Don’t Try Fix A Broken Team – Rather Fix The Thing That’s Breaking It: Wenger

unhappy arsenal
In recent years I’ve lost count of the number of times that those of us in my continually expanding match day friendship group, have uttered the words “I’ve had a great day out, other than the game”. Unfortunately, those occasions have become increasingly more frequent and instead of being an enjoyable hobby, watching us has evolved into more of a chore of late.

At this juncture I am sure some readers will be thinking ‘if you’re not enjoying it, why do you still continue to go?’ and the answer is simple. I love this club and attending games is ingrained in me. None of us, who regularly express our desire to see change at the club, have ever said that we believe we have some form of divine right to be successful either.

Winning games and being entertained in the process, is a bonus. I’m completely aware of that and whilst I can financially afford to and I’m physically able to, I’ll continue to go. The camaraderie amongst those I go with makes it worthwhile and it’s long been about more than just a game of football. I’ve always said that you have to suffer the bad times, which are all relative to the club in question, to fully appreciate the good ones.

I’m not a naive upstart who isn’t aware that the club has faced far worse hardship over the years either. I fully appreciate that with the exception of the five teams sitting above us in the league table, every other club in the country would happily trade places with us right now. However, taking into account the resources that the club has available, the majority of our supporters expect both the team and the manager to have performed far better than they have been and rightly so.

It has always puzzled me why Wenger’s past achievements, such as the Invincible season, are still being used as an argument for why he deserves to remain as our manager. Whilst I recognise that going a season unbeaten is a magnificent achievement and one that we’re all immensely proud of, it is now over a decade ago and has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to his ability, or the lack of it, to manage the team in the present.
bergkamp ajax
Dennis Bergkamp is regarded by many as the greatest player to have ever worn the Club’s shirt but you wouldn’t want him in our side now, aged forty-eight and past his best, would you? Although based on some of our recent performances, you have to wonder if he would do any worse. In managerial terms, Arsene is past his prime and shouldn’t retain his position at the forefront either.

In typical Arsenal fashion, we took a step forwards with wins against Crystal Palace and Chelsea, only to follow those victories up by taking two steps backwards against Swansea. In a performance that served to further illustrate the importance of having Jack Wilshere in the team. Without him we appear to lack desire and natural leadership and his presence seems to encourage the other players to show more fight. He’s also one of the few players who actually wants to play forward passes.

It was impossible to take any positives from Tuesday’s game. When we get outclassed, I can accept losing but I can’t accept losing games through a total lack of desire. Truth be told, despite the possession statistics, we looked a poor side. Our build up play is slow and predictable, we do nothing but pass the ball sideways and it’s now reached the stage where Alexandre Lacazette appears to have stopped bothering making any forward runs.
lacazette unhappy
When a striker goes from being one of the most prolific in Europe to a peripheral figure who is completely disinterested and devoid of confidence, it has to be a concern. After our previous defeats this season, some of our supporters foolishly pointed the finger of blame squarely at the feet of Alexis Sanchez. Following the recent departure of this supposed disruptive influence, I wonder who those supporters are blaming now? The referee perhaps? After all, it’s usually anyone but their beloved Arsene.

It’s time these supporters looked closer to home because you can’t make deficiencies disappear by ignoring them. Petr Cech is way past his best and David Ospina is not the answer either. Whilst Ospina is younger and more athletic, he couldn’t catch a cold and anything above head height causes him a problem. At twenty three years old, maybe it is time to give Matt Macey a chance? He might make mistakes but he’s young enough to learn from them. The same can’t be said about Cech and Ospina. If he’s not up to it, at least we would find out.

If any indication is needed to demonstrate just how poor we are defensively, we’ve now conceded as many goals as West Brom, who are bottom of the league, have. Our defence is often caught ball watching and doesn’t get any protection from the midfield. I’ve said it for a while now, Laurent Koscielny’s injuries appear to have taken their toll and Shkodran Mustafi always seems to have a calamitous mistake in his locker. Hector Bellerin’s gone backwards and couldn’t cross a ball if his life depended on it. Unfortunately, they aren’t being helped by having a manager who is incapable of buying a recognised defensive midfielder and we lack any real width too.
Aubameyang training

[Credit: Arsenal.com]

I’ve seen some supporters say that we had a ‘great’ January transfer window. I was happy to see us replace Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. However, we failed to address our defensive deficiencies and also strengthened both Manchester United and Chelsea in the process. Granted, you could say that we made the most out of a difficult situation where Sanchez was concerned. I would say we got ourselves into the situation in the first place by not selling him in the summer though.
I’ve been an admirer of Aubameyang since his St. Etienne days and anyone who knows me personally will tell you that he’s been my dream ‘realistic’ Arsenal signing for years. It saddens me to say that the current situation at the club has dampened down some of my excitement about his arrival though. On our day we look like capable of beating anyone, trouble is, at times we also look capable of losing to anyone. Often in the same game.
As highly as I rate Aubameyang, unless he can play in goal, at centre back, in defensive midfield and manage the team, I can’t see anything changing. Of course, I hope I’m wrong. I never thought I’d say it but I now no longer care whether Wenger’s exit is a dignified one, I just want him gone. A sad situation considering the admiration that I once had for the man. Particularly in the first half of his tenure but sadly, I think he’s gone beyond being deserving of that now.
sanchez united unhappy
On a final note, it appears that many of our supporters hatred towards ex players, now exceeds their hatred towards our bitter rivals Spurs. After Spurs’ victory over Manchester United in midweek, some supporters were celebrating the result, seeing it as getting one over on Sanchez. Is that what some of our fanbase has become? It’s embarrassing and pathetic. If only these supporters put as much effort into supporting the players who still play for us as they do into hating players who have left.
In the words of Idina Menzel, let it go…..

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16 Responses to Don’t Try Fix A Broken Team – Rather Fix The Thing That’s Breaking It: Wenger

  1. Colin February 3, 2018 at 10:14 am #

    Totally agree with your article. What i don’t understand is Wenger saying we did not have the money to sign a defender? We have sold Ox, Walcott, Giroud, & Couq and bought Aubameyang don’t get it. To be honest though i think it does not matter what defender or defensive mid we were to buy, how Wenger sets us up to play they will keep getting caught out at the back, it happens time and time again and he never seems to learn from it.

  2. silentstan February 3, 2018 at 10:20 am #

    give the moaning a bloody rest. jeez

    • Nick Birch February 3, 2018 at 10:26 am #

      The irony of your comment seems to be lost on you.

  3. bwavre February 3, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Which team cant lose to any team in England?It Is the premier league
    .The success a team registers over a period of time dépends on many factors each very complex but to think That a mère change in a manager fixes all problème Is So naïve.Let us support the team.priod

    • Jack February 3, 2018 at 11:42 am #

      We all support the team, what we don’t support and are frustrated about is Dumb stubbornness by the manager. It’s a fact that Arsenal concede too many goals for a club of that stature year after year and we don’t seem to buy a decent DM. BFG is too old to compete in EPL but we won’t get a decent centre half. Winning and loosing are part of a game. If we play to our ability with a complete team and loose everyone would understand. But we just never complete the team. We bought OZIL in 2013, Sanchez in 2014, we should have shored up our defense with quality players in 2015, but we only invested in Chec in the summer of 2015. By then time Sanchez’s contract was over and we start again. It’s true a manager alone cannot change fortunes for Good overnight. But Arsenes stubbornness and overlooking the obvious and making the same mistakes year after year is harming the club. If you can’t see the obvious it’s your choice and we have to respect your individual opinion. I just believe the blogger has tried to present a very fair picture of the reality

      • Nick Birch February 3, 2018 at 11:44 am #

        Spot on Jack, appreciate the sensible feedback and you’ve read it how I intended it to come across.

        Cheers fella

  4. Atid February 3, 2018 at 10:43 am #

    Another deluded fool, the person that needs replacing is the one that keeps handing out contracts. Wenger will keep signing on as long as Stan keeps putting contracts in front of him. Just like Bould the highest paid assistant in the league. Anyone would be a yes man for his wages, no stress, no pressure, just coin it in.

  5. Sholz February 3, 2018 at 11:11 am #

    There’s a saying that ” The 1st law of foolishness is to Keep on doing the same things and yet expect different results”..frankly I firmly believe Wenger is NOT the person to bring out the Full potential of the Arsenal Football TEAM, whilst he might be the best person to maximize the potential of the Club as an organization. A lot of things have changed over d years in the club, players have come and gone, backroom staff replaced, Facilities and Gears have been changed, but only one entity has remained unchanged – Le Prof himself. Following simple mathematical laws, to troubleshoot what might be causing an equation to fail, u have to remove or substitute all Variables involved until u arrive at a suitable successful result. But the question we Arsenal supporters and fans need to ask is does our own Success criteria as fans match the success criteria for the Arsenal FC Management? Otherwise we are d ones that need to manage our expectations and accept or align to the results on the pitch deemed acceptable by the Club.

  6. arse_or_brain February 3, 2018 at 11:21 am #

    Hi Nick, I thought this was a well thought out and reasoned argument, which is better than many of those who want Arsene removed. However there are holes in your argument which simply dont stack up.
    Firstly your opening comment about supporters from the teams above us not wanting to trade places with us. Are you honestly saying spud supporters wouldn’t trade places with us and if you only include the last five years liverpool as well. Leaving only three clubs in the whole of the land that has a better record over the last five years and thats city, manure and chelski the three richest clubs in the world and the three we are miles behind in terms of finances. I have been a supporter for nearly 50 years and I can tell you that is a better position than many of the seasons I have folowed and loved the club. When you think there were times when Leeds, Villa, Forrest, Everton and the spuds were on a par with us our current position is not as bad as you make out
    I am very much old school and I loved Highbury but anyone who sat behind a pillar, or sat at the back of the East stand so could’t see the ball going over head height or even those who couldn’t get tickets at all in the final seasons must admit we needed a new stadium. Have established the fact the new stadium was needed the we need to accept the huge financial buden this has put upon us especially when you then consider how the financial landscape has changed against us which could not of been considered at the time.
    On the point of ex-players, all fans will always fondly remember their hero’s and will have that place in their heart for them but players, most of which are not ARSENAL supporters and only affilliation to the club is their playing time, that constantly critisize and are never positive about anything towards the club cannot be respected as men even if we respected them as players. At the end of the day I am an ARSENAL supporter and I will defend my club against anyone, ARSENAL will live forever whereas players will come and go no matter how good they were. The way some players left the club, stapleton, fab , VP, adi tarnished their playing career and unfortunately the same can be said of the behaviour of some ex-players and comments they make. All players should remember they had bad games and runs of form in their time and speak is easy. I will always refer these players to the ultimate gentleman and ARSENAL ambassidor Bob Wilson as an example how to conduct oneself after they have left the club.
    I agree some of our performances in each season are artrocious and extremely frustrating however as you said when we’re good we’re and the football is fantasic. I suspect this is part of your frustration when you know we have a team capable of beating anyone that can then perform so badly however think of it when we had teams that quite simply wern’t capable of beating the biggar sides and then you realise what we have now is not at all bad.
    On some of your analysis of what we need I can agree although bringing top players in when we are not even in the top seven choices around europe is difficult and so some of thhe players we have brought in is very impressive. Once again you have to temper what we haven’t succeeded with in the transfer windows with what we have and again we you look at it overall again we arn’t that bad.
    I have seen fans blame Arsene and the ARSENAL board on things that is the fault of the premier league and modern football ” we want our ARSENAL back” just simply will not happen in todays football as much as I would like a return to alot of the old football days.
    The worst thing you can accuse Arsene of is under performance, although I dont totally agree, to say because of that you dont want a dignified end to his career at a club where he has been so loyal, and turned down many other clubs to stay here, is criminal and weakened your argument immencely.
    At the end of the day he is our most successful manager in our history and however frustrated you feel you must judge him on the clubs entire history and when he goes give nothing but respect.

    • Nick Birch February 3, 2018 at 11:59 am #

      arse_or_brain, thanks for your reply, I don’t have the time to reply to all of it right now but I will do in due course.

      However, I will respond to your first question. When I say the clubs above us wouldn’t want to swap places with us, I’m not talking about past seasons, I’m talking about right now.

      Meaning our current league postion and our our current playing squads, why would they?

    • Nick Birch February 3, 2018 at 1:43 pm #

      “The worst thing you can accuse Arsene of is under performance, although I dont totally agree, to say because of that you dont want a dignified end to his career at a club where he has been so loyal, and turned down many other clubs to stay here, is criminal and weakened your argument immencely.
      At the end of the day he is our most successful manager in our history and however frustrated you feel you must judge him on the clubs entire history and when he goes give nothing but respect.”

      Have to say that I completely disagree that any of my argument has been weakened by me saying that I don’t care if he has a dignified departure.

      It seems to me that you are putting one employee over the club, which in itself, is criminal.

      I will always give Wenger credit for his past achievements but in my opinion, his time is up and he should step down, if he won’t then I’d like the board to take the decision out of his hands.

      He has been loyal and he’s been handsomely paid for that, I would also say that some of his loyalty is down to him knowing he would be sacked if he failed to win the league or the Champions League at Barcelona or Real Madrid for example.

      He also like total control and he wouldn’t get that at those clubs, don’t forget the club has been loyal to him too.

      You say he deserves respect but he doesn’t show us respect at times, he frequently belittles our opinions with patronising remarks about us not managed professionallly.

      Accurate opinions can be formed through observation despite what he says….

  7. Nick Birch February 3, 2018 at 11:35 am #

    Bwavre, if you think I believe a new manager would suddenly fix all, it is you who is naive, even more so if you think that I don’t support the team.

    I’m at most games and get behind the team vocally and I expect them to show more desire than I saw against Swansea.

    Atid, the fact that you instantly needed to resort to calling someone a fool, says more about you than me. I want Wenger gone, by his own decision or because the board force his hand.

    Simple as that, if you’re going to respond at least attempt to make it constructive or perhaps submit your own articles and enlighten us all with your superior knowledge….

  8. Victor Thompson February 3, 2018 at 12:29 pm #

    Nick, this was spot on. If all supporters were like Arse or Brain, Arsenal FC would never progress and Wenger would draw his £7m salary every year without any pressure to bring results. Taking on board all of the points made by AOB he might like to recall that we have been told several times by Wenger and his cohorts that our time of austerity whilst building the Emirates is over and we will be able to compete with the elite clubs for signings. Moreover our days of being a selling club are over.

    I am waiting patiently to see any evidence of that being the case, just as I am waiting patiently for more transparency in the way these conclusions by AW & Co. are arrived at. On the contrary, since the stadium has been built we have descended from being a top 4 club to scrabbling for crumbs and trying to finish above Leicester, Burnley and Everton.

    I agree that our defensive frailties are the main reason why we cannot maintain the consistency required to cement a challenge for the title, but Wenger had admitted that he tried to get Jonny Evans and failed because it was too close to the deadline when he made a genuine bid. He did not deign to tell us that he had offered a derisory £12m ! Just because the fans turn up every season despite the regular failings each year does not mean that they are morons, so please do not treat us as such Mr. Wenger.

    • Nick Birch February 3, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

      Thank you for your comments Victor, a pleasure to read your thoughts as always.

      Having left it so late trying to find a replacement for Sanchez in the previous window, I fail to see how we didn’t learn and make a bid for Evans earlier in this one?

      Some may laugh as he’s not a fashionable name but I’d have taken someone like Lascelles from Newcastle, I’ve watched him a few times this season and he’s exactly what we need, an old fashioned English centre back and he’s a natural leader.

      He’s only 24 but he’s not afraid to dish out bollockings to far more senior players and we need a bit of that….

  9. James Parkins February 5, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

    Nail on the head as always, good game on Saturday but watch us lose against the spuds this wekend. Le fraud out!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Wenger is not the problem – Modern Football is. He deserves more Respect. | Gunners Town - February 3, 2018

    […] debate rages on: the following article is a well-thought out response in the comments section of a Gunners Town article by Nick Birch posted earlier, that suggests the […]

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