Archive for January, 2013

A Letter to Kroenke…

Posted: January 18, 2013 in Arsenal FC
Tags: , , ,

First published on arsenalvision.co.uk on the 16th. This is not meant to be a negative nor positive post. This is honestly what I see as the tip of the iceberg in terms of problems at AFC. A different owner would bring a different set of problems as no situation is without issues, but these are the ones I feel plague Arsenal at the moment and this is a letter to a non involved majority shareholder.

Dear Mr. Kroenke,

I am a supporter of the storied Arsenal Football Club. I wasn’t as lucky as some, to be born into being a Gooner; I chose to be one, which for me is as great a point as any other.  I am also a person that was raised in the US and am very well versed in your dealings in owning the Rams, Avalanche and Nuggets. For 22 years I have been following Arsenal, through ups and downs, thick and thin and besides 92/93 and 94/95 EPL campaigns when we finished 10th and 12th, I can’t recall the club being in such shambles in the EPL grind, but even in those years we managed winning some silverware,  a double in 1993.

Now, shambles is a strong word, but it is all relative isn’t it? The club has a great academy, amazing training grounds, wonderful talent in the youth and reserves and a core of good players on the first team and to top it off they play in one of the most beautiful stadiums in all of football. You see there is one problem with everything I just described, the fact that trophies or playing winning or even attractive football was not mentioned in any of that description. That is a huge problem, when in fact, Arsenal are first a football team.

Since your first involvement with the club in 2007 to your 2008 appointment to the board and finalizing in 2011 with your purchase of the remaining shares needed to become the majority shareholder, the product on the pitch has in fact lost its sparkle.

Is it coincidence? I don’t know, but perception is reality. I am going to spell out for you what my reality is at the moment. I am not pretentious enough to say I speak for all Arsenal supporters, I just speak for myself and this is what my perception, my reality is:

1. You don’t LOVE this club. You may respect it; you may like/love what it does for the bank account of your holding company, etc. But you don’t love it, deep inside like most Gooners do. When the failures of a season or a loss to a rival or the lack of trophies keeps up awake at night or ruins a day or weekend. This is a major problem. When you only show up on certain matchdays and are silent and little involved the rest of the time, this makes us worry and rightfully so, about your true intentions and your true commitment to this great club.

2. Never finding a Dein type figure to counterbalance and push Wenger in the right direction has been a great miscue. Gazidis is not the man for the job. Many of his current duties are those which used to be handled by Dein and he is failing miserably. As many know, Wenger is a great judge of talent but an intensely indecisive and Dein was always there to push him to the right decisions or in fact make those decisions for him when choosing to sign talent, etc. This has now led to the fact that there is a perceived bankroll that remains untouched because of Wenger’s personality of just making do with what he has over bringing in proven or on the rise talent to fill the void. There are too many yes men and no one else with enough power to challenge AW.

3. Obvious holes left by departing players have not been filled in the last 3 years under your watch. Many faces have left; few experienced ones have come in. That is not only perception but reality. As the top shareholder of a top 5 football club in the world, the gap between a self-sustainable model and a blank-check model could and should have been lessened somewhat by proper investment by your holding company. It is easy to see that if the club is competing on a “break even” personnel investment every year, imagine what one summer of proper investment and player purchase could do. We as supporters are not asking for hundreds of millions of pounds to be spent, we are asking that all monies derived from player sales be put back into player replacement, that is asking only the bare minimum and what is normal at these heights, any further investment by your holding company would only increase the value of the club in share price due to trophies, sponsorship money and more through the results on the pitch. It’s really very simple and very odd that it hasn’t taken place.

4. Last up is change. Change is the only thing that is going to motivate the supporters, the players, and the system if you will. Arsenal is car that’s spinning its wheels on a muddy road. There needs to be a change in the front office personnel, coaching, or an addition of talent that will kick-start all those currently at the club. There is weak movement in the sponsorship department (who wants to sponsor a club who hasn’t won a trophy in 7 years), the ideas from the coaching staff as of late have been bizarre and furthermore stale, and the motivation behind and the effort of the players on the pitch has been dismal. What will change all of this? At this point, something radical. A front office shake up, a coaching change, sales of players(even at a loss), purchase of players (even if above the budget), something, ANYTHING, EVERYTHING.

In closing Stan, I hope you don’t mind if I call you Stan; you have come to be the face of a greater problem. These last 20 years Arsenal have enjoyed some of the most storied times in the history of the club, the building of a beautiful stadium, the changing of philosophy and infrastructure and so much more. You are now linked with the time period where that philosophy has stalled, the spending has stopped, the stars have left and none are being brought in. The supporters are being shortchanged and the football is suffering, both in results and style. The momentum has seized and the whole of Arsenal from top to bottom look like deer in headlights.

You have a chance to continue this downward spiral by doing exactly what you have done these last few years, nothing. Letting the inmates rule the asylum or you can step up and effect change that will put the club back on track in respect to competing with the elite, where Arsenal was not so long ago. So what will it be Stan?

Zero or Hero? It’s up to you. Will Gooners in 20 years look back and say “Stan turned it around.” or “Wow, Stan ruined the club.” It’s really that simple, whether it is perception or reality at that point doesn’t matter. Here’s to hoping you and your fellow board members start a series of events that will set things right.

Sincerely,

One Sad Gooner

P.S. Doing something radical in this transfer window would be a great start!

First published on arsenalvision.co.uk

Don’t tell me AFC don’t need a DM/anchor man, just don’t.

Please look at the two goals today and how Arteta was just watching both occur without much input. The CB’s were left exposed (and bottled it) on the first and due to zonal marking and pure ball watching, Graham put it top of the net for the second. Neither directly his fault of course, our defending was in shambles, but he’s certainly part of the problem and in no way part of the solution.

I love Arteta as a passer and as a creator. As a defender he has many tackles, out of NEED, not out of physical play. He is often out-paced, out-muscled and don’t even get me started on his aerial deficiencies. He is a CM, a pivot player if you like; being played at a position that he is not physically gifted to play. His wonderful passing and creativity are being sacrificed to fill a void that was left by players of yesteryear…Vieira, Gilberto, Flamini… No not Song, he was never the answer at that position either.

Let’s see what buying 1 player, a DM or anchor/deep-lying, call it what you will, I call it MF steel. How this one position can change the dynamic of the team, the depth chart and cover in many positions and allows for more help to the often isolated CB’s:

DM/anchor: X player, Diaby, Coquelin

CM/pivot: Arteta, Jack, TR7, Diaby

AM: Jack, Santi, Ox, TR7

LW: Santi, Poldi, Gerv

RW: Theo, Ox, Santi

ST: Giroud, Theo, Poldi

This would be pretty close to the depth chart I would look for. The rotation at each position would be possible and allow for fresh legs and proper cover. Most of all Arsenal would have an efficient player, pace, stature, attitude and strength in midfield that AFC desperately lack when Diaby is not fit, so basically always.  I didn’t put Rambo in any of the positions as we no longer know where he fits do we? He’s a lost player that had such promise, now in many minds an after-thought.

The thing is the Gunners have many midfielders that can be played at a variety of positions, but a DM, anchor, etc. AFC don’t have a one that can truly embrace and excel in that role bar Diaby and his fitness is lacking in any case. Coquelin is a good little player but even he doesn’t have the physicality needed to excel in the way Arsenal need.

One position, one signing can change the direction of the team. It would speed up play, allows the MF to be connected to the FWD’s in a more meaningful way, and allow for the FB’s to join the attack knowing that the CB’s have adequate cover. So many things can change from 1 signing.

This is my contention; it has been for quite some time. Arsenal is much too slow in that key position. The Gunners need a player with power, pace and sense of position, then we can see what the good collection of attackers can do. They have scored more goals already this year than last, so scoring should not be a problem going forward, allowing the creators the club does have to create would certainly increase that output further, but having that true steel in the middle would help shore up a porous defense. It’s a win/win.

Look at the soft goals created through the middle of our defense with relative ease and then try to tell me we don’t need someone in that position…you honestly can’t.

Up the Gunners!

Originally published on arsenalvision.co.uk on the 5th of January.

I don’t often like to criticize the club or any one specific person, I am more about solutions rather than blame but this has gone on far enough.

Slowly and surely since the days of Vieira, Gilberto, Flamini; AFC have lost the ability to control the midfield. Unless that is the club’s focus over the next month, the Gunners will be left wanting once more and asking why there is no service to our forwards, why the defense is overrun and why on earth AFC are not winning trophies.

This is down to AW and his choices, to AFC as a club for failing to fulfill that obvious need and down to the players that have been put in that position and have failed to perform.

My contention is that if AFC placate the masses by signing a forward, the club will still be left needing a solid midfield presence to allow Jack and Santi to do “their” thing. As it stands right now, by HT Santi and Jack are so busy and tired helping an out of position Arteta, that there is a clear disconnect from the forwards.

Arsenal play a 4-4-3. The FB’s attack and leave the CB’s exposed. Supposedly the wingers are supposed to help tracking back, but you and I know THAT doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. So that leaves the DM to not only act as a conduit to link play from the back to MF but to also help on defense when the FB’s are on the attack. Simply put, BOLLOCKS! It doesn’t happen and hasn’t happened in any reincarnation of the current AFC line-up post Flamini being let go on a free.

Jack and Santi spend more time tracking back then going forward. Arteta is being hugely misplayed at the DM position and isn’t physical enough to be the imposing presence AFC need to stop the opposition and then to be able to launch the attacks we are capable of mounting. Don’t get me wrong, on their day, the boys can beat ANYONE. The issue is when its normal play and things don’t go perfectly for them, they simply buckle and absorb pressure, and they don’t dish it out.

Clubs now know that this version of AFC can be pushed about, bullied, pressured and finally broken if they push hard enough. That’s not acceptable in any manner.

The players that have been deployed there? Denilson, Diaby, Song, Arteta, Coquelin. None of which are TRUE DM’s or lacking in some of the qualities to be an effective DM in the EPL…how on earth are they supposed to succeed at a position they aren’t meant to play? That’s down to Wenger thinking he can mold anyone into any position. That has led to the likes of Arshavin losing their identity, but that’s for a different entry altogether.

AFC has to give the boss the backing, the boss has to make the signing a priority and then we can see the results, which in my opinion get AFC back to the top.

A true DM moves Arteta into CM, moves Jack forward and allows Cazorla to be deployed on the left or the right. It allows Podolski to be used on the left or as an ST, the same for Theo, only on the right obviously. It gives the squad rotation and helps the defense while at the same time helps CONTROL THE MIDFIELD which is where the Gunners fire their attack from and where they have been lacking for quite some time.

This is a position that has been too long overlooked and until it’s addressed the club will be spinning its wheels.

Top targets for the position?

1. Fellaini

2. M’Vila

3. Capoue

4. Gonalons

Do it Arsene, AFC! It’s what’s REALLY needed.  Don’t even get me started on the FB position, that’s for yet ANOTHER entry.

Bring on the Swans!

COYG!