By guest writer GhostFace
Let me begin by saying that we are a football club first and a business second.
When people mention the subject of debt, they forget that the board always had a plan to use the sales of the Highbury Square to service and fund the debt and those funds excluded the cash that we make from football related activities. In other words, our spending hasn’t been annihilated or even substantially limited by debt. We’ve been paying off the dept on the housing front since Chairman Wood mentioned it 2 years ago over here (http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/chairman) and the stadium is doing what it was built for: that is to make us record profits.
Arsene Wenger deserves to succeed. I want him to succeed more than ever before this final year in his contract.
He has put a lot of faith and hard work into the club and so he deserves to be where he is today: The most successful manager at AFC.
I haven’t even begun to mention the experts and the pundits.
I haven’t even given you the mental image of the paedo chants at Old Toilet and Sh*te Heart Lane.
I wouldn’t even begin to go into the kind of remarkable comments thrown at the man who runs things at the club we love so dearly by the “real” Arsenal fans.
Truth be told. Arsène Wenger is a great manager and he is the most successful manager of AFC.
However………… the converse is also true.
At the end of this 2009/2010 season, Wenger will also be the most unsuccessful manager at AFC, being the only manager to go a period of at least 5 years at without winning any honours.
I want to discuss and take into account the many problems that we will inevitably face in the future and the challenges that lie ahead to get to the mountain top. My heart tells me Wenger is the man for the job but my head tells me I think we need change.
What would take us to the promised land? New signings? Better training? A more competent medical staff? A better Scouting Network?
Change in one way or another is needed at THOF but in my very most humble of opinions it is unlikely that we will see this change with the current management. And this is why.
Arsène has a curious style of management in which he plays the same tactics regardless of the opposition. It appears that he doesn’t go to games that don’t involve Arsenal (I am sure he watches other teams play football, like the time he predicted that Chelsea would drop points or the time that he insisted Aston Villa are all about the long ball which they are) and we now have the situation where teams have “figured” out how to win against Arsenal. Our football is immaculate at times. But there are many areas of possible improvements that go season after season, year after year, without being addressed and I feel will probably never change under Wenger. Some of these are as follows :-
A) Teams have figured out that if you crowd the midfield and counter-attack, their chances of success against Arsenal will sky rocket.
That is how Villa beat us 2-0 last season and Agbonlahor left Gallas for dead beating Almunia at his near post.
That is how ManU have beat Arsenal for 2-3 years.
That is how Chelsea beat Arsenal and of course, with a little help from the Drogged faced Serena Williams look alike muppet.
This is how we lost to Mancitty with the Robinho chip over Almunia and the Wright Phillips goal that despite the bad angle, still went in at the near post…..again.
There are so many other examples…Stoke City FA cup, Everton , Porto, and last but surely not the least, the spanking by Barcelona. Will Wenger change his style to give us the best chance of winning in a game? Not Really.
B) Set Pieces and Defending: Does this really need explanation? The fact that we still suffer from Rory Delap throws after the management came together to brain storm a solution to the problem and after much deliberation decided that selling Kolo Toure was the solution. Isn’t it an indication that this is a managerial problem? Apparently it’s Pat Rice that handles the defensive duties? Doesn’t that speak volumes? Diaby inexplicably heading the ball into his own net at old Trafford after intending to hit it away might be a one-off but ‘Set pieces’ are a weakness and we know this.
Attacking wise we don’t score much from set pieces either. Since the sale of Ade…when have you expected that we could score from a Corner? From 255 Corners in the league this season, we’ve only managed to hit the back of the net 5 times. Until a Denilson Wonder Strike. RVP hadn’t scored from a freekick for a full season and a half. Do we practice defending Set pieces? Possibly, but that’s anyone’s guess.
C) Anti-ShootBall: Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, sh…pass…pass…corner kick…pass, pass…etc. Cross….Goal-kick.
One of the many things I love about Andre Arshavin apart from his big mouth is his selfishness. His decision making is usually spotless and yes he should’ve passed to a wide open Theo Walcott for a tap in…and yes some of those shots were aimed at something he saw in the constellations above but truth be told…we miss Arshavin’s directness and honesty in his selfishness, which is one of the reasons why it is so easy to mark Walcott. Teams always expect us to pass. This is why Nasri waltzed into the Birmingham and rocketed a beauty past Joe Hart because everyone expected him to pass. This is why Denilson sent that prayer and was inexplicably answered by Myhill at Hullshity to keep the hopes alive. Fortune favours the brave. We have to be brave. You can’t score if you don’t shoot on target. We play too much keep-ball which is why without Fabregas and Arshavin the team is mentally structured to play keep-ball and Fabregas and Arshavin are really the only outlet for ideas in the final third.
D) Substitutions or Lack there-off: I believe Wenger can win the title without spending. I believe this team is capable of winning the Title on their own. However, injuries aside, substitutions or the lack of have been an inexplicable feature for a couple of seasons. The more famous ones being the Arshavin on the bench at the FA cup final and the RVP not starting at Wigan and Spurs but there are other subtle one’s like bringing on Alex Song (who was shyte at the time) in the 4-4 with spuds, essentially taking off an attacking player that can give us an outlet to counter-attack for a defensive player that automatically puts us under pressure for a nails/ball biting ending. When we won 1-0 at Liverpool. We won…but Wenger took of Bendtner for Sagna. Which automatically put us on the back foot and it’s something he does quite often. There are times he gets it right obviously but some of these decisions are weird as well.
E) Team Selection: Why bench an in form Eboue? Why bench an in form Carlos Vela? Why bench a very capable Eastmond when Denilson adds little to nothing? Why not play the kids that are craving to prove their worth and show their talent instead of persisting with players that are either tired or cant be bothered? Why not take a gamble on Vito Mannone who has out-performed Fabianski in just about every game he’s played aside from West Ham? Wenger has a knack for benching in form players for players who are unfit or off-form. A prime example was Eastmond played magnificently against the Bolton thugs home and away and was benched immediately at the return of Denilson.
I would cite the lack of transfers as a factor, but that goes without saying. Wenger has a policy and a belief in sustaining a title challenge without spending. That is his choice and that is his way. It has had little or nothing to do with the debt. Our stadium has made us an annual profit and the housing sales have been paying for the development debt on its own for years. It has had little to do with project youth as he doesn’t trust the youth players even if the squad is down to bare bones. No matter how bad Clichy plays if he is fit he will play. A 30% off form Denilson will start ahead of Eastmond every time and a -40% Fabianski will start ahead of Mannone every time.
In conclusion, The Experiment has been disappointing. Not a total failure but it didn’t quite live up to the Trophies that Wenger promised. There are many ways forward in what I have just outlined. I would like to see progress with our set pieces, progress with our defending, progress with ideas in the final 3rd, progress with youth talent, and most importantly progress up the table – to do that the experiment has to stop, but will it?
“I do not want to be here because I have done well before and do not do well anymore. I want to see whether I can make my policy successful on the longer term. Then you decide ‘do I stay or not?” … Arsène Wenger 18.04.2010
Five years is a long term. A longer term is how long? I’d like to know.