as the manager isn’t accountable for poor performance to the board, so maybe they need to up their game but then their objective is clearly top four and until that is under threat, then we probably won’t see progress.
It’s a shame because we have supporters that want Premier League and Champions League title challenges but sadly the only challenge we have to look forward to is for a manager (who once led a side to an unbeaten league season) to challenge for fourth to get into a competition that will see us eliminated in the first knockout round. It just isn’t good enough.