Where is the catalyst for change?

By Ian Henry

United defeat confirms it won’t happen until Mr Antediluvian departs

After the Tottenham game, various Gooner friends, more optimistic than me, were besides themselves with excited belief that a corner had been turned. Then the last-minute win against Burnley was accompanied by comments that we had learned to win ugly, and then the 5-0 hammering of Huddersfield was enough to convince some that we were once again challengers for the top prize. Hold your excitement until we play ManU, I cautioned.

I should have placed a bet on the 13th successive home win not coming to pass. The ManU game was pretty much typical latter-day Arsenal, exemplified by suicidal, naïve defending gifting superior opposition a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes and an opposition keeper in sublime form. When was the last time you saw City, United, Liverpool, Chelsea or even Spurs do that against one of their bigger rivals? I haven’t analysed every result between the top 6, but I challenge someone to prove my hunch wrong.

Yes, Arsenal created 15 or so chances, and yes, de Gea played a blinder; yes, we should have had a penalty, but remember Koscielny could have had a red, and we were a lick of paint away from another United goal. In the end, however, the rights and wrongs of penalties not given, red cards given or not given, and whether or not this was the game of the season, Arsenal lost again to a top 6 rival.

Actually, let me rephrase that; Arsenal lost to one of the only two teams capable of winning the league this season. The two Manchester clubs will battle for the title, while Chelsea will, I suspect, secure third place. Arsenal are fighting, as usual, for fourth, with third a distant dream. With a bit of luck (we will need it because it won’t be defensive discipline which will do it for the team), Arsenal might beat off Tottenham and Liverpool for fourth, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Certainly, a win against Liverpool before Xmas is essential. Although for the long-term future of the club maybe it isn’t.

If the team defends like it did against United when Liverpool come to town, then the pantomime season will have arrived. Expect plenty of “he’s behind you” comments directed at Koscielny and co when Salah, Coutinho, Firmino and co weave their patterns. Then at the start of New Year, the Chavs come visiting; what would the AKBs say if we lose both of those, with 7 defeats at the turn of the year? That is of course assuming we avoid defeat at West Brom and Palace; remember what happened last season? At least Pulis and Allardyce have left those two clubs so we have a chance.

We are not even halfway through the season and it is clear that, yet again, the structural faults in the Arsenal team have not been addressed by the manager. And it is not just central defensive indiscipline. Persisting with Xhaka as the defensive midfielder, one who is almost guaranteed to be booked, to misplace half a dozen or more key passes a game, and crucially regularly fail to track opposition runners, is a madness. And as the January transfer window approaches, the likelihood of Ozil and Sanchez – and Wilshere (one of the few great talents, albeit unfulfilled, to emerge under latter day Wenger management) – all leaving in a fire sale or for free in the summer increases by the day. How on earth has the club allowed “assets” worth close to £100m or more in the insane world of football transfers to run their contracts down is beyond belief. It is gross mismanagement and incompetence, pure and simple, nothing more, nothing less. Inexcusable, but entirely explicable given the dysfunctional way in which the club has been allowed be run in recent years.

I long ago concluded that Arsenal would never win the league under Wenger (that moment was, incidentally, the evening some years back when, leading 4-2 against Spurs going into injury time, we managed to draw 4-4); yes, the occasional FA Cup run and win is very nice and welcome but it is not what we were sold when the stadium move was mooted. But like many big sells (Brexit anyone?), the cold reality is that the visionary “salesmen” regularly fail to deliver. They fail to deliver because they don’t understand how the world works and in the case of football, how competitors might act and change.

For a few years of early Wenger it was all about Arsenal and United; yes, United came out on top more often than not, but we still had 3 league titles in 8 years. Not a bad performance I grant you. The move to the new stadium was intended to propel us into the big league; Gazidis said we would compete against Bayern Munich. Well, we know how that prediction has worked out. While we continue with the self-sustaining model, others have benefited from owners willing to invest billions, or employed younger, more tactically innovative coaches. Some have done both. Arsenal meanwhile have an owner who won’t put a penny into the club, a manager with antediluvian ideas and a squad which is also certain to lose its best players in the next few months for nothing, or in the unlikely event that they are sold, it will be for sums far below their true worth.

So what can solve the problem that is Arsenal? What is the catalyst for change so beloved of Ivan Gazidis? Will it be the triumvirate of Huss Fahmy, Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi? Certainly we have three of the most exotically named executives in charge of contracts, recruitment and football relations or something like that. Will they be the catalyst for change? I don’t believe so.

No, there is only one thing that will result in change at Arsenal: the resignation or sacking of Arsene Wenger is the catalyst for change which the club needs and has needed for years. Will it happen? I suspect it will do one day, but it would not surprise me to see the old fraud in the coat with the dodgy zip in the dugout next season.

4th December 2017 09:13:22


Comments and Reaction

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The Man From UNCLE  11:20am 4th Dec 2017

What on earth does the reference to Brexit have to do with the current state of Arsenal Football Club? - Post No. 110999

Bard  11:43am 4th Dec 2017

Good piece Ian. The Untd game was somewhat unbalanced in the sense that having gone 2 goals down Arsenal had to go for it. There was no other option. It was death or glory. So Wenger's piece that we were brilliant is slightly disingenuous, circumstances dictated that we had to play like that because of yet another clueless defensive display. - Post No. 111000

Exeter Ex  12:15pm 4th Dec 2017

The analogy between the stadium move and Brexit works well - people sold a big lie. - Post No. 111001

Redshirtwhitesleeves  12:47pm 4th Dec 2017

No honest Arsenal fan with half a brain should be surprised by either the performance or the result on Saturday. An unexpected good result when the managers under pressure (2-0 v spuds), a solid, unspectacular away win (1-0 v Burnley), a 5-0 whipping of relegation fodder in true flat-track bully style (v Huddersfield) and most of us could have guessed what was coming next. Another false dawn, another let-down, more excuses after the match, child like defending and gifting of goals to the other team- it has happened during every single one of the last dozen groundhog seasons and will keep happening every single season that we keep this manager. There will be no major changes to the narrative of our seasons until a new man is in that dugout and everyone knows it except the w****** in charge of our club - Post No. 111003

Yes its Ron  13:08pm 4th Dec 2017

The way Pogba swatted Koschielny off like an irritating gnat on a hot day at the bye line to cross for the goal summed Arsenal post 2004 up. Theres really nothing left to say about AW and Arsenal. The proof is all there in the pudding. Wengo made out afterwards that we played really well save for the early errors. They didnt. The whole match was yet another demonstration of Arsenals naivety and physical weakness. It also highlighted both Sanchez s and Ozils limitations v top teams, not that we needed more evidence of that. I hope Ozil ends up at Utd. Arsenal and Wenger truly deserve each other. - Post No. 111004

Seven Kings Gooner1  13:14pm 4th Dec 2017

The problem that is repeated year after year is that Wenger refuses to be proven wrong. So no matter how many people tell him Almunia, Diaby, Walcott, add another dozens or so "astute" buys, are not good enough, Wenger persists, so Arsenal and their fans suffer. The latest is playing Xhaka as a holding midfield player, this ploy has already cost a dozen or so goals this season. We all know it does not work but come next game the 30 million pound liability will be partnering Ramsey - total and utter madness but no one inside the club can stop it. - Post No. 111005

Yes its Ron  13:32pm 4th Dec 2017

SKG - Cant help but have the feeling that another almighty away day thrashings awaiting Arsenal at some stage, judging by the ways the Keystone cops were at the week end? It doesn't matter though. Such future hammerings are only blips in the 'philosophy' and dont affect the self sustaining model. - Post No. 111007

Big Andy  13:51pm 4th Dec 2017

Excellent article, Ian. But a wrong conclusion. Wenger is a problem, but he is not THE problem. The real problem is the American who is happy to allow this farce to continue for season after season. Even if Wenger was sacked next May, I have zero confidence that Kroenke would end up bringing in a man who could take us to the next level. A fish rots from the head down - and the head is Stan Kroenke. We won't turn the corner until Kroenke and his useless son sell up and go away. - Post No. 111008

Yes its Ron  14:01pm 4th Dec 2017

true Big Andy, another Wenger type will be sought no doubt. Unless, SK sees the light of course. Many of us said what you're saying when the issue if the demos came up last Season. The problem is that SK is certainly going nowhere. He and the Board need to realise that if they are to appoint a Coach with gravitas, that they ll have to change at the top. - Post No. 111009

Seven Kings Gooner1  14:01pm 4th Dec 2017

Ron, it might not be an "awayday thrashing" it could be a "homeday thrashing" at the hands of Liverpool. They have enough movement up front to keep a good defence occupied never mind our back three. - Post No. 111010

markymark  15:09pm 4th Dec 2017

A heavy defeat on a Sunday, keeps the Toad away. We can be thankful for some things. - Post No. 111011

mbg  15:31pm 4th Dec 2017

Yes he's still that primitive he hasn't learned to use a handkerchief, still preferring to rub his hooter with his hand, but no surprise there as he hasn't learned anything over the years, the sooner Noah gets on his ark and heads for France the better, and taking all his believers waiting for the next flood with him. The Dinosaur out. - Post No. 111012

mbg  15:53pm 4th Dec 2017

Well said Ron, I think that's something that's only being brought up now (unbelievably) how our little light weight tippy tappy nice boys were shouldered, nudged, fifty fifty'd, of the ball and then stumbling all over the place, Ramsey more than most, and TOF on the touch line up and down like a jack in the box remonstrating, looking for a foul, yes it's a lot different when a team and Manager that doesn't sit back and allow it's self to be bullied comes to town, and yes it's not the only time it's going to happen this season either. wenger out now. - Post No. 111013

Gunner Rob  16:04pm 4th Dec 2017

like Brexiteers looking for a good Brexit the AKBs continue to believe that Wenger will come good. Both will be disappointed. - Post No. 111014

GoonerRon  16:32pm 4th Dec 2017

At the end of last season I had a real concern that if Wenger didn’t sign a new contract that we would be in a huge mess (enter jokes here about how we are already in a mess etc). The set up of the club with a manager having too much influence in off-pitch activity meant we didn’t have an infrastructure prepared for a more modern Head Coach to come in. I do think that has changed with the medical, scouting, contract and administration operations all bolstered by apparent high quality candidates. Whether they do well remains to be seen but I feel more confident that this structure we have, allied to big budget and London location means we are a hugely attractive proposition for any coach. As for how long Wenger will last? Two things: Firstly, it was clear on signing his new deal that a title challenge was the target and 85+ points needed to achieve it - at the moment we’re well short on both. Secondly, the club has always said we can manage without CL football for one season, it could be possible that two seasons consecutively (possibly with write offs on Ozil, Alexis and Wilshere to boot) will be a big enough factor to force change. - Post No. 111015

Yes its Ron  17:11pm 4th Dec 2017

GR - If he gets them top 4 he ll be staying. Liverpool blow hot and cold and theres a chance Asl will scrape a top 4 place. It can be dressed up then as progress. I dont think the Sancho and Ozil thing brings any pressure to bear really. The Club itself has accepted that situ and wont hang it on Wengo. As far as they go, if they weren't prepared to negotiate and sign contracts, theres nothing any Club can do in those situations. I personally dont think either is as good as theyre cracked up to be. Saturday was further proof of that. No great loss and we dont need an Ozil type to replace him anyway, we need a Pogba type as we have for 12 years. We need better than Sancho though to replace him. If there is a 'loss' its Sancho. - Post No. 111016

GoonerRon  18:17pm 4th Dec 2017

@ Ron - I agree, I think top 4 would see him remain for next season. Beyond that, it really is back to the power struggle between Wenger and Gazidis, and whether Sanellhi has any say (in his role of DoF but badges differently) remains to be seen. I'm sure he will think the current power enjoyed by the manager is perverse and the antithesis of what he's seen at Barcelona. I'd also imagine the lack of ambition / input demonstrated by the board and owner will be the opposite of what he's used to. I'm summary, who knows what the **** will happen! - Post No. 111017

mbg  18:29pm 4th Dec 2017

Ian, the pantomime season is already here mate, it's never went away, it's here every fooking day, week, and Month of the year with the biggest pantomime horse of all and his Dwarfs, (is it any wonder snow white pissed off years ago)along with their AKB wengerite audience cheering them on at every embarrassing turn, yes they deserve the pantomime horse alright, but others don't, the Ghost of Christmas past out now. Good article. - Post No. 111018

mbg  18:59pm 4th Dec 2017

Bard, markymark, if we'd have won toady would be here croaking off and telling us it was all part of his messiah's master plan to go behind, LOL. wenger out now. - Post No. 111019

OneBardGooner  19:08pm 4th Dec 2017

I have two words for wenger and wiggy **** OFF. - Post No. 111020

mbg  19:20pm 4th Dec 2017

Another reasonably handy one for TOF in the Cup that he detested for so long, (and still does)even though it has saved his arse so many times, and indeed might again. wenger out - Post No. 111021

markymark  20:28pm 4th Dec 2017

Just one little thing in that Kronke has actually bought in a new coach at the Rans who is doing well. Apparently Kronke and Kronke junior are talking it up as a major success this may impact their general ultra conservative thinking across their other teams - Post No. 111022

TOOAW  21:45pm 4th Dec 2017

It seems as if I'm the total opposite of yourself Irish One. Every other post on here is you gloating about US getting beat. If it raises your groin levels , well that's fine. Your poor old dog got a good hiding when we whooped the lesser Arsenal team but lo and behold you're back ejaculating over a team who have more paddy supporters than mancs. Gooner..... My Arse. Wenger must stay. - Post No. 111024

markymark  21:59pm 4th Dec 2017

ToOaW - are you developing an obsession about MBG’s tackle? You’re a bit disturbed aren’t you ! - Post No. 111025

TOOAW  22:42pm 4th Dec 2017

Nark... not as disturbing as popping over to see the Arsenal play, spend in the shop and then attend a demo to boycott the attending and spending. Fickle gooner or what !?!?!! - Post No. 111026

markymark  23:34pm 4th Dec 2017

ToOaW - you also seem obsessed about my spending habits. I’m afraid the Arsenal shop is not really my thing . The protests were Wenger out. You might just have noticed that I’m not his keenest Supporter I hope that doesn’t come as a shock. Now no more thoughts about MBGs wedding tackle it’s time for your bed time and obsessing about his genitalia will be sure to keep you up at night! - Post No. 111027

mbg  0:44am 5th Dec 2017

And on the dot the toad appears eyes bulging full of buckfast, after being chucked out of the pub, for making a nuisance of himself in the mens by the sounds of it. wenger out now. - Post No. 111028

markymark  8:00am 5th Dec 2017

MBG - you appear also to be attracting a Toad creepfest . I seem to remember Jameeson going on and on about the same as well. There’s something deeply Freudian about our AKB Walton Mountain clan. - Post No. 111029

markymark  9:04am 5th Dec 2017

Interesting perspective from Untold - Tony (liar) Attwood whinging about a cold , some nut job who I believe used to be called Menace talking about Hockey and the quack doctor Brickfields offering cold receipes . Any analysis of the game? no not a jot . Oh well all’s ok then. - Post No. 111030

The Man From UNCLE  9:26am 5th Dec 2017

Nottingham Forest away it is then. Which if nothing else may stir memories of one of our great clubs' defining against-the-odds victories; that 1979 smash and grab 1-0 victory against the reigning champions and soon-to-be European Cup winners, who had been unbeaten at home for something like 40 games. Sadly January's game will be somewhat low key compared to that. - Post No. 111031

markymark  9:33am 5th Dec 2017

Man from Uncle - remember listening to that on the radio. Was it Stapleton scored? Those who moan about UTD on Sunday need to note that smash and grab is part of our DNA along with Herbert Chapman’s ‘Sometimes you can attack too much’ Arsenal unable to counter attack with sufficient speed / venom and gung-ho in attack will be continually picked off by the sophisticate clubs - Post No. 111032

Moscowgooner  10:13am 5th Dec 2017

Don't ever like mixing football with politics, but if Brexit leads to Wenger getting deported I would have thought even the most fanatical Remainers would see that it has some merit... - Post No. 111033

mbg  14:15pm 5th Dec 2017

And who knows how many United Could have scored (conveniently forgot by some of course)if they had to, if they'd kept on pushing after the two they did, even after their third, instead of sitting back and settling for what they had on both occasions after having the game won. Santa Claus out. - Post No. 111036

Roy  14:57pm 5th Dec 2017

Yep, Stapleton it was, thumping header from Bradys pinpoint cross. Shilton no chance. Get in there. Was at that game. Wenger out. - Post No. 111042

mbg  16:50pm 5th Dec 2017

Poor old Toadie done, finished, nothing left now in the defence of his messiah, only insults, that's the way with all his ilk now, that's what it eventually comes down to (just ask those who used to be here defending him vigorously) with all they can muster, wenger must stay, LOL. wenger out now. - Post No. 111044

mbg  20:25pm 5th Dec 2017

Can the Gooner get some Palm reader in to read his palm ? It has so many lines on it god knows what it would say, is it any wonder he doesn't know if he's coming or going. wenger out. - Post No. 111048

peter wain  13:56pm 6th Dec 2017

no surprise in either the performance or the result. We need at least 7 players and will get no more than 2 or 3 in the next two transfer windows. No word on Ramsey and Welbeck so expect the same situation at the end of season 2019.The owner is a complete waste of space and the manager stuck in a time warp. Get new blood in now before we are consigned to mid table obscurity. - Post No. 111057

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

16th February 2018

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