WHAT A MESS

I’m writing this on a Tuesday, a day we should be playing Champions League football. This year though, it is different. It’s not going to be Tuesday night or Wednesday night football, but Thursday night football. Bloody hell! That’s Spursday for fucks sake! For the first time in all these years, an Arsenal team will take the field 2 days before the weekend.

In truth, its been coming. we’ve had close calls in the past, wanting a win and nothing else on the last day of the season to secure a champions league place and sometimes have had to depend on others – even Spurs! Finally, it has happened. Arsenal finished outside the top four.

We were promised that things will change with a move to the new stadium; that we will have funds to be competitive with the giants from Manchester and Chelsea; that we’d be able to match them and that we would not hear “the player did not join us because the other team offered him more wages.”

Once again, like last season, we started off the summer window with a bang. We signed Granit Xhaka before the window opened last season and we went to Germany again, this time for Sead Kolasinac. Both, terrific acquisitions but followed up with other major issues left unaddressed. We did finally land Alexandre Lacazette after a 3-year pursuit and got a CF we have always wanted.

I was speaking to a few Arsenal fans before the season started and we all shared a similar view on how the season was going to be – on what we expected from the team – and it was only a top 4 finish. None of us expected us to challenge for the title. Yes, a few were of the opinion that we should play the kids in the Europa League games and keep the first team fresh for the weekend and go for the title, but the way we started the season wasn’t very encouraging.

A thrilling win against Leicester on the opening day pumped us all up. Football was finally back. Adrenaline rushing. We looked forward to match-day 2 even before the weekend was over! What followed was dampening, to say the least. Losses, harshly away to Stoke, and depressingly away to Liverpool gave a feeling that the season was 30 games old and not 3. We had seen absurd team selection and we had seen our players drop their shoulders; not put up a fight.

These results reminded of the protests that took place for majority of the latter half of last season and I thought that it would all come back again, just 3 games into this season. What has been surprising, and for some time now, is that Stan Kroenke has not come out in public and said anything encouraging. Ivan Gazidis also came out and reassured the fans only after Arsene Wenger was officially confirmed to have signed a new contract.

I haven’t seen an owner of a football team this disinterested in how the team is doing – hardly ever is at the stadium to watch the team play, very rarely does he say anything at volatile times.

Ivan Gazidis, until last season has been vocal about his support for Arsene Wenger, immediately coming out in public and addressing the issues, saying a few positive words. We haven’t heard him speak regarding the unbelievable unrest that was there among the fans. The fact that Arsene Wenger had to think about signing the contract extension tells you that he wasn’t certain about wanting to stay on. All this only tells one thing – we are a shambles on and off the pitch.

Arsene has somehow managed to get us into Champions League every season, until the last, and that is a major worry too. The game against Liverpool saw Arsene play a RB at LB; benching a beast of LB; a LB at CB and a want-away midfielder at RB. On top of all this, he benched our new 50m striker and using “adjustment phase” as an excuse.

Makes you really wonder, doesn’t it? Arsene has done a lot for the club, there shouldn’t be anyone denying that. He has had to face very hard times and still managed to maintain the level of performances. The players he has trusted have back stabbed him and like many others, I believe that is his major flaw but I also think that there is no one at the club who would stand up to Arsene and tell him he is going wrong.

Martin Keown and Tony Adams have said in the media that Arsene doesn’t have anyone to challenge him, to push him; Adams has been going on for a while and seems to target Arsene every time – bit upset he wasn’t included in the staff perhaps.

David Dein was one man that pushed Wenger and stood up to him, all maintaining a very healthy relationship with him, but he is not at the club anymore.

Another factor, and it has been sliding under the radar somewhat, is that of player contracts. This is a huge worry that needs to be sorted out in the near future. Here is the list of players and the year of contract expiry –

Year

Players

2018

Santi Cazorla, Petr Cech, Per Mertesacker, Alexis, Mesut Ozil, Joel Campbell, Jack Wilshere.

2019

Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Nacho Monreal, David Ospina, Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey.

 

Santi is injury prone and we have felt the need to replace him for a few years now; unaddressed. Petr Cech will be 36 at the end of next year; we had ready replacement in Szczesny, we sold him to Juve and we need a replacement for Petr. Per is retiring at the end of next season and having sold Gabriel, we surely need to look for options there. Alexis and Mesut are into their last years of contract and it is almost a certainty that Alexis will leave at the end of it while there are no talks about a contract renewal for Mesut. Joel Campbell is forever on loan and we were open to let Jack go on loan in this window.

Not worried yet? Look down 18 months and we have Walcott, Giroud, Monreal, Ospina, Welbeck and Ramsey in the same spot as those mentioned above. We were open for Theo, Giroud and Ospina to move on this summer; wonder if things will change in the next. Not only have we bought insufficiently but also been terrible at selling our players. Those who have left the club may have even been undersold, especially in this market, and we have failed let go off players we wanted to offload.

We wanted to sign Lemar and were chasing him the whole summer but Monaco didn’t budge and when we finally may have got through to them, it was too late.

David Ornstein later explained that we couldn’t sign any new players without letting someone go. Leave aside all the promises by the club regarding being financially competitive with the giants from England and Europe, It become frustrating.

We are soon going to be in a position where we will lose quite a few of our first team players. No doubt players leaving would decrease the wage bill but signing replacements will eat into it. Players leaving for free would mean no income from sales and put pressure on the manager to sign someone who is ready to be put in to the first team straight away.

Success is one thing, if what is currently happening continues, finishing in the top 4 year after year is going to be a problem.

The rift between the fans and the club is huge and it is not a pretty picture. I can see it taking some time to repair; question is how long? When you keep poking a giant, it stops responding after a while or it wakes up for the good and I hope the latter is the case regarding our beloved club.

 

 

 

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