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Arsenal: this is getting insane

I read an article on a blog yesterday in which the writer (who claimed to be writing one of the most highly read of all the Arsenal blogs) said that this was the time when Arsene Wenger had to prove himself.

It struck me as one of the most crazy things I had ever read, although in style and approach I must admit it was similar to a number of letters published on this blog.  The central theme is that the writer can see the reality and only Wenger is blinkered, inept, silly, stubborn, unable to see what needs to be done etc.  The names of Song and Diaby come up quite often in such pieces at the moment as examples of uselessness.

This morning there is a piece on the Mirror’s web site in which they have the headline FLOP GUNS WENGER   

I am not quite sure what it means, because after the usual journalese in the first couple of lines it settles down to being a rather good article, with a very lucid and clear set of statements in impeccible English (no split infiniteves here) from Dennis Hill-Wood.

What really surprises me is the lack of credible alternatives that are presented in most arguments.  Not all articles, I admit, but in most.  The argument is, this is rubbish, Song is rubbish, Denilson is rubbish, you are on another planet if you don’t see we need a defensive midfielder…..

What I find is a lack of any set of notions as to who would replace Wenger.  And in this I mean someone who would be better without taking the club to the edge of ruin that Liverpool currently face.

(And it is important to recognise that the Liverpool crisis is not just of my invention for the sake of this blog.  In July their money runs out for the very last time.  The current £350m loan was given on strict instruction that none of it is to be used to buy players.  Their only hope is that the Arabs move in.   The Arabs have every ace – they can cut the price, they can withdraw, they can let the club sink, they can lose interest, they can declare war on Israel (or vice versa) they can find another Iraq in their midst…)

So who could run Arsenal better without taking us to the financial edge?  Not Sir Alex F-Word.   Apart from the fact he wouldn’t, he survives by having endless money to throw around – and of course that is going to stop eventually.

Look at the other managers near the top.   If it were O’Neil, I would walk away, because that would be a total betrayal of everything Arsenal.  (Ask Celtic supporters too – there are many who were just delighted to see him go, even though he delivered championships).

There’s in fact no one in England I would think is likely to do any better – and the same is true when I look overseas.

Look at Real Madrid – the only coach there who could deliver is now the coach of England, and he’s not going to come here.  I won’t go on and on, but the current England manager is probably the only person who could have a claim to take over Arsenal – but my goodness that would be boring.   Just go back and look at how he got those two championships at Real Madrid.  True he used more flair in Milan, and maybe he could do it, but… it won’t happen.

the point is that most of the negative arguments are too narrow – they are mostly criticism without credible alternatives and ways of handling the finances, and they are based on what seems to me to be the intellectually unsustainable idea that Wenger has lost the plot while the blog writer (who judging from the style of writing) possibly hasn’t actually been at all the games, can instantly see what is wrong.

The example of Denilson is perfect here.  Some fans think he is wonderful, some think he is useless.  The stats show he is brilliant – and the response from the negative camp is either to ignore the stats, or say that you can make stats say anything, or suggest that he only makes easy tackles to get his stats up.  It seems a sterile argument to me.

And yet there has always been criticism at Arsenal.  When George Allison (one of the great Arsenal managers, as you will know) first came to the club in September 1910 he was employed by Henry Norris to write the programme, under the name Gunners Mate.  He wrote the most vitriolic attack on the players that has ever been published – something no club programme would ever dream of printing today.  Now that is making inside criticism public!

Here’s another example – although it is just based on one conversation.  In the 1930s when Arsenal ruled football for the first time, my father used to go regularly, and he told me that even when they were winning the three consecutive championships there were moans and groans.  A dire 1-1 draw with Portsmouth on December 29 (my dad’s birthday) 1934 produced boos, moans and groans from a crowd of only 36,000 (Highbury held 75000 in those days).   Shouts of “rubbish” were heard across the ground, and the players were jeered.   They won the league that year.

So maybe I shouldn’t be too amazed at all the vitriol.  Maybe it is just what people do.   Maybe my suspicion is right and that a lot of people are simply not at the games but just watching it on TV.  Mabe blogging makes some people negative.

Maybe it is just me, carried away with a 9 match unbeaten run.

Hopefully Wenger won’t explode like Megson did this week and start arguing back.   Because if he were to go, I really have no idea who we could get who would do any better.

Final note on different matters.

I have to go away for the rest of friday, and won’t be back at my computer until after the West Ham game tomorrow.   If you have had 2 pieces published here before, and want to write in, then your comment will be published automatically.   But if you are writing in for the first or second time, it will be held until I return.  This system does help keep out the spam, but I am sorry for the delay in the next 2 days.

And, all things working out ok, I should be doing the fans eye view in the Observer on Sunday on the West Ham game.   Expect 10 out of 10 for every player!

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

21 comments to Arsenal: this is getting insane

  • Ian Trevett

    Today’s Friday which means it’s preview night on Arsenal TV. I really enjoy the show with Stewart Robson and Shovell – entertaining stuff, but I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for poor Tom Watt on the phone-in.
    Every week he fields the same calls from boring gits saying that Wenger should never have let Flamini, Hleb and Diarra go. Time to move on Gooners. They’ve gone (and Hleb and Flamini haven’t exactly lit their new clubs up) and they aren’t coming back.
    In fact when they were at the club, most of the time, most Gooners seemed to hate them (probably the same ones who are moaning that they’ve gone). If Denilson leaves in the summer, the Denislon haters will be on the blogs and the phones next year saying it’s a disgrace that he was allowed to leave.
    I bet Tom Watt is relieved he wasn’t doing a phone-in show in the early 1980s, when we lost our best two players, Brady and Stapleton. They were truly great players that were truly irreplacable. Hleb and Flamini weren’t good enough to tie their shoe-laces.

  • rydsrtrasreta

    good article, i agree.

    it sells papers and gets hits on blogs to be hyper-critical the whole time, but achieves nothing. we just have to hang in there until our injured midfield starts to return. villa, liverpool and chelsea are going to drop points.

  • jbh

    Excellent article Tony again, as usual. Suggest you continue in future weeding out the “spam”. The blogs are full of disgruntled fans of other clubs who revel in trying to sow dissent amongst Arsenal fans. Their arguments are pathetic and it is wasteful that people even rise to respond to the nonsense (just block them unless they have anything constructive to say).

    Lets examine a few facts. Adebayor, RVP and Fabregas have underperformed this year in terms of goals scored per shot on goal. Ade had an excellent year last year 24 goals from 104 shots (23%) right up there with the best (Ronaldo and Torres in the 23 to 25% level). This year Ade and RvP are in the mid teens 16 and 15%. Cesc has only 1 goal from 13 shots, compared to 7 from 27 last year.
    For all of these players their shots on goal attempts are similar to last year, and their attempts created are similar, so it is not a lack of service but a lack of finishing, even RvP who is currently playing excellently after a slow start to the year (RvP has also hit the posts many times to be fair) is down on what is expected.
    Nasri is doing better than Hleb re goals, goal attempts and assists, Eboue is poor in all categories. Denilson, as you rightly point out, as the more defensive midfielder is doing excellently (with better stats than Flamini in all categories including a Premier league leading 77 pass intercepts to date) – he is also doing quite well on the attempts created, and assists.
    Diaby and Song are doing ok, nothing fantastic, but not poor, and quite ok for back up players.
    So. Weak link is Eboue (no surprise there) but he is really only a back up squad player and the problem settles down to key injuries (Rosicky, Walcott) meaning we have to play Eboue or Denilson on the right (out of position). And…. poor finishing from the strikers (and Cesc).

    A second point – The ability to dominate the market for upcoming youth is not to be trifled at. The US professional sports franchises all have to suffer with the draft of new players (with the worst team of the year getting first pick). To be able to cherry pick and develop the best young talent as AW does is amazing. Anyone that rubbishes this is misguided or simply trying to rubbish the club. If AW wasn’t here then most of this talent will go to other big clubs. Arsenal is a big club (top 8 in the world) because of AW. And frankly the game is getting faster, and more dominated by young players, this is a trend that Arsenal are leading.

  • gunner 123

    true, how ca we claim arsene wenger has to prove himself 49 games unbeaten, champions league final and football, discovered and nurtured some of the best talent in the world ( the simon cowell of football ) , F.A cup more than enough times, Premier League, always at beats once a year beats yids tottenham or occasionally draws , had the balls to bring in captain of tottenham still makes me laugh ha ha ha ha ha ha, slags off that dick ferguson and many more. We lose faith in arsene i highly doubt he will stay it will adios to arsene and with real sniffing round this could happen.

  • john p thomson

    Godd article with interesting points on the economics of current football. Regardless of Wenger heres the bottom line, and its REALLY SIMPLE….

    the current crop of players are simply not good enough to be top 3/4 and defo not to win the title. A trip back over the past ten years will throw up the world class names such as Overmars, Bergkamp, Henry, Adams, Merson, Wright etc… can you honestly tell me that the likes of Eboue, Diaby, Denilson, song, Djourous, hell, even toure & gallas are up there with the greats of arsenal? These playes are good players but NOT the exceptional tallent Arsenal used to attract. Its no wonder we are where we are in the league.

    Yes on a good day, with no injuries the likes of rosisky, fabregas, cliche, eduardo, Ade etc can challenge anyone ….but the current squad we have out there most weekends are just simply NOT what i have come to expect from Arsenal and its proud traditions.

    Buying Arshavin might help things, but we need genuine solid players. Its a shame the likes of Hleb and flamini left as they were becoming the arsenal players we needed.

  • boy next door's sister

    Hi Tony,

    excellent read as per usual. many thanks!

    “I should be doing the fans eye view in the Observer on Sunday on the West Ham game. Expect 10 out of 10 for every player!”

    I so look forward to reading your comment on the game in the Observer this Sunday. If any player is below 10, then I’ll sure know that he’s had a really $hit game 😉

  • ravi

    Whilst we continually debate the merits of Aw and his lack of signings. i feel that there is a wider issue to concern ourselves with. Lets face it Arsenal will be here in some form or another be it wining trophies of just plodding along.

    however there IS i feel a bigger issues that if we are not careful will and is changing football. Chanting Is being clamped down upon and a lot of songs that Gooners like to sing involve shall we cay anti-spurz lyrics (if you catch my drift. With the police being prepared to prosecute a thirteen year old y** the message is being sent out loud and clear. Gooners are being picked off in and outside of grounds, at train stations and in some cases in boozers. Those of us who hold a deep hatred of the y**s ARE being systematically picked off and being slapped with bans.

    Speaking to the old bill outside the ground at cardiff he told me that they will go for a ban over the slightest discretion (disorderly conduct being the commonest charge they can hit you with)

    Saturday’s and Sunday’s semi throw back to the 80’s will merely harden the authorities attitudes to us and for those of us who travel away we will be feeling the brunt of their excursiveness.

    The shit that away fans of all the clubs is UNBELIEVABLE and yet we still continue to go through it. Why because its in our DNA (yea I know that was corny)

    the fact is away fans ARE the life blood of the live match and without them stadiums would be even more soulless than they already are.

    This for me are one of the truly worrying aspects of the game we love today.

  • ravi

    I believe that the keeping us in the dark about the finances is what’s pissing us off most, as we can see we need additions to the squad but we are not showing a inclination of buying anyone!.As stated before Wenger splash the cash at highbury,in his first year he brought in 11 players and while at highbury he never mentioned about youth till the move to the grove?The whole idea of the move was as said by hill-wood and friar was for Arsenal to be able to compete with utd i thought there meant man u not leeds?.
    Arsene keeps saying these players are gaining experience,what’s that all about as some of these players are internationals and been playing prem football for 2 yrs so how much experience do there NEED!Vela prime example saying he’s got to be patient and gain bloody experience the blokes played in la liga for nearly 2 yrs and is biting to show what he can do also young wilshire will only get better if played like cesc was in 04 but no he stays loyal to average joe’s who just turn up to get the cash and sullen our great name .It’s time he got honest with us,told us we got no money fine we understand but want to know where it all goes?and to say i got it wrong the players i believed in are not up to it and in the summer i shall have a good clear out and re-build again.
    We not asking them to do a liverpool or a chelsea and splash 200mil but get a couple of seasoned players to help the youngsters to develop and also give the team direction.If we fail to get a c/l spot and enter uefa cup and don’t compete in the transfer market then i’m sorry to say but i think cesc,rvp and a few more of our good players might be tempted to play elsewhere and it shows the board have no ambition for this great club,which has a great heritage and steeped in history,but only for there pockets.I’ve followed this great club of ours for 40 yrs and in the last 12 yrs this has been our real big chance of dominating but is going out the window due to possible mis-management and lack of ambition and greed.

  • mason

    If we finish 5th or worse he HAS to be gone. No excuses. I’m sorry but with the high profile job like Arsenal comes certain expectations. Awesome, you did a great job for the club for many years. Now you’re not doing that job so you gotta go. End of. No slack here.

    The NY Yankees had a manager (Joe Torre) who took them to something like 14 straight playoff appearances but failed to make it out of the first round for 4 or 5 straight years with easily the highest payroll in MLB and was then fired, regardless of making the playoffs. Just an example that there are expecations for certain high profile teams. This is one of those teams. And 5th doesnt meet those requirements.

    Not even 5th place but played well in a lot of games and maybe got unlucky. This is HOPING for 5th way behind 4th and playing like shit.

  • realist

    Tony, Firstly, fair play to you for being so optimistic. I honestly don’t know how you can be, but good on you for being so.

    But I have to pull you up on the above. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the stadium but we do NOT sell out every game, especially against the little teams. How many games this season have there been swathes of empty seats? Too many.

    The club count tickets sold (including ST’s) NOT how many people actually attend.

  • realist

    The way i see it is; wenger seems happy to proceed with this idiotic squad. I still cannot comprehend how eboue, ong, and diaby are in there- diaby i can excuse as he does follow his performance up sometime very nicely only to be extremely dismal in the next match. but the other 2 idiots are the cause and i pray that that lanky twat pisses off – arrogant prat the pair of them

  • Colonel Mustard

    Is there no room for the middle ground fan somewhere between the left of “Untold” and the Neo-Cons of Le Grove…….I might need my own blog….”Cutting the Mustard”…QUOTE…”the point is that most of the negative arguments are too narrow – they are mostly criticism without credible alternatives and ways of handling the finances, and they are based on what seems to me to be the intellectually unsustainable idea that Wenger has lost the plot while the blog writer (who judging from the style of writing) possibly hasn’t actually been at all the games, can instantly see what is wrong”…..1 .Arsene at the start of this season put firmly any responsibilty on himself by letting 3 world class midfilders leave and refuse to replace them. 2. He ignored the probability of injuries as per early 2008 yet again 3. He continues to persist in playing favourites with Song, Eboue, Diaby and the famous Denilson when they are not the finished articles. 4. No clarification on our finances are ever given (I would be happy to be proved wrong) 5. I believe we will lose our best players again this summer. .. Graham Hunter was on radio last night. Cesc Fabregas and Helb watched the Arsenal Vs. Everton game at a local TV station with him in Catalonia. Hunter asked him questions about Arsenal. Apparently he was despairing after the game about the performance and the direction of the team.He said he has never seem Cesc so down about football. He said he has no interest in Real (in reference to Perez’s sounding regarding him and Wenger). Reading between the lines. He is hugely impressed with Barca and depending on the direction of Arsenal over the next year or so he is considering his future. It was sobering stuff to listen to but not shocking really. How can we keep him when we have Eboue and Song running around the pitch. – So there you have it from Cesc the most humble and loyal of Arsenes players. 6. Arsene has lowered our sights and standards. We are not league contenders, teams don’t fear us. will that change anytime soon? How long can this re-invention continue?

  • Consolsbob

    At it again Mustard?

    Spreading doom and gloom under the cover of your ‘credible alternative’ way of thinking? You repeat hearsay as fact, recycle old gripes, suggest that we should clarify our finances – presumably for the benefit of our rivals, invent ‘world class players’ (really? Gilberto to that hotbed of world class football, Greece, and Flamini to the subs bench at Milan) and tell us that Wenger is making us a second class team.

    Pathetic. Crawl off back to le grove. You might be a class act on there.

  • Ian Trevett

    Colonel – Worrying comments about Cesc. We certainly lack a creative spark at the moment – I’m still hoping for Arshavin.
    You have a very valid point that there seems to be little middle ground for debate. I am on ‘the left with Untold’, but I feel forced to be overtly positive because there is so much vitriol about Wenger on so many blogs. Untold is a haven from the bitchers and whingers. I spend more time arguing with Arsenal fans attacking the club than I do with Chelsea and Spurs fans.

  • don't believe the hype

    Thanks Tony. I’m amazed that you managed to read that article. I saw the headline and moved on. I cannot believe the arrogance of these people who think that because they have a blog they know more than a man who lives and breathes football and has successfully managed at the highest level for more years than most of them have been wasting perfectly good oxygen.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Ian, I am glad to debate with anyone. Consol criticises me but offer no retort. its far from vitriol I write, just out of concern. I will be very glad if Arsene proves us wrong. Ill get Mrs. Mustard to bake a humble pie. Those Cesc comments are true though and very worrying.

  • Ian Trevett

    I never take any notice of the Madrid stories – Cesc is a Catalan. Perhaps our best hope with Cesc is that he will only leave to go to Barca. I don’t see him wanting to go to City or Chelsea or even Milan.
    The way Barca are playing they might feel they don’t need him at the moment! He will go home eventually, but I’m hoping for a few more years yet.

  • did u mean arseblogger? i tihink that he is the worst blogger ever..its like RSS Feed Reader, he is just copying newspaper articles, he is rubbish..real gooners dont care about him:)
    eventually arsenal succesfully aplied for AAs work permit, so i presume that we will see him in Arsenal jersey soon..
    anyway, good job tony as always

  • jbh

    More spin. After Xavi’s long contract at Barcelona there is no way that Cesc is going anytime soon (next 3 or 4 yrs). Mind you, if AW leaves then many will follow him, and the youth talent magnet will also disappear. No one has a divine right to top 4, and I would not be surprised that if Aston Villa make it this year it will be at the expense of Liverpool.
    If Arsenal came 5th or 6th, or worse for that matter, there is no way the board will sack him (stop dreaming). They have faults but they are not that stupid.
    Cesc is looking for a long career (9 – 10 yrs) and many trophies with Arsenal, then another longish career back in Spain.

  • jbh: exactly, cesc aint stupid. He knows that his career is safe with Arsenal and i d say he will stay here for long, long time..

  • NYmarcus

    Rather than trash each other, I wish we gooners (ignore the media, good or bad — and yes, there are a few good ones out there, very few) would just stop and listen to each other — and most of all, ASSUME that we all care deeply about Arsenal and that no one should have the arrogance to claim they are superior fans because the way they see things is more right than someone else’s.

    There is so much polarization amongst us going on, it’s becoming impossible to have a credible debate. I’ve left two blogs because of this.

    It’s true there are extremists and knee-jerk fans in our midst. And a lot of them don’t deserve a lot of our time.

    But what I strongly object to is the assumption on the part of what I view as the two extremist camps amongst us:

    1. The worst elements at le grove (which has become the symbol of the worst kind of a certain supporter)

    2. The worst elements of what some dismiss as AKBs, the “rose-tinted” brigade, the self-appointed Judges of True Arsenal Supporters.

    Both these groups are self-appointed Guardians of the Arsenal Truth. And it’s impossible to talk with them, to engage in any real, thoughtful discussion. The worst of these two groups merely post repetitive, lame, insulting, worthless comments that contribute nothing to any discussion.

    For the first group, if you defend AW even while pointing out disappointments and criticisms, you’re put into a tiny little AKB box and nothing you can say can get you out of that box. They are rigid and absolute in their belief they are the best judges of these players and our manager, and that anyone who disagrees with them is not worthy of their attention.

    For the 2nd group, you cannot use the blogs to discuss your skepticism, concerns, questions, doubts, criticisms in general. The blogs are the equivalent to the Grove — you must behave on the blogs just as you do at the Grove. Most of us agree that as fans at the stadium, home or away, fans must all unite and cheer their team on and never ever abuse anyone wearing an Arsenal shirt no matter what we may really think of their ability and commitment to the team. At the stadium, we must all act as one with one purpose regardless of our differences.

    But for this second group, the blogs are equivalent to the stadium — fans are supposed to just cheer the team on in every one of their post, never ever voicing any criticisms of the manager, Board or one single player. We cannot talk like normal human beings on the blogs with differences in judgment, we must (just like at the stadium) all think alike and post alike.

    I wish both these sets of fans would just LISTEN, open their minds and stop sitting in judgment over the rest of us who are trying our best to support the team in our own way. I wish they’d respect the fact that we are not all the same, that our brains don’t shut down the way theirs does, but that we all love our club and want it to succeed.