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Will anything change at Arsenal next season? Sadly it seems unlikely

By Tony Attwood

Jack Pitt-Brooke of the Independent recently wrote an article in which he said,

“…it was impressive and surprising that Wenger’s reaction on Sunday evening, in his post-match press conference, was to take all the blame on his own shoulders. By admitting that his season of silence over his own future had damaged the club, contributing to the uncertainty, discord and “absolutely horrendous” psychological atmosphere, Wenger was holding his hands up like never before….

“It was an act of genuine selflessness because it would have been easier for Wenger to deflect the blame away. Some of his players have underperformed this season, and his two stars, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, have looked distracted by talk of big-money summer departures and their expiring contracts. There has not been much constructive public support from the Arsenal board, as quiet as ever but for a statement from Sir Chips Keswick in early March that said as little as it possibly could.”

Which I find interesting because it seems to share the blame for Arsenal slipping from 2nd to 5th among the manager, the owner, the players and the board.

And then the writer hinted that there were some “complex politics” going on which were a further cause of problems quoting Mr Wenger’s comments that there were also “Some other reasons where we will talk about another day.”

He then commented on the “real dignity” that there is “about Wenger, not least in his willingness to be a lightning rod for the frustrations of the fans. By being so present and so responsible at Arsenal, he takes plenty of the flak that would otherwise be directed at Kroenke and the board. He even offered Kroenke his public support, which he did not need to do, absolving him of blame for the club’s struggles.”

The newspaperman also quoted Mr Wenger’s social psychology: “We live in a society where today everybody has an opinion.   People don’t stop talking. They do little and they talk a lot. But that doesn’t move society forward, what moves society forward is people who work, really, and talk not too much.”

And then Jack Pitt-Brooke stopped, which I thought was a shame.   Because he had cast the blame among the owner for not financing the team, the manager for not buying better players or using a better formation, the players, for not playing well enough or being distracted by offers from Bayern, Barcelona and Real Mad, the fans for getting on the manager’s back and sometimes on the player’s back too.  And he quoted Mr Wenger casting blame on the media and social media – which meant on him, Jack Pitt-Brooke, and on this matter he said… not a word.

The list JPB drew up by and large covers everything apart from the two elements that I add to the list: first the constant negativity of the media against Arsenal which kicked off once again in 1954 in the libels of Jimmy Logie and which has continued ever since, and the referees.   We’ve had a few correspondents on recently dismissing our work in terms of the analysis of referees in the first 160 games this season, and obviously we have different opinions on the validity of that research, but it remains the final area of influence – or potential influence if you don’t believe our evidence.

So let’s tot that up.  What happened this season?

Well Arsenal gained more points than last season and reached the FA Cup Final which they didn’t last season.

Season P W D L F A Pts
2015/16 38 20 11 7 65 36 71
2016/17 38 23 6 9 77 44 75

Thus we won three more, but lost two more, scored 12 more goals but let in 8 more.  Overall we got four more points.  Most seasons that would mean going up a place or two, this year it meant going down from 2nd to 5th.

Which overall means something has got to be sorted.   But what?   Here’s the list of all the things cited in the article as being wrong with Arsenal.

  • The manager
  • The players
  • The owner
  • The board of directors
  • The fans
  • The media
  • The refereeing system

I do appreciate that many people do not agree with the last two, which is of course their point of view, so let’s leave that difference of opinion aside for a moment and consider which of these can be changed in order to take Arsenal to a better position in 2017/8.

  • The manager – of course he could be sacked or could leave, but just as Chelsea have sacked a manager and brought in a replacement with success, so Manchester United and Manchester City have seen limited success with this ploy. I know many correspondents on of this site insist that neither the FA Cup nor regularly coming in the top four is a trophy, and it may well be they think the same of the Europa League.   Tottenham have just had their best season in over 50 years and didn’t get a trophy, and got slaughtered in both the Champs and the Europa League and their manager is lauded as the new Archbishop of Managering.   Liverpool have the wonderklopp whom the media adore in the way they hate Mr Wenger, but I endlessly hear Liverpool supporters on radio phone ins saying Klopp should go. The point is that some clubs are reaching new heights (Chelsea, Tottenham – 2nd is a new height for them, Liverpool ditto with third) but others are not winning trophies with their trophy hunting managers.  Changing managers might not make things worse. But it could get worse.
  • The players – ok so we have a useless team, according to some, but I don’t think anyone can change a whole team.  It has to be just some of them.  And in a club where everyone and everything from the manager to the supporters to the owner etc etc has been blamed, I wonder how many new players will come our way.  I fear our reputation has been damaged for years to come.
  • The owner – I would put a lot of blame at his door, but he has said he’s going nowhere, and until the club starts making a loss he won’t budge.   The anti-Wengerians who pay to come to matches and then protest play right into his hands.  He gets his profit, so he’s not going to worry.
  • The board of directors – I can’t imagine them packing it in and walking away.  Can you?  It’s a lovely life.  No responsibility and the best seats in the house.  And the best champagne.
  • The fans – I got a clear view the aaa enjoyed all the publicity.  Will they stop now?  Seems unlikely.
  • The media – they certainly are not going to stop.  They have been kicking Arsenal endlessly since 1954 and they get mass readership, viewing and listening.  Why stop?  It works for them and best of all it is FREE.
  • The refereeing system – some readers deny it is causing Arsenal any problems.  Maybe so maybe not.  Either way without mass pressure from fans and media nothing will change.   The Premier League has a unique refereeing system which the rest of Europe has long since abandoned.  But since there is not mass pressure to change it, I guess it won’t.

So having done the list, what have I found?  It seems, little chance of change.

23 comments to Will anything change at Arsenal next season? Sadly it seems unlikely

  • Arthur

    Tony
    A very depressing article. Makes me want to stop supporting Arsenal. I wish I could stop but somehow no other team gives me the buzz and excitement of watching Arsenal. Totally irrational but supporting Arsenal is a deep emotional thing for me. Even if Arsenal were relegated they would still be my team.

    this year I have stopped watching all other football matches and I have stopped watching or listening to the media and I never listen to the commentary. there is so much evil in football. Watching Arsenal playing against such adversity is painful but sometimes rewarding.

  • colario

    Will anything change at Riley’s PMGOL next season? Sadly it seems unlikely.

  • cheer up you lot thought this was a happy positive blog ……..fooled me !

  • emex

    First things first, can’t we take someone’s word to be a sincere expression of how he feels? Wenger said its not Stan’s fault the team didn’t perform and that this was all on the technical team, can’t we agree that this was a sincere expression of the fact as Wenger saw it and not an attempt to shield anybody or act as anyone’s lighting rod? For what it’s worth I actually agree with the point made in the statement as do many people.
    Why is it that when Wenger/Henry etc says something this blog agrees with, they’re the best, but when they say something that doesn’t suit your agenda, it means they are either covering up someone, being pressured into saying stuff eg by the press etc. Can’t it just be a truthful expression of their own personal opinions as is their right to?

  • Nitram

    Tony

    I find it very odd that you seem to of suddenly turned against Kronke.

    After all, as far as I can tell, what he’s doing now is the same as he was doing 3, 5, 10 years ago, running the club along the lines of the ‘self sustaining’ model he always said he would.

    If you’ve changed your view on how he should run the Club, and it seems you have after reading the article you posted the other day that alluded to that, then fine, but I must say it does seem to make you a bit of a hypocrite.

    Or, if I’m being slightly more benevolent, it just means you’re more of an ‘if you cant beat them, join them’ type of guy.

    I find that sad, but maybe that’s just me.

    And you seem not to be defending the reviews with quite the same vigour that you used to.

    “We’ve had a few correspondents on recently dismissing our work in terms of the analysis of referees in the first 160 games this season, and obviously we have different opinions on the validity of that research,…”

    And

    “some readers deny it is causing Arsenal any problems. Maybe so maybe not.”

    In either case it’s hardly a vigorous defence of hours and hours, or should I say, weeks and weeks of painstaking work is it?

    Seems to me you’ve been beaten in to submission.

  • Norman14

    Nitram..

    Kroenke has only had the club for 5 years, so not running it for 10 years ago.

    colario.

    No – not even with VAR

  • Norman14

    Nitram, sorry, 6 years.

  • majorjoe

    Hi my own feeling is that Wenger is a very good manager and i for one would want him to stay for as long as he wants. i enjoy watching them play but i am sad when some of the one day supporters get on his back.i would hope that his supporters would become more vocal.I look forward to the next season even with the same players.As i have enjoyed watching the new all be it defensive system. and hope for better things next year.
    A win over Chelsea would nice.

  • Chris

    @Nitram

    Well, as long as debt had to be repaid, there was some justification at not buying expensive plyers and not paying huge salaries.
    However for the past 3 o 4 yers, the debt issue has dissapeared, revenue has been raised.
    In parallel, costs of players have been raised too, yet AW still finds nuggets for hard to explain prices (Holding anyone ?).

    But, and I believe this is Tony’s argument – he can correct if I’m wrong, there is no more justification to not wisely spend, but really spend.
    Except the one that goes like this : the club brings in nice steady revenue, and the owner want to keep that stream coming at any cost without wanting to break the bank by taking the financial risk of really trying to win the PL and the EL.

    Kind of prefering to run a diesel Mercedes rather then buying a CLK Mercedes Coupé…..gets you there the same, costs just so much more and you may end up with a speeding ticket or other such problems

  • jjgsol

    Maybe we are all paranoid when we think the media is strongly biased against Arsenal in general and AW in particular.

    But maybe not.

    The media are interested in selling papers or boosting viewing or listening figures and it feels to me that negative comments against Arsenal and AW seem to fit the bill.

    What galls particularly is when former players seem to be jumping on the bandwagon, no doubt to enhance their reputation as premier and unbiased pundits, especially when they can be seen not to favour their old alma mater.

    When so much attention and credence is given to the neville brothers, who in their playing time were responsible for regular physical assaults on opponents, (remember how they targeted Reyes and got away with it), one would be entitled to think that the lunatics are running the asylum.

    Thanks for your erudite and expertly constructed articles. The information is not only interesting but essential for a full appreciation of our team.

    I feel that a true supporter is one who supports during the bad as well as the good times

    In the past I have described supporting Arsenal as like being on a rollercoaster.

    The truth is that even when we are on the downward path we are still 5th and in the FA cup final. So why all the doom and gloom even if (and probably, when, I am afraid) we lose?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Just because we are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get Arsenal

  • Bloggs

    Untold; supporting the club the player’s and the manager! My arse! Attwood is one of the best spin doctor’s going, always deflecting negative attention away from Wenger on the instructions from his paymasters. Anyone who has any negative input about Wenger is quickly rubbished even if it has an ounce ( that’s a British measurement without being rude unlike some on here) of truth
    He has already turned on Sanchez with the so called “evidence” bullshit and hate anyone who disputes it by claiming “you can prove anything with evidence” mocking anyone and everything. Wenger the best manager ever because of win percentage …… Sir Alf Ramsey won the world cup but according to Attwood’s theory Allardyce is the best England manager as he has a 100% record …….. think again or even better think for yourselves

  • Fishpie

    @Nitram, I often see things differently from Tony but a significant reason why I read (and occasionally write on) this site is Tony’s constant refusal to attack the Manager and the Club. It is a feat of great loyalty, one I fail to match. But like me, well all of us I guess, he will have his days of despair where he feels everything is stacked against us. He’s entitled to those occasional moments if you ask me. Anyway I sense in the article a good old dose of Untold resilience. If Kreonke is the only aspect of the Club that Tony is prepared to criticise, that’s still pretty loyal. Personally, it isn’t the money that Kreonke doesn’t spend that gets me (he has approved some pretty big spending hasn’t he?). The thing I don’t like about him is his lack of sporting success in his various sporting franchises. He doesn’t have a track record of any kind really. I think it’s a lot easier just to run sporting enterprises to make up the numbers and just keep things ticking along. What’s harder is creating champions and it takes sheer drive from whoever’s running the Club at the top. And not settling for anything less. Very few fans sense that from him. I think it impacts on everything and everybody below him. The Kreonke culture doesn’t win. Arsene would be a better manager under a more demanding boss.

  • Fishpie

    @Nitram, I often see things differently from Tony but a significant reason why I read (and occasionally write on) this site is Tony’s constant refusal to attack the Manager and the Club. It is a feat of great loyalty, one I fail to match. But like me, well all of us I guess, he will have his days of despair where he feels everything is stacked against us. He’s entitled to those occasional moments if you ask me. Anyway I sense in the article a good old dose of Untold resilience. If Kreonke is the only aspect of the Club that Tony is prepared to criticise, that’s still pretty loyal. Personally, it isn’t the money that Kreonke doesn’t spend that gets me (he has approved some pretty big spending hasn’t he?). The thing I don’t like about him is his lack of sporting success in his various sporting franchises. He doesn’t have a track record of any kind really. I think it’s a lot easier just to run sporting enterprises to make up the numbers and just keep things ticking along. What’s harder is creating champions and it takes sheer drive from whoever’s running the Club at the top. And not settling for anything less. Very few fans sense that from him. I think it impacts on everything and everybody below him. The Kreonke culture doesn’t win. I wonder whether Arsene would be a better manager under a more demanding boss.

  • Fishpie

    Whoops, posted twice. Sorry.

  • para

    Arsenal should do what it takes to lure David Dein back.
    It is clear that he is the other half of the dynamic duo(DD and AW). 🙂

  • Curiously enough Bloggs there is something there I agree with

    “think for yourselves”

  • My dear grim reaper, you see you fall into the old trap – take evidence from one short period and then generalise outwards. But thank you, that is a perfect example of what goes on. A tiny amount of evidence to try and over ride the dominant findings.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    My humble take –

    1.- The manager – No change .
    A no brainer . I have no issues here seeing that in mangerial experience he is way , way , mucho way ahead of me ! I don’t even think that I have 1% of his knowledge .

    2. The players – The usual new season changes.
    Some leaving , some new incoming. Some youngsters moving up . Not going to second guess the manager .

    3. The owner – No change expected.
    Stays out of running the team , leaving it the manager and doesn’t take money out of club.

    4. The board of directors – Non sequitur .

    5. The fans – Again no change .
    The hardcore will again be steadfast and steady in keeping the faith and support .
    What others ?
    **** are not Arsenal supporters !They probably be all at Wembley next season.

    6. The media – Of no importance or relevant consequence .
    As equal importance as the village idiot .Only noticed when they go missing!
    But for me they can all get lost !

    7. The refereeing system – Total clearance adviced .
    Too infested and infected , too malignant and putrid , rabid and beyond redemption . A totalectomy (or complete culling ) of this cancerous monstrosity is suggested.
    And the area from where this pestilence is most pervasive should be quarantined for at least 10 years ! Go South young man !

    So sit back and enjoy the show again next season !
    WOO HOO , HOO !

  • Damilare

    @ Colario maybe, but ideally, refereeing system should change. A minimum of 20 refs selected from all over England not north only. A ref should do be in charge of same club for a max of 2 matches.

    Or a pool of European ref from all over Europe.

    Whatever changes next season or not, I’ll still support my Arsenal as I get prepared for Thursday night football while spurs grapple with playing at Wembley.

    COYG

  • gouresh

    Chris gave the analogy of a Mercedes Benz diesel car. The fact is that we are all going to the same place, only that its a race. The diesel car won’t have a chance against the supports coupe. If it was only about surviving, then yes. But we need to win and should have the best equipment. Even if we have this coupe, it should be well serviced and should perform when required.

  • Menace

    bloggs – you sad idiot read what Brickfields says. He’s a doctor & knows a little bit about head cases & numskulls (he read the comics).

    This bit is well researched:

    7. The refereeing system – Total clearance advised .
    Too infested and infected, too malignant and putrid, rabid and beyond redemption. A totalectomy (or complete culling ) of this cancerous monstrosity is suggested.
    And the area from where this pestilence is most pervasive should be quarantined for at least 10 years ! Go South young man !

    The FA Cup Final may be a London derby but it is controlled by ‘oil infected cheating northern bastards’!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Menace – I did too love those numbskulls , but those in the eye dept were unfit most of the time.
    They just did not believe what they saw.

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