Arsene can be stubborn and a bad listener; and Arsene makes mistakes. He surely has bought a number of rubbish players over the years and he holds on to underperformers far too long. Arsene lacks grace and humility at times, and can be a very bad loser. He also is a hopeless romantic; in search of beautiful football and fairness in our favourite sport, at the same time.
But Arsene bleeds Arsenal.
And being a child of the sixties, I will always have a soft spot for those who want to make the world (of football) a better place, and are so passionate about what they do.
He gives his all for the club continuously and unreservedly, and has stayed loyal to us when he could have easily run away.
And guess what: except for being so idealistic, more or less all of the above characteristics can be found in any other top manager: from Cruijff to Van Gaal, and from Ferguson to Mourinho, from Capello to Sacchi. Unfortunately, for most parts, these are not very charming and tactful people, but they have become so successful because they are dominant, stubborn and powerful; and because they know football so much better than any of us do.
One of Johan Cruijff’s well-known sayings is: every advantage has a disadvantage and every disadvantage has an advantage; and the fact that Arsene is both stubborn and a romantic is in my view the main reason for him staying put at our club for so long.
Would Arsene have decided to leave as soon as the new ground was completed – something Van Gaal did to Ajax from which they still have to recover 16 years later – I am absolutely convinced we would have been in the same position as Liverpool and Spuds, and many others over the last few years: not more than top four hopefuls and absolutely no chance of winning the PL; or taking part much in the CL at all, let alone having a chance to win it. Arsenal have come short over the last seven years, but in most season we have been in with a shout of winning something.
We have all become victims of our expectations: when high expectations are not being met, it will normally lead to huge disappointment. Disappointment becomes anger and anger needs to be vented. And who do we have to vent our anger at: the players and the manager. The players are the responsibility of the manager, and as with any other football club that falls short of the fans’ expectations, the call for the head of the manager will eventually become louder and louder.
The world’s best manager of the past decade- according to FIFA’s statisticians – has been extremely consistent for Arsenal. And with that consistency come expectations of moving it up to win silverware every season; and Arsene himself has only one desire, and that is to get back to winning ways. If you doubt that, then you are a very bad observer of human behaviour and/or utterly gullible to cheap media headline stories.
So Wenger is struggling to get this team to understand the system of football he wants them to play this season; to make them believe in themselves; to make them gel and re-discover their fantastic form of the early part of the season. He is also finding it very hard to find the balance between making the team defensively sound and yet playing attacking football.
He has had to cope without two of the four best players of last season, Song and Van Judas; and Theo – another one of the four – will be leaving him in the lurch as well soon. On top of that he needs to fit in three new attack minded players and make them understand how he wants them to play.
Of course, it is disappointing that we are currently seventh in the league and already 15 points behind the Mancs; and losing out on penalties against Bradford City with a very strong team, was a painful humiliation for us all too.
However, for fellow Gooners to say that Wenger does not know how to do tactics – and there are even those who believe that all his successes with Arsenal are simply due to luck – is the biggest insult you could give to Arsene, and could not be further from the truth.
For example, give me another manager who loses the likes of Clichy, Nasri and Fabregas and has to endure season-long injuries to the top-top talents of Diaby and Wilshere, and come to realise that Ramsey is very likely not to make the grade, and Rosicky is constantly injured; and still finish above heavy spenders Liverpool, Chelsea, and Spud-bums in third position, after such a bad start!
Was that all luck rather than tactical nous, really? Making Arteta our anchor, and Song our lynchpin player who became a main provider of vital assists, was simply genius and it singlehandedly saved our season.
Did anybody really believe after the summer that Arsenal had a strong chance to win the PL this year? Yet, if this team can find some cohesion and form, within no time it can be third in the league again. Arsenal have qualified for the last sixteen of the CL, and we are only five points behind Chelsea who are currently in third position. So, some perspective is needed here.
For Arsene, the most important thing is to get the system of football working again. Once he has that fixed, Arsenal will go from strength to strength once more. This might take a while longer, but rest assured Wenger will get Arsenal there as soon as possible, and he is the best man to fix it right now; in the middle of the season.
The squad is good and has lots of potential, but could do with some improvement in key areas. And it also looks now that Arsene can spend more in order to get better quality players in: a trend that started with the purchases of Mertesacker, Arteta, Oxlade, Giroud and Cazorla, etc. And hopefully Arsene can move it up one more level very soon with the sort of players discussed in The Gooner’s excellent, in-depth post yesterday. A beast of a DM and a proper quality winger would be very welcome.
Should Arsene be blamed for the constant need of our team to go through a seasonal transition: dealing with the loss of our star/world class players and bedding in new players constantly? This is without any doubt the main reason of our inability to win silverware at the moment.
Maybe indirectly he is to be blamed; by not agreeing to players earning a lot more than others in his team, and by his idealism that it should never be all about money. But nobody knows this for sure, and I reckon there was really little more he could have done to keep Fabregas and Van Judas.
However, I have no doubt that Arsene’s lack of pragmatism has the potential of holding us back to some extent, but ultimately he is a winner who wants nothing more for Arsenal, AND himself, than to be as successful as possible. And for me, that goes a long way.
I suggest we all need to sit back a bit more and give Arsene the credit he deserves and the time needed to turn it all round once again. If you want to vent your frustrations, aim them at the Board. They are the ones who need to ensure we hold on to our top talents and give Arsene the best resources possible – even if this would mean having to manoeuvre Arsene towards the perfect middle of idealism and pragmatism; romance and bread and butter stuff.
We need to stand behind Arsene and help him as much as we can. If in the summer we come to the conclusion our season has not come good and/or there is a strong indication we are once again going to lose one or more of our top players, I would fully understand those who want the manager, and ideally Kroenke as well, gone.
But now it is not the time to ask for Arsene’ head; now is the time to unite behind the manager and the players, by giving them our full support.