Time For a Change?
By John Gray
Picking through the wreckage of last week’s cup exit
(Ed’s note – This article was submitted after the defeat at Bradford)
So it’s the afternoon after the morning after the night before, and the dust had settled on another Arsenal defeat. Not an embarrassing or humiliating defeat – according to Our Glorious Leader – but a defeat where our biggest and best were neither bigger nor better.
Congratulations must go to Bradford City and their manager, Phil Parkinson. It’s always nice to get one over a former employer, and with the togetherness shown by his team last night, it proves Arsenal made a good choice in using him as a Scout in the past. And that’s where Bradford and Arsenal were shown to be different last night.
I don’t hold with the idea that Bradford played brilliantly. They played well, were organised, particularly in defence, but played for each other, each knowing his role, and setting about completing the task as a unit. Phil Parkinson, and his colleagues on the bench were marshalling their troops throughout, giving directions, discussing tactics and arranging set-pieces, both defensive and offensive.
Arsenal, on the other hand, appeared to be a disparate group of individuals who barely looked like they’d ever spent any time together, particularly in defence. We all thought the introduction of Steve Bould to the set-up would bring a welcome change to the muted days of Pat Rice and would engender a fresh, mean-spirited approach to playing, as he did when he was a foot soldier in the ranks. Why, then, have we adopted a “zonal marking” approach, which we’re clearly uncomfortable with and obviously very poor in deploying. Also, where is the voice of the man? Time and again, we’ve seen OGL and his sidekick sat in silence on the sidelines, AW throwing the occasional tantrum, frequently waving arms and generally gesticulating, but rarely, if ever, barking orders from the technical area, organising the team, changing the shape, or making tactical substitutions.
We all thought the introduction of Bouldy would change all that, that his appointment would bring about a new style to the management team and that he would discuss, converse, even harangue, in ensuring the fight to victory, as we see in the dugouts of SAF/Phelan, Mancini/Kidd/Platt, Moyes/Round and, outside the PL, even McCarthy/Connor (look at the difference in Ipswich since they took charge, in comparison to the meek and mild style of Jewell). Time and again, we see those partnerships making game-changing substitutions, altering the shape of their teams, and directing the action from the wings for the good of their team. What do we see/hear from the Arsenal dug-out? More of the same. Nothing but quiet resignation. Oh, what a beautiful word. Resignation.....
So last night’s result, even with effectively our strongest team (save for Giroud and Arteta – I don’t count Walcott as he’s far too unpredictable and I think he’s off in January anyway, and who can blame him?) cannot come as a major shock. A surprise, yes, but it is no longer shocking in the grand scheme of our recent capitulations. Nor does it come as a shock or surprise to hear OGL praising this bunch of incompetents for their effort. Effort? It took us 70 minutes to have a shot on target. Granted, we then had a lot of possession (but we usually do) and thereafter we had a lot of shots, some of which were actually on target, and we managed to get the goal to send it into extra-time, but how seriously pressurised was the Bradford goalkeeper? He wasn’t. He made a couple of very good saves, but never looked uncomfortable. Nor did the Bradford defence or midfield, and they even had some counter-attacks late on which could have led to a winner.
How often do we see that with Arsenal, going gung-ho for a leveller or winner, leaving huge chunks in a disorganised defence, because our full backs are sprinting up the wings leaving our centre-backs exposed?
I once felt proud that Arsène used to back his players to the hilt. The regular myopia when it came to controversial decisions or sendings-off was the bane of the journalists’ life, but of great amusement to the fan. Now, unlike the result and performance last night, it is embarrassing, if not humiliating. If OGL cannot see the performance and the result for what it is, i.e. a sad indictment of his management style, philosophy, and apparent inability to motivate a group of overpaid, over-privileged players, then he is not the man to take our great club forward. The fact that AW constantly displays a lack of tactical nous is testimony enough that, from being an inspiration to the English game, he is now a dinosaur in an age of evolving styles.
It saddens me that there is no transparency in our Club, as we will not know the real reasons for our decline. Is it Wenger? Is it the Board, or Gazidis getting in his way, preventing development and progress in the team? Is it the finances, or the spectre of Usmanov lurking? AW is, clearly, a very good manager and has achieved successes above our actual standing in the game over the years. But the regular inability to challenge for honours, or even look like being capable of defeating ManUre or Chelski, defeats this season to Norwich and Swansea, and now Bradford, demonstrate that Arsène has not made the transition from pioneering evangelist of scientific football to modern-day coach, and it’s time for another to take the reins.
20th December 2012
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.
Debbie 11:33am 20th Dec 2012
Why are we still talking about this cup exit.Bradford were lucky and on another day Arsenal could have bagged ten.I thought the WOB would be celebrating their leaders Usmanov latest attack on the manager.I loved the way he said "One day I will own this Arsenal."Apparently according to online sources the guy was a Manure supporter from a boy so he should get on well with the AAA. - Post No. 32568
Wenger Out! 11:53am 20th Dec 2012
@Debbie, you are clearly a comedy character on here. "Why are we still talking about Bradford"? Because it was one of the most humiliating days in the Club's history, that’s why! "On another day we would have bagged 10". Always the refrain from the Wenger worshippers. Ignore what is happening around us in a vain hope that it will get better in the future - even though it is getting worse. People like you are everything that is wrong with this Club - confusing blind loyalty to a busted flush manager with support of the Club. Arsenal FC not Arsene FC. Get Wenger Out! - Post No. 32571
Stroud Green Road Boy 12:05pm 20th Dec 2012
@Debbie, where did Usmanov attack Wenger? He actually said "he is one of the best coaches and football managers in the world" but has had "has not had enough support". The only way your comments could even begin to make any sense is if if you see Wenger, Kroenke and the board as a single entity and so to attack any part of it is to attack all of it, but that would just be downright stupid so cannot be what you mean. - Post No. 32572
Red Mist 13:25pm 20th Dec 2012
Debbie it's still been talked about because it's a major moment in our clubs history like the 8.2 and the ever growing years without a trophy! These will be in our history books and talked about for years to come! Being top four is not a major moment in our history. - Post No. 32577
Bard 13:50pm 20th Dec 2012
All true but frankly its old hat. There are only 2 possible Bouldy scenarios. Either he's a crap coach or he doesn't have much input. Take your pick. The line's been crossed with our club and we're in a state of limbo waiting for Wenger to go. The latest bull**** he's peddling is he building a team around a group of english players. Oh right so we're not going to sell them when someone comes calling offering to triple their wages and give them a chance to win something. Apparently they will all be willing to stay and enjoy the fruits of at best a 4th place finish. I take my hat off to Wenger he's got some front expecting us to buy this twaddle. - Post No. 32578
Der Projekt ist Kaput 14:03pm 20th Dec 2012
Time for a change? Dear God, yes! - Post No. 32579
ishan 14:06pm 20th Dec 2012
"Being top four is not a major moment in our history." But perhaps being top four for the entire duration of wenger's reign is? I have my own criticisms about the manager's tactics and think he should be getting even this bunch of players (who constitute by far the worst of his teams at arsenal) to perform better than they are. But it is so boring to hear the same old things on here day after day, year after year. Maybe it is hard to get excited about a top four finish when you come close to winning it like we did in 2007-08 and 2010-2011 but when there are clearly too many restraints on the club's finances it is an achievement to finish top four with such regularity in my opinion. Very few fans here seem to be aware of the club's history or even the history of english football in general. Arsenal have never been relegated ever since they made it to the top flight, and i suppose thats not an achievement either? But a graph of arsenal's finishing positions in the league clearly demonstrates that despite the lack of trophies in the last 7-8 years arsenal have never fared better for such a long period in its entire history. it is only natural to want our club to win trophies but this dry patch is by no means the worst we have seen. unless of course you haven't seen the tough times and are used to the sustained level of achievement that wenger has brought to the club. in that case i can only say its not too late to switch loyalties. No one is forcing you to support arsenal football club. and you are entitled to your opinion of the way the club is run but for goodness sake support your club, support your team, instead of groaning endlessly about a defeat in a cup that no one really values anyway. - Post No. 32580
Red Mist 14:44pm 20th Dec 2012
Ishan so many words to say so little, top four every year is not a major moment in our clubs history! - Post No. 32582
JJ Williams 14:56pm 20th Dec 2012
Oh Mandy please! You are fooling nobody by changing your name to Debbie. - Post No. 32583
CanadaGooner 15:21pm 20th Dec 2012
There has been far too much talk about the manager on this site (and I have been as culpable as the next fan); perhaps it's down to the fact that the easiest commodity to change at a club: PLAYERS, is an issue here as we've seen so many transfer windows come and go and none of we consider problems have been addressed. WHAT IS WENGER'S HONEST ASSESSMENT of the teams he has had since 2006? why has he not bought a decent goalkeeper? (or atleast get a backup. any of 3 or 4 in the premiership right now, who have been performing heroics elsewhere e.g. Vrom, would be a good backup), why do we have such a gullible defence? (the 2 goals at Reading and our performances over the years are enough of a testament). If we blame the board for the players sold prematurely, I simply dont see how one can blame the board for the poor choice of players, positions, stubborn refusal to buy a decent goalkeeper and build a defense and midfield; years of waiting (no light at the end of the tunnel). January's round the corner again, and we will see if the pressures piled in wenger in recent weeks will finally yield something (we need to get rid of 6 or 7 players and go out there any buy atleast 4 premiership-tested players: Demba Ba is available, perhaps Vrom, Michu, Jelavic and Hangeland or someone like that). Going out of the league and bringing players in enmass hasnt worked for us, it's time to try something different; especially this late in the season. The manager needs to focus on that, and the fans can help making these our topical issues instead of spending months bickering on things that wont change! wenger wont be fired before the end of this season, Usmanov wont take over (and even if he does, is he what we want? why has he taken so long?). - Post No. 32585
maguiresbridge gooner 15:43pm 20th Dec 2012
John it's been time for change for quite a while and more and more people now realise it.Nothings embarrassing or humiliating according to OGL there's always an excuse no matter how minute, he couldn't even bring himself to criticise the players instead praising them after being humiliated.I bet there weren't as many of them scrambling to get in front of the cameras after Bradford than after Reading.A voice from our bench doesn't exist unless it's remonstrating with the fourth official, barking orders ? that might hurt their feelings,no motivating, poor old PR and now bouldy they just sat/sit there and do what their told and if they do get a chance to take charge for a few games their still told what to do and have to follow orders and not allowed to think for themselves.I find it very hard to believe that someone like bouldy and his history is just happy to sit there and say and do nothing when the defence make mistake after mistake in front of him.As for tactical subs it's funny how their always required at a certain time in every game.A lot of people no doubt think reading has made up for the humiliation no it hasn't, like i have said before were still owed. - Post No. 32586
Jack 16:14pm 20th Dec 2012
The Arsenal fans who are unhappy with how things are at our club fall into one of the three categories.1.They are JCL's who have only followed Arsenal over the past 10 years.2.Agenda driven and wish to see the Russian Al Capone given full control.3.They are foolish and simple and have no understanding of the history and traditions of this great club. - Post No. 32587
Bard 16:24pm 20th Dec 2012
Canada I am also frustrated about the playing side but I can't help feeling all the sides of recent vintage seem to have the same DNA regardless of players. We are capable of exhilarating football but fragile and capable of catastrophic performances. ( Birmingham, Bradford etc) . These are good if not great players. It seems to me that they aren't able to wrestle back a game or dig out a result if plan A doesn't work. They don't have any game plan flexiblity. Man u have it in spades. They seem able to get reuslts any which way. This must be a coaching issue as its a feature of all the recent Arsenal sides. As someone wrote on this site. How can a back four as experienced as ours be so crap defensively ? What has been disturbing this last 2 years is how many times we've been comprehensively outplayed by sides of lesser ability but who are organisationally far superior. I'm not sure that any of the buys in Jan make much of a difference. - Post No. 32588
JMascis666 16:34pm 20th Dec 2012
@Jack or 4) Fed up with paying four figure season ticket prices and being served up the same tepid rubbish every season. Thanks for the memories Arsene, but its time to go. - Post No. 32590
Stroud Green Road Boy 16:56pm 20th Dec 2012
@ Jack your third category "They are foolish and simple and have no understanding of the history and traditions of this great club." is correct but you surely meant it in reference to 'The Arsenal fans who are HAPPY with how things are at our club'. No need to thank me for making the correction for you. - Post No. 32593
maguiresbridge gooner 17:05pm 20th Dec 2012
Debbie, yes lets just sweep one of the most humiliating and embarrassing nights in our history under the carpet as if it didn't happen and doesn't matter(the spin machine must be working)after all we've just beaten the team at the bottom of the league so everything's all right again, until the next time. - Post No. 32594
Jack 18:00pm 20th Dec 2012
@Jmasics666/ Your another one who believes the media rubbish about Arsenal being so expensive to watch.Yes the top season tickets are the most expensive,mainly down to the luxury available at the Emirates but the average cost per game for the majority of seats at Arsenal are lower than Tottenham(wow there's a team who really delivers)and Liverpool(wow those northern folk are so wealthy compared to the skint Londoner) and Arsenal's cheaper ticket(£26) is lower than 10 other premiership teams £15 lower than Chelsea and £10 lower than those other bastions of Capitol football West Ham.You've been listening to Adrian Durham too much. - Post No. 32598
CanadaGooner 18:23pm 20th Dec 2012
anyone responding to Jack is perhaps equally moronic. his post at 16.14pm pretty much sums him up and one can only be thankful there arent many like that in our ranks. people say things like "it's not all about trophies" ofcourse it isnt all about trophies; if it was, would there be anyone left supporting arsenal? credit to each and everyone of you arsenal fans; be it those who have now lost patience with wenger or those who still want him to carry on; 7 years without a trophy and we're all still here typing reels and reels of text online: if that isnt the hallmark of a true fan, what is? i have been going to watch arsenal for over 30 years now and some on here have been going to the games for much longer and most would agree that despite where we were years back, when wenger came in and we had a flurry of trophies, one would expect a decent club to build on it, not to rely on the fact that we have had barren patches in the past and so, 7 years without a trophy shouldnt be an issue! forward is the way, not backwards - Post No. 32599
billthered 18:26pm 20th Dec 2012
All the pro Wenger brigade who think every supporter is a johnny come lately fan is deluded.I have been going to Arsenal since 1961 and have seen my fair share of bad players and teams.As I've stated in the past it is only the past few months when I have questioned our leader.You see in the past, pre Ashburton Grove we payed the same sort of ticket prices as every other club and still produced our share of home grown talent that could get in most teams.We have all been sucked into the project of the new stadium which we were told would enable us to compete,but all we've done is made the top three stronger while our team has struggled to keep tabs with them hardly competing is it.So to all you AKB's ask yourselves why do you keep getting blindly led up the garden path while our yankee doodle dandy gets richer.Wise up smartly. - Post No. 32600
Highbury Boy 18:27pm 20th Dec 2012
Of course it's time for a change in manager and not just because of the Bradford game. Jack,you are so so wrong on all 3 counts with me. I well remember Billy Wright pleading he wanted one more year because he had young players like Bob Wilson, Jon Sammels, Pat Rice and Sammy Nelson coming through. Just like Wenger promising the future. We supporters had heard it before and boycotted the last midweek game of the season v Leeds. Only 4,544 turned up. Wright was sacked. Bertie Mee was appointed and the rest is history. Don't be afraid of change! - Post No. 32601
ppp 18:44pm 20th Dec 2012
In a week when we win 5-2 at Reading and sign up Wilshire, Ox, Ramsey, Gibbs and Jenkinson (two of whom are lifelong Arsenal fans) this fanzine prints an article about how awful we were against Bradford. I have genuine fondness for The Gooner after switching to it since One Nil Down died but it's pretty obvious that it's been brainwashed into a ranting Wenger-Hating agenda for whatever reason and can't be taken seriously anymore. It's even worse than traditional Wenger-Hating Arsenal-baiting "journalism" in the broadsheets and tabloids. It's got that bad. I challenge The Gooner to put paid to this miserable state of affairs and encourage the fanbase to get behind the team AND the manager and see how good we can be in the new year. The fanzine editors should also make a concerted effort to root out the obvious Tottenham trolls in their comments section as everyone I know that travels with Arsenal consistently refers to the Gooner as a Tottenham fanzine - and this should not have been allowed to happen. - Post No. 32602
Jack 19:27pm 20th Dec 2012
@Highbury boy.How can you compare Wenger with these other managers.Billy Wright finished 13th and 14th in his last two seasons.Bertie Mee 16th and 17th.Wengers crime finishing 3rd.I give you people hard facts you come back with hearsay and talksport talk. - Post No. 32605
JMascus666 20:06pm 20th Dec 2012
Don't tell me what to think about my club Jack, i pay my money and will formulate my own opinion. We are paying way over the top for a product that as slowly become inferior over the past few years. If you are happy with that then fine, that's your problem. - Post No. 32607
Theopants Superstar 22:28pm 20th Dec 2012
Jack: If you are 'happy' with the fact that in the past two years alone Arsenal have suffered their worst league defeat in over 100 years; worst European defeat ever; become the first club to ever throw away a 4-0 lead in the PL (and in 25 minutes to boot!!); lost to a team 3 divisions below it that cost 1,000th of what our side did, and to top it off, has also sold their two best players and club captains to their supposed rivals, then I'm afraid it's YOU that is not a true Arsenal supporter, not the fans that want to get rid of the guy primarily responsible for those embarrassments!! The quicker your hero goes (and hopefully takes the likes of you, PPP, Debbie and/or Mandy with him to his next club) the sooner we can become Arsenal Football club again!! - Post No. 32611
Debbie 23:52pm 20th Dec 2012
@Theopants Superstar.The garbage you've just spewed could be said about Manure humiliating 6-1 HOME defeat to local rivals embarassing HOME defeat in the cup to Crystal Palace.Unable to qualify from the weakest ever Champions League Group.outclassed home and away in the Europa Cup.This only confirms that the WOB and AAA are complete douchebags and turnip heads. - Post No. 32613
glory glory 1:45am 21st Dec 2012
As a spuds fan I agree with the majority of posters on this site.Arsenal are in decline.People like Jack,Debbie and ppp are too loyal to the cause they will support their team however crap they play.Wenger has turned Arsenal into a second rate outfit the day Usmanov is appointed Arsenal chairman is the day us spurs fans will quiver. - Post No. 32615
N4 3:23am 21st Dec 2012
I get the feeling that the bradford lost was done on purpose by Wenger so as to have less games to be played as he sees no importance or no shame in losing (let alone losing embarassingly) the Capital One Cup! - Post No. 32617
Moscow Gooner 7:14am 21st Dec 2012
Ishan - you criticise other fans for not knowing the clubs history but you re wrong yourself when you say that Arsenal have never been relegated since they made it to the top flight: Woolwich Arsenal were relegated from the old First Division pre World War I. And when you say that Arsenal 'have never fared better for such a long period in their entire history': really? How about 1930 to 1953? In fact qualifying for the Champions League for umpteen years, and qualifying from the group within the Champions League are achievements (not trophies) - I don t dispute that, but the real questions should be about future direction not the past: if we lose to Bayern Munich, if we fail to get past the Third Round of the cup, if we finish fifth this season -will any of those past achievements really count for very much? A footnote in the official history and that s about it. The club has limits on its resources - but it s still better off than about 89 of the other league clubs: it should be consistently in the top four, it should be qualifying from its ECL group. It s hard to see that we can get to the next level with the current management, and the current board, in place. As for 'defeat in a cap that no one really values': tell that to the 4 500 who travelled up there to see the Bradford game, tell that to AW when he fielded about the strongest team possible, tell that to anyone who was at Wembley in 1987... - Post No. 32618
Stroud Green Road Boy 9:40am 21st Dec 2012
Comparing us to Man U to show 'they're no better really' never seems a good idea. I had thought it a bit harsh to say Mandy is Debbie as Mandy clearly has a brain, however as this is a favoured tactic of hers maybe they are one and the same. - Post No. 32619
billthered 9:57am 21st Dec 2012
Just a small line,do you think if Herbert Chapman was in charge today he would have won the Champions league by now,or praising a top four finish. - Post No. 32620
Judge me in may 11:49am 21st Dec 2012
@debbie And what have Man U won in that time? And what have Arsene PLC won in that time? Turnip headed, just like your useless idol - Post No. 32621
Jumpers for Goalposts 11:50am 21st Dec 2012
Debbie - your comment at 23:52 shows just how desperate Wenger's supporters have become. You highlight Man United's recent failures but you choose to ignore the fact that they won 3 consecutive PL titles from 2007 - 2009, then won it again in 2011; they also won the European Cup in 2008 and they are currently well clear of the big spenders at the top of the table. Man U don't whinge about petro dollars, they spend wisely and fight back on the pitch. Exactly what Arsenal should still be doing. Wenger was a great manager but football has moved on. His mantra that "4th place is a trophy" are the words of a loser. - Post No. 32622
Theopants Superstar 12:07pm 21st Dec 2012
Debbie: So which bit was 'garbage' - The 8-2 defeat? The loss of a 4 goal lead? Getting thrashed by AC Milan? Losing to a 4th Division team? I agree - they all were! As for bringing up a couple of United embarrassments as your main defence, the thing you don't seem to grasp is Man Utd had won 4 titles, 3 Cups and a Champions League since we last won anything and are entitled to the odd slip-up or two - which every team has. Unfortunately Wenger went into his humiliations on the back of winning the square root of **** all since 2005 and throughout that time the odd slip up has become more the rule rather than the exception!! As for your final comments - how old are you? Because if that's your idea of debate and reasoning I can only presume you're still going through the pre-pubertal changes stage of maturity. - Post No. 32623
Mark 12:09pm 21st Dec 2012
i guarantee everyone wenger will disapppoint this year. you will all see and you will all cry. we will not make 4th spot this time. no way. only reason we made it last year was RVP special goals. we are much weaker this year scoring goals plus we still dont have any bottle. chelsea are better. spurs if all fit also. everton are much closer to us now than ever over the last 25 years. but dont worry our balance sheet is strong, the shareholders are creaming it and we have cash in the bank - Post No. 32624
Jack 12:39pm 21st Dec 2012
I agree with Debbie 100% I love the turnips term for the glory hunters I shall use that instead of the WOB.The trouble is them Turnips are growing still small compared to the real fans though.It will soon be time for me to unvail my mural I am still working on it maybe the Wham game at the end of Jan could be the match.I won't spoil the fun and tell you who's on it but there's a fat bloke with a Russian accent and also a few turnips (late adjustment)dotted about. - Post No. 32626
ppp 17:55pm 21st Dec 2012
Here's a quote from the ironically named Tottenham fan "Glory, glory" "People like Jack,Debbie and ppp are too loyal to the cause they will support their team however crap they play" Exactly - I won't speak for the other two but that's spot on - I will support my team however crap they play. I've done that all my life and will continue to do so. If you can't understand that then don't bother squealing, you're nothing to me. If you agree with the Tottenham chump then that sums you up royally! I have nothing to compensate for, I love my club. - Post No. 32640
allybear 21:38pm 21st Dec 2012
Theopants Superstar you write a very good article. Im sick of some people not facing up to the manager having lost it. In the distant past he was a good manager but unfortunately he has presided over some of the clubs heaviest defeats. The heaviest defeats in the Premier League were mostly to ManU¬ just last years embarrasment but also a 6-1 loss a few years ago. I hope things improve very soon. One other thing,can we please have less pictures of Wenger on these pages. - Post No. 32643
Stroud Green Road Boy 4:51am 22nd Dec 2012
oh dear ppp "glory glory" was obviously one of your ilk attempting to take the piss out of supporters who dare to criticise the status quo, but I guess that shows your level that you didn't pick up on that. Hopefully not too much longer now until the Arsene FC fans fade away, it's slowly happening... - Post No. 32646
Joe S. 4:52am 22nd Dec 2012
This site has been polluted by an ugly virus. It's called Debbie, Jack and ppp,three fanatics whose stupidity makes you want to stop caring about anything Arsenal and thinking more seriously about the real problems out there in the world. - Post No. 32647
14th July 2016
Online Ed: Might we see a change in formation next season?