Rhyme, Reason and Conspiracy Theories – Is there actually a sinister reason for Arsenal’s recent failures?

Magnifying glass

After the Watford debacle (sorry for a throwback like this, but it’s necessary) there was an outpouring of anger among the Arsenal faithful. This anger, borne out of the team’s inability to perform, was directed at all sorts of people: from the owner of the Club all the way down to individual players. The theories trying to explain our poor form sprang all over social media and spread like wildfire.

At some point I’ve stumbled upon one which I particularly dislike and this got me thinking about the whole situation. Can we just be overdramatising things, blowing them out of proportion? Twisting facts to suit our theories?

I can totally understand the desire to get to the root of our problems. It’s not just about being a football fan who cares for the well-being of the club he supports: it’s human nature. We tend to search for reasons behind events. We want to explain things, understand how they came about and, depending on their nature, either to restage the experiment or seek ways to avert further “incidents” like the one we witnessed.

However this thirst for knowledge is twofold: great when we have sound facts at our disposal, destructive when we don’t. In case with Arsenal, none of us possess inside information on what’s happening behind the scenes. So unless you occupy a high enough post at Arsenal to have access to this info, or know someone who does and is willing to risk his job and share this knowledge with you, your theory is based on little else than your own observations, gut feeling and the snippets we are being spoon-fed by the journalists.

In our haste to find a smoking gun, men responsible for the recent collapse, or at least to apportion blame, some people, in my opinion, went too far in their theories. There were those blaming Stan Kroenke for the stagnation, for example. While it’s plainly obvious the man is hardly interested in Arsenal Football Club beyond making a profit for himself (something I went over in detail here), surely the stagnation and landslide would have started earlier if that was the case? Stan Kroenke became the majority shareholder in April 2011, by which time we have already endured 5 trophyless campaigns and were on course to make it 6. If winning was as simple as having people who care about it on the board of directors, then why the hell haven’t we won anything for almost 6 years before Kroenke took over? And how could we have won two FA Cups with him at the helm?

Having for myself decided Kroenke can hardly be the sole reason behind our recent failures, I’ve turned my eye to other possible explanations. It’s this search for reason which saw me stumble upon the outrageous theory I’ve mentioned above but haven’t elaborated: that Kroenke was being helped by Arsene Wenger in his quest for profit. That Kroenke’s minimum requirement of finishing in the top 4 became Arsene’s maximum requirement. In short, that Arsene became a puppet in the hands of the puppeteer, content to keep the club in a financially healthy condition, but unwilling to make the extra step for Arsenal to challenge for honours again. That Arsene, simply put, has stopped caring about Arsenal.

Tell me again how he doesn’t care about our success

That’s the biggest load of bollocks I have ever seen, and believe me, I’ve seen quite a lot since joining Twitter. To suggest that a man who has dedicated his life to Arsenal’s prosperity has stopped caring about his labour of love is nothing short of ridiculous. That a man who has revolutionised English football (French too, by the way), who has won so much, who then stayed to see Arsenal through a difficult period, despite having lucrative offers from top clubs on the table, who sacrificed his reputation for an idea, can be indifferent to the fate of the Club. Arsene Wenger, a man renowned for his unbending will and belief in a certain way of doing things, suddenly gave in to Kroenke, or accepted the owner’s goals as his own.

And so this returns me to speculation and theorising without having facts at your disposal. It got to the point where people will say anything, anything at all, without a shred of proof to back it up and still find people who’ll believe it.

However the reason I’m writing all this lies not only in showing how ridiculous some people might be, but rather to say I doubt there is a simple answer to the question of our poor form. I stand by what I said: failure to get the squad to perform is on Arsene, partially definitely, but people overreacting by blaming everyone from top to bottom are missing the point. They start seeing conspiracies everywhere, they are prepared to go years, maybe decades, back to show these conspiracies have merit. I don’t think things are as dark as people paint them to be, otherwise our club would have folded a long time ago. So please stop inventing wild stuff and finding fault with everything.

Enough with these cock-and-bull stories

The last word

In the end it all boils down to your beliefs. We choose to believe what we want to believe, what we think logical and grounded in fact.

I choose to believe a change of manager may improve things, but for now I see no reason to suggest the club needs some major overhaul or more dramatic changes. I may be wrong.

However I’m averse to the idea of everyone suddenly becoming the problem because of one season of stagnation. It just doesn’t work this way. If the whole system was inherently wrong for so long, we would seen the consequences much earlier.

That’s it from me for now. If you want a view which very well presents my thoughts on the matter of our recent escapades, check out this article. Well worth your time.

Until later. Take care

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4 Responses to Rhyme, Reason and Conspiracy Theories – Is there actually a sinister reason for Arsenal’s recent failures?

  1. RedRobbo March 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    Alex, IMHO the reason we have not won, is as follows:

    1, when we were winning we had players who could play 100 mins and we’re technically good and confident (as were the mancs).
    2, Chelski spent £M 100’s and bought the title (as Blackburn did but with millions).
    3, Then came city and did the same.
    4, In the meantime all the other clubs started to get fitter and more technical, thus taking more points from the top four.
    5, Today, all teams are fit and they all have technical players (which as long as they stay fit, will win them games), but not all carry the confidence. Liecester have it, Spuds have it, but no one else including us. And I think that’s what’s held us back!

  2. Victor Thompson March 26, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi Alex, I have read this article carefully and it is so well written that I find it necessary to respond with a different perspective. I have said that I would wait until the end of the season before I criticise Wenger any further. We have seen the beginnings of responses from the club to the pressure being exerted by disgruntled fans and apparently one story is that Arsene has been ordered to spend money post season. If fans dissent is forcing the club to take account of their views then it is a good thing. However it may result in the most important event for the club for twenty years. Arsene may go. I want him to go but I don`t say that lightly, nor should anyone.

    I return to the reason for answering your article and it is as follows;

    In paragraph 1 you refer to the Watford debacle and the outpouring of anger among the Asrenal faithful but actually, it was the accumulation of a series of miserable results – Olympiakos, Zagreb, West Ham, West Brom, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton and Swansea. If we had won the Southampton and Swansea matches, we would be ahead of Spurs and right behind Leicester.

    In para. 2 you ask if we are over dramatising things and blowing them out of proportion. Of twisting facts to suit our theories. I shall return to that later.

    In para 4 you say that none of us are privy to what goes on in the upper echelons of AFC and in the absence of sound facts our theories ( I presume the conspiracies ) have no factual base to support them. Our theories are said to be based on little else than our own observations, gut feelings or snippets spoon fed to us by journalists, the result of which is to hasten us to find the man with the smoking gun.

    With respect Alex, I return to the list of defeats above. They are facts. The repercussions to the club are facts. The failure to win a major trophy in 19 years ( and I don`t count the FA cup ) is fact. The number of times that Wenger has praised his team and said that they were capable of winning the Premiership is fact. The remarks which Kroenke made regarding winning titles and the lack of concern for fans opinions is fact. It is also fact that after the Swansea defeat Wenger said that he did not pay attention to fans opinions. There was no rush to find the man with the smoking gun. The two culprits are right in front of us.

    You are correct that Kroenke is a businessman who happened to invest in a commodity. The commodity was Arsenal Football club. If he was not in it to win titles, he could have bought shares in a manufacturing or service injury, but he didn`t. He bought a club which has a strong fan base in which the fans have been loyal for decades. Kraft bought Cadburys, a firm which manufactured chocolate which was unique and close to the heart of the British Public. There was outcry prior to the sale and Kraft ( an American company ) gave undertakings that they would not close the factories in Britain or change the recipe for the chocolate. They did both and of course it was nothing personal. It was just business.

    There was nothing wrong with that It is accepted practice in business and unfortunately, the consequences for the business and the fans is profound. There is nothing we can do about it. Kroenke simply sees the commitment of the fans as evidence of a good brand.

    Kroenke became a shareholder in 2011 and you point to the fact that we had already endured 5 trophyless years at that time but that is to ignore the fact that we were building a stadium and the fans recognised that we were constrained financially. Nevertheless Wenger kept us in the top 4 so we were content but better days ahead were assured. Kroenke had done his due diligence before making his purchase and he obviously thought so. We know now that it need not include winning titles.

    During the subsequent 5 years, we have had at least three realistic opportunities to win the premiership only to fall in the finishing straight. That was down to the manager.

    It seems that unless I am wrong Alex you view the present situation as if the fans have sat in judgement and have found kroenke and Wenger guilty of being in some kind of conspiracy. You say it is that Kroenke`s highest ambition is to finish in the top 4 in the quest for profit and that Arsene is the puppet who has sacrificed his own ambitions to win titles and has replaced those ambitions with Kroenke`s.

    My answer is that if there is a trial of sorts, you need facts before you and if you don`t have those facts you must look for persuasive circumstantial or forensic evidence. If you are a member of a jury it is possible that a jury of 12 will agree or disagree on what is persuasive. You are correct that the fans do not have any eye -witness accounts of what is going on in the boardroom so it is unreasonable to blame them for assimilating the circumstantial evidence and what factual evidence ( the disgraceful results etc. ) there is to come to a decision.

    Many of us have already come to the conclusion that Arsene is to blame for the poor performances. His demeanour does not indicate that he is going to change his methods or opinions which of course are the reason for our non-performance. The only prospect for change is to change the manager. Leaving out the years when there were genuine financial difficulties, he has had more than enough time to demonstrate that the team is evolving into a major player on the Global stage. We have not and we are not. We are not regarded by the big clubs as a grade A club despite our magnificent surroundings. I think it is unfortunate that you feel that some people are ridiculous for coming to these conclusions. I think they are perfectly entitled to reach the conclusion which they have.

    Finally, on the issue of conspiracy which of course has to be a joint enterprise, I do not believe that Wenger and Kroenke are actually working hand in glove. I have already explained that Kroenke`s background and previous dealings leads me to believe that he plans much bigger things for Arsenal than we know. He has a background for buying Franchises and I believe that he sees Arsenal in that light. He has inadvertently become the beneficiary of a pot of gold in the increased TV rights but there are even bigger pots of gold in the States should he manage to develop the game over there and expand the Franchise when it is ready. To that end, I believe that Arsene Wenger would be invaluable to him. None of this is ridiculous or beyond the bounds of possibility. Meantime we fans ( pro and anti Wenger ) will continue to support our club because we can do no other. We are the lifeblood of a “Good Brand”.

    As to your defence of a man who has given his life sometimes at personal cost; many of us who want him out are acutely aware of his commitment. However, if he had gone to Real Madrid, there is no guarantee that he would not have been sacked there. In the meantime, he has been very well paid and until now he had the almost total gratitude from the fans. We fans of course are just as committed in our own way and it costs us to be so. We do not get paid for our commitment other than by the performance of the team on the pitch. In my view, we are being short changed.

    • Alex March 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

      That’s some reply, Victor. You do know you could have put it into an article larger than mine? 🙂

      I do not say Watford game was the sole reason behind fans’ disenchantement. It wasn’t even the last straw, in my opinion the last straw was the defeat to United, at least it was for me. I simply referenced it while the said theory about Wenger working hand in glove with Kroenke, if I’m to borrow your phrase, surfaced after the Watford game.

      That’s what I had in mind when I was talking about conspiracy theories. We cannot prove stuff like that. We do not have inside info on whether Arsene really works with Kroenke this way.

      Also, in the original article I’ve stopped in detail on how Kroenke seems to view Arsenal. Not that I’m completely fine with his way of doing things, but I do realise it’s a business for him, so I’m not disilusioned on his reasons for becoming majority shareholder.

      Fans blaming AW for recent failures (and with a heavy heart I include myself in this group) operate on fact, you are right: they see how we play and trace it back to the manager. They are indeed perfectly entitled to blaming the manager, because even he himself said he is responsible for his team’s performances and results. However I won’t reassess my earlier opinion on him and go back years to do it. I only judge him on the basis of this campaign, because it is only recently that my patience snapped.


  3. Victor Thompson March 26, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

    As always Alex your reply is intelligent and polite. I wish all the fans with opposing views were so reasonable.


    Victor Thompson

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