Arsenal’s past is no blue print for its future.

Arsenal’s past is no blue print for its future.

By Fishpie

Like many of you, I am not in a good place with Arsenal at the moment and I guess I haven’t been for 3 to 4 years now.

During this time, I have posted comments on a number of Arsenal blogs and have done so nearly always with a point of view that Tony Attwood and Untold Arsenal would almost certainly regard as negative criticism of the club.  And perhaps therefore they would argue that I am one of many who are only fuelling the sour atmosphere that currently surrounds the club.  Perhaps Tony would even see me as an unwitting  member of the AAA , the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal group that  he has recounted the history of on this site and which he believes is still out there undermining the club at every turn.

But in fact, in my hours of greatest depression, I often turn to Untold Arsenal (and other generally more positive Arsenal blogs such as Goonerholic for instance) to seek a balanced perspective of what’s happening to the club.  I try and eek from these fine, loyal, diehard fans the strength to hold-on in there, to take on the chin whatever the latest calamity has befallen the team and rediscover the hope that, despite all the current evidence, the good times will return.

And after all, the history of the club suggests they will. Apart from the 1930’s when we ruled the roost pretty much for most of the decade, we are a club that has achieved its successes in pulses and bursts.  Certainly since the early 1970’s, we’ve enjoyed victorious trophy winning teams that each competed for honours for about 4 or 5 seasons or so, interspersed with fading or poorer teams that have struggled over another 4 or 5 seasons; a team grows, reaches its peak, fades and then after a few years of struggle, another team grows and the cycle goes on.

So history would suggest, and as Tony puts it in his post, “If you can’t take the ups and downs, don’t bother with Arsenal”.  He’s right, especially as he points out that during those down periods (and occasionally, if truth be told, during the up periods too) we have a long established tradition of being “giant-killed” in many a cup match.  So welcome to the list Bradford and Blackburn. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last.

But does  it have to be so that the young Arsenal fan who my son and I saw crying his eyes out just after the Blackburn game on Saturday has to accept the fate that history suggests will befall him as an Arsenal fan?

If he’s like me, after a few decades, he’ll be counting his blessings that he had the good fortune to have supported England’s third most successful football club of all time and he’ll see them win even more trophies.  But does it really have to be quite so inevitable, as Tony Attwood suggested,  that he will also have to accept bitter defeats, wilderness seasons and underachievement as if they were somehow just part of the Arsenal Way, like a deeply imbedded DNA flaw that is incurable and inoperable?

OK, our up and down past can be viewed as an indicator of the future but history can also be a lesson about past mistakes, of things to avoid, of things not to repeat.

Like Tony I am proud of my club’s great history but deep down, I don’t believe Arsenal is as great a club as it could have been. What worries me is that part of the club’s DNA is indeed a tendency to allow itself to be overtaken, to settle for what we have and to be a bit superior about what we are. I’m a biased Arsenal fan along with the best of them but  I’m not biased enough to notice there is a summit up there and too often we are not on the top of it.

For me Arsenal has always been a big enough club to have achieved more than it actually has.

Our general European record of success for instance is pretty poor; we have won European honours only twice and have never won the European Cup/Champions’ League. Since the 1930’s we have failed to win successive League titles.  Whilst we have competed for and won trophies, we’ve not dominated football for a sustained period in the modern game in the way Liverpool did, or Utd do.  Although Wenger gave us the Unbeatables and his Henry/Pires/ Bergkamp/ Vieira team were lauded around the world as a great footballing team, even they didn’t really achieve the stature of the great European Cup/Champion’s League teams of the past and present: Ajax, Bayern, Celtic, Liverpool, Utd, Milan, Real and Barca.

The point is, for Arsenal there is much more to achieve and greater things to aspire to. I am ambitious for my club to achieve these greater things. I want them to become a better club than they have been.  I am not happy for Arsenal to use the past as a template. It was good, indeed very good, but it could have been better.

So I applauded the extremely ambitious and brave step to move from our traditional home of Highbury Stadium.  The new stadium is the stadium of a great, great club. It sets us up for a higher status, for greater things, for dreams to come true.

But that is why I believe Arsenal fans have become so critical.

Did we really build this stadium just to aim for fourth? Did we really build this stadium to see the team play without passion and drive? Did we really build this stadium to see a team barely capable of defending?  Did we really build this stadium to allow a team manager to send out teams again and again, year after year with these same fundamental inadequacies unresolved?

Did we leave our beloved Highbury for that; to watch Arsenal decline back into a period of underachievement?

Did we build this stadium to see Arsenal lose to a struggling Blackburn team from a lower division?

No, we didn’t.

With Arsene’s first seven years fresh in the memory and the new stadium built, I felt the club was at last going to step up to the highest level, to be as ambitious as I was. That it was a new, more determined club; a club with its eye on the very summit.  Anticipation, hope and pride ensued.

But a series of decisions then took place that seemed to have betrayed the march towards and promise of greater things to come:

-the shareholders sold their shares without ensuring that some of the money paid for the shares went into the club itself, just when it was really needed (they would still have made a significant personal  profit on their original investment).

-They sold to a man whose track record of sporting success is extremely average and whose track record for knowing how to create a real championship club is non-existent.

-They sold to a man who, by not declaring in words or actions that he was there to achieve great things, effectively established instead a culture of complacency within the club just when what was needed was the vision and determination to fulfil what had been started by the previous management team.

– This majority shareholder also failed to establish a professional management structure for day-to-day accountability such that the team manager could go on year after year making fundamental coaching mistakes, player purchasing mistakes and budget handling mistakes without being brought to task.  Arsenal might like to do things in style, to play attacking football. Buy any club can do that. The real challenge is to do that and win.

– finally, without wanting to belittle the impact that foreign sugar-daddy investment at Chelsea and Man City has had on Arsenal’s financial capability to compete, the final betrayal of the dream has been that it’s pretty clear the club generally, and probably Arsene specifically, have not done all they could have afforded to do in the transfer market to obtain better players (something even clubs like Spurs, Newcastle, Everton and Swansea have been able to do)

The dream to go to a higher level has been receding ever since.

So where does that leave me and those like me who want Arsenal to be an even better club than it has been in the past?

It leaves me with the right not to give up on my dream. I will not accept that Arsenal cannot reach the Summit or that it even has to accept a diminished status just because Chelsea and Man City now exist.

To me, supporting Arsenal is not just about having an affinity with what has been in the past; it has also always been about encouraging and supporting it in its endeavours to attain greater success in the future and to be as great a football club as it’s possible for a football club to be.

And as a shareholder, a season ticket holder and supporter I will shout encouragement to the players, cheer hard work, applaud great skill, encourage the team when the chips are down…

…but when the owners, the manager and the players fail to do everything in their power to strive for the summit and instead settle for less than what we could be, I will criticise and give them a hard time.

Put it another way, I think being a good supporter is about not allowing those who run or play for the club to get away with wasting the opportunity they’ve been given to make history or taking for granted the privilege they enjoy of being able to do so.

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102 Replies to “Arsenal’s past is no blue print for its future.”

  1. Fair play to Untold Arsenal for letting you have your say Fishpie. It shows class to allow views you don’t agree with to be heard.

  2. Cannot argue with a lot of that. A silent absentee owner is by no means unique, but maybe he was the wrong person for the wrong time? I firmly believe the whole club needs to seriously up its game. If needed funds are not available, this needs to be challenged. If there is something wrong with wengers coaching or transfer policy, it needs to be challenged. Do these players need more coaching than they are getting to build solidity and confidence? Does wenger have the patience with mid twenties internationals who are not at the levels of his former charges? I have no idea, but something really is not working out there. The teams sometimes look under confident, under prepared and under cooked. Do they just need a bit more help? Not everyone is a jack. I still believe something will give, and I do not wish that to be the manager. If this is a decline, yes, desperate measures may be needed…..of little tweaks may be needed. Whatever it is, the club have to sort this, already a bad season, further failures will mean a very expensively bad season, and whatever stan is or is not, surely he does not want that?

  3. Fishpie, your post sums up how I feel too. I want to see us striving for excellence, not accepting mediocrity. We may not be able to overtake the sugardaddy clubs but I want to see us challenging, busting a gut to get as close as we can. I agree with you that the current problems stem from the board and major shareholder, and the effect that lack of leadership has had at all levels within the club.

    But having identified the problem, it’s a tough one to fix isn’t it? Any ideas out there?

  4. Best ever article on untold. I can live with the team going 10 years without a trophy but i can’t live with the lack of effort and complacency shown by the current team and Manager.
    Can we compete financially with utd, city and the chavs? No and every arsenal fan knows that but to be the best, you don’t have to have the biggest stadium or most money.

  5. Jed
    I put the blame at Wenger’s footstep and i’ll give you some of my reasons. The last trophy we won was done by packing the bus and then we had players like Viera and co but Wenger goes to old trafford with players like Jenkinson and Frimpong and plays 4-3-3? Where is the sense in that?
    Sometimes in life you have to be pragmatic which is something Wenger is not. There are some football games where you number priority is not to lose.
    Another problem is sticking with mediocre players for too long. Adebayor left our club a long time ago and i believe he played more games for us than Diaby has. We claim we have no money yet we continue to carry passengers weighing the team down. Diaby might be a good player on his day, but what the team needs now is players for today.

  6. The best solution at the moment is to qualify for the Cl next year, spend and cut where needed, identify the problems and deal with them, without letting intransigence, worries about finances, lack of leadership at the top etc hit us as badly as in the past. If stan really does not care about the teams performance, he will care about what a lack of it will be costing him.Sounds easy doesn’t it? We … ever need a busy summer, a lack of Cl qualification could lead to the damaging caution we have seen in the past. We have some very good players, we now need to keep them, if they need help and coaching, they should be given it, internationals or not….the worlds top sportsmen constantly work on the basics, just hope we are as well….sometimes it just does not look like it. If the manager really is being stubborn, change him, dont sack him, there are people who outrank him in the club. We all know wengers strengths, if weaknesses are damaging, he maybe needs a bit of help Am I being conspiratorial, or did anyone else think it was strange that it should be jack to give the interview after the game?

  7. Always enjoy your posts Mandy but do you really think Wenger will change? It certainly seems like he needs to review his approach because we are not really progressing.

    And as to your first sentence couldn’t we apply much of what you say to the last few seasons?

  8. Finally an article on here that presents a different viewpoint. I know some will disagree with it, that’s their right, but I think an opinion that veers away from the usual diktat on Untold makes it a far superior blog.

    Many feel exactly the way the writer of the article does and there’s no reason not to at least consider these opinions even if you then choose to invalidate them.

  9. I feel as frustrated as you Mr or Ms Fishpie (can’t tell your sex). I wish I had more time to respond but unfortunately I’m on a tea break at work. Just to say you have regurgitated the usual stuff about Arsenal including a quite a bit of GUFF! For example, the following:

    “have not done all they could have afforded to do in the transfer market to obtain better players (something even clubs like Spurs, Newcastle, Everton and Swansea have been able to do)”

    Are you serious? Wait till the end of the season before you make such a comment.

    You can NEVER interpret historical events in isolation. There is a context that must always be considered and that is invariably different.

    Did you hear David Dein, David Gold and Christian Purslow on Sky’s Footballer’s Football Show? I recommend that you do. What those three have to say has far more currency with me that what you have to write. They considered the effects of money flooding into the EPL from the Russian underworld and the Arab dictatorships. And yet, according to all three, the future is bright for Arsenal and they expect it soon (signing new sponsorship deals etc.,).

    I ask people like you to explain to people like me how long business development of the sort undertaken by Arsenal should take? People who are not business men and women, in particular Chief Executive Officers (of course I’ve no way of knowing whether you are or not, although from your post I’m pretty sure you are not), seem to have an idea of when success should occur following a massive restructuring such as that at Arsenal.

    People make stupid extrapolations. Here is one that has stayed with me for a good few years. A militant anti-vivisectionist accepted chemotherapy to treat her cancer. When asked about how she could do so given her belief she answered “scientists have had long enough time and money to discover a cure for cancer”…I’m still scratching my head….

  10. Good post Georgaki. There is much common sense in what you say even though I disagree with some of it.

    About the cancer comment, in some quarters there is a belief that a cure for cancer has been stymied by those who profit from continuing research. Once a cure is found a lot of money will be lost for some. A cynical view, I know, and one I sincerely hope is only scaremongering.

  11. True Rupert on the first sentence. As for Wenger changing, something is clearly not working, and IF Wenger is part of that, he maybe needs to change for the sake of the club and team he clearly cares about. No disgrace in losing to BM but some of our other losses have been more worrying. I am all for changing things, tweaking them rather than more nuclear options. The fact is, finances, billionaires and all that, these players are often playing at less than the sum of their abilities, early in the season during the gelling process, that was more understandable, but the team….to me at least, just do not look comfortable with something. Maybe it is the players who need to change and not the manager….I am not pretending to know, but as things stand, it takes a bold assumption that we will improve significantly by keeping things exactly as they are…..assuming anyone is making such an assumption of course!

  12. @Rupert Cook at 11:51 am

    Thanks for the kind words. I must declare an interest. I work in the area of chemical risk assessment. Your comment/belief about cancer research is wrong.

  13. As one of the Club’s more elderly supporters, perhaps I could set out my vision of what I hope lies ahead.
    I’m not overbothered with silverware. It’s nice on the day but half the Cups are down to the draw and avoiding slip-ups.
    I want to see a team noted for attacking, close passing and shooting on sight, football. And not too many blips.
    I want new signings from abroad as well as the blooding of youngsters from our Academy.
    I want to see us in Europe in some shape or form, testing our ability against the best from the Continent.
    And I want loyalty from players and fans alike at all times.
    Not too much to ask but I haven’t got that much time left.

  14. @Georgaki, thanks for the reassuring comment about cancer research.

    @Mandy, neither have I any idea what’s wrong with the team. I think you can excuse one upset in a cup in one year but two. And then following those two results, the disappointment against Bayern, though perhaps expected, was still frustrating.

    Certainly things can’t stay as they are. What’s the solution? Well if Wenger can’t find one I doubt I can.

  15. Jed, you are right to seek positive suggestions and ideas. While I argue I have the right to criticize ( and yes Stuart credit indeed to Tony for letting me do so here) I recognize it is easy.
    I know the personal relationships are not great between Mr Kreonke and Mr Usmanov and so this would appear to be naive but trying to create something like the Management dynamic that existed when Mr Dein and Mr Fizzman joined the club may be a place to start. My perception was that Mr Dein and Mr Fizzman represented the new blood infusing the Arsenal Board of the 1980’s with a greater determination and drive for success. Although things I’m sure were never perfect the balance of tradition (as represented By Mr Hillwood etc) and ambition propelled Arsenal foward, culminating in Mr Wenger, the Unbeatables and the New Stadium. Men on a mission. Creating today’s equivalent might look like Kreonke (cautious ,steady, sensible, media exploitaion nous ), Usmanov ( prepared to act decisively , ambition, money – to be accessed in line with FFP rules when needed, ) and finally arsenal fan representation (in the form of e.g.IASA/AST) all with equal share-holding and a written agreement that shares would not be sold to gain control but owned equally for the greater collective good of the club. Creating an ownership structure like this with a declared and shared mission to make Arsenal as great as a club as there is anywhere in the world. Next step; relegate the Team Manager’s role to just that – being the team manager, and ensure whatever management team you put in place to run the club day to day, it has authority over the team manager. Finally when Mr Hillwood retires ask Bob Wilson to be the club’s Chairman; passionate, a football man, steeped in Arsenal’s tradition, a Gooner through and through, proud, eloquent, a great ambassador, a decent man and a man who knows what excellence is and what it takes. There is nothing to stop this happening apart from ego, selfishness and self interest. The Club comes first. (If you don’t like the names above , at least adopt the model). In writing this I realize it’s not only easy to criticize, its pretty easy too to come up with glib ideas… but you got to start somewhere.

  16. Great post, and an honest one!!

    I want to start by saying, I miss Highbury. The place, no the “Fortress” where big name stars graced the finest surface in the PL”. I look at the Emirates and I see one of the finest stadiums around also but the problem is, there is no atmosphere and, there are too many empty seats. I would rather have a crammed Highbury than a half empty Emirates! it seems that the once brilliant spectacle on the pitch has somehow been exchanged for a pitch full of players who have no heart or soul for the club. Where Arsenal once acquired the very best in talent (young and old) we are now presented with individuals who fail to realize the importance and history of this club.

    This is a direction that the club has taken (both Board and manager) based on higher profits and future growth. I except that but, I can’t help feeling that the most important aspect for any “business” to sustain growth lay in the very foundation of those who are the biggest investor, and I’m not talking about the fans. I’m talking about the great players who made this club what it is today. The soldiers, the “Gunners” who played for pride and glory! This is the history of Arsenal which is easily forgotten in modern football..

    It was never about money then like it is today. It was about integrity and honor. Something that has been replaced by greedy business men. Yes we have a modern stadium with a profitable “business” model…

    Where has the competitive “Sports” model gone?

    Stan, If you happen to be reading this (Doubt it, probably busy arranging the Wilshire sale to Barca) please take note. “Victoria Concordia Crescit” or “victory comes from harmony” when translated from latin. Stan, at Arsenal there is no harmony, need I say more?..

    Finally, Arsene, you don’t get off scot-free! You make the player selections and you manage the club. You have a responsibility to mold players both mentally and psychically. Sorry, but you have failed and for that you are accountable. “we live in a world” (Pardon the pun) where our actions are judged based on how successful they were or how bad they fail. We are truly human and humble when we can except our failings and do what is best for the many and not the just for the few..

  17. Fishpie

    There are some great ideas there – fan ownership has been successful for last night’s opponents – though we’d have to come up with the money to buy out Mr Kroenke. Tough but not impossible.

    I agree with you too about Bob Wilson, I reckon he’s an ideal chairman, respect all round and knows the game and the club inside out. Surely with his dicky ticker it’s time for PHW to hang up his pin-stripes.

    And your point about the manager focusing on managing is also a good one, workaholic wenger has taken on way too much, it’s no wonder we’ve had so many transfer/contract cock ups since David Dein left.

    Positive ideas like these are the way forward IMHO, we gooners have got to stop criticising each other right left and centre and put forward some answers!

  18. Best post this blog has ever had. Being positive and an optimist is a lovely quality but when that is allowing the club to become complacent, take the fans for a ride knowingly with its ticket prices and transfer policy at a time when the club constantly admit it has money, relentlessly being positive is allowing those responsible for the gradual decline of the club to do so with immynity, without needing to take responsbility and forever hide behind the argument if youre not happy to settle for whats happening youre not a real fan, meanwhile those responsible earn SO much money. Being a real fan isnt about demanding success or that weare the best but when we are happy to watch our decline whilst knowingwe have the resources to at least strive for better that is a great injustice to ourselves. To be happy I dont need us to win anything, only to look like were truly doing everything in our power at our disposal to do so is enough. Right now I think were a very long way from full capacity in that aspect

  19. Thats why in theseason eddie broke his leg I had nothing but pride for the team. We won nothing but got so close and tried so hard, fantastic job by wenger that year despite the lack of trophies. Last was the last time I feel arsenal were operating near as well as they could do in light of their resources. No trophies but a wonderful team, amazing football and a load of effort from the whole squad. That was the last time arsenal were a brillisnt team for me

  20. Georgaki-Pyrovolitis, I take your point about the kind of money that Russian and Arab money might represent and it would be undoubtedly be better if Arsenal can finance its future differently. I support Arsenal’s stance on FFP. I’m a Mr. Fishpie, though you can call me Fish. I was in business and was part of a management team that had to manage culture change but that doesn’t make me a good businessman or an expert on how to run a football club. So, “guff”, quite possibly. But I still stand by my view that Mr Kreonke is not the right man, at least not as the majority shareholder. He has had many many years to have developed a business strategy and created a culture at his other sporting franchises without much success in the way of trophies. So yes maybe he needs more time to understand what that might take at Arsenal and patience is what I need. But I’m not optimistic that he it is right just now. But I hope I’ve tried to explain why Arsenal fans like me, rightly or wrongly, criticize. It is in reaction to the perception of the club settling for less than what we could be and I’m a fan who wants more than a decently run club that tries to play good football. My Dad was originally drawn to Arsenal because they won loads and dominated the 30’s. He was proud of its success, players in red shirts with white sleeves holding trophies over their head. I think winning things is a defining and indelible part of being what Arsenal is. I inherited that from my Dad and anything less than that is something I think we all need to fight against. I’m sorry but I have to depart this chat for the rest of the day now to visit my Mum. Here’s to beating Villa and trying to get that Champion’s League spot. Thank you for letting me have my say on your very fine site.

  21. Diaby is a fine player,he got butchered playing for arsenal.should the club abandon him like that,think of the message this will be sending to other fine player that wanna come to arsenal.

  22. Am I being conspiratorial, or did anyone else think it was strange that it should be jack to give the interview after the game?
    I read that AW took 25 minutes to take stock before coming out later for the post-match feastivities amongst the cannibals. That is sane, to me. But the ghouls will be all over this as proof that he’s “lost the plot.” That said, it can’t be all bad if AW took the time out to consider the circumstances. If I could have been with him in those 25 minutes, it would have been to counsel that he stop enabling a policy (whether its his or not – can’t really say) that mistakes penny-pinching for prudence, and sees fiscal conservatism as being not reckless.

  23. Fishpie,
    Once the man (presumably) with that snarling beast avatar deems it necessary to ask/determine your gender (which he calls sex) and pronounces that institutional cancer research is pure as the driven snow opines that YOU have given us GUFF, then you know you are the right track. Well done and thanks for an honest breath of fresh air.

  24. Yes, read that too bob. Guess he wanted some quiet reflection. I have also read he can be physically sick on losing games. I love the guy for what he stands for, what he stands against and what he has done, but in the words of Hugh Cornwall and Jean Jaques Burnel….something better change. I don’t want it to be the manager, but the whole club need to get a grip. I emphasise, it is games other than bayern that worry me.Those players lack confidence, when that happens, you go back to basics, build solidity, gain results….not sure trying to play like Barca is always an option at the moment, at least not with the top clubs. That defence really needs help, maybe the keeper does too. Blackburn had one shot, scored. think bayern scored two of their first three? that is not acceptable, but it has gone on for years..Against top teams we need a holding mf, we did not have a natural such player in there last night. Arteta is a great player for us,and can do it against some teams, but not a team like that. That may be ok when the likes of the spuds, Newcastle or west ham open the floodgates in our favour, but not in games like last night.

  25. We can achieve more with our current squad. period.

    I do certainly believe that we need to strengthen in some areas but basically our club policy is good, very good imo. But our team lack something that’s more than “just” lacking belief. Yesterday, we lost against Bayern. Last year, we struggle against Borussia Dortmund and won our home game only thanks to an unusual Song’s dribbling cameo. These two teams showed us what we have being missing the most: forget big name players (altough some can make a difference).

    Look at how the aforementioned sides defended: tigh on our players, compact as a unit, dynamic and agressive in the duels. It wasn’t the dynamics of a single or two players, you could see coordinated moves of a team, a unit.

    Yesterday, as we were down 0-2, you could suddently see that our players were able to work this way: agressivity, attacking the ball, closing down space. Some people call that character. If you got this once or twice, then it’s character. but if you can do it regularly then I believe it’s organisation. When you lack that, individual shortcomings are more likely to be exposed. Because of our lax marking, we invited them to score the first. Because of our passivity, we watched as they scored the second. Their third goal was the only one where I wouldn’t fault our team’s attitude.

    But why can’t our team shows this “character” ( what I call organization) in the majority of our games. You can understand if there’s one day off. But the lax marking, be on-the-back-foot attitude is too often there to be ignored. I am a Wenger supporter and I hope he can finally fix that. Barça is not the role model. The way Bayern and Borussia played is very closed to our style. We can be there or very close to that with our current 18 first choice players. If the lax marking and problem in team structure can’t be fixed, yeah then there is a coaching problem. I am a ‘Wengerian’ but I must finally acknowledge that… here on this blog i really like to read.

  26. @bob at 1:17 pm

    “sex “tends now to refer to biological differences, while . . . [gender] often refers to cultural or social ones.”

    I never snarled once when writing my response to Fishpie. And I’m assuming you are not as arrogant and pompous as your comment can be interpreted.

  27. I have had season tickets at Arsenal since 1955 and realised at the beginning of Wenger’s reign we were seeing something very special happening that had not happened to Arsenal since the 1930s. We were becoming a World class team with wonderful players , new ideas for players fitness and a scouting method second to none. The manager was beguiling suave and multi-lingual . We had seen nothing like him. The world stood and admired our club and players wanted to join us.

    Move forward to today and we have a team in disarray, a board delighted to make a profit every year and a manager whose methods have been not only copied by every other team in the league but also in many cases surpassed. I do not iknow if the board is to blame for a lack of finance but even if that is the case the manager must take much of the flak for many of the faults that appear at the club.

    He prevaricates far to long on transfers , losing high quality players at the last minute and not replacing them. He will only buy the bargains on the market place not realising that times have moved on and hidden gems are hard to find as every team in the land knows about them and you have to pay the going price. Hence we have many overpaid poor buys in the reserves whom we are unable to shift at any price and who are happy to collect excessive wages.

    As for his tactics I cannot fathom why his full first team did not start against Blackburn and when we might be comfortably ahead substitute them..the general discussion around me even before the match started questioned this policy so it wasn ‘t hindsight. Blackburn was our best chance of silverware this year.

    His press conferences have become erratic and whatever goodwill he has garnered over the years is being eroded by the week.

    I am afraid he is now past his sell by date and much as I admire and like the man I now feel his tenure should come to an end in a dignified manner and let an able young manager come along with fresh ideas.

  28. Arguably one of the best blogs on Untold in years. Thanks Fish for starting it; thanks Tony for running it and thanks to most contributors for maintaining a positive vibe.

    Keep the faith.

  29. Old Man, what you say about transfers may once have rung true, but the recent ones have been encouraging.
    That team put out against Blackburn should have beaten them, but again, we gave away a stupid soft goal with Blackburns only chance
    Only speaking for myself, but goodwill from the UK media from press conferences would rank very low on priorities, some of them have hung wenger out to dry since day 1
    I am not saying there is not room for debate or changes at all levels, far from it however youth is not always the answer as countless clubs have /will realise. Wenger is not finished yet, he has huge experience compared to young manager, maybe he just needs to alter his approach a little. I would feel for a young manager with the pressure he would be under with this job. Gordon Strachan said last night Wenger is a better manager than he was 10 years ago, just his players arent as good. I think this has been trying his patience. He clearly does not want to spend time with more basic coaching, he maybe thinks his players are beyond that? This can be fixed

  30. I agree with the conclusion of the article inasmuch that the past is no real indicator for the future. I would still argue that all clubs will face disappointments at some point in their life, and as such, all supporters will have to learn to deal with them. Accept them even. Now, acceptance does not mean that they meekly go along believing that it is ok. Acceptance means being realistic about where the club is, and where it intends to be, and how to get there.

    You are right that Arsenal haven’t been as successful as they could have been. But I don’t know what that means really. Did we have it in us to be more successful? Everyone does. But this is where I have a problem with the history not being related to the future. I believe history does have an effect on the team. If we had as rich a history as Bayern, or Milan, we’d view ourselves differently. An institution has a life of its own. And the story of that life affects the persons who are part of that institution. The Invincibles didn’t win in Europe because I don’t think they quite truly believed that they belonged at the top end of European football. Because Arsenal had never been there before.

    Of course there are other factors as to the refereeing standards being different between England and Europe, and also between Northern and southern teams domestically. Plus that we couldn’t compete in Europe while English clubs were banned.

    As to your 5 points,
    1)I do not see the shareholders selling the shares and keeping the money as betrayal. I don’t see why anyone would. It would have been an immense gesture if they had donated their money to the club, but that they didn’t hardly qualifies as betrayal.

    2)Who else were they supposed to sell to? An owner who has no experience of owning any sports team of any kind, rather has made his money through investing in shares of growing companies?

    3)Really? So a vision statement by Kroenke would have appeased people? Gazidis has repeatedly marked out that vision statement and yet it does nothing to pacify the supporters. If anything they get more wound up about it. Kroenke is a least-interference type of owner. He delegates responsibility to professionals. And there is something to be said for that model of ownership. In fact, I prefer that to some others.

    4) How do you know what structure exists inside the club? You don’t. Opinion is not fact, and there is very little there to draw inference from. But half truths have become the norm to explain away things which aren’t easy to explain. Why can’t people just accept that they don’t know everything, and don’t have the right to know everything, instead of making up facts as they go along. To some extent, we all do it. But when that ‘fact’ becomes the basis of further action/emotions, that is just plain wrong.

    5)This again is supposition, but with some more basis to it. We do not know how much money is there, what players were available, what stage negotiations were at with some of them, or why they broke down. But we do know that Arsenal have SOME cash. How much is not clear. Figures vary wildly. We also know that not all of this cash can be used for transfers. Some of it is for running expenses, some as bank security. The rest is for transfers and wages. Not knowing the parts we don’t know, we can’t say where precisely the club failed. We could certainly do with some better players though, and money is an issue, if not the only issue. Another thing we don;t know is the strategy. Why we haven’t spent, and whether we will soon. (My guess is we will once we get the money from the commercial deals)

    It is increasingly frustrating to hear that Arsenal are ‘settling’ or ‘comfortable’ not being at the top. Yes, business and long term concerns might have dominated Arsenal for some time, but Arsenal’s entire project is the most ambitious in recent football history. It is also the most challenging. We’re almost at the end of another stage of the process of becoming a truly global giant. Trophies will be literally the crowning aspect. To give up now, would be shameful.

  31. But most people who complain about virtually every aspect of the club at the moment, will also be the ones to claim the club’s glory as their own, once the club wins trophies again. Negative commentors are always right. They cannot be proven wrong because the argument is that they are only being negative because they want better for the club. Since no one is perfect, it means everyone can be better. And when finally the club wins again, they can say they have been proven right by pointing to one thing or the other. So it’s a low risk, nothing to lose strategy. Like I said. Shameful.

  32. Mandy Dodd i hear what you say and I to some some extent agree, but did you not see that goal coming on Saturday. It happens to often one attack from the opposition and they score. I reiterate that I question much of the way Wenger runs the team. The team has not been great defensively for most of the season, i know there are injuries but every team has those but nobody defends corners like we do–abominably. Every time a corner comes in we fear the worst and this has got to be down to Wenger and his staff. He waited far too long to pull Gervino (who was awful) off and then he puts all the subs on together dirupting the whole team whereupon they score.

    His tactics have rarely changed waiting nearly always till 65 minutes to make the changes, i wish he was more proactive rather than reactive.. He could learn much from Ferguson.

  33. @Old man at 5:38 pm

    Tom Watt the host of the Fans Forum on Arsenal TV shown on Monday night prepares well for fielding questions from fans. He has analyzed the issue of “defending set pieces”. And low and behold most teams in the EPL concede from set pieces. Arsenal is not the worst by any stretch of the imagination. Strange, because I ‘feel’ that we do. But cold, dispassionate analysis suggests otherwise. Arsenal’s defensive problems are not only down to the back 5, they include the rest of the team too…

  34. Unfortunately, I did see that goal coming Old Man, just seen the Georgaki response as well. Whatever the stats, still think we need to work on the defence. Despite a few defensive flaws, think we really could have done with Gibbs last night, he can cause real problems, but thats for another debate. As for Fergie, their defence has looked very suspect at times, but luckily for them ,to bail them out they have 4 top international strikers reputedly between them earning around £600-650kpw), they have numerous wingers, Nani is …what, third choice? Then the MF, Cleverly does not always get a game, and they can afford to keep the likes of Giggs and Scholes just incase. Yes we have wage inefficiencies etc, but we cannot run the way those clubs can.
    Agree Georgaki, our defending does not always come down to the back 5. The amount of times I have seen Szez look like he wants to punch Artetas lights out as opponents have streamed through.
    We will get better, just a very bad week in a less than satisfactory year or three. So much anger, frustration and negativity. some self inflicted, some caused by the many with a vested interest in harming us, but some of the most damage, in my opinion anyway was caused by the ex captain in his disgraceful attempt to ensure Wenger did not hold him to his last year. The players should remember that next time they, with the honourable exception of Bac have their pre match lovein with VP.

  35. @Georgaki

    I’m sorry but as an ecominist I have to say that what the three men you mentioned have to say about shady money is a smoke screen at least. They all work with big banks which launder all kinds of shady money. In fact most of them recently got caught fixing the LIBOR and HSBC got caught laundering money for terrorists and drug cartels. Good people our bankers…and football executives

  36. One can only agree with much of what this piece says – with one notable exception and that is the vast underplaying of the financial doping at Chelsea and Man City. But for these situations we would have entered the second half of Wengers 16 years at Arsenal with a much stronger financial situation (relative to all others) than that enjoyed during the first (highly successful) half. That relative improvement was removed by the two billion pounds spent by those two other clubs – much of it spent undermining our position either directly by tempting players away from us or indirectly by outbidding us for other bplayers that we might otherwise have bought.
    That period of time is now drawing to a close. All the evidence suggests that the spending of those two clubs will, at very least, be more restrained than has been the case over the last few years. Meanwhile our situation will be significantly enhanced. Newly negotiated sponsorship deals will now remove the need for revenue from the stadium to be used to pay the mortgage on that stadium. In fact, including the kit deal, we may never have to find another penny from fans to pay those mortgage bills again. That’s very good news if you’re worried about ticket price rises.
    This releases £20m a year which could be close to doubled as the salaries of many non-productive players (either out on loan or just not used) get removed from the wage bill as their contracts come to an end over the next 12 months or so.
    Without the same level of inflationary pressure caused by Chelsea and Man City the market for players could even fall in cost terms just at the same time as our ability to work within it improves substantially.
    I have rarely been more optimistic about the future of my club and rarely had so much hard eveidence on which to base that optimism.

  37. @insiderright I think your point on finacial doping at Chelsea and City is too oversimplified and narrow. After all increased spending happened accross the board with Barcelona, RM and later PSG, Zenit and Anzhi joining the party. Despite this inflationary pressures the clubs like Dortmund and Bayern were able to build competitive teams either on the small budget or with reasonable investment.

    Arsenal policy to maintain postive transfer balance introduced around 07/08 season was not the result of Chelsea or City spending. During Invicinbiles era Arsenal operated with regular transfer net loss. E.g. in the period between 00/01-05/06 the total transfer balance was 84M loss or 14M per year. Which adjusted to inflation is roughly equivalent what Bayern spent in the last 5 years. You see there is simple explanation why Invincibles were able to compete at the highest level.

  38. @insideright. I really wish I could share your optimism, and much as I hope that your analysis of the spending potential comes to fruition there are other underlying issues that worry me greatly. Top of my list is the staleness and lack of leadership that permiates the club right now. I can accept that we have an owner who is not hands-on as it is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact most clubs are in that position (Do you hear Spurs fans talk much about Joe Lewis?) and I hate the Abramovich model, with all that it stands for.

    However, who is there to drive the club forward in the same way that David Dein, Danny Fiszman and Wenger did more than a decade ago. I know Dein is a contraversial name these days, and I’m not advocating his return, but you have to admit that he had energy which just isn’t there now.

    We have a Board full of old men, who may have served us well in the past, but now and for the future? No way. It’s accepted that Peter Hill-Wood has been there as a figurehead for many years now. Good for stability and all that. But do we need a figurehead now? I think not.

    This brings me to Arsene. To me he seems increasingly tired and stressed. When he speaks about the team and the players (usually to defend them) the same words come out but less and less convincingly. Does he really believe there is a great era just around the corner? I am really unsure if he has that belief deep down, and if he hasn’t then there is no way that the players will either.

    I worked in management for more years than I care to remember. There is an old truism that effectiveness at the top of organisations is cyclical, which is enscribed in a phased called ‘Forming, storming, norming and performing’ where the team peaks at at the performing stage. After that, unless things are dramatically freshened-up, they inevitably go into a slow decline called ‘mourning’. That is where I feel the club is today. Dramatically in need of some fresh, hungry people at the top who can connect with the aspirations of staff and fans alike.

  39. “Newly negotiated sponsorship deals will now remove the need for revenue from the stadium to be used to pay the mortgage on that stadium”
    What are your figures on this? And do you factor in the impact of a worsening economy on current paying fans’ ability to afford the existing ticket prices? Imo, you can’t assume that paid attendance as a constant, unshakeable revenue stream.

  40. Georgaki-Pyrovolitis,
    Thanks for the sociology lesson in the difference between gender and sex, but like you say, that’s well known in many circles nowadays. Even I know it. So where’s the arrogance. My point is two-fold: snarling primate avatar or not, why bring up Fishpie’s gender/sex at all? And, just to clarify, does what you call my arrogance reside in my raised eyebrow to your unqualified assertion that cancer research is the straightforward and earnest enterprise that you claim for it?

  41. When I was watching Real Madrid x ManU, the commentator said that only 4 managers had completed more than 100 games in the UCL. He named Mourinho and Ferguson and before he could conclude the rest I thought ‘Ancelotti and Wenger’.
    All these managers won the UCL not once but TWICE and yet Wenger never won the trophy despite many years in the competition.
    Wenger is the only manager to have lost all 3 UEFA finals.
    It seems he couldn’t inject a winning mentality to his teams in these competitions.
    Now, the problem is not only that lack of a winning mentality.
    Wenger didn’t bother to study the opposition AGAIN! He was so deluded that he thought he could beat Bayern without a game plan. No tactics again and ZERO motivation skills. Why was I not surprised? Because he keeps doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results (thank you Einstein).
    He was once again exposed for the whole world to see. Truly embarrassing…

  42. @fishpie –
    While I philosophically disagree with your assessment of the Arsenal Way as “underachieving” — if you want a team that wins the title every year, Olympiacos may be more your style. The stakes, particularly in UEFA-wide tournaments, are high enough that year-in-year-out dominance is unrealistic.

    As to your suggestions about ownership, that “by not declaring in words or actions that he was there to achieve great things, [Kroenke] effectively established instead a culture of complacency” is hand-wavey nonsense. I suppose the best way to manage a defense is to say, “Make fewer mistakes!”, and if that’s not enough, maybe put it on a poster and hang it in the dressing room.

  43. Look it’s obvious to any commoner that we are a shadow of the team we once were. We need more players who have the fight and hunger. More players like Super Jack. Wenger can keep saying one day this team will perform. He said that when we had Fabregas, Van Persie, Nasri etc. Guess what these players dont have the patience to hang around they want pay back now. we need players who deliver now not who offer promise.

  44. All the Boardmembers who sold their shares should have been MADE to donate some of their profits to the club.Fizman should have put it in his will that his family did the same.Selling their shares has set these families up for generations;they have made HUGE profits.They have left themselves open to the accusation that the stadium move was driven by a personal desire to make money rather than for the good of the club.Shame.

  45. I feel sorry for Wenger, somewhere down the line he did this to himself. I agree a lot of problems have occurred due to a chronic lack of investment. But I quickly take a look at the invincible team, Petit and Viera remind me of Schweinsteiger and Martinez if I’m frank. Wenger knew at the time, that was a very successful platform and a solid spine to a team. I don’t get why Wenger abandoned what worked for him. Surely there are players out there that can do a similar job to a Petit/Viera partnership and that wouldn’t also cost a fortune? It’s sad to see the great man wilt like this but I do believe a big change is needed.

  46. Linz

    Yes. We should all take decisions in our life based on avoiding what our detractors might say. No one MADE the board not take dividends from the club for years either. They never took money out of the club except in the form of salaries. What you demand should have happened means forcing someone to put their money into something. Why? Because they are rich and can afford it? Maybe you should give away a sizeable portion of your income to the millions who are living in poverty. I’m sure you seem very rich to them too.

  47. Let’s accept that investment (or lack of) has played a huge part in the quality of player brought in since 2005. What I find difficult to accept though is the lack of squad depth and balance over the subsequent period. How many times do we find ourselves in trouble because of insufficient cover in key positions because of injuries, suspensions or poor form?

    Yesterday we were unable to field a proper left back, resulting in Vermaelen playing out of postion. Whatever you may think about him as a central defender, as a full back he is not even Premiership quality let alone Champions League.

    At the same time we have blown money on players like Gervinho and Santos (best part of £15 million or more between them) who are clearly not good enough. Even though the jury is still out, questions are even now being raised about Mertesacker, Podolski and Giroud even though they are supposed to be ready-made for the top level.

    Compared with the smart signings of the likes of Veira, Petit, Lungberg, Pires and Henry (not for astronomical fees) our recent signings are questionable value for money. I was going to cite Arteta as a possible exception, then I remembered that he is now played as a defensive midfielder where again I wonder if he really suited.

  48. I liked the article lot of truth in there we do have problems that have to be sorted but the fact is bayern proberley. Would have done that to most of the teams in the champs league I am a gambler and my money is going on them to win it they were awesome Were not that bad and it will not take a lot to fix what is wrong my biggest fear is mr. Wenger may have lost the crowd which will effect the team I hope this is not the case as I still feel he is the right man for us . At least we owe him the chance to qualify us for next years champs league that would be the least I would expect for the greatest manager we have ever had whatever happens we need to show dignity as arsenal fans and if it is time for mr.wenger give up the reigns I for one would want him as director of football .

  49. Milan have just ground out a result against a superior Barca team, I don’t think our team could do that. Mentally shot for more the 2 seasons, Wenger may well be damaged.

    How long did we stick with the likes of Alumina\Denilson\Bendtner, now we have another lot we can’t offload.

    Defensively we’ve been a shambles for some time, our progress or lack of has now effected the much of the fans. The majority supported Wenger but now it’s equally divided, more and more are turning against him.

    Is it the board or Wenger, something needs to give.

  50. Brilliant discussion on this guys, extremely informative, entertaining and provoking. Credit to all involved.
    One thing for certain is that this great club WILL win a trophy in the future. Hopefully sooner rather than later, but whether it be the Coca cola/ Milk/ littlewoods/ carling/ Capitol one cup, the FA cup, EPL, CL or the inter galactic federation of planets championship, we WILL win again . Can you imagine the party that all loyal Gooners are going to have that night? It will be sooo much sweeter than if we won every year.
    I just hope that Le Boss is at the helm when we do it.
    Let’s all get behind the team to grab 3rd place and look forward.

  51. Milan also got the sort of decision we’d never get, with their first goal scored as a result of a ball dropping for their player after a handball.

  52. @dan Yeah there are quite a few parallels between Arsenal vs Bayern and AC Milan vs Barcelona games. Both Arsenal and Milan are the teams that are going through transformations adn are shades of former selves. Both faced a superior opponent a favorite to win CL this year. Yet Milan got the result through grit, determination, discipline and spot on tactics. So what do they have that Arsenal do not?

  53. Arsenal are too slow. This is why they have trouble breaking down defences. As good as Wilshere and Arteta are, they spend far too much time on the turn or controlling it before releasing, by which time, players have gotten back into their positions and runs are being tracked. The old Arsenal played one touch stuff and broke quickly, thus players couldn’t get back in time and the likes of Pires and Henry ran riot.

    * The problem of the goalkeeper is what has hindered Arsenal over the last seven seasons. Almunia was not the best, whilst Fabianski, Mannone and Scziezncy are not yet of required physique or mentality to keep goal for a club challenging for serious honours. In other areas of the pitch, they are not too bad, but Wenger should have spent c.£20M on a quality left winger aged around 28 or so to deliver consistently whilst the likes of Walcott and the Ox are/were learning their trade. Before you say ‘Arshavin’ and ‘Reyes’ – both were never genuine wingers, but maybe Wenger should have persisted. Take Bayern last night as a good example. Lahm, Kroos and Muller – all youth products at one stage – are balanced out with high-peak performers such as Robben, Ribery and Gomez. Why was this approach not taken at Arsenal? Great youth prospects but not matched by peak career professionals at the high end of the quality scale. They should have the cash from Champions League participation, league revenue, TV rights and matchday income to offset this despite the cost of a colossally brilliant stadium.

    * Faith in below-par players, probably as a result of their salaries, has stagnated the playing squad. Wenger’s faith has been one of his best qualities, but Ferguson also possesses this trait. The key difference is that if Fergie deems you not good enough, or not putting in the required effort or performance level, you are quickly shown the door. This ensures a high level of commitment from United players which manifests itself in better sequences of results. This does not seem to be the case at Arsenal whereby players either leave due to the perceived notion of not winning anything, or they quietly have a few seasons of loan moves as they unwilling to part from lucrative contracts so easily.

    * Not offering Ashley Cole an extra £5K per week could have been the biggest mistake in Wenger’s career. As much as I hate the idea, and how morally repugnant it was at the time, he should have kept him. That way, Arsenal would have retained the services of the best left-back in world football over the past decade, would have had a long-standing club captain, and most importantly, would have signalled their intent to keep their best players on their terms. Vieira, Pires and Henry were allowed to leave for high transfer fees in the wane of their careers to other leagues. Cole’s case was different as he was only around 24 (I think) at the time and was sold to a divisional rival. As much as I agree with Wenger about the unsustainability of the likes of City and Chelsea whose entire squads are full of players earning c.£100K plus per week, realistically, Arsenal may only need to attract around four of these players, which should be achievable if you cut the dead wood from the squad and therefore the weekly wage bill. The status of this club both on and off the pitch should guarantee to attract the top talent, so why has this not been implemented?

  54. Well thought article Fishpie.

    On one point, the lack of trophies, I hold dispute, because even in my memory I think Arsenal could have won the league twice in the last few years of ‘trophy drought’. And I do not think the team is on a downward cycle, I think they are on an upward cycle. Its a new team and as some Arsenal bloggers have pointed out, everyone except Sagna is now on a long term or newly signed contract. The team rhythm is not there yet one hundred percent, but it is coming.

    And for myself, I would not wish that Arsenal had the sort of domination of Man Utd, who as we all know, would have won a lot less in the last years if not for referee cheating. The media has a narrative of what is going on with the team, but just watching and observing the players on the field puts lie to their claims.

    But fair play to you, Fishpie. You do not seem to be a doomer, just wishing onwards and upwards for your club. Please do not take my response as provocative, as that was not my intention.

  55. Milan won because they restricted the trio i.e messi, xavi & iniesta. We lost because we could not. However, this is the end of first leg & milan will have to face barca at camp nou. They surely must have learnt a lesson from their away game at emirates. Nevertheless, barca is still the favorites to go through.

  56. @Nannu, “But I quickly take a look at the invincible team, Petit and Viera remind me of Schweinsteiger and Martinez if I’m frank”. I don’t get why Wenger abandoned what worked for him?

    Petit left the club 3 years before the Arsenal team that became known as the invincibles went the whole campaign unbeaten. Just thought you might like to know this bit of trivial information.

  57. dan

    True.. I did mention yesterday that was lucky.. I still don’t think both decisions are equal because well..a corner is a corner..but true enough. We had some luck yesterday with a wrongly awarded corner.

    I get that there’ll be some criticism when Arsenal play badly. What I don’t understand that there needs to be criticism of Arsenal while discussing a match in which Arsenal weren’t even playing. Milan played well. (I only say the second half) Good for them. How does their performance (in one match at that) relate to Arsenal? It doesn’t. Not really. It’s like teenage girls feeling uncomfortable in their bodies because of what they think they see with celebrities.

  58. @Shard I’m a die hard fan of Shakhtar Donetsk. That cames from growing up in the area and having multiple generations of Shakhtar fans in the family. I ‘discovered’ Arsenal in late 80s and they have been my English team since then. But I cannot call myself a die hard Arsenal fan.

  59. Andrei

    Cool. It’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever once seen you say something positive about Arsenal on this site. That’s what prompted me to ask you whether you were an Arsenal fan. I kind of always assumed you were a Chelsea fan.

  60. @Shard

    Arsenal/Milan are the under dogs pitched against 2 teams rated the best. Both going through a transitional period, both being questioned by the fans.

  61. I always thought you were Russian Andrei but am not surprised to find out you are Ukrainian. Whats the price of petrol over there brother? Are you still in Ukraine?

  62. @Shard “How does their performance (in one match at that) relate to Arsenal”

    It provides a valid context to analyze Arsenal’s performance and the challenges the team is facing. E.g. how often have you seen such gritty and displined performance from Arsenal recently? Will spending more on players improve team tactics?

  63. Dan,

    So if Milan win, Arsenal are failures? With one match each, the narrative of an entire period of history of a club can be written objectively? Not for me..

  64. @Adam Minnesota is the place I call home nowadays. But spend quite a bit of time in Singapore and Eastern Europe where I travel for business.

  65. Andrei

    Spending more on players should hopefully ensure that players carry out their tactics more effectively, or better yet, just impose their style of play on the opposition.

    Forget the comparison between Milan and Arsenal for a second and let’s make a comparison between Arsenal and Barca. Both teams like to play possession football, hardly ever play long ball, have defensive weaknesses etc.. Barca dominated possession, and lost to an inferior team which played with grit and had tactics, and even had some luck go their way. Sound familiar? So can we now objectively say Barca are useless?

    Finding some similarities between teams, using one result in isolation, and extrapolating that to being valid context for comparison of two clubs’ growth patterns is hardly what I would call ‘valid’.

  66. dan

    As I said, it is as relevant as saying that Arsenal and Barca are at similar levels because both clubs have recently lost in similar circumstances.

    It is one thing to note it as creditable that Milan beat Barca, and perhaps also the way they did it. It is quite another to criticise Arsenal for not being Milan, which in itself is a supposition that we couldn’t do it.

  67. @Shard I’m not calling Arsenal ‘useless’ or ‘failure’ – lets get this out of the way. On the topic Barca and Arsenal imo suffer from the same inflexibility in ther tactics. Today Milan applied very effective tactics to neutralize Barca’s attack. Barcelona had zero clear cut chances. Yet they were unable to adjust or change anything. Sound familiar? Another reason why that game provides a valid context.

  68. @Shard

    I think your being picky, Milan effectively employed tactic’s to keep Barca at bay, when was the last team we managed that against a superior opponent?

  69. Shame I was going to ask you to get me an Eduardo shaktar shirt and i’d return the favour with a gooner of your choice. Hope lifes treating you well state side.

  70. A valid context for what? Making an observation about some tactical similarities between Arsenal and Barca? I already did that. Making note of similarities between Milan and Arsenal (although I’m not sure to what extent those are true) But to make judgements on a club’s strategy based on one result?

    Also, It depends what you mean by ‘tactics’. Completely turning into a defensive minded team? Yeah, we don;t do that. But to say that we have no variation in tactics is a falsehood. They are just more subtle changes than the kind of formation changes, or getting 10 men behind the ball sort of tactics that everyone seems fascinated by.

  71. @shard

    But to make judgements on a club’s strategy based on one result?

    May well not be the club’s, but the manager’s strategy on the game!

  72. dan

    “Milan have just ground out a result against a superior Barca team, I don’t think our team could do that. Mentally shot for more the 2 seasons, Wenger may well be damaged.

    How long did we stick with the likes of Alumina\Denilson\Bendtner, now we have another lot we can’t offload.

    Defensively we’ve been a shambles for some time, our progress or lack of has now effected the much of the fans. The majority supported Wenger but now it’s equally divided, more and more are turning against him.

    Is it the board or Wenger, something needs to give.”

    The majority of your post is about players we can’t offload, about Wenger being damaged, the effect on the fans etc. That is not to do with a game and an analysis on varying tactical approaches.

  73. @Sperez – please do not ruin a civil debate with the tenor with which you comment on Arsene Wenger. I do not agree with much of what Fishpie is saying but it was stated with an agreeable tone and included some justifications. Your comments on the other hand would be useful only if you could convince me that you KNOW that Mr. Wenger didn’t look at the other team, that you somehow KNOW that he had no tactics. Otherwise you have no credibility
    @ Stroller – The “forming storming, norming, performing” (model not truism) does not refer at all to “unless things are freshened up they go into ‘Mourning'” You are taking a group formation and performance model and misusing it. Tuckman added ‘adjourning’ to it if the task is completed. Having said that, IF the board is dysfunctional and IF Wenger is tired and IF he does not believe what he says then I might agree with you. On the other hand, the evidence is…where? Just your opinion, right?

  74. @Shard

    I found it baffling, almost hysterical that you refuse to acknowledge my post is really questioning our approach to a big game with such naivety.

  75. Untold Arsenal is one of the few blogs that seem to be keeping sane even as all hell breaks loose among Gooners. I wholly with the above article. Arsenal never were a club perennially challenging for trophies. We have only 13 first division champpionships in 125 years of existence. Do the math people !! 8 years is nothing in the long run.
    Arsene Wenger has given us a world class stadium, a flourishing youth academy and an identity, an ethos, a style of football which has set us apart from the run of the mill(ionaire) clubs.

    That said, these are trying times to be an Arsenal fan !! But, i have loved AFC for the last 14 years and will continue to do so. I believe i am witnessing the transformation of a successful but patchy club into a modern footballing giant to be mentioned in the same breath as Ajax, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich !!!

  76. dan

    Where do you talk of the game except in the first line? Where is the discussion on the merits or demerits of certain tactics? No, Milan’s win against Barcelona is just a platform to bring up all the criticism levelled against the club in recent years, deadwood, Wenger being damaged, defensive shambles, fans getting exasperated, Wenger or board the problem etc.

    If you claim that only the first 20 words of your post are valid, then why bother writing the rest?

  77. Andrei,

    I haven’t watched the game again. I haven’t had the time these last few weeks to do so. I never notice tactics much while watching the game live. I’m too caught up in it. I need a more dispassionate approach towards it. Something I’d recommend.

  78. Oh but starting Theo instead of Giroud, is a tactic. Playing cazorla out wide, is a tactic. whether you agree with them being good tactics or not is a different issue. But it does exhibit fairly obvious tactical flexibility.

  79. @Shard

    I’ve pretty much spelt it out for you, but, you refuse to note any criticism towards our manager.

    Okay, matter not each to their own!

    Bye, off to bed.

  80. and while we’re at it, a lack of tactical flexibility, is also a tactic. But I’m sure this statement is going to be twisted around because it’ll be misunderstood.

  81. “I believe i am witnessing the transformation of a successful but patchy club into a modern footballing giant ”
    Vinay N,
    Could be. I’d like to believe it. I don’t disbelieve it. But, in these trying times, as you say, what is the basis for your assertion? Please make an argument. We can all have opinions.

  82. Vinjay N,
    Specifically: Where is the flourishing youth academy making itself felt today on our pitch? What’s in the pipeline that will make a difference on our pitch? Where is that brilliant style of football being played on our pitch, as it once was (not that long ago)? Apart from the Emirates, what are the grounds for your claim to a massive turnaround now being effected as we speak? I want to be convinced, mind you, but today, I don’t see this occurring. I would suspect that more will go on in today’s meeting of the Board, Manager and Owner to give substance to your claim, or not. We can’t know (yet) what really will go on. There is talk of a new 70M “war chest” to be put at AW’s command. But there’s been talk of AW’s having money to spend for the last year, but it doesn’t get spent outside a zero net transfer balance policy – which, imo, has been a stop gap – not part of the great turnaround that you claim is in progress, and that I have wished would be so.

  83. @bob: I can see why you say that. We seem to have stagnated a bit in the last last three years, I agree. A lot of that has to do with the money that poured into football. Wenger, idealistic as he is, has refused to go down that route and that has cost us a lot of good players. He, either chose to or was forced to, sign average players resulting in “playing the the handbrake on”. I dont believe Wenger is a senile fool not to see what is happening out there. There has to be something more at work.

    We have seen that, continued success is never possible for any club. There is always a cycle of change. But, the ideology and the style of play is what defines a club ala Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern , Ajax. Chelsea and Man City are trying to bypass the hard work phase to become an elite club. That is never sustainable. We can see some of the effects of FFP. Man City didnt splurge as usual, did they??

    We have academy graduates playing out there for us like Wilshere, Gibbs, Frimpong !! Even Walcott, Szczesny, Fabregas, Ramsey were trained at Arsenal from a young age, even though they cant be called academy graduates. This is one reason why i keep faith in a better future.

    Also, We were never a European heavyweight before Wenger arrived. He has put us on the map. Barcelona won their first European title in 1992, 20 years after Cruijff first appeared on the scene.

    I will concede that, despite all his enormous contribution to Arsenal FC, Wenger as any manager, is not bigger than the club. We have to acknowledge the fact that he may have taken Arsenal as far as he can go. But that can be done during the post season, and not like this. What are we accomplishing other than undermining an already fragile team confidence by booing them at every opportunity. I dont see any “fans” offering solutions. You have to take the bad with the good, as simple as that. DB10, when asked about the lack of trophies at Arsenal replied ” I like Arsenal. But you, do you like Arsenal or Arsenal with trophies?”

    My view point may look romantic and idealistic or even stupid to some. But as far as I am concerned, I like the sport of football. And i like Arsenal FC because they are going about their football in the right spirit.

  84. An excellent article, well balanced not over the top like the red tops, talk sport & Stewart Robson

  85. Stuart for me that is link of the year. Things are not great this season questions remain but as this says without wenger we could be villa. lets see how the spuds and pool cope when they loSe their best players this summer. Not as we’ll as us I would guess wonder if the media will be so harsh on them? Wenger should stop talking to them and communicate on the official site do what fergie did and send someone else out for interviews. Bad seasons do not ruin a very bright future. But please get a song replacement !

  86. Should be interesting it is now on the gooner forum. I wonder what the negative brigade make of it?

  87. I will add to my post lets see how spuds and pool cope with stadium payments as well, when they happen….and how will the media portray any associated difficulties?

  88. @Stuart

    Excellent link.


    I agree about a new DM – with Stoke in mind maybe we should sign up Sheamus or Ryback from WWE!

    OK, I am joking, but I don’t think we are too far off being a top team and one addition I would like to see would be a DM with height, pace & attitude in addition to skill and intelligence.

  89. Some comments from other forums about the racing post article-

    “I switched off when he started waffling on about the brand new stadium.
    The idea is to win games, something which doesn’t seem important to some.
    Apologies as I didn’t read the whole article as it was long and boring and frankly could have been written by an WKB supporter”

    “F****** hell what a s*** article with all the points plucked from the AKBs’ f***** up propaganda filled minds.”

    “Full of opinion but not backed up by facts.
    If “Stylish Football” is watching an unco-ordinated fence mess up repeatedly then I hate to think what unstylish football is”

  90. @ Stuart – Thanks for that link .Nice to see that there are many who believe and articulate well .Unlike those jerks who pop in here to rant mindlessly.

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