Archive for February, 2012

I am not a fickle supporter. I will start with that. I am very much a staunch supporter in fact, I bleed Arsenal. I have a long history amongst my dear friends and family for supporting teams that have long languished in mediocrity. I am a Cincinnati Bengals fan, that in itself, should you follow american football, should say enough. I also support the Cleveland Indians, who haven’t won a World Series since 1948. So basically Gunners, I am loyal supporter,I have stuck with the Arsenal through thick and thin since 1991. I have seen the downs, ups and now downs again. I have cheered and cried with you all, but enough is enough.

We have all seen that the recent profitable years have been largely based on the sales of our best players. The wages for some players, who are mediocre at best, is down right larcenous. All of this smoke and mirrors have made for a feel good spirit surrounding our beloved club. The feeling that we were doing it “the right way”. In essence, it seems we are all unwilling participants in a Ponzi scheme and the reality of the situation is just now being made clear right before the collapse. Check that, right in the thick of the collapse.

I understand that sports franchises go through ups and downs. I wrote a piece on that very subject last summer; here. I also understand that the professionals know better than us on how to run our club, or they should know better, as documented here. The reality is that the club’s so-called self-sustaining model is based on a number of factors that could change year in and year out; players sales, contract renegotiation, and tournament qualifications and/or progress. At the end of the day, our on field play will determine everything. At the moment, the football on display is dreadful, and simply can’t continue if we are to get back to where this club deserves to be. Better yet, to where we, the fans, deserve it to be. The highest ticket prices in the EPL being raised an additional 6%+ after a monumental collapse at the end of last year is rather ridiculous; combined with year after year of surplus in the bank to spend on much-needed talent going untapped. All this leads to the horrible realization that somewhere in this dream of 49 straight unbeaten, 15 consecutive years of CL football, and the building of the Emirates; the wool has been pulled, ever so slowly, over our collective eyes.

For every loyal Gunner there are countless more fair weather fans that will go and support another team when the shine wears off the cannon, be it ever so brief. That means we must be competitive, we must improve and we must get back to winning ways or quite simply lose the appeal for everyone except the die-hard, and that simply won’t do in this day and age of short attention spans. Is this the right way to function? It doesn’t matter what you or I think, it’s the reality of sports now. Supporters jump off one bandwagon to jump unto another, it’s the way of the world now. The new breed of sports fan is that brittle. We must adapt as a club or mentally prepare to endure many years as a mid table team. That’s the reality and it absolutely is astonishing how we got here.

Arsenal have gone six long years without a trophy. Seems like an extremely long time for such a successful club, but is it really?

The Gunners have seen a couple of semi-finals, quarters too, even made a final. Arsenal has been top of the league late into the season only to see injury obliterate any chance.

My contention is that while six years is an extremely long time, it is not uncommon for clubs of any sport to go some period of time between titles. Here we examine some of the sports longest droughts by some of the bigger teams.

Basketball:

Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are THE definitive franchise in the NBA with many storied players and a long winning history. They’ve won 17 total championships, have numerous hall of fame players, a remarkable coach who revolutionised the game and a legendary arena. Given all this history you would think they win titles every few years, but you would be wrong. The Celtics went from champions to a mid tier team in the 90s and early 2000s. Between 1992 and 2005 they won nothing. No division title, no conference crown, and definitely no NBA championship. During that stretch they failed to even make the play-off on at least a couple of occasions. 13 years without any sort of title, double the length of the Gunners current mark.

I bet you feel a little bit better, let’s continue.

Baseball:

New York Yankees

The Yankees are the most dominant franchise in the history of baseball.  They have a total of 27 championships in their colorful history, various hall of fame players, legends of the game, and a fantastic stadium. The Yankees also spend money as if they had a printing press in their basement, but even that could not help them between 1981 and 1996. 15 years of trophyless competition for the team that expects to win a championship every year. This was a very forgettable period for any Yankee fan, not because of their lack of winning, because they almost always contended, but their lack of championships.  This period of their history saw their cross-town rival Mets win a title which made things much worse.

15 years without a title and I would assume the Emirates would become a lonely, lonely place.

If you don’t feel better with the last example, I think maybe this will make you feel better.

Football:

Manchester United

Man United, the richest franchise in sports, countless titles and numerous legendary players across its history. Even a team with such a great history has gone through its tough times. Take for instance 1968-1976. This period dealt United no trophies AND relegation, something Arsenal supporters can’t imagine for an instance. Adding insult to injury was the fact that City, their hated neighbour were winning trophies, the football world was upside down! All its history and legendary players could not help the grand club during that time. The fall and rise of this team is commendable, and as supporters of Arsenal we should take heed.

At the end of the day folks the point of this story is that no matter the heights and history of your team, there is undoubtedly a period of time where things get tough. Unfortunately for Arsenal supporters, you are smack in the END of that cycle. You have to have some faith that the football Gods will soon deliver us from evil and place on our mantel a new trophy, to reward your patience while your club builds your wonderful young team, new stadium and creates a brighter future. If you ever despair, look across all of sports and you will find example after example of top teams that went through barren times and yet more teams that have never won a thing.

So don’t fret Gunners, you will lift a trophy sooner than you think and the wait is not as bad as you and the media make it out to be. The sacrifice of trophies now will most certainly lead to a brighter future given the wonderful base the club has created.

This is a piece I wrote last summer. I believe it’s one that applies even now to some extent. This was before a lot of the goings on of this year had occurred. This was before learning of the smoke and mirrors routine by our board in regards to the books. This was before I became a skeptic on how quickly, if at all, we can turn this sinking ship around. There is one thing I will stick by, until, well forever; I am a staunch supporter and will support the club. That said, the outlook is grim. For us to be become competitive the current policies in place must change. How? That is for people smarter than I to decide. Give this piece a read and I think some of the die-hard will find it uplifting whilst some of the skeptics will find it naive. I find myself torn between the two camps.

Fair Weather Fans

You begin the year supporting “your” team, hoping they can do all they can. You wear your team’s kit for every game. Everything starts well; they do well in a slew of competitions.

Mid-season comes and the boys are poised to hoist some trophies and you now decorate your home with souvenirs here and there; perhaps a coffee mug, a scarf, etc. Then your team starts to slip, and the results are just not coming. You proceed to shelve the mug. More average results occur and the scarf gets “lost”. The implosion no one saw coming happens and you are now bitter. The kit that only a few months ago was a treasure is now only worn when nothing else is clean.

The end of the season comes and it is so sobering. The tough losses, the incomprehensible draws and the missed opportunities are all just too much! You look for someone to blame, and it’s easy, it’s HIS fault.

He didn’t spend enough, and what he did spend was in the wrong area or on the wrong players. ‘How could he be so stupid?’ you think to yourself. It’s all so easy and obvious; he clearly has no idea what he is doing.

Then you have an epiphany, maybe it’s not ‘him’ and maybe it’s them! Those greedy, money hungry, horrible players; they were to blame. Never mind that you worshipped them only months ago. They just could not stop the other team, and then they just could not score when it counted. Again, it’s all so simple. Even YOU could do it.

So now that you have the culprits in your sights, you know exactly how to get back at them. You will start a blog! Blame Arsene for his blindness in his dealings. Blame the players for running around the pitch with only pounds and euros in their eyes. You shall tell the world who is to blame for the missed opportunities of the season, and tell everyone that will read your opinion how easy it was to see and fix. That YOU have ALL the solutions.

How could you have supported the club these last few years? Forget the new stadium; forget the Champions League every year.  Forget the financial stability. Forget the future, who needs the future? It’s all about NOW, it’s all about trophies. Forget the possibility of being excluded from the Champions League due to non compliance with the Financial Fair Play, forget about administration for all those loans you may need and can’t pay back. You want names like Ronaldo, Torres, LLoris, no matter the cost! It’s only money, and THEY make plenty of it!

SLAP!

That’s me slapping you Gunners! Wake up…don’t be THIS guy.

We are all better than that. Support our team, cheer our boys, and back our manager. They will pull it together and make us proud. Criticising every move and pretending to know more than they do is just ludicrous. They are professionals, we are just passionate. Put your passion behind Arsenal.

This is an addendum to my post:

Arsenal: Who Should Stay/Go. An Honest Assessment, here.

This team has no heart, no killer instinct. It’s time to gut it, get rid of the ones mentioned in my other post and sadly it may be time to cash in on RvP as well. He clearly has had enough and him walking off the field tonight whilst AOC was distraught, to me is a clear sign. He is frustrated and I don’t blame him. We need to cut the virus of incompetence with the rest of the squad now. That is the issue, we simply don’t know how to win and we play much more not to lose than anything. Time for major changes.

There was a time where saving the current crop of stars was key, that time has passed. We need to concentrate on avoiding the contamination of players like AOC, Ryo, etc.

Some of you have said this isn’t Football Manager or whatever. Guess what? We are in the top 5 of the clubs in the world in revenue, we have one of the best stadiums in one of the epicenters of european football,  London. We are surrounded on all sides of that list by teams that are gladly getting into debt to make a run at trophies as we sit and pile the money in the bank as if it’s a new game Football Tycoon. It’s time to spend, time to change and time to save our club.

GK –

Szczesny – Our #1 GK is young, talented and confident, perhaps overconfident. The young Pole should perhaps learn a little humility as it would serve him to get better after having an honest assessment of himself. Keep.

Fabianski – Our #2 GK is unhappy about being just that. The problem is, every time he plays, he doesn’t justify being anything but. Time to ship him out and get competition for Szczesny. Sell.

Almunia – Why is he still here? Do I really need to say why we should sell or realistically, release? Sell.

Manone – The young Italian really hasn’t had a run of matches at any given point, although he did play briefly a couple of years ago and wasn’t half bad. Seems he has one foot out the door already, let’s make that loan a sale. Sell.

Defenders –

Gibbs – Gibbs has pace but is simply not reliable enough injury-wise to be counted on. He has loads of potential, but I don’t see him staying fit long enough to achieve it. Sell.

Santos – The Brazilian is a lot better than most thought. He is strong, great going forward and needs to be tweaked defensively. I think we have our first option LB in Santos. Keep.

Vermaelen – TV5 is a keeper, but he needs help, enough of these frail players in defense, we need real steel to help him out. Keep.

Koscielny – Kos, like TV5 is a keeper, really no more needs to be said as the Frenchman has improved and surprised everyone. Keep.

Mertesacker – Merts is not the typical big man that we all thought was bound for the Emirates this summer, but has steadily acclimated himself to the EPL after early struggles. Keep.

Djourou – After a fine campaign last year, where did Djourou go? He is woeful at the moment. He just signed a new deal so little chance of a move. Sell(voided by recent contract extension).

Squillaci – He’s been disappointing from the start, laughable even. He is in the same boat as Almunia. Why is he still here? Sell.

Miquel – The young Spaniard will be one to watch for the future.  He needs a loan where he gets more experience and regular first team football in a competitive league. Keep.

Sagna – The most reliable member of the defense, but it pains me to say, looks to be lacking confidence and is putting out more bad performances then we are accustomed to. Get him help and fast. Keep.

Jenkinson – Jenkinson has a non-stop motor but is not ready for the EPL, full stop. Needs a loan to get a run of matches and get acclimated to this sort of competition. Keep.

Yennaris – After a couple of performances, it troubles me why we didn’t see him earlier. He seems to be a good little player, capable of backing up Bac. Keep.

Bartley – Big, strong player, looks ready to contribute. With the likes of Djourou not playing well, Merts hurt and Miquel not ready, you have to wonder why Bartley is not getting recalled. Keep.

Botelho – We have been waiting for Pedro for years to qualify for a permit, simply hasn’t happened. Have watched him play in Spain and he’s more MF than LB, that being said not up to snuff. Sell.

Midfielders –

Diaby – I love Diaby, he has a wealth of untapped talent. unfortunately he resembles Elijah Price from the movie Unbreakable. Time to move on. Sell.

Arshavin – I was a staunch AA supporter till December. He’s never gotten a chance to play his natural position. He has not lost his talent, he just seems disinterested in the project and could care less. Do you blame him? Sell.

Arteta – Best panic signing in a long time. That said, too slow and methodical to be paired with certain players on our team. Great for experience, but def a backup. Keep.

Benayoun – Yossi has hardly been given a chance and you have to wonder why we brought him in. He is not the type of player we need. Send back to Chelsea.

Coquelin – Impressive. That’s all I can say about this young player. He delivers no matter where you put him. Keep(and play him more often).

Eastmond – He was the Coquelin of yesteryear, but has since disappeared. Sell.

Eisfeld – This young player looks the real deal, may get a run of matches as we simply don’t have any creativity in our midfield at the moment. Keep.

Frimmpong – Frimmers is young, strong, but very raw. He will be a good solid player but needs an extended loan spell to round out the edges. Keep.

Henderson – Not good enough for our bench. Good young player, time to cash in. Sell.

Meade – Simply not up to the standard we need as a top european side. Sell.

AOC – Ox is one of the bright spots in our future. He should get a chance at Jack’s position as that’s his natural role anyway. Keep.

Ozyakup – Bright young player, needs an extended loan spell at a Championship side to really see what he can bring on a week in week out basis. Keep.

Ramsey – At 18 he looked the business. He was up and coming, but he has since plateaued. He needs to be sent out on loan as he’s simply not good enough at the moment. Costing us at every turn. Keep.

Rosicky – TR7 is getting back to playing good football, I sincerely hope and honestly think he will be back to his best soon. He has been much better than some that being said, if there is a clearout, he may have to go. Sell.

Song – Our enforcer in the middle and savior at times, it’s clear he is bing asked to do too much and decision-making on what to do when is clearly having an effect on his play. The kid has a lot of talent but needs to mature, has a superb touch for a defensive midfielder. Keep.

Wilshere – The young stud in the middle. We miss his temperament, creativity and motor in midfield. Hurry back Jack. Keep.

Lansbury – He has had enough loans and enough time elsewhere to show he’s deserving of a chance. Keep.

Denilson – His loan to Sao Paolo is a clear line to a permanent sale. Sell.

Aneke – A blossoming talent, needs a Jack type loan to fully mature, one for the future in my opinion. Keep.

Forwards

Walcott – He has been with the club for 6 years, hasn’t progressed much since early days and still thinks his pace will save him. The problem is, he doesn’t even go all out 100% of the time anymore. Plus he’s unhappy with contract. If he can refine his crossing and finishing Keep, if he continues to plateau Sell.

Chamakh – After a bright start, he has fallen sharply. To me it’s down to our style of play, it simply doesn’t mesh with what he is good at. We got him on a free and others want him. Would be great for both for him to move on. Sell.

Park Chu-Young – Why is he here? This move made no sense except to sell shirts in Asia. Bad all around, as the player seems to have some spark and a gift for goal. Do him a favor and let him go. Sell.

Gervinho – Well worth what we paid for him. My only complaint is his finishing, some refining and he should be fine. Keep.

RvP – The world’s best striker at the moment. He should be rewarded by better players being brought in to help him. Wouldn’t blame him if he decided to leave. Keep.

Ryo – Great pace, tremendous young talent. I could well see him as a valuable member of the team. How he develops from here will determine his contribution, a full year loan may serve him well. Keep.

Bendtner – We don’t need or want him, he doesn’t want us, simple. Sell.

Vela – The little Mexican is not happy at the Emirates and seems to be enjoying Spain. He has made little to no contribution and all parties must now think it’s time to part ways. Sell.

Campbell – By all accounts, the Costa Rican is doing well at Lorient. Let’s hope this loan gets him his permit for next year and see what the lad has got. Keep.

Watt – We’ve been waiting for this player to show that something special, but he’s just not quite up to par with what we need on the first team. Sell.

Wellington – We all have been wondering why Wenger signed this player. He’s immature, lacks real technical skill and has been at how many different clubs now? Time to cut our losses. Sell.

Afobe – Great young talent, needs time to mature, a loan spell at an EPL team will do him some good. Keep.

Manager

Wenger – El Prof has been fantastic for us. He has won us all but the CL, he led us to an unbeaten season, and assembled what is to me, one of the best teams ever in 2003/2004. He has an uncanny ability to spot talent and a mind for business. He has led this team to 15 years straight of CL football and with his great managerial skill has kept us in the top four and competed for honors when by all rights we should have dropped out. All this while helping the club build a new stadium, through his shrewd buys and selling on talent we acquired on the cheap for massive profits.

Ok now that that’s out fo the way, let’s get down to the reality of today.

Wenger’s tactics are stale, his decision-making questionable at best and his faith in some players misplaced. He falls in love with a players talent and overlooks their glaring faults. I believe he needs to change his mentality entirely or move to the boardroom or even just move on. The choice is for him to make, he deserves that much, but as a club and as supporters, we deserve more than what we are getting at present.

The Board

The lot need to resign. Full stop. They are more concerned with profits than with the football on display. That was fine when we played pretty and lost, now we just lose and ugly at that. To make money you need to spend money, it’s that simple. In this age, to make a good team you need to spend money. We need to get into debt, for us to get back to where we should be, and this board won’t do it. Time to go.

Who can help?

GK & Defenders

GK’s are a rare breed, as they must have short memories, but constant concentration. We need someone to push Szczesny to not get complacent. I would enquire about Adler currently at Leverkusen or Akinfeev at CSKA.

At left back I believe we have a solid starter in Santos, but he needs a solid backup and Aly Cissokho could be the man there. He is constantly linked to our club and could be the guy to give some nice versatility at that position. At center back I would go after two men, Chris Samba and Jan Vertonghen. Both will go relatively cheaply compared to their attributes and both could definitely add some much-needed depth and competition. One is a former partner to TV5 at Ajax and the other a proven EPL performer, not signing one would be a complete mistake. At right back I think we have our first and second options in Bac and Yennaris/Jenkinson and we know Coquelin can play there, so we should concentrate on other more pressing needs.

Midfielders

Ok, for the sake of argument, let’s say we stick with the antiquated 4-3-3. I know, I don’t want it either. That means we need solid backups for Song and Jack and some more creativity. I would first address a good backup for Jack, someone with an ability to make a run, defend, stick the ball in the back of the net, create for another player and have a non-stop motor. I can think of the perfect signing in Clint Dempsey. I wanted him in the summer, I wanted him in January and I think it’s obvious we could have used him yesterday. He would be a perfect off the bench impact player. Next I would get the obvious choices for creation in midfield, Marvin Martin and Mario Goetze. Both are viable options and both are younger players that will mesh well with our core team, needless to say they both have the skill necessary to make a positive impact on our squad. That brings me to a backup/challenger for Song and to me that would mean Yann M’Villa. I think Song is really good, I think that competing week in and week out with M’Villa would make them both great. You can deploy them one at a time or together in those tough matches. He would be an ideal signing.

Apart from those players you have a host of players currently in the Spanish league that would do: P. Hernandez VAL, J. Martinez ATB, S. Canales VAL, E. Granero RM, P. Leon GET, J. Navas SEV, etc.

Forwards

RvP needs help up front, someone to pair him with when necessary or sub for him when he needs a rest. There are several players that could be available this summer. Demba Ba is explosive, strong, and creates havoc when he plays, would be perfect to pair with RvP and give him space to do what RvP does. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is a name RvP is very familiar with and a player he plays alongside on the Dutch national team. Huntelaar scores and scores, and isn’t afraid to try to make things happen, perfect. Finally reports of late have signaled that Daniel Sturridge may be available and interested, if either of those are true, sign him and sign him now, he would be a refreshing addition of pace, power and creativity.

In addition to those mentioned there are several names that could be available: L. Podolski COL, G. Higuain RM, E. Cavani NAP, S. Kalou CHE, etc.

In conclusion Gooners, we have many young talented players in our squad, with a sprinkling of others that could be cast as world-class, but they are mostly surrounded by over-hyped mediocre, fringe players. It’s time to step up and make four or five quality player signings and save this sinking ship. We are so close and have managed so much with, in reality, so very little, how can the board and Wenger not see that a few additions has us challenging for everything rather quickly.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, to make money you have to spend money. To turn around this struggling team we need these signings, if not, I’m afraid to think of where we’ll be next year.

Ok Gunners, here we sit, in 6th, 3 pts off 4th and 10 pts off 3rd. Some say our injuries have put us here, some say our lack of signings have put us here. Some simply say, we are not good enough.

I beg to differ.

I say, our failure to finish matches due to stupid decisions and bad coaching have put us here. The bad news? We can’t undo what’s been done. The good news? We can improve from this while others like Spurs, will likely falter more frequently.

Let’s take a look at the missed opportunities this season thus far.

Newcastle – 2 pts

This was the match to make a statement. To hell with the players that were sold. Be dammed the ones that want to leave. The lads could put their foot down and make their mark. Alas they didn’t. Gervinho was sent off, for defending himself no less. Song was later suspended for a stomp on an opposing player and a handful of missed goal opportunities that all led to a draw which should have been a win. This was not only a loss of 2 points but also set us up badly as Gervinho and Song were both suspended for 3 matches each following appeals.

Blackburn – 3 pts

2 own goals and a offside goal, enough said.

Spuds – 1 pt

This match was very interesting indeed. Spurs were given a goal by the linesman when van der Vaart handled in the area to control the cross. That was followed by his celebration going into the crowd to celebrate, one or the other would have led to his second yellow. A handful off chances and an equalising goal later, and unusual gift from Szcezsny gave Spuds the full 3pts.

Fulham – 2 matches 3 pts

First match saw TV5 score at both ends, uncharacteristic for him to make that sort of mistake. That was coupled by Arshavin and Walcott missing badly. This is the match where the cracks in Ramsey began to show. The second match saw us squander a 1-0 lead in last 10 minutes. Instead of bringing on ANY defender to replace Djourou, Wenger decides to bring on Squillaci, the other inept member of our squad, only outdone by Almunia. 10 minutes later we were done 2-1 by dodgy defending once more.

Wolves – 2 pts

Hennesey, the Wolves GK, single-handedly managed to earn his club the point on this day. Regardless of his efforts, the lads should have put one past him versus a 10 man Wolves side that was slow, tired and lacked any real attacking threat. Ineptitude in the midfield led to the lack of creation, giving our strikers a “one trick pony” feel to their attacks.

Man City – 1 pt

This was a good solid performance against the team at the top of the table in the EPL. We not only hung in with City we looked the more threatening time and again. We had a clear penalty by Richards uncalled and several fine saves by HArt late on ensured we left with no points. Clear lost opportunity against the so-called best team in England.

Swansea – 0 pts

We deserved nothing from the Swansea match, the reason I am mentioning this match is the fact that by this time it was clear, Djourou was not the answer to cover at any of the back 4 positions, Ramsey was on empty and in above his head and that the Ox needed to be given a chance to shine. All these situations lead you to believe Wenger has a blind faith in these players that needs to be addressed.

Man Utd – 1 pt

We all know what happened. Our defense showed up, our strikers tried but our midfield was again missing. Even with that element missing, we were pushing for a win through the delightful play of AOC. The Ox was gaining momentum and making runs that had Utd on their heels, we tied the match and looked the better side. What does Wenger do? Take the spark out of the team and puts in Arshavin. This allowed Utd to grab a hold of the match again and not 6 minutes later after being subbed in, Arshavin lets Valencia stroll into the area to assist Wellbeck and put the match away. Who is at fault? For me Wenger, clearly. Arshavin had not done anything in recent weeks to merit being introduced into the match, and Ox was doing everything asked of him.

Bolton – 2 pts

Anyone who saw that match would agree, enough was enough. There was no urgency, no panic and no heart from this performance. Still, with all that, we had MANY missed chances and one even hit the post. Substitutions came too late to make a difference.

Well there you have it. 15 pts up for grabs with a little more effort, a little more heart, fewer mistakes and some good refereeing. So when everyone brings up the injuries, the lack of momentous signings, etc. I will simply point to these matches.

It is clear to see that we should be comfortably in 4th, not to mention in all likelihood a couple of points at most behind 3rd. These mistakes and the lack of effort can be rectified and the chance is there to take advantage of head to head matches and move into 4th, and make a push for third.

Will the team learn from it and battle on? I hope they do, I have the confidence they can do it. Will Wenger stop having blind faith and rely on the players based on their form? We shall see.

There are many  ifs and maybes left in this season. The only thing clear is that we are 6th in the table due to missed opportunities not because of injuries, failure to spend, or not being good enough. We clearly have the talent, we clearly have a competitive team, we just need to finish our matches out, easier said then done of course.

We have shown 70% of our capability this year. That should encourage us all and show that we have a lot left to prove and a lot left to do in this season.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Arsenal FC
Tags: ,

Soaking in these last 7 weeks has been hard. The club was in 4th, looking at a run of matches that looked a perfect setup to get up to third. Our competitors all had a run of bad form and what do we do? Do we capitalize on it by defeating teams we should have? Nope. We kept pace, maintained the status quo, the expected it seems for our club now. Flounder whenever possible and use the mountain of excuses at the ready to justify our situation.

That’s the problem now isn’t it? We have too many excuses to why we are where we are. We don’t spend enough, we’re too young, we have too many injuries, the refs don’t like us, other clubs spend too much, etc. Where do the excuses end and when does someone step forward and say, “You know what, that’s my fault.”

The last six years has been a constant dilemma for Wenger. First manage the books while we move into our new stadium. Then manage the books while we turn the team over. Manage the books while we let the youth grow into a cohesive unit, and now manage the books while we try to clean up this mess.

He is good at that Wenger is, managing the books. One has to wonder though, why he didn’t manage his tactics, this is where I put aside my admiration for the man, the Arsenal legend, and look at the facts. After selling our stars in the mid 2000’s, while he was managing all that he was asked, he failed to realize the players at his disposal didn’t, couldn’t in fact, live up to those before them.

Cesc was never going to be anything like Bergkamp. Theo was never going to be Henry. Rosicky was never going to be Pires, well you get my drift. So once that’s painfully obvious, as a great manager do you swallow your pride and simplify your tactics, or at the very least mold the tactics to fit the, pardon the pun, arsenal at your disposal?

There is blame enough for the board. The lack of spending, the lack of ambition, frankly, the lack of vision. There is enough blame for the players. The lack of character, the lack of effort and the lack of unity. I also believe there is plenty of blame for Wenger.

The kids he was forced to buy and settle for while “managing the books” were set up for failure from the start, and Wenger hasn’t and still doesn’t realize it. Were and are they good enough to compete? YES. That’s the frustration. There is plenty of talent on the squad to compete on all fronts, but the tactics needed to be changed long ago. The system needed a tweak and it never got it.

Players have left the club, due to frustration, and we are left with players with little confidence in themselves when the going gets tough, frankly because the shoes they had to fill were simply too big, and the system they were asked to run was and continues to be beyond them. We see it week in and week out. If the other team fights hard enough we fold. If we are pressured in midfield, we fold, it’s happened time and time again for the last four or five years.

On the pitch we need a change in tactics and we need a change in the system as a whole, if that can happen with Wenger on board and continuing to “manage the books”, great. He will always be a top judge of talent so we will always have that in supply. Unfortunately for us the type of talent we need for the system “Le Prof” wants to run is beyond our budget now. If he can simplify and adjust, we can surely put to good use the talents at his disposal now, but he HAS to change, he HAS to adjust.

If he doesn’t, then we will continue to deal with almosts and what could have beens. At a certain point the players deserve not to be set up for failure, to have the confidence to run a system they can execute to the best of their abilities that will compliment their talent. If that means a new manager, then I’m afraid that’s what we need.

At the end of the day, no one is bigger than the club. The free rides for past accomplishments must stop sometime. We as supporters deserve better, Arsenal as a historic club deserve better.