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Saturday, 16 March 2013

Has the Wenger worm turned? Or is it same old, same old?

Has he finally got it? Or not?

I am conflicted this morning. And it's all Arsene Wenger's fault. I read with interest his quotes from yesterday's press conference, and the headline parts made for good reading. However, they weren't quite the full story, were they Arsenal.com?
Arsene told us yesterday that the players need to realise that there is competition for their places and nobody is guaranteed a start. In short, if you don't play well, you don't play at all. Brilliant. At last. The penny has finally dropped. We've sat through a lot of turgid rubbish over the last few years, only to turn up the following week and see the same players producing the same crap. We've wanted things shaken up time and again with a few kicks up the backside dished out, but to no avail. That changed on Wednesday evening with Szczesny and Vermaelen finally being dumped. It's about time. For Arsene Wenger to actually drop his Captain was unprecedented. Nobody could argue that it had an adverse effect on the performance of the team, especially in Vermaelen's area of the pitch. Aside from the win itself, I felt the best thing about the Bayern Munich game was that the Manager finally started doing his job again.
Wenger was then asked about Wojciech Szczesny and what the future holds for him. Obviously he told the press that both Szczesny and Vermaelen are key players. He could say nothing else. But in talking about the way Szczesny has been playing he again cited the mental fatigue that can plague a young player. I don't believe in all that nonsense so I have no qualms with ignoring that as Wenger's way of fobbing off press interest in the way he dropped his goalkeeper. What I didn't like was the next bit from Wenger. He went on to say that maybe he should have "rested" Szczesny from the domestic cups. And in that moment I realised that the penny might not have dropped with Wenger after all. The very fact that he might think he should have put out a potentially weakened team in competitions we had a chance to win brings back the bad vibes. If he thinks he should have left out Szczesny does he think the same about all the other players? Is he of the opinion that had he put out a complete reserve side against Bradford or Blackburn then the first leg against Bayern might have gone differently? If that is his thinking then we can already write off next season.
The proof of the pudding will come against Swansea this afternoon. Kieran Gibbs is suffering still after his return from injury and will not be in the side to play in Wales. That's not too much of an issue, especially with Monreal coming back in. However, if either Vermaelen or Szczesny make a return to the starting XI today then we will know that nothing has really changed. Following the performance the other night it would be a disgrace if Fabianski and Koscielny/Mertesacker are left out. If there is any other change to be made from the starting line-up the other night I would bring in Oxlade-Chamberlain for Rosicky and move Cazorla back in to the centre (though I can see Giroud missing out to injury after the kicking he took on Wednesday night). There is every chance that Fabianski might revert to type and throw one in his own net, but we've been watching Szczesny do that for over a year now. Fabianski has earned his chance, and Szczesny has been playing very badly. It's a no-brainer to me.
Above all today Arsenal must produce the sort of effort they did in Munich. If that sort of defensive discipline can be in evidence today, and for the rest of the season, we will do okay. If we return to the lacklustre, couldn't care less if we make a mistake, kind of display then we will tail off in to obscurity. I hope Wenger can motivate the players like he did on Wednesday. Starting by rewarding good performances, and punishing bad ones, would be a good start for this supporter.


  1. As ever, good analylis. Fish

  2. Wenger only did in Munich what most fans have been screaming at him all season. If we untrained football enthusiasts on the terraces can plainly see that the likes of Vermaelen, Szczesny etc were just not hacking it, then why can't the expert management team being paid millions, see it too. A bit too late now for this barren season I am afraid
    If Wenger has really seen the light and the purse strings are relaxed for some great new signings for next season, then I am cautiously optimistic for the future. However there are still too many ifs, buts and maybes to be really confident - we have been here before over the last 8 years.

    1. I couldn't agree more. Time will tell whether or not it was just another false dawn. We live in hope.

  3. Good article though still full of the anti Arsene retoric. I have recently fished out an email or two I published in 2007. In both I spoke of my fear of going back to the AFC I have suffered throughout my Gunner life, I am 71 and have been loyal for 64 loooooooooong years. I have watched managers create great sides in 70/71, the GG in the 80's followed by AW from 1995. All of them have ended up selling their top stars and buying second hand or second class players as replacements. It failed every time. Bertie Mee allowed success to cloud his brain to think he was the most important person in the club. Sold Charlie George and Frank Mac etc, the heart of the team. GG, he allowed Rocky to go and Thomas etc. and brought in crap and gave the board an excuse to get rid of him. Now AW. He brought great success on the back of GG super six defenders and Riochs Bergy buy. This convinced this lousy board to invest in a new stadium and obviously reduce the finance available for AW to spend...hence the 'creating a squad of infants in the shadow of Barca'. This encouraged him to bring in some shockingly average players, too numerous to list, in the hope a few would become 'Vieras or Henry's'. His biggest mistake (AND STILL IS) was to rely on people like Grimadi to supply us with cheap defenders etc. He has, and not one has been much above good / average that we should expect for the money. Our scouts in UK must have been non existent in the past 8 years because all we have brought in that have made it to the first team squad are players like Theo who cost big money for his age. Meatime Manure, Chelski, Spuds, and both scousers have profited by poaching top UK kids from the lower leagues. Just look at our much vaunted kids teams and quote me how many top defenders have come through in 8 years....Gibbs, ? I have seen several young goalies arrive on the scene like Hart/Foster and now Butland, who would have cost less than Almunia/Szcezney'Fabiansky etc but Aw never goes for them. We missed out on osme really good defenders who stood out in their early years but AW went for them too late and would not pay the 'new' value they had become. Now they are all in the England team or even better. We on the other hand have suffered the Cygans/Sqillaci's/Stepanovs and many more....why? Cheapness and nothing less.

    Sadly, I expect that very soon, the greatest club in the world bar none THE ARSENAL, will sucomb to the highest bidding group of creeps like Abramovich and start buying us great success......its not what I want but I get the feeling from articles like this one, its what most Gunners now crave?

    1. You seem to be wishing to defend Wenger's record, apparently criticising my position. No problem with that. However, you then go on to put together the best assassination of Wenger's policies that I think I've ever read! I'm now confused as to whether your criticising Wenger or in favour of him.
      You clearly disagree with the course the Board has taken Arsenal - it is impossible, by the way, to make Wenger separate from the Board - yet you're also anti any idea of mass investment from elsewhere. Again, I'm confused.
      The one thing I would point out is that the Board were not the ones who pushed leaving Highbury. Wenger constantly pushed the idea that Highbury was too small, and we needed a new stadium to keep up. He got what he wanted and yet we've been failing ever since.
      Finally, my Dad is also in his 70s and has been going to Arsenal for more than 60 years. As we walked our of Valley Parade before Christmas even he had seen enough of Wenger. He witnessed Bertie Mee break up a great team. He witnessed George Graham do the same. Wenger has broken up two great teams. The first time he replaced it with, probably, an even better one. The second time has ended up with what you rightly point out are sub-standard players. It's time to go - though that wasn't the point of this particular article. In fact I was trying to set the tone of conciliation and hope that even Wenger can see what has been going wrong. I'm resigned to him being around at least one more year, and I would love it if he made me look an absolute cretin.

    2. Very interesting reply. I do however retain the right to be critical but still love my club. Arsene is without doubt the greatest manager i have ever seen at AFC. He has proved that but he has faults like us all, but his have been tied ( as I said) to the financial constraints caused by HIS desire to take the club to another level and so compete with the other giants who get big money from other means that has created an unfair league.
      The board had many options available to finance the build but decided to go the current route so they could keep control of all decisions. This resulted in our feeble attempts to buy low quality until the debt is paid off. I believe that Arsene had no choice but to go along with this to get to this new level. He seems to have agreed to take all the flack, so yes he is at fault but only for wanting to do the right thing.I do not blame AW for this because it was the correct dream to aspire too.

      As for assasinating AW , that is crap. I have the right to tell it as I see itand to disagree with the mans tactics, without wanting him out.

      Unlike the anti AW's, I dont have see anyone doing any better unless they were promised sums similar to the money that has allowed Chelski/City & Manure to buy their success. This can only come if (A) we sell out comletely to an Abramovich type investor to become a plaything, this I am 100% against (is that clear enough?) or (B) Our current board allow a couple of new board members like Jabba to invest but not totally own .
      This would allow 'whoever' to pay off the debt and release the income made leagally to invest in quality players.
      My biggest complaint with AW is the level of wages he agreed for his poorer buys without making them earn it first. This means we are lumbered with the list I gave earlier because others will not take them until the end of contracts.

      So, yes I am critical ( that is what being a supporter is about)and am sick of being where we are. Yes I have no respect for this board of chinless public school boys who like so many others in our history have taken us down market from positions of strength, whilst lining their pockets. But Ido not blame AW for this at all because he got us the dream stadium admired all over the world and kept us in the top four nonstop.
      As for conciliation, Id hate to read you when you were being a bastard!

      If you and your dad dont believe that Arsene cannot see where things have gone wrong then we have to disagree. I think his only flaw since 2007 is the refusal to accept advice re; our defensive problems.
      But,no I do not want AW to go because I cannot see any other manager achieving what he has consistantly for 16 years without a fortune to spend. And that is not going to happen without new board members!

      I look forward to reading your next appraisal of AFC and AW at the seasons end.