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Defining the problem

By Peter Le Beau

Analysing the key issues at our club to see what’s gone wrong

Wending one’s way towards Arsenal tube after a match is usually a fairly painful process nowadays. There are hundreds of conversations going on with people in the long-accepted way that football fans do, interrupting people they don’t know to disagree or agree violently with them. What interests me is that, in the snatches of conversation, you hear people saying so many different things!

That is what makes solving the problems so difficult, because not everyone has defined them all properly. So what do I think they are, what are the most important ones, and can they be solved without major surgery? There are of course a few people (disparagingly called AKBs) who still refuse to accept that there are too many problems out there. They can’t be listening on their way to Arsenal tube! My analysis suggests these are the main issues that can be identified -

Wenger must go
This is probably the biggest area of controversy at the moment. In most situations at a big club like Arsenal, it would be impossible to keep your job after not putting a trophy on the table for the last seven seasons...and counting. But it’s actually more complicated than that. This man has built probably the best team Arsenal have ever had, arguably the best team English football has ever seen, and he has done it in an era where financial “mega-clubs” like City and Chelsea have had a huge advantage financially in securing the best players. He has made enough money for Arsenal to fund easily the building of a great new stadium and has still kept Arsenal in the Champions League every season. At the moment, however, we have a wage structure that stops us getting and keeping the best players and leaves us lumbered with the mediocre.

And if he did go, who is better? Wenger has been cut an enormous amount of slack by most Arsenal fans. The mate who sat next to me gave up on him several seasons ago, whereas I still know people who are only just coming around to the idea he needs to go. My position changed during the game against Stoke two seasons ago. A pathetic defensive performance (sound familiar?) was followed by a pretty dire attempt at recovery, and you had to feel that Wenger was losing his motivational powers as well as any tactical ones that he once possessed. He looks an increasingly tortured soul on the touchline - the most unhappy manager in the Premier League to me.

While you could argue that Arsenal still play lovely football, I wouldn’t agree. This season, their passing has no tempo and most of the danger (such as it is) comes from crosses to Giroud. Wenger was a genius in the transfer market and still generally buys well, but he is buying more dross like Gervinho and Santos, and Squillaci is one of the worst defenders we have ever had. Imagine him playing beside Sylvestre? No I’d rather not! Whether he has a cash mountain to spend, or he is protecting the board, the fact remains that Wenger has made a complete hash of the last two close seasons and hasn’t prepared us for the forthcoming season.

I think it is now realistic to say Wenger has definitely lost a lot of his powers - and it is very sad to see. He could be replaced by several candidates and, frankly for once the salary won’t be a problem. My preferred and realistic choice is Klopp of Dortmund, although I’d love to see Pep at the Emirates. Other realistic candidates are Rijkaard and Joachim Loew, the German manager. Even David Moyes might step up to the mark given a bigger budget -providing he is given one. Which brings us to the next problem -

The current Board
I’ve written a lot about the Board, and it’s sad when supporters read more about the Board than the players. Boardroom politics are things it is hard to get a handle on, and Arsenal are tighter than the politburo in giving out useful information. I crucified the Chairman in the last Gooner, and while his illness saddens me (and I wish him a full and speedy recovery), I stand by every word I said. Ivan Gazidis has brought an American-style spin-doctor style to Board communication that I am all too familiar with in my day job. He is good at holding the fans at bay, but there is a major breach of trust between the Board and the fans. Basically, if we have all this money to spend, why do we balance the books by selling our best players every season? Either Wenger is the world’s most obstinate man, or the Board are lying to us by suggesting that there is much more money to spend than there is. I think that an American sports entrepreneur like Kroenke is a bad owner.

He looks at the bottom line rather than the trophy cabinet, and the bottom line is rather good, even if it’s only like that because we bleed talent. Even in this crisis, it’s hard not to feel we are eyeing profits from the sale of Walcott and Sagna shortly. But if Walcott isn’t sold and just leaves, it will be even more catastrophic. I can’t help feeling that the Board have a contempt for the fans which is exemplified by PHW at each AGM. The most expensive tickets in world football don’t give you any greater access to truth and reason. This fundamental schism means that every Arsenal fan I know feels ostracised and not in touch with the truth about the club. That’s a very unhealthy situation.

The squad
This team is one that I have very little confidence in. While most of our first eleven have considerable ability, we have little squad depth, poor organisation in defence, little passing tempo, and who out there didn’t quake when 10-man Spurs attacked us at 4-2? What a ridiculous situation! In recent times, we’ve lost a 4-0 lead at Newcastle and conceded four goals in the first half to a team not far off Reading Reserves. We’ve given lamentably awful performances at Norwich, AC Milan and at home to Schalke and Swansea.

There are obvious problems. We only have one top goalkeeper and he is a work in progress. We badly need experienced back-up for him, someone who we won’t be terrified by if Szczesny is out for a long period that’s not Mannone, Fabianski or, judging by Reading, Martinez. Gibbs is our only good left-back and we miss Song much more than has been acknowledged. We have no shield in front of the back four and no-one to break play up. We lack pace in midfield, although Rosicky might help to rectify this if he can stay fit, and we have very limited attacking options. After RvP was sold, we needed to think of the implications, but we signed Giroud to replace him, not play with him. I like Giroud, but that’s a major downgrade and, frankly, Gervinho as a central striker is an insult to the name of Arsenal.

We are not helped by having some of the most fragile players in the league. We all know them, with Diaby the most obvious example, but are they really getting the best medical and conditioning treatment? The comparison with other clubs is most telling. Look at www.physioroom.com if you want more detail on the situation.

Lots of strands and lots of issues, and none of them looking very favourable. The short-term fix would be to get rid of Wenger but would this Board want an ambitious manager who is likely to demand backing in the transfer market and an overhaul of the club?

My view is not a popular one. I believe that this club lost a huge amount of its DNA when they fired David Dein from the Board. Interestingly, if he did return to a prominent role, he would almost certainly want to keep Wenger in situ. His return, of course, would only come if Kroenke sold out to Usmanov, and that is most unlikely unless the pressure on Kroenke becomes too intense, and sitting in Denver and seeing the value of the club rise each season, he won’t feel great pressure yet. It will only come if the team drops out of Europe and revenue starts to fall, but this Board won’t respond with a spectacular spending spree if it does.

I didn’t go on the Black Scarf march, and I generally worry about such things and their effect on the team, but unless we see change in personnel and attitude at Board level, nothing will change and that tide of conversation on the way to Arsenal tube will be ever more depressing!

13th December 2012

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User Comment and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

The Arsenal Way  12:20pm 13th Dec 2012

There are many problems with Arsenal so this requires a revolution. The main problem is that the team is **** and they do not or can not play the Arsenal way. It is that simple. Think of how many terrible balls are crossed into the middle and no one is there? We are not built to play like that. Same with Walcott and Podolski. Both should be playing in the Championship where there is more room to play. Again they cannot play the tika taka Arsenal style. I cannot evern talk abou the hopeless Chamakh, Gervinho, Giruod, Arshavin and so on. Except to say that we are all led to beleive that Arsene has a fine eye for high quality players. What a load of rubbish. He has a history of buying absolutely **** players. The TH14 and PV4 were just luck. Our denfence? There is none. Vermaelen just gifts Manure a soft goal at Old Trafford. No one is scared of the Arsenal defence. See Swansea player hounding Jenkinson. So it is quite simple we do not have the players to play the Arsenal way. So go shopping you idiot. Not for Stepanovs, Squillacci, Fabianski, Djourou, Denilson, Arshavin, Gervinho and that sorry lot but for some players that can play the Arsenal way. - Post No. 32273


What was the point in leaving Highbury?  12:24pm 13th Dec 2012

So depressing when you think about it. The Club is in a state from top to bottom. I would also through in a youth system that doesnt produce players. We buy young players not make them. Kroenke is here to rape the club. Gazidas is here to lie to us. Wenger is here to continue his ego drive living firmly in the past. All the problems above ar eso long standing that you have to conclude that the manager doesnt have the ability for fix them. Bad goal keeping, horrific defending, lack of motivation, lack of tactical awareness, no plan B and poor conditioning of players leading to injuries have been around for an awful long time now. Added to that over the last 4 years have been terrible signings. There is no logical arguement to keep the manager. He was a good manager in his day but like players his day has come and gone. He gets paid a huge salary and makes all the decsions on the football side like how to allocate the huge wage bill he operates on. No more excuses just please go. We have said thank you for 2004 for long enough now. - Post No. 32274


GoonerGunner  12:34pm 13th Dec 2012

I truly believe the most ideal situation would be AW as a technical director, alongside a coach that can motivate our squad again. AW has lost the dressing room, but he can help us find some really good buys in the transfer market. A good coach would be helpful in not signing deadwood aka squilacci & co. The team only needs a few investments: in players and formation. Buy two midfielders, a real defensive central midfield player and an attacking left midfield player. Perhaps a left back like Baines. The current 4-3-3/4-5-1 might not be the best formation for our current squad, perhaps a 4-4-2 formation suits the current players better: Sczescny (Mannone) Sagna - Mertesacker - Vermaelen - left back/Gibbs (Jenkinson - Koscielny - Miquel - Gibbs/left back - Santos) Wilshere - Cazorla - defensive midfielder - attacking midfielder (Oxlade - Arteta - Rosicky - Cocquelin - Ramsey) Walcott - Giroud (Podolski - Gervinho) Some won't be too happy about including players like Santos/Gervinho. But they are OK backup, for squad rotation, for substitions when 3-0 up (whenever that happens). We need to be able to change our starting formation, to give players a little breather sometimes. Podolski can start instead of Giroud/Walcott. Walcott out? Then start with Oxlade for extra speed, up front or on the right. Most important is to get rid off some players: squillaci, diaby, djourou, arshavin, bendtner, park, denilson. I haven't made up my mind about Chamakh, but maybe it's best he goes too. I even wonder if we need to keep Rosicky, injury prone as he is. That are 8 players not included in the above squad. Some of them are on loan, but we still pay some of the wages. Imagine them all being ofloaded. That would open up possibilities in strenghtening our squad. Imagine a 30+ games a season player instead of, for example, Diaby and Rosicky. Hello squad depth. It's really not that difficult to start solving our problems. - Post No. 32275


exiled & dangerous  12:58pm 13th Dec 2012

David Moyes would be an interesting choice, but why on earth would he think of joining the shambles that we have become? If he did, though, it would be nice if he brought along a certain left back and a hirsute Belgian midfielder... - Post No. 32279


JJB  13:10pm 13th Dec 2012

Superb article! Finallywe get to read a well thought out analysis of the problems at the club rather than the usual idiot drone of "AKB vs AMG"! Which has gone beyond boring......You have shown that Arsenal FC is a complicated beast with more things to consider than just a change of manager! I expect you will recieve critiscism from many of the angry idiots that tend to comment frequently on here, but I want to say thank you for taking an objective and dispassionate view of the problems wthiout resorting to the too often seen disprectuful rehertoric of the pub fans. - Post No. 32280


Rickthegooner  13:17pm 13th Dec 2012

As usual, another negative blog from your rag, stating the bloody obvious. Same old same old, "bring back Dien." " We want our Arsenal back." It's Dien's bloody son that has been encouraging our best players ( his clients ) to leave. Dien Snr is 69 years old. Hardly the dynamic figure required to kick start the club. When we went down 8-2 to Utd, the 3000 or so Arsenal fans up their were a credit to all. " we love you arsenal we do " Thats called support. We all realise that things aren't what they used to be, but droning on and on about it without an original thought in your head, helps nobody. Yea, perhaps if you moan on the tube, the Russian will take over because the Yank is sensitive and can't stand hurting your feelings. The ONLY coarse open to all fans, is support the players. The good ones and the bad. If we have learnt anything this week, it's that motivated players can beat good ones. So STOP moaning. Get behind the team ( all of them ) and lets see if we can improve !!!!!!! - Post No. 32281


Dan h  13:19pm 13th Dec 2012

We have a wage structure that applies to the players we sign & attempt to retain but not the manager strange scenario.With a wage bill of £143m+ just look at the squad assembled shocking.I have posted before if you overpay the average squad players above what they are worth you buy their loyalty to toe the line but they become total deadwood.Modern football is about squad strength if players don't perform & they lose their place in the side so be it this Arsenal team picks itself & the players know it.We have a manager that has rightly been praised to the hilt in the past that ship has long since sailed.He can't or won't change it would be a admission he was wrong & bristles at any criticsm.100% correct in that he doesn't seem to enjoy the job anymore at 63 & all he has done why torture yourself?If he honestly thought we could keep selling our best players to replace them with cheaper options & still prosper then that is utter folly.The name Guardiola has been linked with several clubs he took a year out of football as exhausted at 41 from the stress of the goldfish bowl of managing Barcelona.He may find us a really interesting challenge no interferance from above & given time to mold a team.We are struggling at present but with our structure,support,stadium & location managing Arsenal football club IS a very attractive proposition. - Post No. 32282


Ron  13:52pm 13th Dec 2012

The truth is that there isnt a right or wrong answer. Maybe the Club has accepted that it isnt really a 'big' club as defined by modern football standards? i.e no wealthy owner to throw silly cash at the game and not care about it? If so, they should just admit it and people would understand. Wengers years have created enormous fan expectation, thats true enough, but perhaps its an expectation thats out of kilter with what Arsenal are? Theyve never done a Liverpool or a United and dominated the game across decades. Success has always come in bursts intereded by periods of mediocrity.Is this a fault of the fans? For me, Wengers at fault as much as the Board. Hes bought lightweight players, lacking fibre for a battle which is always needed in the English lge. Hes diluted the english/britishness of the Club to the point where he operates with a squad full of players without any notion of loyalty or affection for the Club and hence theres nobody there to stress to players what playing for Arsenal means. In my view hes long held a bias against british players, whatever he says to the contrary. Hes guilty of penny pinching in the face of getting players even at moderate levels of cost. Just one eg of this was Schwartzer a few years back, but there are others, Alonso et al. He wants 'yes men' at his side, both on and off the pitch it seems to me. The Boards major failing is giving him total control and allowing him to get away with it. Thats called weakness. They govern the wage structure too. Wenger doesnt pay the players, he reccomends whos worthy though and who isnt. Theyve allowed him to invest salaries though in poor unproven and perma crock players time and time again. Its hindered the chances of buying better players as no 'wiggle room' was left for the risk of such players not making it. Thats rank bad management by him and the Board and its made for players to be in permanent comfort knowing theyre under no pressure at all to perform. What we have now is a system thats the result of 7-8 years of a flawed policy which when it creates a nugget of a player, the said player outgrows the mediocrity in which they find themselves and hence the seasonal departures are inevitable and understandable, esp when such players have no affinity with the Club. The chickens have come home to roost for both Wenger and the Board and they should now all go or arrange for people to come in and change things to alter the system thats broken. The trouble is, it will now take some years to correct and cant be done overnight. - Post No. 32283


Judge me in May  13:52pm 13th Dec 2012

The problem can be defined in one word: Wenger. - Post No. 32284


John  13:54pm 13th Dec 2012

I've come to the conclusion that Wenger has to go, and if reports are true and Guardiola wants the job, get him ASAP! The final straw for me is that even if he really really wants to play Gervinho and Ramsey at least play them in positions where they might be of some use. It baffles me why it hasn't occured to him that after a dozen games of watching Gervinho the striker and Ramsey the right winger and it completely failing he hasn't moved them to more natural positions. Even if he kept the same line up as tuesday why doesn't he play Podolski as striker, Gervinho on the wing, Cazorla on the other and Ramsey down the middle, it's surely worth a punt given the complete lack of chances we've created recently. He seams so determined that Gervinho is a striker and Ramsey is a winger and Podolski and Cazorla must play on the left and down the middle respectfully that he won't despite all edvidence to the contary change it. Also mentioned in the article is that the playing squad isn't good enough and you used the example of loosing a 4 goal lead against Newcastle as proof however the team now is completely unrecognisable to that team and they still make the same mistakes. This clearly has nothing to do with the board room or even the players, it lies squarely on the shoulders of the manager. His coaching and motivational techiques aren't working and he's showing no signs of change. Baring both these points in mind i've come to the conclusion he's got to go! - Post No. 32285


smithy  13:56pm 13th Dec 2012

Wenger is not accountable to anyone.Under david dean he was scrutinised and challenged. Now he is given total freedom and the club and the decision making have become flabby as a result. I can see no rosy future until a critical friend is placed into a position of power. - Post No. 32286


Dispelling the myth  14:07pm 13th Dec 2012

Peter Hill-Wood talking about Wenger, October 2009.“We have told him there is quite a lot of money he could spend. He says he realises that but he hasn’t actually found any player he thinks can improve the squad. I remember a couple of years ago director Danny Fiszman saying, ‘if we gave you £100m, what would you do with it?’. He said, ‘quite frankly, I would give it back’.” - Post No. 32287


1971  14:37pm 13th Dec 2012

IT don't matter what we say,Wenger won't go unless we boycott games.Iam sorry to say that Chelsea are the new pride of london, differant managers won silverware the truth hurts. Some times it works some times it don't, but it would be great if we have new manager, it will be like a new start. 7 years same old same old we as fans are now used to not having silverware IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT OUR CLUB NOT TO BE SUCCESSFUL? ARSENAL FOREVER. - Post No. 32289


smee  14:43pm 13th Dec 2012

Gervinho has been called up for the Ivory Coast in the Africa cup of Nations. BONUS !!!! he will be away for the duration !!! Second thoughts ... He will probably miss the plane... he seems to miss everything else. - Post No. 32290


redfox  15:06pm 13th Dec 2012

good read - Post No. 32292


chris dee  15:08pm 13th Dec 2012

Define the problem? Players,no matter how good or bad,should not 'hide' during matches,should accept responsibility,should show a will to win attitude, and should give 100% effort in all games. Did we see that against Bradford? Where does the buck stop regarding the playing side? The buck stops with Arsene, no matter how others try to drag the situation in the boardroom into the problem. Rickthegooner states that the fans must get behind the players to motivate them. Well Rick,our support in Bradford was awesome,and this was confirmed in some of the national newspapers and look at the lackadaisical,lazy,mind numbing performance the players gave. Forget the board,forget the so called lack of support of the fans, the ball is firmly in Arsene's court. - Post No. 32293


maguiresbridge gooner  15:29pm 13th Dec 2012

The conversations going on are a change from some of the scraps that i've witnessed lately.Peter i think we all know the only reason he's keeping his job and it's certainly not for the great teams he has built over the last six or seven seasons and counting.Your absolutely right wenger has been cut an enormous amount of slack by us all over the last six or seven seasons after pathetic performances, rubbish signings,humiliating results,selling our best players every season for profit,comedy defending,excuse after excuse and all the above is still happening.But now as more and more people realise he was cut far to much,and are not prepared to put up with it anymore and there's no doubt he now realises that himself.Arsenal still play lovely football ? I also wouldn't agree the days of lovely football have been gone for a while along with his powers.Your spot on about the board and the spin doctor they're all a waste of space. The team has showed us all on numerous occasions even before Tuesday that we can have no confidence in them whatsoever with players who are simply not good enough.I suppose it can only be expected if we have an inferior team with inferior players and inferior coaching we have inferior medical treatment.But the board didn't pick a full strength team and set them up and tell them how to play and give the team talk on Tuesday night against Bradford and the other humiliating defeats and performances. - Post No. 32295


au revoir wenger  15:58pm 13th Dec 2012

what a mess whoever takes over when Wenger does go is on a hiding to nothing - Post No. 32300


Highbury Boy  16:11pm 13th Dec 2012

If there's £70m to spend it should not be given to Wenger who doesn't want to use it anyway. It should be given to a new manager in the summer who can then have a big clear-out as well as making his own purchases. If the owner and Board are serious about winning rather than just competing the appointment of a new manager is vital. If the owner wants to renew Wenger's contract, as he may well do as he is making regular profits for him with a rising share price, I will not be renewing my season ticket. - Post No. 32301


billthered  16:29pm 13th Dec 2012

If you manage a sunday morning side chances are saturday night some of your players have to much to drink or are so far away they cant get back by kick off time,that my dear friends is when you play a central midfielder on the wing or at the back and you find one of your outfield players might have to go in goal.But we are talking about Arsenal not the Prince of Wales sunday side.We have enough players who should be able to play in their rightful positions and if they are not good enough move them on and get better ones.As for the manager if he is deemed not good enough then the same can be said and get one that is.We are in a results business no matter what that clown Fox says so get someone in that will give us that quickly or we will be so backward it would take Harry Houdini to get us out of it. - Post No. 32303


We sold van persie  16:39pm 13th Dec 2012

Gerviniho called up to Ivory Coast team. Arsenal . Com asking if we like this. Everyone should vote like this...be honest we won't have to see the excuse for a footballer for a month hopefully. Shame arsenal. Com dont ever let you tell them the real truth. Might hurt our little players feelings . Anyway vote away they might get the message - Post No. 32305


Fozzy's mate  17:00pm 13th Dec 2012

Last nights staged apology to the AST was the latest in a long line of smoke and mirrors tricks from the peanut headed MSS. In reality him and his paymaster the DDT as did the outgoing board still see the now fading in clough like style OGL as the utlimate cash cow. Insisting talent will not be cashed on, players will be signed, claiming others will soon be back until the window shuts will go on. We could easily stumble over the line again in the race for the fpt although its not likely. Weng has already achieved target one by stumbling through an easy group. The problem is that having sold the family silver what is left to sell should we not lift Wengers holy grail? Any signings will be confined to lique 1 dross such as the hapless Gervinho and Chamakh. We were paying 12 million for players such as henry and wiltord 12 years ago and despite our coffers bursting sell at the top and buy at the middle/bottom. There will be no change under this regime while combover Kroenke uses Paul Daniels Gazidis to "pull a rabbit from a hat". I owe Pat "sun lounger rice" an apology as his very occassional trips from sun lounger to technical area look positively frequent when compared to steve "velcro lounge" bould! Look forward to more double speak and gobbledy gook from MSS and bull from the fading OGL. A sad state of affairs. Re the black scarf march one thing I agree with is if we do not dip into the eurozone bail out fund, please reduce prices by the toxic 6.5% they added 2 years ago saying we needed it to compete in the market. That was the "greatest" trick of all! - Post No. 32306


hibeegunner  17:49pm 13th Dec 2012

Ron 13.52 Well thought out reply agree 100% - Post No. 32309


TopTopQuality  18:22pm 13th Dec 2012

He gets more deluded by the minute - latest quote.- "We may have a lack of experience in winning trophies recently, but we are always at the top and very close to winning the championship or winning the Champions League." - Post No. 32311


CanadaGooner  18:35pm 13th Dec 2012

what's really disgraceful is the fact that it seems to be just arsenal fans that care about the awful results. Wenger always seem to have some excuses or a story in defence of the diabolical results, and for several years I (and thousands of other fans) accepted those excuses as arsenal isnt chelsea or liverpool and we are very patient fans. But when the board and folks like Gazidis take us for idiots and continue to talk about a 'financial model' and think they can explain turning arsenal into a team that cant beat a League 2 side, then it is time to end the patience and demand some changes. i dont think this is debatable; Wenger can either leave with his head held high at the end of the season or he will eventually leave in shame and it will be downhill from there on for him as i dont see another top club to offer him 7.75million/annum and players worldwide will begin to lose respect for him and he will only meet with failure whereever else he goes. if he however leaves at the end of this season, he may still retain some semblance of honour and respectability (and he can always blame the board) and move on to another good job; and arsenal can begin rebuilding (this will however only work if kroenke and gazidis in particular follow wenger out!). - Post No. 32313


Where's Wally is a Gooner  18:59pm 13th Dec 2012

One man to blame. If Wenger is a genius-so am I. - Post No. 32315


maguiresbridge gooner  19:47pm 13th Dec 2012

Well said chris dee there's to many trying to blame the board. As myself and others have already said wenger picks the players, tells them what position their playing in, (whether they like it or not) how he wants them to play, sorts the tactics/or lack off, gives the team talks not Gazidis,Hillwood,Kroenke, or the board. - Post No. 32316


jjetplane  20:07pm 13th Dec 2012

He is the most pathetic figure in the PL who has taken all these indulgent years to realise he is an economics man, not a football one. He needs to go - it is passing from comedic to shameful. Should have kept Rioch! - Post No. 32317


Bard  20:10pm 13th Dec 2012

Ron I couldnt agree more with your comments. The money issue is a red herring. He's bought mediocre players and paid them relatively huge salaries ( our wage bill is £50m more than the spuds). Our success has been identifying unknown players and then making them great. This ploy has been rumbled by other clubs and agents. When was the last really successful signing he made ? Kos ? But the other thing that is bothering me is that good players like Ashavin, TVM are have gone backwards. It raises the question about whether there is any coaching going on at the club. The whole operation needs an overhaul but as we know only too well Wenger doesnt do 'change'. I dont believe he can turn things around Bradford wasnt just a freak result; we got outplayed. We are well and truly in the s**t. - Post No. 32318


tfSmudge  21:17pm 13th Dec 2012

Well said Peter, at last someone hitting a nail on the head. I'll just add that you don't become a bad manager overnight, but, Wenger hasn't been himself since Dein left. Arsénal lost more than just a vice-chairman when Hill-Wood sacked him... I personally would love to see Dein in and the failed Hill-Wood and Gazidis combo out – if only. Wenger's bad decision making on and off the field in recent years has proved it's been too much without his wing-man & mentor. Usmanov, the billionaire Russian now employing Dein @ Red & White holdings makes it clear where the blame lies in an alleged interesting letter to the Arsenal board last July: "You can try and put a good face on a bad game for as long as you want [...] but it will not hide the obvious fact that it just does not allow our great manager to fully realise his managerial talent and deliver success for the fans who are paying the highest prices in the land [...] Yet again we are faced with losing our true marquee player (RVP) at the club because we cannot assure him of the future direction and give confidence that we can win trophies [...] the current politics of the club's management were in part responsible for Arsenal's failure to win trophies..." – Never mind the bollox... - Post No. 32320


Wombledin  23:33pm 13th Dec 2012

Peter Hill-Wood said two years ago that Wenger has all the money he wants short of ludicrous prices, and Gazidis has come out and just said the same, so it appears that all along Wenger has just been overly parsimonious in the transfer market as his personal philosophy. How much glory have we been denied the last 7 years because of Wenger's penny-wise, pound-foolish economics? There's no way he's only had the equivalent net transfer kitty of teams near the relegaton zone year after year, and yet that's what he's continuously done. He's an economist in a track-suit. The problem now is that Wenger appears to have lost the dressing room and his weird tactics and ideas are alienating our best players. He is continuing to play Forehead as central striker to the chargrin of Podolski and Walcott, our best defender Sagna has been insulted and is pissed off now, and there are reports that Steve Bould is unhappy. Wenger's comments after the Bradford game were just embarrassing, an insult to the fans, the man is simply too much of a gentlmen to get us out of this rut, no matter how much of a war-chest he gets this January. The Bradford result was a resounding vote of no-confidence from his best players, the nadir, a clear sign Wenger has lost the dressing room. It is simply no longer tenable for him to stay and he should be dismissed as soon as its mathematically impossible for us to reach top four. Its not sad, its football, so don't be sentimental about it. I'd go for Joachim Low or Rijkaard, we won't get Pep or Klopp. - Post No. 32324


Rob1970  23:47pm 13th Dec 2012

Summarising many telling comments: After Dein left Wenger was left 'unmanaged' for a few years; Gazidiz doesn't have the power or power base to get rid of Wenger; Dein is nearly 70 and unfortunately not going to be our CEO again; giving Wenger more money will not solve anything, he spends it badly in recent years; Santos for 7 mil is a sackable offence in itself; Wenger is vain and arrogant, he is ignoring Bould's defensive acumen, he has to be surrounded by yes men to keep his ego up. We need a new manager at end of year. Don't spend in January, give that money to a new manager eg Moyes, eg Kopp. I have been an Arsenal fan since 1970. Arsenal is more that Wenger. - Post No. 32325


Gare Kekeke  3:30am 14th Dec 2012

Excellent article Peter and good to see someone on this site slating the board that is strangely popular with some Arsenal fans. Commercial director Tom Fox talked about the Arsenal ‘brand’ recently, but that brand would only increase if we had a truly competitive team that would win the odd trophy here and there. No Arsenal fan expects trophies every year (I certainly don’t) as it’s not possible but wants to see a team that shows passion, guts, commitment, a hunger to win as well as excellent talent. Most of this current group have talent but lack balls and are overindulged especially on failure. Bradford away was an example of this. The buck stops with the manager but the board have to take some responsibility too for giving Wenger too much power and almost not reminding him that he works for them not the other way round. Interesting that Steve Bould hasn’t denied rumours of a fall-out between him and Wenger but stating through a second party that reports of a strained working relationship with Wenger are ‘exaggerated’. Then what is the truth Steve or have you been gagged by the club to say f*ck all? I echo everything that Ron said also. - Post No. 32326


john murch  5:03am 14th Dec 2012

Fine assessment of distressing situation.Arsenal offer always an image of elite control but the reality sadly is opposite. Fifteen players out on loan.Countless players on wages and lengthy contracts that make it impossible for them to move on.Thats where all the money is going. Wenger has been rummaging in the skips at the back of Tescos. He is clinging to the dream that he keep finding a bargain Problem is his reputation proceeds him and clubs wont allow him any more treats .Those days are gone. I used to think that it didnt matter if we couldnt win a trophy because it was just a pleasure to watch them play.Not now.Last januarys panic buys have proved to be embarrassing.Even Arteta is not an arsenal player.I want to finish now because if I mention other names I feel hopeless and helpless. - Post No. 32327


Paul  7:16am 14th Dec 2012

In every revolution the first thing you have to do is remove the king, the president the leader.At Arsenal thats Wenger remove him and the rest will follow.To those who say Wenger isnt in it with the board dream on.Nothing goes on at Arsenal without the say so of Wenger.You could write what Kroenke knows about football on a an ants left bollock its all down to Wenger he signs players he picks them he rewards them with big contracts - Post No. 32329


Mark Rice  8:09am 14th Dec 2012

One issue people forget is that David Dean is now in is mid 70,s so I just can't see him having that drive he had 20 years ago! Sadly we are stuck in groundhog day for a lot longer yet!! Flapjacks anybody?? - Post No. 32330


Rickthegooner  12:06pm 14th Dec 2012

chris dee 15:08pm 13th Dec 2012 Post No. 32293 Chris, as an away scheme member I can assure you that our away support is normally fantastic. Sure we get the hump like everyone else. But just because the team are under achieving, you do not stop supporting them !!!! That's when they need your help the most !!!! It's easy to cheer when we are winning and boo when we are not, but if you think about it, players like Ashavin and Betender did not play better or put more effort in when the crowd was on their back. Guiord and Jenkinson both made slow starts, but for whatever reason, the crowd gave them time and were positive. Both in my opinion have improved. I want the good days back, the difference between me and you is, I'll still be an Arsenal supporter when the good times come back. You will probably support City. - Post No. 32337


Nilesh Bhagat  12:11pm 14th Dec 2012

A well considered piece although I would say that structurally and strategically Arsenal are in a decent position despite the problems on the pitch at the moment. This extract is taken from an article about Wenger in Issue 7 of The Blizzard which is worth a read: "Arsenal had the seventh highest wage bill prior to Wenger’s arrival and the fourth highest squad valuation in terms of cumulative transfer fees. Within one year he had moved them into the third position for wages and second for squad valuation in terms of transfers. The dizzying investment continued throughout the trophied years and by the early 2000s, Wenger’s teams were constantly battling Manchester United for top spot in terms of wages and transfer valuation. Ferguson’s United were the only ones who could match Arsenal’s combination of fi nancial might and management genius until Roman Abramovich’s financial resources arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2003. One fallacy is thus exposed: Arsenal haven’t always been a financially conservative club" - Post No. 32338


Gman  12:33pm 14th Dec 2012

When Americans get involved in football it leads to disaster for the club involved and then the **** hits the fans. Basically football just isn’t in their culture, they are only bothered about making money and as for Bracewell- Smith's remarks, she should look at herself after looking after her own interests and selling out for the Yankee dollar - Post No. 32339


Graham Simons  12:55pm 14th Dec 2012

I'd plump for Klopp for one sole reason - from all accounts he analyses defeats and requires his teams to eradicate those mistakes in the next game. This appears an alien concept to Wenger - his defences repeatedly make the same mistakes. I acknowledge everything the man has achieved at Arsenal but after Bradford there is no way back. The argument shouldn't be about whether Arsene goes but when and who replaces him. For me, give the job to Bould until the end of the season and have a decent crack at the Champions league with a solid defence a la 2006. Winning it is our only chance of qualification next season. - Post No. 32340


GoonerRon  13:04pm 14th Dec 2012

@ Maguiresbridge Gooner - you say 'wenger has been cut an enormous amount of slack by us all over the last six or seven seasons.' I recognise we've not won a trophy in that time but we've been to three cup finals, one win away from a league title in 2008, plus many other semi finals and league challenges. Now, I'll repeat I know we've not won a trophy in that time and in normal circumstances perhaps I would admit that the 'achievements' above are not sufficient for a club of our stature, however, it's not been 'normal circumstances has it? In the last 6 years Chelsea and Man City and United have between them spent £1.2bn more than us on net transfer fees and wage bill spend, whilst at the same time we've invested £400m on the stadium. Surely this should be construed as us being 'competitive'? - Post No. 32341


WeAreBuildingATeamToDominate  13:28pm 14th Dec 2012

To me, this is it in a nutshell: Board: There is money avaliable to AW in the transfer window. AW: I am happy with the squad, we have the mental strength blah blah blah. Either the board are lying, in which case sack the board, or OGL is lying, so sack him. The money that there is avaliable has by and large been squandered on crap. Gervinho, quite possibly one of the top 3 worst ever Arsenal players (I have been a fan since 1972). I rest my case. You might say that AW hands are tied by the board. But the team consistently play against supposed lesser opposition thinking they only have to turn up Norwich, Villa, Bradford, Reading, Fulham all just this season alone. A style of play unchanged since 2007. A team that crumbles under the slightest pressure, which has cost us league titles in 2003, 2008 and 2010. (BTW we haven't played good football for at least 3 seasons now) For that there is only one person to blame. WENGER - Post No. 32343


CanadaGooner  13:41pm 14th Dec 2012

more crap out of the arsenal heirarchy yesterday: apparently we're supposed to "look to the future". Can someone ask Wenger what that future is? Is that not what we've been doing for the past 7 seasons? Wenger says it's best not to dwell on the Bradford result and look to the future: so, I had a quick look this morning dear arsene, this is what I saw: premiership - BLEAK, FA Cup - loss to Accrington, Champions League - BLEAK. So, why on earth are you still in a job Le Professuer?! We are FINISHED as a footballing force. We are simply an embarrassment as an organisation and morons like Gazidis will ruin our club. But, he-ho, we'll win the next premiership match and all will be forgiven yet again until Acrington knock us out of the FA cup. - Post No. 32344


maguiresbridge gooner  15:23pm 14th Dec 2012

Gooner Ron i take your point ref the cup finals semi's, and 08, even if one was against a team that was relegated that no one can deny we should have beaten out of sight but we didn't due to mistakes being made then that are still happening to this day. They were all fantastic chances to win silverware and stop the decline we've reached today regardless of Romans roubles and united's big spending,and no doubt would have assured our best players remained,at least it wouldn't have gave them the excuse that they wanted to win something.But at the end of the day nobody remembers semi finalists or even finalists if their beaten, only winners it's Birmingham's uniteds chelseas name on all those cups.Yes wenger has been cut a lot of slack over decisions,tactics,players,etc all the way back to those semi's and finals and 08, where mistakes were made and like i said are still been made today.Again i take your point on the investment in our stadium that a lot of people don't like which personally i do, but that investment didn't contribute to Tuesday nights debacle and the reasons for it and all the others against inferior opposition over the last two three four seasons. - Post No. 32347


allybear  16:09pm 14th Dec 2012

Ron your article was brilliant and makes perfect sense&now i hope people begin to understand the huge problems at the club. I can only hope that we see an end to the mediocrity soon and an upsurge in the clubs fortunes,especially on the pitch! - Post No. 32348


GoonerGoal!  18:51pm 14th Dec 2012

You say you want a Revolution? Then Seize the Power! Now is the time to use your own personal strategic weapon and your financial strength to deny Kroenke/Gazidia/Wenger that which they truly value. Just stay away from the Emirates and buy nothing that gives assistance or succour to their version of the Arsenal. Denying the effect, or the financial cost, of a popular people’s Revolution is impossible when thousands of empty seats are visible on TV, and profits are turning into losses causing share values to begin to fall. The Revolution is HERE and it is being Televised. Seize the Power! VIVE LA REVOLUTION! - Post No. 32352


Chris  19:27pm 14th Dec 2012

At the risk of being told that I should post in a financial forum - "Man City announce annual losses of £97.9m" And that's after spending c.£800m in the last five years. That's what it costs to win the title in, in the last five mintues of the season, after your opponents have just found out that they are spared relegation, when you have an iffy manager. People say AKB's think Wenger is a god - well, it's most of you that expect him to peform like one! - Post No. 32354


1971 Gooner  22:03pm 14th Dec 2012

Gervinho is the worst player I have seen in an Arsenal shirt since Pricey for England darkened our doors many moons ago. When I see his and Ramsey's name on the same team sheet I know the game is as good as lost. Wenger who I will always thank for the incomparable 1998-2004 period has sadly lost his judgement. If the money is there get Pep and let him show how good a manager he really is without Messi, Xavi, Iniesta et al. - Post No. 32355


Joe S.  23:13pm 14th Dec 2012

JJB, You wouldn't know objective and dispadssionate if it hit you on the head. Your hypocricy remind me of the reasonable and civilised British empire builders who in the name of God and country made some of the most appalaing decicions,in places like, Ireland, Palestine and India mistakes whch are still being played out today. The situation at Arsenal is not that complicated. Others above have listed the names of DUD players which this manager has brought to the club - doesn't that suggest poor decision making and bad judjment to you. then their Arsen Wegner the tactician sticking to the same game plan regardless of the opposition or players availble. After that we have a side which plays with a depressing lack of pasion, again the dressing room is the manager's responsibility and its his job to motivate pkayers to come up with something special even against the likes of Bradford. I've been reading where Wegner now epresses regret at letting so many quality players go in such as short period but isn't that what us " idiots have been persistantly moaning about. Wegner is seeking to preserve his legend and should acknowledge that he has been complicit in the decision making process that has lead to this failed policy. No JJB he Can'T turn it around and you old mate a one hell of a mug punter. - Post No. 32356


jollyJumper  2:44am 15th Dec 2012

Good comment Peter. Agree with everything. No need to add anything as others pointed it out. I said already many times - Wenger OUT, Gazidis OUT, Board OUT, Kroenke OUT! Do not like Ousmanov but the only way to get our Footbal Club back is the change tn the ownership and then down-streams. Get a passionate football owner, new coach and we might see again AFC. COYG! - Post No. 32358


santi_divezola  3:07am 15th Dec 2012

Perhaps the most distressing issue for me as a fan is the recent news that we are trying to RESIGN AARON RAMSEY. He has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to earn a new contract. Its painful and embarrassing to watch him repeatedly turn the ball over, miss wide open chances in front of goal, and send in crosses that invariably end up somewhere in the stands. He exists in this kind of false-winger/false-10 role and Im never clear on what he's even supposed to be doing on the pitch. How can we progress as a club when some of the worst trash on our team gets a contract extension? Are Predator and Diumby up for new deals as well??? How many chances do bad players get on this team? - Post No. 32359


Brigham  16:31pm 15th Dec 2012

Ron, your post at 13.52 is about as spot on as I can feel. Also, the original post is very good, with some very salient points made throughout/ - Post No. 32392


Highbury Diva  15:02pm 16th Dec 2012

Great article. I have thought Wenger's time was up for quite some time and I'm not surprised it has come to this crisis point. How can you degrade a team in this way, allowing your best players to leave and not replace with equivalent talent and expect to improve? Even though I want Wenger to resign (rather than be sacked as it would be sad to see a once great manager go in truly humiliating circumstances), it won't happen without a change at board level and that won't happen unless you get Stan out. Of course if Usmanov was allowed to get hold of some more shares and have the opportunity to buy the club I think the first thing he would do would be to sack the lot of them. I know many fans distrust Usmanov's motives but do you trust Stan? i haven't noticed any PL club under American ownership doing too brilliantly. Think of the other Russian, Abramovich. I'm not sure I like his penchant for changing managers as often as he changes his shirt but there's no doubting his commitment and ambition for his club. He has the passion of a real fan at least. Is he making huge profits from his investment? Not in monetary terms. I feel that Stan would be happy to cash in on his investment if it made him enough profit. Does he show any passion for the club? I haven't seen it. Anyway back to the immediate problem, the manager. Paul Wilson in today's Observer points out the difference between Wenger and Ferguson "The difference between the two clubs is that United tend to aim high, identifying their transfer targets and nail them, whereas Arsenal under Wenger seem to disdain the obvious and risk the wrath of their fans by bringing in nearly men" I think this saga will drag on for a while yet. Things may have to get worse before they get better. - Post No. 32409


Graham Simons  12:59pm 17th Dec 2012

It's easy to argue City have more money - we've no chance of silverware - we should be happy with 4th but let me ask you this - was George Graham's speech to this squad at Anfield in 1989 or in Copenhagen in 1994 along those lines? Arsenal is a club built on upsetting the apple cart and achieving more than our means. - Post No. 32439


Issue #243 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

28th July 2014

A Load of Bull?

Online Ed – Arsenal lose in New York

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