Another fine mess…

Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal 

Back to the drawing board.

To be honest, the drawing board would be an improvement on the losing board, where we find ourselves time and again after another false dawn. Collaps-o-Arsenal© is not a fleeting blip, it’s endemic, and the most worrying thing of all is that Wenger seems entirely powerless to remedy it.

So it’s hardly surprising that there’s been another major outbreak of introspection among Arsenal fans. These on-field failings have been happening for years, and they are not abating. There is an unpleasant whiff of decline in the air.

There comes a time when even the most ardent Wenger fan has to ask whether the real problem lies not with defensive training, or with a mysterious lack of concentration, or with a lack of quality players, but with Wenger himself. I don’t want to draw that conclusion, because my respect for his achievements at Arsenal is pretty much limitless. I am desperate for him to find the elixir for sound defending and steely concentration. And then to pour it down the throats of his squad.

But that’s the question more and more people are posing, myself included. He’s been asked several times already this season, after bad defeats, whether he’s going to resign. That in itself is unprecedented. This is certainly the lowest point of his Arsenal tenure. Can he turn it round? He hasn’t yet.

He’ll get more time, as he should because he’s earned it, but I don’t believe for a second his position is unassailable. He’s not made of teflon. We are seventeenth in the table, have conceded 14 goals in five games and have the worst goal difference in the league. What is the club’s ambition this year – fourth place? It is of course early days, but it looks like a tall order at this moment in time. Would the club be prepared to pass on Champions League football for a season while Wenger sorts things out? They might well do. Who knows.

We don’t want for decent players. Sagna? Excellent. Mertesacker? 75 caps for one of the best national sides in the world. Szczesny? One of the most exciting young keepers I’ve seen in ages. Koscielny? Improving. Vermaelen? Class. Arteta, Wilshere, Gervinho, van Persie – the list goes on.

But taken as a unit, things are not consistently working. Haven’t been for ages. Nobody, I suspect, fears us anymore. They probably simply sniff a good opportunity.

That’s got to change.

13 thoughts on “Another fine mess…

  1. I too defended Wenger, year after year, excusing his strange purchases and omissions and kamikaze tactics under the belief that he was clearly building something special that only he could see. We had several years of ‘transition’, of coming close, of bad luck and injuries. But we stuck with him, as reward for his past glories, like the Emperor’s new clothes. I used to laugh at Myles Palmer for his extreme pessimism. But I’ve had enough now. 4 wins in 16 games. 4th from bottom. Another summer of dithering in the transfer market and failure to buy the top talent that we all know we need. We know he’s obstinate, won’t listen, won’t change and wields too much power to be forced to change. He has to go. 
    We will win nothing with Wenger in charge. It’s so blindingly obvious, that really the only question is how to replace him quickly, in a dignified way with someone like Guus Hiddink.  
    And you know what, I’m quite excited at the prospect of change. 

  2. I certainly don’t think he’s irreplaceable, as some suggest. I’m sure there’d be many top CVs in the hat if the job came up. Good players, robust finances, big stadium.

    I’d like him to do it, to model the team we need, but like you, with every result like Saturday’s I find it harder to believe it’s going to happen.

  3. The time has come for action. Wenger has lost the dressing room, end of story. We need Hiddink now before the season is a complete loss. Wenger has plateaued, he has lost the plot, he has to go. Unquestionably his early years were stellar, but based on Seaman,Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn and Parlour…who he inherited. He simply cannot build a new team and we lack an English spine. The solution is simple but he cant see it, luckily the fans can and need to make ourselves heard.

  4. Defending set pieces, and getting the off-side trap right: if we master these two, we’ll see a much-improved side.  The attack has shown some progress.

  5. “Unquestionably his early years were stellar, but based on Seaman,Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn and Parlour…who he inherited. He simply cannot build a new team and we lack an English spine.”

    Thats just simply not true. Look at the 2003/04 title winning side, and what most peple would consider to be the starting 11:-

    Gk – Lehmann – purchased by AW
    RB – Lauren – purchased by AW
    CB – Toure – purchased by AW
    CB – Campbell – signed for free by AW
    LB – Cole – youth product from AW’s time at the club
    RM – Ljungberg – purchased by AW
    CM – Vieira – purchased by AW
    CM – Gilberto – purchased by AW
    LM – Pires – purchased by AW
    CF – Bergkamp – inherited
    ST – Henry – purchased by AW

    Note that only one player was inherited, you could also say that Cole is kind of inherited as he almost fell into his lap. Otherwise, there are 9 geniune Wenger acquisitions who made up that UNBEATEN team, and note a distinct lack of English spine (2 players in the defense is hardly a spine).

    Now just to clarify, I not happy at the moment either so please dont take this as pre-Wenger propoganda. What makes me so unhappy is that we know what he is capable of. Many of those players above were signed for relatively low fees over a period of 3-4 years. I know we dont have the money to throw around like City and United can Aguero’s, Silva’s, Rooney’s etc. But if we could have added a couple of players each season over the last 5 years for good value fees (and we are always being told that there is money available to cover this) then we should have been able to remain competitive.

  6. I would like to see a new voice at the club for Wenger to talk to and to talk and hopefully coach the players.  And i think that should be someone like Alan Curbishley who has experience as a manager at this this level, whose team played a decent style of football and is an intelligent guy.

    Hopefully having some one else to talk, shout scream if ncessary at would release some of the tension the menager is feeling.  

  7. Add a couple of players per season – I agree (we did that anyway). But what we have also been doing of late is selling big players, so the incomers have not sufficiently replaced the outgoers.

  8. You are quite right, what I should have said is a couple of additions on top of what was already there. The effect of that might of helped hang on to those who departed anyway. Remember though that there were many high profile departures in those early Wenger years as well – Anelka, Overmars, Petit for example – as well as the retirements of peope like Dixon, Winterburn, and Adams. I just think that more could have been done even on the lower financial resources we had in first 3-4 post-Highbury years.

  9. You make a great point about the composition  of the 2003/4 title winning side. However I think it only serves to underline the point that Wenger has lost his powers as he has failed in the past 4 to 5 years to find the right players AND to motivate the team. I really wish that he would accept that he needs help, by bringing in a new coach (or coaches) he could inject greater mental strength into the team and build a stronger defense. Adams throwing things around in the changing room and chewing out players would be a great start. However I dont think Wenger will do this and hence my harsh but practical view that we need a change at the top. The longer Wenger stays the more he will tarnish his reputation with the fans, not just gooners but also the mass majority of football fans and pundits who acknowledge that he has built teams in the past who play beautiful football

  10. Hi…best regards from Italy, i’m Richard, a soccer reporter in rome.
    First of all i would say that you have a nice site….really..then why
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    thanks again from Italy and from STADIO GOAL ( …thanks mate

  11. Obviously it’s a weak spot in Wenger’s system.  I, like him, am simply hoping for a miracle (i.e., that the players sort it out themselves).  Couldn’t they stay after practice and work on an offside line?

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