As the fall out from a miserable week last week, as well as a pretty dire 2012 continues, gooners everywhere are waking up to working weeks filled with gloating Spuds, nouveau riche loving Citeh and irritating armchair Utd fans everywhere. Each will be prodding their fingers into the metaphorical open wound that still remains from two lifeless cup displays that have seen an extra chalk line added to the tally of years Arsenal have gone without a trophy.
For every Arsenal fan the retort of ‘how many have you won in the last few years?’ to Liverpool and Spuds fans has been a useful weapon in our arsenal of verbal deflective devices, but on seeing the remaining teams in the competition as well as the draws they have, I can see that one of those teams will win something. In fact we will probably see a quite horrible ending come May that will see Liverpool with the Carling Cup and the Spuds with the FA Cup. I just shivered a little with the thought…
But what will become of our beloved team? What do we have to look for now? If you believe Le Boss, then a fourth place finish is as good as a trophy, and we should all stick together as a collective and give our all to achieve it. I’m all for unifying to try to wrestle fourth from Chelski, Liverpool and Newcastle, but spare me the joys of getting a Champions League place instead of a trophy, much like I’d like for AW to spare me the commentary about how Abou Diaby (and eventually Jack Wilshere) is like a new signing.They are not. They are like injured players returning to the team. Cut the spin.
I have already said I am going to back the manager and the team until the end of the season and cheer them on every step of the way. That will most definitely continue. However, for the first time I can remember, I am looking long-term at the manager and not asking “what happens if Arsene leaves?”. For years I have held some sort of fear that unless Arsene remains at the helm then the carefully constructed team with players like Viera, Henry, Fabregas, Nasri and now Van Persie, would all leave the club if Wenger left and so we should fight to keep not just the players, but the manager as well. After all, who else could achieve what he achieved on the budget he has been given? I’ve heard that the players respect him, love him and want to do everything for him to win success. That they would fight to the death for him. Or at least that is what we have been led to believe.
But given all of this worry I’ve had of Wenger leaving, I feel like I’ve been blinded somewhat because of ‘what was’ and I’ve failed to see ‘what is’.
What I am now seeing, as clear as 1080HP high-definition, is a club in free fall. Not just the manager, but from top to bottom. I have long given up on the ability of senior management, the owner and the board. But up until now my belief that the manager was only partially culpable has been hung out to dry with the lack of investment (contracts as well as transfer fees).
However, given the questions and statements I mentioned above regarding the ‘fear’ of losing Wenger and the house of cards falling apart, i appear to have missed that all of the problems have all happened with Wenger at the helm. We HAVE lost all of those players (I believe RvP is gone in the summer), we HAVE declined to the point where most can’t see us getting fourth, and we HAVE seen that the players clearly don’t love Wenger enough to fight for him. The last two matches have shown this. Consider this: Sunderland played 120 minutes prior to defeat against us in the league, yet they still ran their arses off and gave their all, nearly nicking a point against us. Have you seen Arsene’s team do that lately?
This myth that Arsenal would fall apart without Wenger has been completely eroded to the point that many believe he has to go now and leave somebody else to steer the club out of choppy Europa League and into calmer Champions League waters. I don’t prescribe to that train of thought, as I can’t see us getting a top-drawer manager in now who could do that, but you can tell from today’s post that I am questioning Wenger’s reign beyond May.
Again I ask you to consider: should Wenger stay and be charged with building another team (surely that has to be the remit now) around another player or spine of players, could you see him wielding the axe to so many of his signings? Could you see Almunia, Squillaci, Djourou, Gibbs (only because of his propensity to injury), Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky, Arshavin, Walcott, Vela, Park AND Chamakh? That’s not to mention the young players that won’t make it like Eastmond, Watt and potentially Lansbury. I can’t see the kind of root and branch changes needed happening under Wenger.
The next team that needs to be built needs to be around a player like Wilshere. Unlike Fabregas, he is British and local to the surrounding London area (near Stevenage). He won’t want to ‘go home’ at some stage and I would like to think that providing Arsenal can match his ambition then he can stay his career with us (like Gerrard). He loves the club and so if a parting of the ways occurred between Wenger and The Arsenal, I could see Jack staying and fighting for the next boss.
Could it be Pep? After his quotes last week you never know. However, as I said at the beginning of the blog, in previous blogs, and now in signing off – that is the long-term and right now I think Arsene Wenger is spot on – now is the time to get our heads down, sing up for the Arsenal, hope that they play up for the fans, and we can get that much coveted fourth spot come the end of the season.
Then the rebuilding for next season can truly begin.
Have a good Monday.