As the season draws to a close, it is not a sense of sadness or even disappointment that engulfs me but one of relief; Relief that the summer break from club football will at last provide me with a timely respite from what has become a toxic environment during a disappointing and emotionally exhausting campaign.
The repetitive debate raging amongst the clubs supporters over the position of Arsene Wenger has undoubtedly, become tiresome. Equally tiresome, if not more so, is watching the manager and the team, repeating the same mistakes year after year. However, in recent weeks, some members of the Arsene knows brigade have bizarrely suggested that a second or third place finish at the end of this campaign, would represent a successful season.
Whilst no club has a divine right when it comes to winning trophies, a club with the resources of Arsenal is expected to at least offer a sustained challenge to win them. Early eliminations from the FA Cup, Capital One Cup and Champions League, along with a minimum nine point gap between our final points total and that of the newly crowned league champions, Leicester City, is far from doing that.
Finishing above Spurs would at least provide us with the local bragging rights and the ammunition for our fans to have the last laugh at our neighbours expense following all the gloating they have done this season. However, from my perspective, this alone would not justify the faith shown in Arsene by those who believe he can do no wrong.
With the relegation of Newcastle United now confirmed, I fully expect Spurs to secure at least the solitary point they require in order to condemn us to finishing below them for the first time in over two decades. This, along with Leicester’s surprise title success this season, removes the Arsene knows brigades, ‘it could be worse, we could be below Spurs and we can’t compete with clubs spending a sugar daddies money’, safety net.
I briefly touched upon Arsene repeating his mistakes and it has become increasingly evident that the reason he continually fails to learn from his past errors, is his obvious refusal to accept responsibility for them. Instead he points the finger of blame at everyone and anyone with one exception, himself. Happy to take credit for past successes and tell us how he built up the club but reluctant to accept criticism for recent disappointments it would seem.
Particularly puzzling is Arsene’s recent analysis of our season, where he cited a difficult fixtures list, an awkward climate at home games and long term injuries to Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla. Perhaps he’s forgotten that both Welbeck and Wilshere were ruled out with long term injuries prior to the closure of the summer transfer window. It is important that Arsene learns from the lessons of this season and buys a suitable replacement for Welbeck who has been ruled out for at least nine months.
It should also not be forgotten that the severity of Cazorla’s injury was worsened by him not being replaced at half time away at Norwich. With Arsene publicly stating that he was aware that Santi was ‘playing on one leg’ during the interval. Add this to the injury sustained by Theo Walcott’s after being introduced without a proper warm up against Sheffield Wednesday and Aaron Ramsey suffering an injury in near identical circumstances against Hull City and the evidence begins to mount up.
Participation in both domestic and European cup competitions of course brings additional fixtures but as previously mentioned, we failed to reach the latter rounds of any knock out competition this season and a difficult fixture schedule is an excuse not a reason for our relatively poor campaign. The atmosphere at home games may have become increasingly tense in the last few fixtures but prior to this, the players and manager have been fairly well received by the home crowd and our support on a whole has been very tolerant during years of underachievement. The manager is not only wrong to blame the fans but disrespectful too.
Arsene hates being questioned and having the character of his players put under scrutiny. Many times he has praised the team’s mental strength but we are yet to see any evidence that supports this claim. Once we score, we often look capable of getting five but by the same token, after conceding, we often appear susceptible to letting in five. This apparent vulnerability in no way supports Arsene’s assertion that his team is not mentally fragile and it clear that the team lacks any real leadership, on or off the field.
In recent weeks, the protests against Wenger have stepped up a gear. Whether you agree or disagree with them, people are entitled to express their opinions and some of our supporters need to lose the holier than thou chip on their shoulders. The same individuals who tell those of us want Wenger to go, to ‘f*ck off down the lane’ are also the ones physically assaulting fellow Arsenal supporters. My question is what mirrors the behaviour of Spurs fans more, the holding up of politely worded banners or punching Arsenal supporters?
Despite Arsene’s beliefs to the contrary, the protests are not coordinated by a personal agenda and a big ego, a clear reference to Piers Morgan. The majority of Arsenal supporters despise Piers Morgan and it is an insult to our intelligence, again, to suggest that we are not capable of forming our own opinions. Sadly this season, Arsene has shown very little that suggests he remains capable of leading the club to future successes.
Having publicly admitted that Stan Kroenke has made funds available and never blocked a big money transfer move, the pressure is on Wenger to spend this summer. People will argue that Leicester’s title success proves that clubs don’t need to spend big. However, when you have a manager who is incapable of getting even some of the basics right, team selections and substitutions for example, a higher calibre of player is required to help compensate for some of the managers deficiencies.
The thought of at least another season full of bitter infighting amongst our own supporters and further underachievement under Wenger is a depressing one to stomach. And a new contract being put on the table for Arsene would be the final nail in the coffin where supporter harmony is concerned. If only I go into hibernation and wake up once Arsene has gone. Being an Arsenal supporter used to consist of togetherness and camaraderie but sadly those days appear long gone…..
On a final note, I’d like to wish Bob, Charlie, Kayleigh and the rest of the Arsenal Away Boyz gang a happy retirement. Hopefully we will see you all back for a few special occasion gigs in the future. It’s been a blast guys x