Written by GoonerinExile
We all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the depressing end to this season has led to many fans looking back to see what went wrong, and exploring theories for the pitiful end of season run in. We have heard people accusing Arsene and the team of lacking ambition, we have heard the players are bottlers, that the team is missing several key ingredients. I place my blame elsewhere, the pursuit of a worthless trophy.
I was never sure about going all out for the Carling Cup. During the Wenger years I have enjoyed seeing the potential stars of our future (with some assistance of a couple of senior pros) beating established teams. The delight of giving Spurs a whipping in the third round of the cup with a mixture of youth and experience would have done for me this year, bigger fish to fry for the team, but its always good to put those down the road in their place.
Unfortunately this season Wenger changed tack and appeared to give in to the demand for a trophy. He fielded more first teamers than normal through the rounds to ensure progression, four started against Spurs, three against Newcastle, five against Wigan, seven in the first leg against Ipswich, nine in the second leg, and ten in the final (which would have been eleven if Cesc had not been injured against Stoke).
Whilst this approach didn’t affect the results immediately surrounding the cup games it was adding 90 minutes football to legs which were set to get wearier. It also meant that Arsene needed to field weakened sides in the latter stages of the Champions League Group Stage to keep legs fresh when the Christmas fixture pile up approached and the team was playing every three or four days.
The killer blow to our season came when the team were riding high, unbeaten in the League since the 14 December, just beaten the best team in the world in the home leg of the Champions League Knock Out stages, the future was very bright and everyone was confident about the trophies the season would hold for us.
I am sorry to remind us all of the result and more regrettably the way we conceded that second goal, but that loss in that final killed our season. Since that hateful day in February we have won three of twelve games in all competitions (Leyton Orient (replay), Blackpool and Manchester United).
Three wins in twelve games!
Can anyone else remember a time when that has happened under Wenger, or any other manager?
The Carling Cup final was meant to provide our springboard to success, but unfortunately it became a dead weight around the necks of our players. Its as if they were convinced they were not winners that day, that somehow they didn’t deserve it, that they were too soft and could not compete when it mattered. They have failed to lift themselves from that disappointment.
Even if we had won the Carling Cup I don’t think it would have pacified the more disgruntled fans without additional silverware on top. There would still be fans calling for Arsene’s head describing the Carling Cup as Mickey Mouse, the most fervent of the Arsene out lobbyists would be calling for his head if we won the league as they would say that it was in spite of him, or because the league has weakened.
We have again made the Champions League and we will be back again to have another run at the Premier League. I ask fans to seriously consider whether we need to chase the Carling Cup, and maybe even the FA Cup. It is unimportant, it is for the teams without a chance of winning anything else. Let Arsene play the squad players and the youth, don’t expect the star names to come out to play, these non squad and youth players need the game time and the experience.
Lets forget the tin next year and lets concentrate on the big stuff, the silverware we would all love to see return to the home of football.