Have you ever seen an ex-champion boxer? I have.
Ageing, outdated, short on his wits. He can’t dodge the punches or predict his opponents next move.
Weighed by expectation, jaded by the years.
Last Saturday I watched Arsène Wenger stand on the touchline at Villa Park, drenched and lifeless.
Is this the man I have come to know and begrudgingly admire? The Professor?
The sophisticated, urbane, mastermind. The man with the plan.
He looked a beaten man.
I have spent the last week thinking of the good times. Of the first double, of Bergkamp, Henry, of Vieira and the Invincibles. Of the fast football, a team playing off the cuff.
Arsène deserves respect and lots of it but not immunity.
We convince ourselves every time that the players leave for the money and I’m sure that’s true but they also leave for success.
If you deny that you are deluded.
In recent summers Wenger has failed to convince stars to stay with a salary budget that was big enough to keep them.
Meanwhile millions are wasted on the salaries of players that are not good enough for this club.
Are the Board really offering Wenger a budget of £50m for transfers?
In my opinion, No
Is Wenger told he has to break even in the transfer market?
Well the proof of the last 7 summers tells you that is the policy. We break even on transfers, that isn’t coincidence.
So let me ask this, if Arsène came out tomorrow and said “the board are withholding funds from me” who would you back?
I wouldn’t trust our board with a pound in a phone box. I would trust Arsène.
Would I trust them to pick a successor? No
I don’t like 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 and the use of it coincides with the start of our demise. It coincides with a loss of direction, a loss of nerve.
Play 4-4-2, and for god sake play Walcott up front before you lose yet another one you stubborn old fool.
If you had told me 7 years ago that I would be watching a bunch of overpaid minatures playing 4-3-3 with thousands of empty seats and a club run by Americans I would have laughed. I’m not laughing now.
I don’t claim to understand tactics but I understand this.
If you lose your sharpness, if you lose your edge in any sport then your are finished.
Play your system, recover your style, have a go Arsène, have a go.
If this is it, if this is how you go out, then you’re not the man I thought you were.
“We could have made a 0-0.”
Really, Is that all you’ve got?
Is that where we are now?
We could have made a 0-0 with Swansea.
Get some pace, take “le handbrake” off, play your way and be true to your beliefs.
How many times, have we heard “we had the handbrake on”. It’s your car Arsène, your handbrake.
Are you going down with a whimper?
Have you lost your nerve?
Have you gone soft?
If this was a fight then this is the moment with the sponge in the corner. The trainer telling you to step up, throw some punches and move your feet. This would be that moment.
I’m not suggesting we have a team of champions but they are good enough to beat Sunderland, Norwich, Fulham and Swansea. We got 2 points.
Either they aren’t trying or they have lost faith in what you are saying.
Stop talking about the spirit of team. Stop telling us the world is against us. The whole club has a complex.
I still think you can win the last round but if you can’t dodge the punches Arsène, maybe it’s time to get out of the ring.
Written by Arsenalista