I am going to get straight to the point; I am concerned about the immediate future of Arsenal Football Club. To many, that may appear to be an overreaction. Especially when taking in to consideration, that with the exception of the five teams currently sitting above us in the table, every club in the country would undoubtedly, happily trade places with us.
The club is not in danger of relegation and it is not experiencing financial difficulties. We are also in the semi-final of the FA Cup. What is the problem then, some would ask. Instead of moving forward, we are going backwards. Our supporters are fighting each other, the team’s performances and results have fallen way below expectations, whilst our two most talented players are likely to leave the club in the summer. When our manager is so bereft of ideas, who can blame them? Arsene has never managed to consistently get the best out of Mesut Ozil anyway.
With reports emerging that Arsene will sign a new one or two year deal, although I suspect that he already has done, further periods of stagnation are likely. It is evident that Arsene is not getting the best out of the team, by the players own admissions, performances have not been good enough. If the players played as good a game as they talk, we would have won the league this season. Its tiresome hearing them trot out the same old apologies every week and it is time for the players to do their talking on the pitch.
It has been suggested that Arsene has lost the dressing room. However, I do not believe that he has lost the respect of the players as Jose Mourinho did at Chelsea last season. Whilst he is incapable of inspiring them, they appear to like him as a man and admire his longevity in the job. Unfortunately, being liked by the players does not compensate for a lack of tactical acumen and in game proactivity, or poor team selections and substitutions.
After more than two decades in the job, it is perhaps no surprise that Arsene is reluctant to pass on the baton. However, at no other supposedly ambitious club, would the board be offering their underachieving manager a new contract and pay increase. It should not be forgotten that Arsene is already amongst the highest earning football managers in the world. He reportedly earns £2m a year more than Chelsea’s Antonio Conte does. Justifiable?
Some supporters would argue that his salary is irrelevant but I would disagree. He earns an above market rate salary and with that, comes high expectations and rightly so. Perhaps he is unfairly judged due to his past successes but after being handed £90m to spend last summer, is it wrong to expect a better level of performances from the team? I don’t think that is unreasonable and how can anyone be confident that future transfer funds, would be spent wisely?
It is evident that the playing squad and the coaching staff are both in need of an overhaul. I would not go as far as suggesting that the way Arsene manages is similar to a dictatorship, like some supporters do, but he does appear to surround himself with yes men. I have always considered it healthy to have your opinion challenged because it helps to keep the brain stimulated. How often do you see Arsene holding mid game discussions with Steve Bould or his coaching staff?
Whilst a new assistant manager is necessary if Arsene is to stay, the deadwood in the squad needs to be shipped out too. The question is, is Wenger ruthless enough? Petr Cech, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy are all past their best. David Ospina proved he is not good enough in the games against Sutton and West Brom. Yaya Sanogo and Carl Jenkinson, amongst others, should have left the club long ago and Gabriel is an accident waiting to happen. The list goes on.
To a degree, I can understand the reluctance of the board to take the decision, about his future, out of Arsene’s hands. The owners and the board have little football knowledge and are bound to be nervous about making such a significant decision. In some ways, you have to question whether it is really the club that Arsene loves or simply the power he has. Surely he can understand that remaining at the club, will continue to cause conflict within the clubs fan base?
The majority do want change but it is only a minority that are prepared to protest in an attempt to force it. A significant contrast to the beliefs of the Hong Kong based group of supporters, supposedly responsible for the recent pro Wenger plane banner. At least their statement provided some amusement. After missing the irony in calling other fans ‘irrational’ and an ’embarrassment’ before proceeding to say their banner was ‘planned and implemented within two days’.
Those responsible are condescending and derogatory with their suggestions that the protesters have been ‘stirred up by media outlets’. They call others ‘disrespectful’ and ‘insulting’, yet behave in the same manner by insinuating that the supporters that protest are incapable of thinking for themselves. Do they actually read these statements before releasing them publicly? I am not sure they would be as contradictory or full of complete nonsense, if they did.
It is also ridiculous to suggest that anyone who has taken part in a Wenger out protest has stopped supporting the club. Protests have generally taken place before games. In no way does attending one, prevent anyone from getting behind the team during games.
Some of our supporters appear to be intent on attempting to diminish the support given to the team by others. How about focusing on your own support and let others get on with theirs.
Some supporters have taken cheap shots at the Wenger out protesters by implying that any protests taking place on the same day as the ‘Rocky Remembered’ event would be disrespectful towards Rocky. The fact that anyone has found it necessary to link the two, says more about them, than it does anyone else. They are two completely separate things and I am sure David will be shown the same love and respect that he always has done. I will respect him whether there is a protest or not, why can’t they?
In some ways, Wenger and Arsenal, remind me of a broken marriage. Where one-half of the partnership is desperately clinging on to false hopes, that one day, things will return to how they once were. Sorry Arsene but it is time for a divorce….