One of the great things about being an Arsenal supporter is the varied beliefs that we all have. Sometimes I have enraged at the comments I get on my articles or by the rantings of my good friends on twitter.
We all feel that we have the right answer, but invariably none of us are correct. The only way to be truly correct is to come up with a viable, implementable solution that will ensure that Arsenal win every competition they enter, every year. It’s impossible, even Adidas would agree with that (see their slogan ‘impossible is nothing’).
I wanted to take this time to discuss a massive change to how Arsenal operates between the board and the players. Right now, there is one key person in that role, Arsene Wenger. I’m going to argue that there should be two.
At times, I feel that Steve Bould, Boro Primorac, and Neil Banfield are just babysitters or another set of eyes for Le Boss. When a team is selected or a tactic attempted, it is Wenger who makes the call. When a player is purchased or a bid tabled, it is Wenger’s final call. Steve Rowley does not go to Ivan Gazidis with instructions to sign someone, Wenger is the intermediary.
Wenger should be accountable to the fans and the board, but based on the spending patterns since 2004 (not Paris as some would have you believe), Arsene appears to prioritize the board first. If you follow @DarrenArsneal1 there is a massive gulf between what is spent on players and what the club makes in profit on their sales, TV deals, marketing etc. I am inclined to agree with him, though I do doubt the ever growing balance sheet (well over £120M appears to be available to the manger). The board is reaping the benefits of this fiscal policy. Arsene has done great things for the club, the first step was before 2004 with the training facility. The second step has been the Emirates, and as fans we have understood the need to pay that down. In my naivety I always hoped that the surrounding residential deals and increased commercial partnerships would fun the stadium.
Right now we have a talented squad, on paper they are in the top four in the league (recently 3rd in goals allowed and 3rd in goals scored, yet 5th in the table). Yet, for all the glitter, the club has been knocked out of both domestic cups by completely inferior teams. The players are not giving up, and the squad was not decimated by injuries – so what is the issue? Would Robin van Pur$e$tring$ have been enough to get passed both clubs? I do not think so, Arsenal were still far superior to both Bradford City and Blackburn. It comes down to the match and the tactics.
A recent Arsenal fans roundtable shows my views clearly on tactics. Arsenal play the same tactics every match, and it does not seem to matter who the opponent is. Each opponent is different in their strengths, tactics, weaknesses, etc. so how can Arsenal approach them all so similarly? This is the area where I think Arsene Wenger has been so poor. The game has changed a fair bit since Wenger took charge 16 years ago. While Arsene has changed too, he maintains his style throughout each period with little variation. Our current formation and tactics have been employed over the last three seasons in that time our starting XI has changed dramatically. I am not going to talk about the variations in formation, as I have several suggestions and I will put them together in a future article.
For now I want everyone to think about one option, would you be ok having Arsene Wenger handle contracts, transfers and fiscal policy, but having a new coach come in to manage the squad in training and on matchdays? Arsenal would be clipping Wenger’s wings, but giving flight to a club that is underachieving by a margin.
Remember, if Blackburn and Bayern both reach the FA Cup and Champions League finals, Wenger will say that Arsenal lost to finalists. That resigned congratulations may suit him, but does that make you feel any better? Nope, especially since we know that Arsenal had a great chance to make the Capital One Cup final and still have another FA Cup match this season at a bare minimum.