Sunday 19 February 2012

Bad but not as bad as some sensationally say

It is strange how different people react to the same events.  Yesterday we had a tricky away fixture against an in form Sunderland side who have a new manager, we lost 2-0 but it was a very tight game, and genuinely could have gone either way.  We had the better of the first half, but Sunderland took the lead with a fortunate deflected goal from a speculative Kieran Richardson shot from the edge of the box.  Much as we had that little bit of fortune with our recent 2-1 win st Sunderland, we didn't get it yesterday and ended up going down 2-0.

I am not claiming we were brilliant or terrible, but many lazy people seem to think our 2-1 win was brilliant and our 2-0 defeat was terrible, the truth is that there wasn't a great deal of difference in the performances, and that lazy shoddy journalists react to scorelines and not the actual performances.  I try not to do this, and maybe in the process I will annoy some people, but frankly I think these people need to take a bit of time to consider their reactions, before sensationally jumping to the easy tabloid conclusions.

We are not good enough, I know this, but also we are nowhere near as bad as some people are currently claiming, we still have a shout for 4th spot in the PL and we need to get behind the manager and players to give ourselves the best chance of achieving this.  The problems we have are complex and multi-factorial, they need addressing in a calm, reasoned and intelligent manner, not in a knee-jerk fashion without a sense of perspective.

The manager is not blame free, I could not argue this, some of his tactical decisions and substitutions have been highly questionable to say the least, for example Theo Walcott's substitute role up front yesterday was not a good idea.  However to me it is clear that the problems at our club extend right to the very top of the hierarchy, the manager has taken a lot of blame that the board should have been taking in recent years, there is no doubt to those in the know that several key board members have not been pulling their weight in keeping Arsenal Football Club at the top of the game.

The squad's quality has been slowly and steadily depleted in recent years, the main reason of this has been the move to the Emirates and the consequent financial implications.  The lack of investment in players of sufficient quality and the acquisition of too much mediocrity has left the manager hamstrung, especially in the context of a remarkably unfortunate run of injuries to key players.

Those at the top of Arsenal Football Club need to stand up and be counted now, there has been a lack of leadership and drive from the boardroom for far too long, it appears that some people have become too complacent and the need to properly invest in the club's future has been ignored, the consequences of this penny pinching short termism are now all too evident on the pitch.  It is the likes of the highly paid Ivan Gazidis who need to start earning their wage and bonus by leading the club out of this mess.

I am sure I will be flamed by a certain brand of brain dead reactionary, the kind that loves to lazily call for the manager's head and ignore the real crux of the problems we have at the heart of the club.  So be it, I can take it, I just feel our manager deserves a lot more respect than he is getting from certain quarters, criticism is fine, but do it with respect and some manners, this man has given so much for our club and he must be respected for this.


NorwayGooner said...

Well said, fed up with the sensationalists who time after time fail to look behind the result. Not an excuse, but on of the reasons behind our poor possession play the last 3 games must be the horrible pitches at Sunderland and Milan. Not suited at all to our style of play. We should, however, benne able to cope better with it like Barcelona did on Leverkusens dodgy pitch. They didn`t play very well, but still won 3-1 away.

Anonymous said...

We pressed the ball better yesterday and....that's about it.

Going forward, we were dire and predictable. The movement was almost non-existent. This was the main reason that we lost. Sunderland (and the world) knew that we would play this way before trying for a through ball, or cutting back from the byline.

Defense-wise - we were always susceptible to the long ball, due to our high line - despite not having the quickest of centrebacks. I can give some of the missed headers due to it being quite windy, but it still doesn't excuse constantly getting sliced open on the counter.

Sure - we have problems at Arsenal, but they mainly lie with Wenger at the moment. Yes, we should have a better sponsorship deal that reflects the times. Yes, the owner should probably weigh in a bit more. Yes, Hill-Wood shouldn't be the chairmen - but even if those things were rectified, it wouldn't make a bit of difference on the pitch.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. Not with the pitch excuse but all else.AW is the reason there is all this moaning because he has spoiled everybody for 15 years !! The only man in history to create an "INVINCIBLES" and replacements are not about. The only reason Spu*rs and Man C are showing up so well is because ManU Chelsea Liverpool and ourselves are suffering.

Anonymous said...

A another post sponsored the I love Wenger club. Honestly when wil you guys wake up and put the blame on the manager.

If my bins don't get collect on Thursday morning I don't put the blame on Borris and call for his head. You guys blame everyone at the club but Wenger. Role on the day when he goes and perhaps we might stop living on pass glories and actually star showing some ambition.

You remember what ambition is right, it's when you look forward to reaching a final and not when we announce our proffits.

Anonymous said...

Dickhead 12:42
arse and the others are suffering boo hoo and those nasty SUPER SPURS come in and take advantage.

Baldy said...

A well-written piece :-)

Personally I've gone through many different emotions over these past few seasons, from being quietly confident through to wanting Wenger's testicles on a plate. I've seen great players come & go, I've also seen terrible players come & go. I think we all knew there would be a few lean seasons coming up following the move to the Emirates stadium and as such we've had to adjust our spending to compensate. Whilst we currently have a team playing very inconsistently at the moment, it's important to remember that we've had a ridiculous amount of injuries, especially to our defenders. I can't remember two games in a row where we've managed to play the same back four, and now it's becoming a struggle to play the same back four for the duration of a single game!

I was chatting to one of my best mates this morning, he happens to be a Spud (nobody's perfect after all) and he said some interesting things. Firstly, whilst he's ecstatic at how well they are doing this season, his attitude is 'one swallow does not a summer make'. He knows full well that if they were to lose most of their first choice defense & their best midfielder they'd be in trouble, and in fact he's suprised that we've managed to stay in the top 5 considering everything that's happening at the club.

I don't think Wenger has as much money to spend as people think, and I also don't think there are too many managers around who could come in & guarantee us a top 4 finish with the same resources. Sure, Wenger has to take responsibility for the tactically poor decisions he has made of late, but at the same time the players have to take responsibility for not performing to the level expected of them when they take to the pitch.

Would I like to see Wenger replaced? Sure, but only with the right man. Of course Pep Guardiola would be high on my shortlist of candidates; he's young, is proven at the highest level & has the desire to play the type of football we can only aspire to play. But he would have to be given the resources to do it. Could he do a better job than Wenger with the current squad? I wouldn't like to say.

The media do react to results, not to performances. The say we were rubbish, however if RVP had been awarded the penalty, and the first shot hadn't taken a deflection, then the scoreline could have been the other way around. Then suddenly the headlines are totally different. The margins between success & failure are so small these days, and can literally boil down to a refereeing decision.

This summer is going to be very interesting indeed, and I think we are going to see some big changes. Whether they will be changes for the better, or the worst, I don't know. But one thing I know is that I'm going to get right behind this team from now on, stop throwing my toys out of my pram when they lose and stick 2 fingers up to the Spuds because quite frankly I couldn't give a rat's arse if they finish above us. They aspire to be the equal of Arsenal which, to me, shows a lack of ambition which is why they'll forever be in our shadow :D

Here's to the rest of the season & let's give it a bloody good go. If we finish fourth it'll be a good recovery, and playing AC Milan at our place on an actual pitch as oppose to a farmer's field will be a different story.

Anonymous said...

I agree we should avoid sensationalism, but your first paragraph is the telling one. Arsenal at present are a very average team, with teams like Sunderland being the benchmark rather than Man U, Citeh, the Spuds etc. On a good day we can just about beat an uninspired, hardworking but basically mediocre Sunderland and on a not so good day we lose to them. Says everything, sadly, about our relative decline and how much we need to improve. Not the end of the world but we should be so much better and more competitive.

Anonymous said...

armyI totally agree with you. Wenger has had the cruelest hand dealt to him with injuries & players leaving. He has kept us in contention all these seasons with limited funds while the stadium debt was kept under control. No silverware but finals semi finals, top four places & champions league knockout stages, unlike scores of teams that have spent far more without achieving what
we have. Its not an even playing field with what Chelsea & Man city spend on players & wages. give Wenger the job of spending the money & rebuilding he deserves this & won,t let us down.

SS said...

Your comments are most sensible among those hindsight and witch-hunting grumbles.
Yes, the Manager and the Board are responsible for the transfer saga during summer, leaving an unbalanced and uninspiring squad at the last minute.

It would only be unbelievable if Wenger does not know the problem of the current team. Given his proven track record and intelligence, Wenger is still the man to steer the team back to winning ways. The spine of Szczęsny - Vermaelen/Koscielny - (Wilshere )/Song - Van Persie is still something solid that we can build on.
What we are lacking is someone like Cesc - a leader type playmaker, the most sought after player in every team.

Let's hope Wenger have the financial muscle to buy one, or Wilshere could develop into this role.

Drew Howard said...

Whilst I agree with the general sentiment that things are not as bad as the press/blogs say, it's still bad enough to make a change. And wanting change does not mean that we disrespect Wenger, it just means that his methods are not working anymore and we need a change!

We seem to have the same injury problems year in year out; one season and you've got an excuse, every season and you've got a problem that's not being addressed (at least not correctly).

Our defense is always vulnerable, regardless of personnel. For me, there seems to be organisational deficiencies and/or faults in the mental approach of the team.

No money? Well why does he keep telling the press he has it? Either he is lying, which is not on, or he is telling the truth, in which case he's jeopardising both our ability to compete at the highest level and the champions league windfall, in order to save a few million on transfers. And for what? Interest rates? he's operating under a false economy. Plus he's confusing efficiency with effectiveness.

He leaves too much to chance (this applies to both injuries and squad depth and to financial risk taking). This causes him to be reliable on resources that are never going to be reliable (e.g. Diaby as a squad member, Walcott sudenly discovering some technique, a 3 million pound french league player being able to light up the premier league (park). These will never be.

The malaise has crept in gradually over 7 years and thus cannot be solved in a short period of time. We'll lose our ability to attract top talent and thus the malaise will continue. As I said before, needing a change does not mean disrespecting Wenger, it just means that there's too much rot for a suitable solution whilst keeping him as manager.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I don't believe that anyone can go from being a true genius at their jobs to being a complete shambles over a relative short period of time. There is much much more to this than AW is letting on. We hear snippets from him now and then about Arsenal being a selling club and its from these comments that make me believe that his hands are tied by the board and, the honourable man that he is, he is talking all the flack. Also, lets not forget that after recent court cases we are now more aware that many managers get a bonus based on player transfers. Maybe that's the case at Arsenal.

Anonymous said...

Too many players in the squad just aren't quite good enough and the way AOC wasn't supported after his og shows a marked lack of character and spirit within the team. That's worrying !! I just don't see any sign that Arsene can arrest the decline. Arsenal have been drifting further away from success over recent seasons. I just think a change of approach is needed. Comments ?

Anonymous said...

Our system and lack of tactical planning contributed to yesterday's defeat. It will only work if our lads are stronger, fitter and more skillfully alert than the opposition. They have to keep up the same level of performances week on week, remain injury free and the playing surfaces is as good as the Emirates.
The one system to compete against all teams will only stand a chance if we have a solid defense, we train often on all surfaces, we come up against each team fully aware of their strengths n weaknesses and know how to exploit both. We are just going into games, playing our system and hoping for the best.

Anonymous said...

Although the quality of some of the current squad has to be questioned, as a football manager Arsene Wenger is a true innovator who's simply been caught up by time & circumstance. The playing style & attention to fitness levels he introduced at Arsenal have been widely accepted in the English leagues so Arsenal have gradually lost the advantages over other teams that these innovations had given them. "Hoof & run" & intimidating "kicking" tactics have largely been replaced by neat passing & a greater attention to possession by all EPL teams & no longer are Arsenal given the advantage for the final 15 minutes of each game because the opponents are knackered.In short, savy managagers have looked at Wengers approach & applied the best bits to their own game plans. They've also had a long time to analise Arsenals passing game &
work out how to counter it.
At the same time the revenue available to all EPL clubs resulting from TV deals has enabled
smaller EPL clubs to aquire a far better calabre of player than before. This also means that having an extensive worldwide scouting network is not the preserve of a few top clubs.
Add to this the inital cost of Emirates project; the seeming unwillingness to replace top players who are sold, let alone strengthen the team; a season to season injury record that defies all logic, and Wengers inability to find new avenues to give him the "edge", and we end up in the current sad position.
In recent years the most profound changes to the English game have been the result of what Arsene Wenger brought to Arsenal, not the
number of trophies won by Fergie or the amount of money spent by Chelsea or Man City. I do however fear for the end of an era as the removal of the manager will still leave AFC with the same board that have permitted the demise & the same owner who is clealy equally unaware of the clubs current precarious position. I wonder just how many fans will be prepared to fork out a minimum of £50 a ticket for home games to watch an average team with no title or European hopes??

Anonymous said...


MjM said...

How different the season may have gone had Wilshere been healthy from the top. We've seen how one player (RVP) can carry a club to the fourth spot. Imagine if the midfield was ruled with the same verosity as Wilshere could provide. Just saying...

Anonymous said...

I find it strange that you are sticking up for Wenger,, I would say man fo man we are more talented than Sunderland.. but funny enough their manager can get his team to run through walls, where as our team plays like brain dead idiots,

Arteta Ramsey and song have absolutely no invention whatsoever.

Walcot is a joke and why the fans support him is beyond me
Martin Hayes was by far a more talented player than Walcot but got slaughtered by the crowd

Tactics we dont have any.
ideas we are bankrupt

Injured playing staff ?? underlines the lack of depth in the squad

I have no problem in coming 4th if we have at least tried to be no.1 and fallen short

But if the managers goal is to come 4th then he should have been sacked two years ago if not straight after the game at Sunderland

Harris1985 said...

At the end of the day after everyones has given their view on whats right and whats wrong with the club...The questions is do you think this team is anywhere near capable of winning a trophy?? Asnwer No where near