By Jamie Hunt
I must say, you have to hand it to Arsène Wenger. This time last season, and I'm even double-checking this as we speak, it is so ridiculous, we were eight points better off than this year.
Last year, having conducted our summer business with the efficiency of a chimps’ tea-party, we entered the season with around 14 fit players (which included the likes of Lansbury, Traoré and Jenkinson, who had a handful of first-team games for Charlton under his belt), shipped 12 goals at Man Utd and Blackburn, and lost a North London Derby with a spineless, clueless performance.
And THIS team is eight points worse???!!! It shouldn't actually be possible, should it? On paper, at least, this team should be eight points BETTER.
The first thing most people say involves money and spending it. You can put me firmly in this category, but only until recently. This team should be far better than what it is at present. But the man pulling the strings isn't capable of producing anything like a winning team.
Ask yourself this question: if Kroenke gave Wenger £100 million to spend in January (I know, I'm a comedian), would you trust him to buy the right players and, more specifically, create a team to challenge for trophies? I don't think he would, period. He doesn't know how to win any more. He doesn't know how to motivate any more. How would an idiot like me know that? Watch most of this season's games, and you will see a bunch of players that are not putting it in for him any more.
Our defensive squad consists of a 100-cap German, France's right-back and centre-half, Belgium's centre-half, an England international left-back and right-back and a bloke that sometimes plays left-back for Brazil; and we sit there s***ting ourselves when two goals up against ten men?
We have a creative genius like Cazorla, potentially the new Xavi in Wilshere, and one of the world's best uncapped players in Arteta. But we play game after game where we seem to have a football version of dartsitis. Scared to play that killer ball. Scared to pull the trigger.
This is down to the manager. He just hasn't got it anymore.
I just don't understand some of the ways he goes about his business. It’s almost as if he wants to see how bad things can get. Take the Marouane Chamakh situation this year; I'm by no means a fan of his, and if you had told me in August he would never play again for us, I would've been quite happy. But he played in the Mickey Mouse cup against Reading. Ok, for 90 minutes he was his usual ineffective self. But in extra time he scored two goals and must have come off that pitch feeling the best he's felt for two years. What was his reward? He hasn't (correct me if I'm wrong) been on the pitch since and has barely made the bench! Now, I'm not suggesting for one minute that Reading was the catalyst for Chamakh to suddenly light up the premiership. But with Giroud the only proper striker in the first team squad, wouldn't you have just given the bloke a few run-outs, even off the bench, to see if he could carry on the good vibrations? You know, seeing as we aren't scoring many goals these days and the bloke is probably getting about £100k a week? Nope, not a sign of him, and we get Gervinho.
It's the same with Arshavin. I'll be the first to say he hasn't done it at Arsenal, although playing his proper position might have been a decent start - you know, the position he was playing when he scored four goals at Anfield? Fair play to him, he's not moaned publicly, and this year in his brief cameos he has generally looked likely to create something. He dug us out of the s**t at Reading with an uncharacteristically lung-busting performance. His reward? What was it, ten minutes at Villa?
If these players are at the club, why not at least TRY to put them to use? But no, like his pre-planned substitutions, Wenger decided in the summer that these players weren't part of his master-plan so they are effectively a couple of very expensive pieces of furniture.
I don't know why Arsène puts himself through it. He has gone from a manager we were so proud to have at our club to a figure of comedy. His ridiculous excuses and pitch-side behaviour have become painful to watch. He has started to have the feel of a gambler who just wants to stay at the table until he wins his money back. It’s not nice and it’s getting worse. I've long thought that he was a willing part of the money-grabbing cartel that our club has become, but I'm now hoping he doesn't get the chance to spend any of it on players.
3rd 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.
Andyd 12:39pm 3rd Dec 2012
I'm not having any of this "blame the board Wenger has no money" stuff. It's Wengers philosophy to not spend money. He sanctioned the transfer of RVP, not the board. I fail to understand why anyone with an iota of intelligence can think that after 16 years Wenger would tolerate being told he had no money to spend and that RVP would be sold whether he like it or not. If that was the case he would have walked a long long time ago. No, it's Wenger thats holding the club back now, the board are just complicit because not one of them will speak up against him. We have two hopes of removing him. a) the fans protesting and b) Kroenke running out of patience. - Post No. 31576
g clarke 12:43pm 3rd Dec 2012
why dont you TRY to get behind team cant understand people who claim to support dont arsenal will be there top four what is needed is a cup for the fans that only inderstanding is you win a cup - Post No. 31577
Redfox 13:13pm 3rd Dec 2012
Agree with what your saying about Arshavin and Chamakh. Honestly thought Arshavin would have been used more this season. Defo would off been a good player in his right position. Then again, what do it know? His been waiting on Tomas Rosicky to come back. . . - Post No. 31581
email and complain 13:45pm 3rd Dec 2012
I dont know if its worth it but I emailed email@example.com with the following compliants. Dear Sirs, As the board and manager constantly let us know that Arsenal is a business and is run on sound business lines I will voice my complaints in the manner in which you see the club. My complaint is that you are charging the highest ticket prices in the UK and probably the world, to watch football matches. However the quality of your “product” is nowhere near the standard that I expect for those prices. I would not pay the cost of a Rolls Royce and be satisfied with getting a Citroen C3. Neither do I expect to buy a product from a company that charges the highest prices yet are happy to have only the 4th best product on the market and show no real ambition to improve the product. This is outrageous and more and more Arsenal supporters are feeling this way. Consequently I and all members of my family have ceased buying any of your products. So from us, no more ticket purchases, red memberships cancelled, no calendars, shirts etc purchased. Not a single penny of our money will go towards sustaining your business until you improve the product and become serious in aiming to make it the best in its market. I feel confident that more and more Arsenal supporters will be doing the same until you make major changes to the way you run your business and start giving value for money. I will leave for another day the lack of respect you show to your consumers and the way you have wasted the money we have spent in supporting the club (excessive wages & bonuses for management etc). Yours sincerely - Post No. 31586
maguiresbridge gooner 13:51pm 3rd Dec 2012
Trust OGL to spend £100mil on the right players ? would you trust Russell Brand if left alone with your wife or girlfriend ? Like you said yourself he's not capable he hasn't got it in him anymore the motivation is gone.He'd most likely just keep on trying to prove everybody wrong by winning something on the cheap with the same lame excuses for failure. - Post No. 31587
Jed 14:46pm 3rd Dec 2012
However bad we were on Saturday, I stayed till the end. However sad I was to see us humbled at home by a team we should have beaten hollow, I started to feel a glimmer of hope. Surely some good can come of this, I thought, at last we have the clearest example possible that the problem isn't money, isn't the board, isn't the fans, it's the manager. There is after all no other explanation that makes any sense on the evidence before us. It's great to see all these clear thinking articles in the Gooner, hopefully we can now force the change we need to save our club from utter humiliation. And to folk like @ g clarke who just don't see it I would ask that you take a step back and think about the games we have lost and drawn this season, with the 4th highest wage bill we really should have had no problems seeing of Norwich, Swansea, Villa - but they were better organised than us, harder working with a better tactical plan - that is 100% Wenger's fault. He has nowhere to hide and nor do the fans who continue to back him out of a misguided sense of loyalty. Put it another way: it's Arsenal Football Club we love, not Arsene Wenger; and after 16 years he's dragging our beloved club down. - Post No. 31592
Jumpers for Goalposts 15:01pm 3rd Dec 2012
g clarke. "why dont you TRY to get behind team" Were you there on 5 May 2009, for the CL semi against Man Utd mate?? The most noise I've ever heard at the new stadium. 55,000 Gooners drowning out the 5,000 or so Mancs. It was so loud my ears were hurting by kick off - but what happened?? Wenger's precious little babies bottled it yet again and we were given a footballing lesson by Ferguson's mob. The fans aren't the problem, it's the loser waving his arms about in the technical area that's the problem and nothing will change until he's gone. - Post No. 31594
spurinpeace 17:18pm 3rd Dec 2012
your french maestro knows one thing: that he's on 7.5m a year and for that money the Board has bought his silence and acquiescence of the business model. you lot should boycott some games if you want rid of him not have a silly little black scarf march which looked pathetic on the telly you have to admit. i especially liked the bloke who put his hand over the camera like he was important! - Post No. 31608
Bard 19:33pm 3rd Dec 2012
Superb post. Absolutely spot on in your analysis.I understand all the reservations about Arshavin but you're right he's never played in his proper position. Surely he's worth more than a few minutes here and there.The final nail in the coffin is his excuse they're tired. Its because we have almost a full squad of players deemed surplus to requirements languishing in the wings. All on stonking wages and some completely useless. There is absolutely no doubt we are watching the dying embers of Wenger's Arsenal career to think otherwise is total delusion. The serious question now is not whether we finish in the top 4 but how low the club will have sunk before he bits the bullet. Wages aside Arsenal a just the club for Pep. They will give him his head and not interfer. We have now become a club in steep decline. - Post No. 31622
Nutty's Right Peg 9:52am 4th Dec 2012
You're so right about Arshavin, we creamed our collective pants when the little Meerkat first wore the shirt, remember that goal at The Grove against Blackburn ? Wenger's been playing players out of position for a while now. People have slated Bendtner yet look at his international scoring record for Denmark. Just a thought, Podolski is a striker, Bendtner is a striker yet seem to have spent more time on the wing than an aircraft engine. - Post No. 31655
Graham Simons 10:08am 4th Dec 2012
Has anyone else notice that on the Arsenal website it lists "coaching staff" rather than non-playing staff? If we actually listed our non-playing staff we would have a longer list than any other club in the league. I'm more than happy to do what Diaby does for half the money. - Post No. 31659
Goonmeister 11:17am 4th Dec 2012
Very well written article and agree fully with conclusions - Post No. 31670
Alsace Lorraine De Totteridge 10:45am 5th Dec 2012
Dearest G Clarke, Ejecting Wenger IS getting behind the team. We cannot progress with him. He is the death of hope. - Post No. 31770
Highbury Diva 22:15pm 5th Dec 2012
Agree with every word you say Jamie. How long do you think it will be before we see "Wenger Out" banners in the stadium? - Post No. 31820
SilverGooner 9:55am 8th Dec 2012
Spot on article Jamie. Sadly, Wenger is now a busted flush, blind to all that is wrong on the pitch. I too am amazed that Arshavin hasn't featured more. I went to the Coventry game and he played a blinder, and he put in another decent shift against Reading. Any other manager would have given him another chance, but not our clueless leader. One other thing...if things continue as they are, I can't see Steve Bould hanging around too much longer. - Post No. 31949
26th January 2015
Online Ed: Déjà vu in Sussex