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Highbury Didn’t Die For This – A Brutal Assessment by a Veteran Gooner

What is going on at our football club?!

I’m a disgruntled season ticket holder who’s been going along to watch The Arsenal for over 50 years now and I’m finding it increasingly hard to justify paying over a £1,000 a season to watch a bunch of under-performing, pampered prima donnas. I can’t ever remember the club in such disarray. In the past when it eventually reached a stage where the managers job was untenable he got relieved of his duties, the club appointed a new manager and we moved on.

Despite Sir Chips saying it would be a mutual decision if Arsene Wenger stays on it clearly isn’t the case. The club have become so weak and inept at Board level that they’ve allowed a situation where the manager decides when he’s ready to go.

To offer Arsene a two year contract is absolute madness. His position has become untenable, just like his predecessors Wright, Mee, and Graham, but it seems this pathetic bunch of individuals known collectively as ‘the Arsenal Board’ have apparently decided (in their infinite wisdom) to give him another two-year deal.

The atmosphere is already toxic, but if he stays the toxicity level will go up several more notches. What has Arsene Wenger done recently to even merit a new contract?

The contrast between the first half of his reign and the players he had compared to now is staggering. The football we are being served up now is utter dross. One thing that was always a hallmark of an Arsene Wenger side was the beautiful exciting style of play. Now that’s gone, it’s just endless side to side passing with no penetration and no end product. Yet Arsene – who, by the way – was (in my opinion) for a while the best manager in the business says “This is the best squad I’ve ever had!”

Do me a favour…

The players have stopped believing in him. They are not listening, and just going through the motions. As a consequence we have slipped to sixth place and if Arsene stays it will only get worse. It looks almost certain that Ozil and Sanchez will leave; how will Arsenal attract top players to the club? Who will want to play for a manager who sadly has been overtaken by younger coaches and will no longer able to offer Champions League football?

I cannot think why anybody would want to give Arsene another two years other than for sentimental reasons. Football is a results-driven business and Arsene isn’t delivering. The Club is regressing. Allowing him to stay is not what’s best for either Arsenal Football Club or Arsene Wenger.

I’m sick of hearing the players after every setback saying “We’ve got to learn from this, it isn’t acceptable” then going out and doing the same thing again! I’m fed up with having a side with no leaders, with captains that never play. I’m sick of the constant spin of “War Chest” stories every time it’s season ticket renewal time.

I’ve had enough of comments like Arsene’s “fourth place is a trophy” and Ivan, remember him “We should be able to compete at a level with a club such as like Bayern Munich” and Stan’s “If you wanted to win championships then you would never get involved”.

Arsenal used to be a club that strived to be the best. Herbert Chapman’s aim was to make us the best club in the World. He delivered us the best stadium, the best team and the best facilities. We’ve always done things with style and panache. We’ve lost our way a few times along the way since then. But we’ve always bounced back.

We were told the move to the Emirates would allow us to compete with all the top clubs in Europe and would ensure we’d be able to buy the elite players and keep our top stars. We were sold a dream. But that has turned into a nightmare.

The Board built the new stadium. We had everything in place to move to the next level. But the Board sold the club down the river by selling their shares to Stan Kroenke and he’s the one reaping all the benefits now – not the club, or the fans.

We’ve been patient, waiting and understanding that while the stadium was being built, it was draining resources and while the old commercial deals were still in place we couldn’t reach our full financial potential. But the new deals have kicked in now and the club are not meeting the expectations we were promised. They are not showing the ambition required to make us a Bayern Munich.

What makes it even more galling is our bitter rivals Tottenham have copied our blueprint for success. They have a bright young manager, with a young exciting side, playing an attractive style of football, with a wage bill half the size of ours and a brand new state of the art stadium to negate the financial advantage we’ve had over them.

The saying “Be careful what you wish for” is sounding more ridiculous as every week goes by. The club needs change from top to bottom. That can’t happen while Arsene Wenger still has control over every aspect of Arsenal Football Club. We need a new manager with new ideas. An astute Director of Football. A visionary to revamp the youth academy. We need to improve the scouting network.

The squad needs to be re-evaluated. The club needs to back the new manager and that will take substantial investment. Get rid of that bunch of free-loading directors like Sir Chips Keswick and Lord Harris and replace them with younger, more ambitious men with a football background.

The club has become complacent with an over-reliance on Arsene Wenger, which isn’t a healthy thing for a billion-pound concern like Arsenal Football Club. We are stagnating and on the road to becoming a mediocre club. Ivan has said before that the club are “Incredibly ambitious” – they’re not. They are drifting along aimlessly with nobody steering the ship.

If Stan Kroenke isn’t prepared to do what’s required then sell up to somebody who is and get the hell out of our club and take your son with you. As Alan Davies once said Highbury didn’t die for this.

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7 Responses to Highbury Didn’t Die For This – A Brutal Assessment by a Veteran Gooner

  1. chris March 22, 2017 at 8:55 am #

    Well expressed but there is little we, the fans, can do. Particularly since some of us still worship Wenger for what he did (with George Graham’s defence) 10 and 15 and 20 years ago. Kroenke feels no pressure, living in USA and only interested in the cash flow numbers. Gazidis does what he is told by Kroenke (and ludicrously, by Wenger). The rest of the Board are make weights. Kroenke has no feelings for the fans. As with his other sports clubs … he exploits their loyalty. Wenger ignores the fans – loving the power and still convinced he cannot possibly be wrong. Bloody sad isn’t it. We have nowhere to go.

  2. West March 22, 2017 at 11:03 am #

    Well written article which captures the issues with the Arsenal at present. Let the protests against Wenger continue probably before and after every match and make the place toxic for him otherwise he will stay forever.

  3. Victor Thompson March 22, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    I agree with every word of this article. It is amazing how many times people like me who write for Gunners Town come across articles like this and we see sentences we have read and written many times. All of this is familiar to me and I have covered most of them myself.

    I say this because it is increasingly obvious that whilst the “Arsene Knows Best” faction decry the uncouth use of banners, placards and latterly, even planes to abuse Wenger; they are not taking account of the articulate and reasoned fans who take to social media to set out what are perfectly legitimate grievances.

    The weaknesses in Arsene Wenger`s performance for the last 10 years are so obvious that they are repeated in one critique after another, whether it be football pundits, on TV and in newspapers or social media. They are also used by rival fans to confirm the lack of status our beloved club now lacks. Dave Kidd of the Sun today describes us as a Circus and mocks the division between the fans. Have we really been reduced to that?

    You have rightly pointed out the weaknesses in the Board; the lack of accountability for Wenger, and his stranglehold on every aspect of Arsenal FC. He is now a veritable Caesar and demi – god to his die hard followers. Dissenters are lunped together as thugs and traitors despite the fact that those who want change are a wide range of angry, frustrated people. Some do resort to high profile methods to make their point and others stay away to register their disapproval. Others, like me and other scribes prefer to set out our grievances in print.

    The empirical evidence over the last 10 years has been on the side of the dissenters. All of the statistics, whatever way you look at them provide evidence which one would have to be blind to ignore. You point out the most corrosive aspect of our game which has crept in over the last few years, and which has even been identified by Wenger himself. That is the sideways and backwards style of football ( often played at walking pace ). Wenger has miserably failed to alter or eradicate that cancer from our game. Conte would be jumping up and down the sidelines screaming at the players with arms like helicopter blades if Chelsea played like that.

    Xhaka was one of the worst culprits last Saturday and he was bought to be the engine room of our midfield. We saw what he could do when he plays for Switzerland but even he has let his game decline into the morass of meaningless possession which produces no end result. There was a time when Wenger was renowned for developing young players and improving their game, but even our latest protege, Iwobi started promisingly, but has begun to go backwards.

    I have often said, as you say, that it is unjustifiable to charge the dearest tickets in the world to watch this dross we are being served. My way of explaining this is to say that if you dine at Gordon Ramsey`s you expect to get fine dining, not pie and chips. It would be even more ridiculous if, having received your pie and chips you complain and are told that the manager does not listen to customers complaints. That is what happened last season when Swansea and Watford beat us and an interviewer asked Wenger what he made of the fans carrying banners of protest. He said that he never listened to fans opinions.

    It is even worse this year and Wengerites were wringing their hands in pity for the strain which Wenger was showing during and after the W,Brom. game It seemed that when he was subsequently asked if he had made his mind up what he was going to do, he hinted that he had made his mind up and we would hear soon. At last, with some sympathy, I expected to hear that he had given Kroenke notice that he would be leaving. Now it appears that he has accepted the two year extension we have all heard was on the table. There will be changes in that some of the jobs he had been doing will be delegated and he will concentrate on the footballing side of the club. I presume he will no longer be seen with the ground staff, the laundry, or catering staff, which is a shame because I believe that he is quite capable of training all of them as part of his remit.

    Ironically, he has demonstrated that in one area ( the players ) he is useless. He doesn`t need to be an expert to identify the faults on the pitch. Even we scribes with no practical experience of training footballers, identified those failings , before he admitted to them. We are familiar with all of them. The question is; why has he been unable to prevent the expansion of those faults? Why is Steve Bould not allowed, or possibly forbidden, to impose his knowledge of defending upon our so called defenders? He was part of the greatest Arsenal defence ever. It is incomprehensible that he is incapable of using his experience to discipline his defence to some degree.

    In short, in a multi billion business, what does it take for the CEO who has failed so miserably as Wenger has for 12 years have to do to be sacked? In any other club, the shareholders would have insisted he was replaced. The problem is that Kroenke is perfectly satisfied with him because the dollars are flowing in every year without too much expenditure. He is not going to change things. Wenger will have to collapse and die before he takes action. Looking at Wenger these days, that looks like a real possibility. The value of Kroenke`s shares as I understand it have doubled in the time that he has bought them.

    I`m afraid that the value of our support pales into insignificance in comparison.

    • Russ March 22, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

      I agree with the article and your response apart from this:
      ‘I say this because it is increasingly obvious that whilst the “Arsene Knows Best” faction decry the uncouth use of banners, placards and latterly, even planes to abuse Wenger; they are not taking account of the articulate and reasoned fans who take to social media to set out what are perfectly legitimate grievances’.
      It is hard to to put all this article or similar on a banner displayed in the ground or in the sky. As you said, I also have seen these articles with the same comments for many years and I know that in many cases the same people are behind the banners. They are not suddenly uncouth through having to shorten the message, these are the same articulate and reasoned fans who also comment on social media. You have to realise that the club don’t care about the social media gripes, its not real until visible to the real world and may begin to hurt the business.
      I say well done to all the banner bearers, it certainly seems to have ramped up the pressure at last. No one else was doing anything of real use.

      • Victor Thompson March 23, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

        Thanks Russ for your reply to my comments. I agree that, as the psalm says “For every time there is a season” Wenger doesn`t seem to realise his time is up and perhaps it is the season for banners and protests.

  4. Stacey Hood March 22, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    Great post, Gary. As a Gooner living in the States, it pains me to no end to see what is happening with the club. It broke my heart when I saw that Highbury was not going to be our home. I tried to get excited about Emirates, but then I started noticing the trend of “we have XX amount of money to spend, but we’re looking for players that fit into the club” and then we’d buy a “youngster with great potential” only to watch that player disappear into the reserves. Then the same results, 4th place, getting knocked out in one of the later stages of the CL, etc.

    Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And that’s where we are with Wenger. Kroenke has ruined in some way or another, every sports team he has been involved with. A brief Google search will show that.

    They say that a team will reflect the coach. It’s glaring how much this is true. I’m prepared for a few seasons of struggle to rebuild the program if that’s what it takes.

  5. Alexfield March 22, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

    Sad story all the more upsetting as its so true very very sad to get to this we need not have left Highbury our home can’t fully express how upset that made me .
    But I salted my upset as I thought give it a few yrs and we will be able to compete at world level no longer would players with ambition think of Barca, Real,Munich et al before The mighty Arsenal

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