The Return to Doom & Gloom? Part I…By: Perry | December 3rd, 2012
The ever growing saga of the present day Arsenal “fan” runs along the lines of “Wenger out!” When I recently polled a group of Arsenal supporters during the half of a match, the consensus was the following:
- How long have you been an Arsenal fan? Most answered with a date range of when Wenger was already on board.
- How do you think we fix the current situation? This one was simple, most answered with “Wenger out!”
- And of course my final question was, who should replace him? The answer was something along the lines of what crickets do, “chirp, chirp, chirp.” They gave answers I’ve seen in this blog from some, as well as some showing their knowledge or lack thereof of who could actually be a suitable replacement with all things considered at AFC(transfer budget, wage caps, style, etc.)
So you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this? Well here’s where I’m going. The overgrown dissent amongst Arsenal fans that I’ve seen of late seems to be common with those who have only seen the glory years of this club i.e. the last decade and not what I consider the dark years. As an Arsenal long, its difficult for people like myself, some posters in here like ‘Tom’ and a few other objective thinkers, to see the backlash against a manager who brought us back from those dark years. With that said, I am not going to say the Professor is without guilt here. He is as much as part of the current problem as he WILL be as part of the solution. The difference in what I believe and what I’m finding the “Arsenal fan opposition” to believe in is simply that I still trust in our manager to fix the situation.
The following will be my first of two posts about the outlay of the current affairs at our club amongst our players and staff, as well as how we WILL climb out of this funk and head back in the right direction…
Part I: Current Table and Season Outlook
A quick look at the table currently and you’ll find Arsenal in a dismal 10th place…
An objective person would look at this table and would see that just as well as the Arsenal being in 10th place, the 3rd place team is a mere 5 points off ahead of AFC. That’s precisely 2 matches difference. Someone with a little more knowledge of the league would also see that the clubs ahead of us up to 3rd place have easily shown the same inconsistencies we have, but have managed to eek out a win or two more whereas we’ve drawn those matches. We were never, ever going to challenge for the league this year, I’m fairly certain we all know that. If your expectation was as such, well that’s another argument to be have, but for now we’ll stick to this season & the current affairs.
Looking ahead for the season, the outlook from most is that we’re not strong enough to finish in the top 4. To that I say, fair enough, but we’ve played 15 matches, are only 5 points behind 3rd, and I know that we have the quality in the team to achieve the feat. Will it be a hard fougt, tooth & nail struggle to the 3rd/4th spot? MOST DEFINITELY. Can this Arsenal team do it? MOST DEFINITELY. I mean, why not? We are no worse than the other clubs ahead of us like I said, and we’ve already seen the scoring power in this team, if we can get the run of confidence that is so direly needed and figure out how to bring back that cutting edge, I think you can objectively see the team has every much as chance as CFC or West Brom (yeah right) or Everton or the Spuds.
Part II: Staff Issues – Quick & Long Term Fixes
So now that we can all agree that AFC still has a reasonable possibility to make top 4 (I know, I know not good enough, we should be competing for the title!), let’s move on to the root of our current funk – the combination of squad implosion & lack of confidence and the questionable managerial decisions being made.
As much as many want to put an emphasis of blame on the manager, the professor, the guy who wears that Marshmellow Man jacket, I beg to differ to some extent (note the “some extent”). Look, I know Arsene is not without fault, and I’ll actually dive into some of the faults I’ve seen recently where a few magical tweaks could be the difference between a draw and a win, but to put the level of blame people have on him might seem fair, but I think he deserves the opportunity to fix this situation. If he cannot fix it this season, then even the “longs” would be on board to say it’s probably time to at least start looking at who a suitable replacement would be. Beyond that, I’m baffled at the treatment of Wenger by Arsenal “fans”. I honestly have lost a bit of respect for the some Arsenal fans even in my circle, because this is not the way you treat a man who has given us quite a bit and this is not the way THEE ARSENAL FAN REPRESENTS HIMSELF.
Arsene’s current faults mostly come in the form of squad selection in my opinion and could be remediated in the short term rather easily. First off, and I’m sure I’ll receive some backlash for this, but Ramsay should NOT, I repeat should NOT be starting for Arsenal. He is not of the starting quality for a team competing for top 4 honors. As I’ve said before, if he’s ok with being a rotational, squad/depth player then we have use for him, but beyond that, I’m sorry but I’m thoroughly tired of seeing his poor runs, poor control, poor crosses, poor lobs time and time again. He might have had a glimmer of prospect before his horrific injury, but sadly I think that really took the momentum he built up and I’m not sure if he’ll ever find it again, at least not with Arsenal.
Secondly, we’ve got to stop playing Gervinho centrally. We were very lucky and I think duped into believing he could with his early season exploits, but it’s become apparent now, he’s far better played as a winger and wide (we finished 3rd last season with him there), than having him central and missing an 8 yard, open header. In my humble opinion, I fully understand having to give players a rest (i.e. Giroud), but we really should be using a guy like Podolski centrally who has a ton of familiarity in the role with prior clubs and has a good goal scoring record to boot. Hell, even if we’re going to sell Walcott, for the mere purposes of trying to salvage the season, I think Wenger may finally give him the go centrally to see if he’s up to par (I personally don’t think he will be, but that’s not for me to decide).
Lastly, as good as Arteta was for us last season and earlier this season, I think we need to let him come forward a bit more. He’s one of the best passers on our team, and I think we could use his cutting edge. I alluded to this in his post-season assessment and I think if he’s free to roam a bit, our creative juices might start to flow again. Cazorla has been a godsend, but I think he can’t be absolutely and definitively our sole creator because defenses are wising up to us.
That last statement, “defenses are wising up to us” is probably the biggest culprit for our issues in offense right now. It’s time to get a little creative and I know this is Wenger’s biggest fault right now. He’s going to have to start thinking outside of the box again like he did when he first came to the club. I could be wrong and it could be too late as he might be too adament about his ways, but I still give the Professor the benefit of the doubt in this department to turn things around for Arsenal Football Club. I’m still firmly in the category of “IN ARSENE WE TRUST”, but fail to get us back into the top 4 le Profess and even your most ardent supporters (Perry S., Tom, Gigi & Sh31kh to some extent) will probably be saying it’s time to look into a change.
For the long term fix and future outlook, I think we are actually starting to see some of that in action already and will continue to see a revolution at Arsenal, even as soon as January. We obviously do need further, quality investments into the club and I think come January we’ll be seeing a player or two coming in and at least a player leaving. The continued effort and expunging of the old and the insertion of new is absolutely the right direction for Arsenal. We’ve got an incredibly brilliant group of homegrown youngsters who are hungry and will get better with every match played, but equally we’ve got to surround them with the Artetas and Cazorlas, the Mertesackers and the Poldolskis of the footballing world. The expecation laid upon AFC is always going to be high, but I think it’s not unreasonable to say we should at least temper our expectations a bit while the we work through these growing pains of gelling a new squad together. The least you can do the “longs” is look back at the last 30-40 years of Arsenal history, and then look at what we have now, I could stretch to say you might consider yourself fortunate. With that said, I’m definitely not saying we should be satisfied, not nearly the case as I fully expect a classy, hard working, quality team fielded yielding positive results in most situations. BUT, and a big BUT (I like big BUTs, what can I say?), to essentially turn your back on the manager not even half way through the season puts you in the class of a Chelsea or City fan, probably the worst fan there is. We compete, we stick behind the team, the staff, until the last day of the season and then assess the situation then. The players and staff need us, they really do. So I’m looking to you match goers out there, don’t boo the team or manager, be frustrated, vent it, be angry, vent it, but support the classy club that is Arsenal FC, so you can have the opportunity to say you supported them through thick and thin.
On a final note for this first part of the two part post, Arsenal is making good strides towards offloading the “deadwood” contracts (some expiring, some sales, and some “permanent” loans). Combine that with the new Emirates deal, the stadium debts being paid off, the new players on contract, some additonal player resources coming in, and I still see a good future for the team. I’m far more of a fan of consistency than I am of a funding a trophy only to see us drop to 12th the following season and risk further obscurity with poor financial decisions. We’re not Chelsea, we’re not City, and we’re not United, we just don’t have that owner who will give fuck all to buy himself a trophy. We do things the right way at Arsenal and because of that we have remained consistent for ever so long. As I said above and I’ll conclude at this, if we somehow don’t finish with UCL this year, then I won’t question anyone who says it might be time for a change up top, but until then, we owe it to Arsene, Bould, and the team to work their way back from mid-table obscurity to top 4, and still the possiblity for a cup.
I look forward to your comments, upwards and onwards Gunners, upwards and onwards!