For November read December. The stumble has come. Defeats at Everton and City have dealt us a heavy blow.
The anti-wengerites are loving it – having a field day – venting all their anger on AW.
The pro-wengerites are feeling the pressure, trying to keep a balance and continuing to believe in the future.
Are we making a mountain out of a molehill? Are we losing our critical faculties by over-reacting to two defeats?
Actually I don’t think so.
Those of us who support Wenger may not like the tone of the comments of the anti-Wengerites – some are triumphalist – they are “I Told You So”. They are unattractive, provocative and in some cases vulgar and abusive.
But the issue here is not the quality of the criticism. Football is football and we all comment/criticise/support with our eyes wide open and we know that out there in social media there are bad people but that is democracy – unfortunately.
The phrase “Warts and All” comes to mind.
No, the issue is not the quality and tone of the post-match comment but the quality and tone of the play on the pitch.
Angered though we may be by the comments of some we cannot be deflected from the core issue – are we good enough?
Is this another setback the like of which we have seen in recent seasons since we became a buying club – I disregard our failings when we were a selling club when our achievements were in my view quite remarkable season after season.
Are we pretenders? Are we a quality team that lacks the character to become a winning team? Are we the bridesmaid and not the bride?
The evidence is not ambiguous – if you are positive you can point to a long unbeaten run after the opening day defeat by Liverpool. It was a dramatic setback that hit us all and the team showed quality to bounce back – that was an example of character – real character. Good performances, good goals, good team spirit.
But we have faltered and in two away matches we have surrendered a one goal lead to lose 1-2.
And questions are asked – do we have a soft centre? – do we lack character on the pitch? – are we too subdued? – do we have the stomach for a fight? – are we leaders or followers?
The two defeats raise doubts – questions have been asked and the challenge is there for Wenger and each member of the squad?
Can we bounce back or are we a defeated group?
Is there anything left in the tank?
And the questions go further – is this down to Wenger’s lack of physical joviality – do we need the hugs and back slapping of Conte and Klopp? Is Wenger’s yesterday’s man? Was he fortunate to inherit guts and aggression from George Graham? Has he failed to select the right combination of talent and character?
Or are we over-reacting? Are we so upset to surrender a leading position and fall nine points behind CFC that we have lost our own critical faculties?
There is a long way to go – Chelsea can falter, we can go on another run, Cazorla could yet return to play a vital role.
At the same time maybe the die is cast – maybe we are where we are for good reason. We are just not good enough because Wenger is just not good enough.
It all depends on what happens between now and May 2017. A judgment will be called upon to be made.
There has been time – there has been money – we live in the present and not in the past.
It is a challenge for Wenger and I for one so hope he succeeds – he is one of the great personalities of football.
He has to get it right, has to get into the heads of the quiet ones – Ozil, Theo, Ox, even Kos, Iwobi
There can be no casualness, no switching off, no going to sleep.
Concentration and commitment and character has to be 110% in every day as an AFC player – in practice, in the matches, at half time, before the game.
We have the quality – for sure but can we turn a tide, can we break up the momentum of the opponents when they try to bounce back?
I know nothing about tactics – I see things but I am far from being a football commentator in the same way I suspect applies to many of the readers of this message – we think we know but do we?
What we do know about is effort and more effort and the need for leaders and fist waving to ensure each and every player is switched on, alert and ready for the challenge.
We will need it in abundance against Pulis’s WBA and for every match in every competition until the end of the season.
Now is the time to suspend judgment, to get behind the players and to play our part in turning the second half of the season into a successful campaign.
Long term decisions come in May
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