Thinking the Unthinkable….

No matter how much we all love and respect Arsene Wenger and believe that he is a gentleman and no matter how grateful we are to him for turning the club around when he first came, instigating the move to the Emirates and for buying some wonderful players for us to enjoy playing the best football in England, it seems quite apparent to me that something is wrong at our club.

Yes, something is broken.

Why do I believe this?

Well, it is largely the evidence of my own eyes over the past several seasons.

I can feel it already. You are coming up with all the caveats that have surrounded Wenger’s recent years. The consistent top 4 finishes, the financial draining effect of the new stadium, the rise of the sugar daddy clubs, the appalling luck with injuries. Yes, I agree 100%.

They have all had a massive effect on Arsenal Football Club and its ability to compete at the highest level. I also contend that no other manager could have kept Arsenal in the CL for so long under such restraints. He has done incredible things for us all.

The lack of trophies can be attributed to many of these, except of course the ridiculous loss to Birmingham in Carling Cup final a couple of seasons ago. Laying, buried in the atrocious experience of that rainy day, there was a burning question that is still unanswered. Why did we lose that game? How on earth did we lose against a very, very poor team lead by surely one of the least inspiring managers ever? If you think it was Koscielny’s mistake alone that cost us that game, then that’s up to you.

I believe it was very typical of Wenger’s Arsenal of the past several seasons when faced with a big game. But that is past and not worth dwelling on at this moment in time as it’s the present and the future that concern me.

Wenger has been a very great manager for Arsenal and I have said before that one of his greatest tricks is downgrading expectations by convincing so many fans that we are paupers and that Chelsea and Manchester City are the big bad wolf with no morality or sense of fair play.

In some ways he is right of course. There are no financial restraints at those clubs as we have seen.

This January, in complete defiance of Financial Fair Play, I can see both of them blowing us out of the water with massive transfer fees and wages paid to players that are in fact sorely needed at our own club. But we cannot afford them. We know this because we operate the self-sustaining financial model that gives us both the moral high ground and players like Chamakh and Gervinho plus several others who should be nowhere near Arsenal Football Club because they are not good enough. Not their fault at all. Just not good enough to help take us where we ought to be heading.

We can all debate who is and who isn’t good enough can’t we. It’s a fun after dinner chat but it doesn’t really address the big question as to whether Wenger has still got it in him to win the CL or the PL ?

Has he? What do you think?

It’s not that easy to answer in a cool detached way as one always gets this nagging feeling of disloyalty and even if you don’t feel that, there are plenty of bloggers, including a swathe of complete idiots, who will remind you of your treachery and unspoken oath of loyalty in a heartbeat, as if you had forgotten. They will be along a little later.

So it hurts to even have to think about Arsenal without Wenger because it’s human nature to resist change and we know what to expect from him. And there’s all that stuff he’s done for us.

But, what about the board?

How responsible are they for the club’s excruciating but inexorable move backwards over the past few years – and how can this be turned round? The nature of Stan’s ownership, like most other things at the club, is shrouded in a fog of mystery and disinformation, seemingly designed to confuse. That Kroenke loves the self-sustaining model is certain. The problem is that he isn’t rich enough to take the handbrake off, smell the coffee and release ample funds for new and better players when the opportunity arises and he doesn’t want to put his hand in his own pocket. That’s for sure. Arsenal are a business asset to him. We feel somewhat differently.

There is also the thorny issue as to whether Wenger would actually spend the really big money on a player.

It appears that he has entrenched egalitarian views about running a football club where no players earn vastly more than others. This, in his noble philosophy, avoids tensions and resentments building up. Thus we see a very promising, very young player like Oxlade-Chamberlain given a massive hike in wages that coincides perfectly with a loss of form and Wenger’s reluctance to play him in front of Gervinho. I haven’t really worked that one out yet.

It also results in a build-up of deadwood, unwilling to move elsewhere and take a pay cut.

While on the subject I really cannot avoid the goalkeeping situation. If ever a manager had a blind spot it must surely be Wenger and goalkeepers.

For a club like Arsenal to be in their current situation is not just unfortunate, it is an absolute disgrace. We had to put up with Almunia for years when everybody knew he wasn’t good enough. Wenger said he was, we said he wasn’t and we were proved right.

Arsene was wrong. Who can possibly say otherwise?

It cost us and now we are in this position? Why is it that Wenger won’t buy a World-class goalkeeper?

Why?

He lauds Lloris but wouldn’t buy him. He bought Shaaban, Manninger, Almunia, Fabianski and God knows who else and they were and are not good enough. But all were cheap. Spot the common denominator?

Arguably the most important position in the side and he won’t buy a decent ‘keeper. Why?

The answer is obvious. He thinks that our current goalkeepers are fine. We have the worst goalkeepers in the PL purely because he won’t buy a world class one or even a very good one who could save us several points a year. What other rational explanation is there?

Yes, our first choice might be great in a few years but, as he has proved recently, he is not great now and that’s what counts. This alone is ample reason to be very worried about where Arsene is leading this club. It just makes no sense at all and when things don’t make sense questions must surely and rightly be asked.

There are of course many, many other things that also do not make sense. But, Arsene is a safe pair of hands who turns a profit every year, so I doubt we will see any changes for a while, barring a catastrophic season or two of underachievement. Even then I imagine Kroenke will be reluctant to ask Arsene to step aside.

Everything seems blacker when you lose to a side like Norwich. People got carried away with the away win to an awful Liverpool team, the draw away to Man City and a 3-1 win at newly promoted West Ham. After his “Moment of truth” spiel this week, the players let him down. He sat and watched as they played absolute dross, the goalkeeping fiasco bit him in the arse and he couldn’t motivate them to anything in the second half either. Arsenal are confusing and irritating at the same time.

Even with Cazorla, Podolski, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Arteta et al in place, Wenger sat there and watched, ashen-faced as the team and club were humiliated.

Many people are scared of Wenger going because of the alternatives, but let me leave you with a bit of blue sky thinking that may or may not appeal.

Kroenke decides that it’s time to sell as he sees the slow decline of Arsenal reflected as a reduction in the share price – and Kroenke is all about the bottom line. Usmanov takes over and declares that he wants to turn Arsenal into one of the biggest and best clubs in the world. He lets everyone know that if a world-class player becomes available in a position where the manager thinks we are short then we have the financial clout to compete with anyone. Arsene finds this all rather vulgar, says he still believes in Chamakh and is offered Hill-Wood’s old position as chairman. He accepts. Is that bit too far fetched for you?

It is me.

Usmanov states that he wants to own an extremely ambitious club and not one that is content to tread water. He offers Guardiola a 5 year contract. Guardiola accepts and the first thing he does is to buy a decent goalkeeper. He pays off the deadwood and tells them to sod off.

Ok. There are no guarantees as to success but it would certainly be an exciting ride where defeat to Norwich would not be meekly tolerated and players would not hold the club to ransom over contracts. Players would want to become part of the revolution. The player/club dynamic would change completely. You don’t pull your weight – you are out.

A dream perhaps – and dreams seldom come true.

But one thing is certain. If the club continue to slip away, something will have to be done one way or the other.

Written by Adam

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