Has Wenger and his youth project utterly failed?

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In the many comments on the post re the Wigan game there were a number that said that we should recognise that Wenger and his youth project had failed.  One in particular caught my eye: it said that it was harder to recognise this and face it than it was simply to sit at home and say, “Wenger is great”.  But recognise it we should.

As it happened I was away over the weekend, and not in Wigan, so I didn’t see the match – I watched it in a pub.   But having read this before setting out on the long journey home late on Sunday evening, I thought about this.  Four big points came up as I pondered, and if you have a moment I would like to share them with you.

First: is Arsenal now in failure mode?

Certainly if your approach is to say that winning trophies is success, then clearly we have failed.  Apart from the Youth Cup last year, the Championship of the Youth Team with about two months to spare this year, and the inevitable double of the Women’s Team each year (which I suspect most readers won’t count) we have not been winning things.  So on that basis yes a failure.

But there are other criteria.  Others will of course disagree with me, but the fact that we have played in the Champs League for each of the past, what is it, ten years? is a success for me.  I think only two other teams have done this.

That means consistently being in the top four clubs in what is considered the hardest league in the world.

I don’t mean to say that I am satisfied and don’t want more, but I find there is a land of difference between utterly satisfied (the Unbeaten Season, the Double Seasons) and total dissatisfaction (Bruce Rioch’s season, the endless years of winning nothing before the 1971 double…)   It is a period in which I am not totally satisfied, but I feel good about where we are and what we are doing.  I see better times ahead.

So I personally don’t feel that we are in failure mode.  If you do, fair enough, its your view, and as I have said many times before I won’t cut out your comments if you choose to come here.  But you must recognise that there are many other sites where the editors and regular writers are much more in line with your thinking.

Second, are we doing more than hanging on? Put another way, are we moving towards a better future?

I certainly think so, because I think the youth project is working, and because I look at the clubs around us, and consider what they are up to.

I’ll deal with the youth project in a moment, but for now, I want to talk about context.  It is one of the concepts that I think is often ignored, and that I feel leads to a distorted view.

The current climate is one in which two teams can spend anything on any player they want, while other teams have tried to stay on top by spending money they don’t have.  Others again in an attempt to get the money have opened themselves up to financial disaster by believing in people who come riding in promising the earth.

Arsenal has not gone down any of these routes, has built a magnificent stadium and training ground, has set up a network of spies across the world, and has made a profit each year.

Now this to me is important.  I genuinely believe that many of the clubs in the EPL are about to collapse and do a Leeds and a Portsmouth.  I know the regular view is that Man U is too big to go bust, and that the Red Knights will rescue them – but when I look and see that the man running the Red Knights is at Goldman Sachs (under FSA investigation), and I look at the level of debt, I don’t believe it.

Everything is of course down to one’s own analysis – but I do think one should give a reasoned answer as to why Arsenal should have followed the Man U, the Man C or the Tottenham model – or come to that the Aston Villa model.

My point is that all these models have failed.  The one that might look ok is the Chelsea/Man C model – but here there is still no response to the Uefa rulings on club finances other than to say “we don’t agree, and we reject them”.  The EPL takes that view (especially over the benefactor rule) but still nothing is moving.  As matters stand, if Man C / Chelsea continue to buy players from owner money, after next season they will not qualify for the Champs League.

So, in answer to “are we doing more than hanging on?” I would say yes – we are a top club, and the only club in the EPL that is ready for the new financial realities, and is regularly in the top four.  I would say that if you wish to judge Wenger properly you need to answer not just the success/failure question, but also a question that takes into effect the financial realities.

Third – the youth project.  Success or failure?

In fact there are two youth projects.  One involves bringing in young players from other clubs, nurturing them for a few years, maybe sending out on loan, and then either selling them at a profit because they don’t make it, or gradually bringing them into the first team.

The other involves bringing kids through from the age of 11 at Arsenal, and then as they mature, introducing them into the first team.

The latter of these two projects only started in earnest about seven years ago.  We had a youth system before that but it was not, for whatever reason, really successful at bringing many youngsters through.

However the group who won the youth double last season, and ran away with the youth league this year, were quite different.  I read that 9 of the 11 who were on the field for the youth cup final last season had been together since the age of 11.   They are now 17 and 18, and are looking to break forward into the first team.   That group are too young to have had much influence yet, but if you look at them you will see an astonishing achievement with them, with an amazing future to come.

So on the basis of bringing in 11 year olds and picking real talent, I think yes, we have success.

Let’s look at the players we bring in and nurture for a smaller number of years. Among such players at the moment we might consider…

  • Merida
  • Vela
  • Walcott
  • Clichy
  • Denilson
  • Fabregas
  • Song
  • Bendtner
  • Djourou
  • Diaby
  • Ramsey

Although some of these players were recognised when we bought them, none of them were major names of the type other clubs tend to buy.  As such they were not ready to slot into the team the moment we got them, but we have seen signs since that they may well become very good players.  Some of course have now matured into brilliant players.

I think that is one hell of a list.  Even if you are unhappy with a few of them – noting perhaps that Bendtner doesn’t work enough, Diaby is erratic, Denilson is lightweight, etc (and those are not my views) the fact is that we have brought these players through – and even if you take the doubts out it is a great list.

So if we combine the group that joined us around 11 years of age (the Jay Emmanuel Thomas gang) and the players who we brought in from elsewhere and who are making it through, I am not sure that the youth system is not working.

Fourth – the balance of youth and age isn’t right

This is the bit where the injuries have taken us apart.  Something like seven of our regular key players were out of the Wigan game, and six out of the Tottenham game.  And not just any old players.  The often cited spine of the team is an issue here: Fabregas, Arshavin, Van Persie, Gallas, Vermaelen, Ramsey, Song all lost to us.  Eduardo, still only a shadow of his former glory.

No, the balance of the team was not right for those games, because of the injuries.

We have now had 3 consecutive years of these injuries, and I think Arsene Wenger is now recognising that he has to assume that this change over the last three years is going to continue.

I saw one correspondent say that we get the injuries because they are injuries to youngsters – and youngsters get injured more easily.  I think not – Van Persie, Arshavin, Gallas, Vermaelen – these are not youngsters.

No, the injury issue comes from the change in tactics of the lesser clubs who have moved to Zero Football, and the increase in speed of the game.  It is that combination that leads to the injuries – and so we need a bigger squad.  It was not something we could have recognised before.

Fifth, in evaluating whether everything is a failure there must be a perspective.

We had a run of seven victories, and then we stumbled, as the injury crisis just got worse and worse, day by day.  So we lost to Tottenham and Wigan at a time when we were not going to win the league.

Not nice.  Not welcome, but hardly enough to say, this is the end, we are useless, Wenger must go, his whole project has failed.

I don’t think it has failed at all.   And here’s the positive side

1.  We are financially viable and we are meeting the Uefa financial rules

2.  We do have a successful youth policy with a lot of players coming through who are stunning and brilliant.

3.  We have the money to go out and buy players, as I suspect we will this year.  Players who will overcome the problems we have faced through the unprecedented rise in injuries caused by Zero Football.  That will remove that problem.

4.  We have the continuity of time in the top levels of the EPL and Champs League that mean that we are ready to compete.

I do however have one worry.

The hysteria at not winning the league last season was disgraceful, and resulted in those of us who have a positive view of Wenger’s approach running a march through the streets to demonstrate in the final match against Stoke.

We now have the same hysteria again, and I fear that ultimately the negative views might persuade Wenger to move on, or simply retire.  If that happens suddenly and not in a planned way, I do fear for the club, because I just can’t see who has got the ability to run the club and keep us profitable.

And this really is my point.  We need the profit.  Although Ferguson and others are excellent managers who can win things, to do it they need massive sums to spend endlessly.   If Wenger were to go, we would have a manager like that, the debt would pile up, and sooner or later, we would be in the state of those around us – utterly broke and/or unable to meet Uefa financial regulations.

Occasionally I amuse myself (usually very late at night) thinking that maybe someone close to Mr Wenger might actually read the positive words that are put here, and pass them on to the top man.  If they ever do, I do hope they tell him, there are a lot of us out here who believe he is the greatest thing ever to happen to this club.  Greater than Norris who created the club, paid for Highbury, and brought in Chapman.  Greater than Chapman who gave us our first trophies.  Greater than Allison who gave us such success.

I would like those who think Wenger must go, to read the history of Herbert Chapman, and to remember that he arrived in 1925 (I think – as I said it is late at night) and didn’t start winning championships until 1931.  Just remember that.  He almost left, before he delivered.

Great revolutions can take time.   And yes, it could all be so easily thrown away.

Tony Attwood

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77 Replies to “Has Wenger and his youth project utterly failed?”

  1. Tony — Your worry is exactly my worry. There is no revolution without AW, and the danger is more from within than the press hordes from without.

    It’ll be a sad day if the reactionary wing of the Arsenal fan base causes him to leave.

  2. Tony what do you make of the Manager’s sudden shift of tone? Like I said on the last post (though it is more relevant here) I am quite worried that he will now renew his contract. He risked his entire reputation on these players and some of them have let him down greatly. Its getting to the point that many people are calling his methods a failure (i dont agree but thats not the point). Will he continue to risk his legacy? Does he feel he is letting the club down? I do not know what to make of the sudden change in his rhetoric…

  3. i like your arguments, but you missed the bigger picture man: the club is bigger than the manager. see what barca are doing. they rotate managers but they are still there: they are one of the biggest clubs in Europe. see Chelski, they have not won the PL after Morniho, but they are there towering above us. U can see different clubs and notice that the mananager is smaller than the club. This guy has done enough for the club. We respect him for his past success, but he has nothing to offer now. he is out of touch. I think he should goooooooooooooooo

  4. A dark night for dark thoughts indeed.Those of us with an historical perspective however, keep the faith. I look forward to Chelsea taking UEFA to the Court for the Arbitration of Sport when they are denied CL football.
    I look forward to an administrator being appointed at Old Trafford.
    I look forward to Liverpool fading into midtable obscurity and worse…..forever.
    It has been a bad month really but in a decade of insane spending and gross financial excess we have more than held our own.
    The season was already over barring a miracle before the loss today so in the end not alot changes. Those who feel the need to throw their toys out of the pram have that right but being a supporter means you support. Complaining about not getting your money’s worth means that even in your own eyes, you are at heart a customer and a difficult one at that.

    Nobody felt the losses as deeply as Arsene Wenger who has spent the last five seasons defending his players (who in fairness could have worked harder for him today)and also taking the flak for the board who quite obviously have been prioritising our cashflow elsewhere in preparation for the new UEFA guidelines and in paying for our beautiful new stadium.
    In a sense Arsene Wenger has been taking one for the team on two fronts for the last five years. I suspect that he will decide that in the last year of (currently) his last contract he will guard both the cash reserves and some of those players with less fervour and who could blame him.

    Those who call for his departure are without perspective, sense and indeed gratitude.Be careful what you wish for. Rather like government you tend to get the manager that you deserve…. Just ask Liverpool supporters. I am sure that their most recent CL trophy will seem like an old teapot as each year passes without their continued participation in that competition.
    People rarely appreciate what they have until it is gone. Whay should football fans be any different, especially those who have no living memory of pre-premiership football.

    You have my deepest respect Tony for continuing the effort of enlightening the Doom & Gloom brigade. I myself grew weary of it. They are simply too stupid to get it, their desires too vacuous to sate with reason.

    Wigan deserved their day in the sun. I’ll bet their fans appreciated it.Had we won, ours would have been whining in advance of the possibility of not getting their next fix. Like drug addicts they complain of quality and price and no amount will ever be enough if they have to subsequently endure going cold turkey.

  5. @MoMoney: It sounds more like he’s going to properly buy some ready-made players this summer. He both hinted at new signings (not just Chamakh but more) and stopped the talk about killing players. Perhaps Sol’s superb comeback has convinced Wenger that the experience/youth balance wasn’t quite right.

    Unlike the Catastrophists, I don’t think this squad needs a rehaul, just a bit of a tweak. An experienced keeper to fill in between the posts until Szczesny gains one (half-)season more of experience, an experienced DM to hold the fort while Denilson/Diaby/Eastmond/Someone grows into that role. Up front I’d say we’re doing really well and don’t need anyone else if Chamakh joins us. Sadly, I fear that spells doom for Eduardo, who appears to be a shadow these days. Maybe it’s just a bad loss of form, but sometimes he seems downright afraid of tackles. Not that I wouldn’t understand him, but it’s odd that this wasn’t the case when he came back but it is now…

    I also have a sneaky suspicion (and hope) that Wenger might have another Vermaelen lined up, which is why he’s letting Gallas go, not because he can’t offer him a 2 year deal. I’d personally be perfectly happy with a CB roster of: Vermaelen, Gallas/Djourou/new guy (based on form), Sol, Song ( in injury crisis) and Bartley.

    @Tony: Excellent points you make in the article. There’s one thing I think Arsenal should spend a pretty penny on, though: a world-class medical and fitness team. Somehow I fear something is not quite well with our medical team and I remember reading somewhere that the EPL is rather behind in terms of medical care, as opposed to some other leagues. Perhaps not true, but Arsenal’s medical staff is more like a family business than it is like a clinic made up of extraordinarily good specialists. We’ve got phenomenal players, shouldn’t we try our best to keep them fit? 🙂

  6. Thank god I found this blog. I was going out of my mind reading what some people have been saying. The defeat against Wigan hurt though, but I will recover at some point. Thank you for this well written blog. It reminded me of all the reasons why I support Wenger and this team. And I am a firm believer as well that we shouldn’t spend our way into oblivion just for a trophy. You’ve made some excellent points about our financial situation regarding the new UEFA rules as well. Also, the “JET Pack” of youngsters are mostly English. Saw a couple of them over the summer in the under-21(?) Euros. They made it to the finals against Germany! Lots of future England Internationals coming through the ranks, I think.

    MoMoney, is that you from the Offside? Small world eh?

  7. I honestly believe that the quality and potential is there in our current crop, but the catalyst to realize this quality/potential is not present at the moment. Perhaps there needs to be a hard look at the coaching staff, especially in goalkeeping and defense?

    I think the backroom staff need to study the Invincibles season as well as Barcelona’s tactics and really understand WHY and HOW it worked. We have the players already there, there doesn’t need to be a massive spending, just lighting a fire under some of their feet.

    Campbell has been a huge revelation, and I really think Wenger should hire him as a player/coach for defense since he can instill the winning mentality to the younger ones. But not only him, there needs to be others. Perhaps Bould or Dixon, et al. from the famous back line could pitch in and really shape up the back that could be most beneficial for our team. I vaguely recall that Wenger was quoted saying he doesn’t coach defense (please correct me if I’m wrong) and if he really said it, it is showing. Heck, even Brazil have finally started to learn to defend. If Brazil can do it, maybe Arsenal can too 😉

    Here’s hoping for the great man to stay for a long time, and for the D&G idiots to go and support another team instead. Remember, the ox is slow, but the earth is patient. =)

  8. The plain fact is Wenger is a sensible man in a greedy and ridiculous world. He is a consevative man to the point of being stubborn but things are changing. We are told that money is available, how much we don`t know and, if we`re going to go shopping at Harrods, not Tesco`s, then we could be thinking in the region of sixty million. Obviously we can`t spend money like this each season but right now it would be a good investment. Yes, we have to off load, and not just for the money,although it will help balance the budget and the wages bill.
    To me one of the main reasons for buying in high quality is to respect and support the quality players we already have, at the same time giving leadership by example to those coming through.

    Last question. Who recommends and selects the players we buy? If what we see now is a result of their recommendations maybe they too should be up for renewal.

  9. If i am being perfectly honest i am extremely excited about next season. Two seasons ago we showed that we had the skill and the class to win the title. Unfortunately at that time we didnt have the drive or mental fortitude. This season i really think that we have shown that we have gained that mental toughness and maturity that we lacked. Unfortunately our overall squad strength was just not enough and when u have 6 starters injured you can’t help but have your season peeter out. I mean can u imagine if Man U had Rooney out for as long as we had RVP out? They would be mid table. If we had had RVP injury free we would have won the league. If Cesc had been injury free all year we would have won the league. If Arshavin hadnt been dealing with an injury all season we would have won the league.Thats how close we were. One of our world class players having an injury free season and we would have won. With one or two additions and a full ofseason i know we can win next year

  10. @Tony,

    You always capture my sentiments about Arsenal. My full support as always.

    About Wenger and the growing angst of his departure. It is not possible. He is going to stay around to dampen the happiness of all his critics including the souless bastards who uninvitingly visit this brilliant defender of Arsenal. (not that I have prediction abilities hahaha!)

    God Bless Arsenal!

  11. Terrific post. Everything there is a reflection of how I feel.

    And I completely second Erik Berg’s comment about being extremely excited about next season.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this season two but the sad thing is many people’s enjoyment comes from winning things, which is of course very difficult. The key to enjoying football is to enjoy the ride.

  12. Tony,

    You have my utmost respect. You don’t just defend the greatest personality at the club, you give the most reasoned and logical defence on the web. I’m gonna scour the web for Sir AW’s email id and send him a link to your blog and hope your reasoned analysis cheers him up a bit. His tone has been a bit dark lately, and has gotten even darker after the wigan game. If he leaves, it’ll be a far bigger blow to the club than the loss of henry, vieira, pires, bergkamp, van persie, cesc, adams, overmars, petit, and every other great player I’ve had the good fortune to see wearing the red and white over the last 12 years. Most of them left when their playing career was on the wane, but I believe Sir AW has a good decade left in him yet.

  13. I do not believe that bringing in youngsters is a failure. In my opininon there are 2 managers that are fantastic in bringing up the youths and that is wenger and guardiola. i beleive wenger needs to get the combination rite. a mixture of the youth with also experienced players. by having more experienced players it improves the youngsters’ game. like 2day 4 example we had a lot of injuries and that is why wenger should buy players to make sure eventhough we have injuries we have suitable nd capable players to cover.

  14. MoMoney and Terence — You are right. AW has been protecting both the board and the players for five years, and this week, the strains have increasingly shown.

    Indeed, changes are imminent, but everyone in involved in the club, from Hill-Wood to the fans themselves needs to be reminded that we cannot throw out the baby with the bath water. Our team is almost there.

    Tony, I sure hope Wenger hears our voices.

  15. Really good to see all these sensible and supportive comments. I have been as vocal about my least favorite players as the next doomsayer. But when you look back at how much drama delight doom despair excitment hope and joy we’ve all experienced this year, the very least you can say is we’ve had far more than just our money’s worth. Winning is overated. It’s all about the trying and getting there that makes the most interesting stories. Forza Arsenal!!!!

  16. Tony
    I totally agree, I think this so cold “fans” that yelling to sack AW is just a bunch of playstation generations who has no respect in AW general contributions. They think changing Managers is like changing their clothes without future risk!!

    Furthermore, I would like to support you to directly send this message to AW personally. We could try by email or direct mail probably, or may be anyone knows how to?
    I really2 think he HAS to know he still have fans in line behind him and support him all the way!

    Let me know if you need my help Tony.


  17. I agreed with you especially with the finance. I dont want to see Arsenal do Leeds or Pompey. I just do hope that Le boss do extend his contract for another 5 years because i believe when UEFA regulations start we might start winning trophy and that incl the CL.

  18. well losing means losing..whatever excuse it is..the sad part is we know we can avoid this lost..i’m truly agree with youth project for future but at least we need someone who can deliver not something to try out..i believe who paly football know this..to see Arsenal player to be play like that is really break my heart to pieces..and i believes it makes other players on the pitch feel jaded, lost faith..yes we need to be patient with these guys but if last nite its your performance then you have to evaluate yourself whether i’m good enough to help the club!! unless you want to be a freeloader..

    even my mom asked ‘is that goalkeeper always like that?’..I replied..’ no mom, its always happen in the big match only’..well last nite is a big match i think..

  19. Tony , I agree with you , Arsenal has a future , this is a real football team people around the world want to follow and to see them play .

  20. Tony,

    I love the way your write but at times I do feel you are over positive. Just as the Dark Side of the Arsenal fandom lives completely in Black you seem to live completely in White. I prefer White over Black any day, and perhaps you are forced to be White just to counter the Black, but I do feel we need to acknowledge certain problems.

    First, I’m not sure UEFA can stop the likes of Chelsea or Citeh. Unless their lawyers and accountants are complete nitwits they will find ways of pumping money into the club as long as they have it and want to.

    Abramovic can just buy the naming rights of the ground for 500 million or whatever he pleases. That would be income and nothing that UEFA can do about it. Similarly, the super rich could just create a luxury box at the stadium and sell it to one of their other companies for an insane amount. Or they could simply infuse equity.

    Probably the only thing UEFA can stop is debt from owners and even that is tricky. If Madrid can get debt for cheap, why can’t owners give 0% interest loans? It won’t affect profitability of the company. This could be a real problem area for UEFA.

    Put simply, I can’t see UEFA winning the battle against money and we have to accept life with that handicap.

    Next we need to think about the Youth Project. If we accept that being in third place or fourth, and above the likes of wannabe clubs who are spending more than us, is success then it is a good project. If it was temporary phase where we were waiting for the income from our new stadium and Highbury Square development to pour in, then it’s a good project. If Arsene keeps claiming this is enough to win titles then it’s a failure.

    Since you really like the idea of our youth teams developing together and winning cups, would you care to do the following research – Over the last ten years, how many players from FA Youth Cup and Youth League winning teams have gone on to be important members of trophy winning squads? I’m not trying to challenge you but such an analysis will hopefully give more credence to your claim that the future is bright because of this youth.

  21. My real fear for Arsene is that he will be a victim of fate.

    Even if he brings in four or five world class players there is a major obstacle.

    He has about a 20% chance of winning the league, on the basis that there are 2 money-no-object teams (ManC and Chelsea), 1 rules, media, and to some extent money no-object team, and Tottenham Spewage, (who are a lot classier than their supporters), in the way.

    Arsene has not had any breaks in the last 5 years…..

    CL final….Lehmann
    2005…….the OT stitch-up

  22. i am again reiterating on a very simple fact…arsenal did not have a chance with our goalkeepers almunia and fabianski…it was so very trivial…even though arsenal defense did not have the proper backup, the major blunder by wenger was not buying a keeper in the winter transfer window…and that made all the difference…
    watching arsenal get molested like that yesterday was not a pretty sight…its a mirage a big god damn mirage…

  23. and yes i completely agree with desigunner…this blog looks like a right arm wing of the official Arsenal Website…we as the fans should be unbiased at times and should criticize our clubs failures when the need be…wenger is no GOD…the club is superior to any manager or any player…and the fans at the highest echelons…

  24. Tony I absolutely agree with you. We have to give Wenger more time to win trophies and reshape the squad with clever buys. I am convinced we will win something next season.

  25. I think that when people examine this season, they need to review it in the context of the 08 team. That team was essentially completely rebuilt four years after the Invinvibles. They had a mixture of veterans (Toure, Gilberto, Hleb, Gallas, Rosicky were all over 25) and youthful stars (Cesc, RvP, Adebayor). They led the EPL for large parts of the season before finishing third with a very respectable 83 points and had reached the semifinals of the Champions League.

    I thought this was amazing. Arsene had dismantled the Invincibles and four years later had a team which seemed on the verge of a championship. Build on that experience and add a player or two (Nasri, anyone?) and the outlook was good. What happened after that? Three fourths of the starting midfield was lost, Hleb and Flamini committing career suicide for money and Rosicky to an unexpectedly long injury spell. A key squad member, Gilberto, was let go and the best replacement holding midfielder, Diarra, was too impatient and short sighted to see his opportunity coming. That’s five important midfielders. Wenger was left with a choice. Buy ready made replacements or promote squad members who were probably not quite ready for first team football but would be after a year of two of a baptism by fire. I suspect he chose the latter course because it wasn’t going to be good value for money buying replacements when the likes of Song, Diaby and Denilson would be ready to step up in only a year or two anyway. And I think this season they have for the most part vindicated Wenger’s judgement. As well, there is always the risk of overspending on a player like Melo. In addition, who predicted Toure’s frighteningly swift loss of form? Or that Adebayor would become a lazy, selfish, locker room cancer following one brilliant season? So for all intents and purposes, we lost seven players for last season, with Toure and Adeba-whore being essentially AWOL. So the post-Invincibles team has now been rebuilt, mostly from within, and in my opinion is once again on the cusp of being a true, championship calibre team.

    In conclusion, I don’t think the current model is dead and ready for the scrap heap. The post Invincibles rebuild suffered a rather unexpected setback, not unlike any major home remodeling project LOL, but is back on track. I hope that the financial constraints have been eased somewhat, allowing us to keep the current squad together and bring in the two or three high quality additions which will push this squad to the top.

  26. @Unid

    Yes I agree that signings will be coming in this summer but I am just hoping that Wenger does not decide enough is enough and that it wont really be his project anymore… Its vital that he hears our voices.

    Regarding signings I think it will be someone like Frey, a new CB to replace Gallas, and Chamakh. IMO it will be enough as long as the new CB is someone with a bit of experience. I think Wenger is planning on letting Fabianski go as well, unless he does something amazing over the next 3 games…

    Thankfully there is a World Cup this summer, otherwise it was going to be a long long long 3 months.

  27. Amit, not buying a keeper was not a “major blunder.” In fact since January Almunia has had a much better season than before it. When your first choice keeper has been performed solidly for the past 2 seasons you don’t just replace him after a shaky few months. After all, even the best keepers go through dips in form. January was no time to buy a new keeper.

    I don’t think Wenger made any major errors this season. As usual he got most of the stuff right and he kept us in the title race despite his squad suffering a huge amount of injuries.
    Despite any errors Wenger may have made, he certainly has made some excellent decisions that have culminated in us closing the gap between us and the top 2 by quite a lot.
    If nothing else just look at the players he’s signed in the last year. Arshavin, Vermaelen, and Campbell. Huge hits all three of them.
    Yes we weren’t quite good enough yet again. But look at how close we are. And then look at the age of this team, and you can see that they are still growing and their best years are ahead of them. And look at all the even younger players just breaking into the team like Ramsey and Wilshere.
    If you really look at the big picture you will understand why there is so much cause for optimism.

    Or even if you take the le grove approach and say that we should have been good enough already, without having to wait for these kids to grow into great players, then you have to understand that our approach is based on being financially sound and in the time of limitless wages and transfer fees, we could not have competed against the bigger clubs if we decided to base our success on big-name signings. Liverpool tried that and failed spectacularly.

    I’m not ignorant of Wenger’s or this team’s flaws. But there is something you have to accept: nothing is perfect.
    We will make mistakes here and there and have a few setbacks but overall we are heading in the right direction, and what we are trying to accomplish is something great and I’m glad to be a witness to it.
    And knowing that the big picture looks so good, we can let some of the mistakes slide, and we can understand that some of the shortcomings are sacrifices made for the greater good.

  28. Thank you Tony & co for restoring my faith in the existence of adult supporters.

    everybody, including Wenger, agrees that we need a couple of signings. That’s tweaking. The fundamentals are sound.

  29. YES…..”there are a lot of us out here who believe he is the greatest thing ever to happen to this club”
    REALLY SUPERB ARTICLE…feeling bttr …

  30. waleed, I agree that the team has prolific youngsters coming up…in fact you can see the class of wilshire and ramsey from the way they touch the ball and pass it around..its magical to watch…but don’t you believe that there should be a mix of young players and star players with experience…at our club that is not the case..

    the balance is towards the youngsters and that too by a huge margin…i also agree with your point in a way that our future will be bright as these young players develop…but there will always be a situation like the young players being poached by the likes of madrid and barca…the pristine example is of fabregas…

    lastly, i dont agree with your point that Almunia was a great or even a decent goalie over the last couple of seasons…he maybe good overall across those 38 games but not great…for arsenal to be crowned league & european champions, we need a great goalie…i mean my argument is plain and simple…

    consider 2 hypothetical situations we have the same team except that goalies be changed…team A with almunia as a goalie and team B with say Akinfeev..which team would you think would have conceded less goals and committed lesser blunders…these are vital differences in the quality that win big matches..don’t you agree…spending say 10 mills on a goalie which we are going to spend anyways now the coming season would have made a great outcome in our favor…

    i apologize if i have commented something wrong against this article, but its time we look forward and expect a change…6 years 6 god forsaken years….

  31. @ Amit

    As a supporter you are not supposed to be fair. As a supporter all of us are expected to “SUPPORT”. If you dont support your team in thick and thin you are not a supporter.

    What do you think should a newcastle fan do. Leave his team and get a Man U jersey. No… He should support them so hard that they feel encouraged to come back. Not like Arsenal D&G brigade where you abuse it after every goal conceeded and praise it after every good goal.

    And last of all.. Please stop advising Wenger on football.. Its like advising Jesus on Christianity..

  32. i make a vow to myself : NOT TO WATCH ARSENAL UNTIL NEW GK HAS ARRIVED.

    There is limit of being positive because it can tranform us to stupidity and ignorance.

  33. @abishek

    that’s officially the quote ofthe century. Going on my facebook immedietly lol

  34. @Abhishek,
    Completely agree with your point…as an arsenal fan and needless to say or justify my stance, of course one has to support his team even if they get relegated and play in the lower divisions…and I have to prove to no one and not you if i am true fan or not….

    and by ‘fairness’ i meant not believing, giving into and submitting into decisions which are not completely correct…there might be a million things that wenger has done correctly but there are also a 1000 things that he might have done correctly…i have my rights to criticize the policies if i feel so..its your point against mine….and i am not advising anyone..i am just placing my points…and you too have the right to counter those by facts and your point of views…this blog is a platform for debating, ain’t it?

    and your last statement, truly do not believe it 🙂 if there is a jesus to football it is me and you, it is every fan and spectator who watches the match and follows his club…

  35. I have to admit I am one of those who in the heat of the moment have criticised and cursed at Wenger. The man has done a lot for the club but this does not mean that we should be blind and accept every decision he makes and outcome thereof! I feel that as a manager he is the greatest but he has tactical weaknesses that cost the team a lot of points over the course of the season. An example being bringing on Merida and Eboue immediately after Wigan had scored!!! Just because the subs were about to be made before they scored does not mean that he goes ahead and allows them to be done after the dynamics of the game had changed! Bringing on Van Persie after Wigan had equalized also smelt of desperation! I was crying out for a substitution from the 50th minute since I knew that we will concede eventually. Why is it that nowadays we seem content with one or two goals? I miss the days when we looked hungry even when four goals up…

    For next season Wenger needs to invest in experience. I feel we are in the cusp of greatness if and only if we go out and add three to four players to the squad.

  36. In the cacophony that one can hear or look at for the moment on the internet there is always one voice that brings light in the darkness.
    Thank you for this daily ray of sunshine in the darkness, Tony.

  37. Last season we were talking of next season in the month of february.
    This season we were within 10 minutes of still talking of this season’s challenge going in the last weekend of April.

    People forget, I remember. 😉

  38. My first comment on this site followed the WBA League Cup game.
    I simply wanted to know whether Arsenal fans were content to steamroller Wigan/WBA/Sheffield Utd. at home in the competition each season before the inevitable away defeat.
    Was/Is that enough?
    Shouldn’t Arsenal be trying to win such competitions?
    In my view AFC pretty much forfeited two cups in favour of the League and the ‘Champions’ League this season, which meant from the first day of season they were almost bound not to win anything (and that’s not hindsight, the bookies didn’t think they’d win anything either).

    One thing’s for sure (and if Barnet are still in the League it might yet affect them!) there isn’t a Championship, League 1 or League 2 team who wouldn’t really fancy their chances against that Arsenal League Cup team on their own ground.
    If Wenger really wants to test them he should forfeit home advantage if they get another home draw because I think they learn nothing sleepwalking past the likes of WBA at the Emirates in front of 60,000 fans.

  39. @walter:
    at the same time we must also remember that this season we had stupendous chances to win the league..and we lost those chances a couple of times before and now after yesterdays match they are dead and buried…which could have been avoided if arsene had influxed some firepower in the arsenal defense…

    also, next year we wont have to compete with just 2 teams in manure and chel$ki, spurs and shitty are getting there…they will be a major force to reckon with next year…and to win the league will become an even more difficult proposition….i hope we buy some players especially in defense as the transfer window opens…and with ramsey, fabregas and persie back in full form, we can do it… 🙂

  40. Tony, you’re a smart man with a well-reasoned line of argument, but some of what you wrote is akin to what comes out of a Spud’s arse. Some notes on your points:

    1. No argument there – if you define success as staying in the Top 4 for the past ten years, then we have achieved. It IS an achievement to retain a CL spot amidst our financial handicap; but according to the budget, we have money to buy players now, to challenge for trophies now.

    2. We are “hanging on” because we aren’t building on our squad. We educate young players and we pay with points. When they get experienced, they leave. We promote from within. We educate those young players and we pay with more points. It’s an endless cycle, and unless we break it (by either retaining our good players or buying good replacements) we’re always going to be “nearly there” and “hanging on”.

    3. I agree there are two youth projects. I am really excited about the youth cup.league team. I’m sure you are excited about all our young players. But you said yourself that these players are erratic. That’s normal – they are young. What they need is a core of experienced players to help mould them. What have we done with our experienced players? We sell them, and don’t buy others because it’ll “kill” the kids.

    4. Our injuries aren’t happening because of “Zero Football”. Yes, Diaby, Eduardo, Ramsey and Cesc are out because of vicious tackles. But to blame Diaby and Eduardo’s niggling injuries on broken legs that happened two years ago, is madness. They are fully recovered from those injuries. They’re breaking down now because they aren’t conditioned properly to go through a 90 minute match. Most of our injuries are soft-tissue injuries that stretch on and on. That’s a failure in conditioning (i.e. we aren’t adequately preparing our players’ bodies to take on a season’s worth of games), a failure in management (i.e we aren’t giving them sufficient time to recover from small injuries) and a failure in rehabilitation (i.e. we’re rushing players back too soon, we’re misdiagnosing their injuries, we’re mistreating their rehabilitation).

    5. No, this isn’t total failure. We’re better off than what plenty of people (including me) thought we’d be. A title challenge for such a long time is surprising. But “not a total failure” doesn’t equal “success”. We had a chance in the Jan window to buy some players to bolster the squad to improve our chances of winning the league this year. We knew what we were lacking. We had the finances. We had the targets. We didn’t buy anyone. To me, the refusal to strive for a trophy, in a very winnable season, makes this season a failure.

  41. Tee Song — That’s an excellent point. Teams have to go through a rebuilding process (well, teams on a sane budget, anyway).

    Mark — That’s a great point, too. There is no such thing a guaranteed championship. All the manager can do is take the team within shouting distance. The rest is up to the players (and to a great deal of luck). The idea that signing X and Y player will guarantee a victory, or the idea that AW fucked up because he didn’t buy/play/bench/substitute B is just illogical nonsense.

    It’s all about reason and perspective. What frustrates me is that certain fans have none. This is why I comment on this board; because here, people usually make intelligent and reasonable comments.

    Do I think AW should have bought in January? Absolutely.

    Do I criticize him for certain match-time decisions? Certainly.

    Am I going to tear into him because he didn’t do X,Y Z, and blame him for losing us the title because of that? Absolutely not. That’s just stupid. Because, as Tee Song, Mark, and others above have said, so much is out of his control.

    Despite his faults, I support AW because he’s the most reasonable and intelligent manager there is. Sure, he makes mistakes and has his flaws, but almost everything he has done in his career here as been beneficial for our club.

    Thanks Tony, Walter, Phil, et al. (And forgive me, if, from now on, I tell certain idiots to f$ck off 🙂 ).

  42. my worst fear is that arsenal can’t win anymore games this season. City and Tots can catch us and throw us out of top4. It’s mathematically possible so is the title, but former looks more likely to happen. If arsenal fails to qualify for cl then…….i can’t describe the feeling. At present they are in failure mode.

  43. Frankly, i was expecting a loss not b’coz everyone is out but b’coz arsenal is losing 2 on the trot. Hopefully arsenal can draw against city and blackburn. I hope fulham loses some of their players and full of their interest in the last game of the season.

  44. Losing 3rd place will be utterly disappointing, losing cl……as i said let’s not go there….IN ARSENE WE TRUST..

  45. I believe no one wants AW to be sacked.. even they said so I also believe deep down in their heart..they know its not the solution..the Gooners know it..it just an expression of being humiliate and losing hope after these 5 years..

    Tony, your last paragraph somehow showing your lack of trust/faith on AW..;)

  46. @WEG
    your comments are falling on deaf ears. There’s something wrong with arsenal management. Charity and Utd also play against ZERO football, they don’t suffer that much injuries. Wenger is totally in charge on the field. So that makes him responsible for everything that’s going on the pitch.

    If players are not performing, excuse of being not mature enough is stupid b’coz he has the right to choose players and exposing young talents might kill them forever. eg. fabianski

    Letting go players which in his opinion are not good enough for team is ok, but then he needed to replace them knowing the injury crises that always looms on arsenal.

    He might pay the price in next game when 3 players which cud have been playing for arsenal perform and win against arsenal.
    shay given, adebayor, toure.

  47. I agree with most of the points made on this very well written piece unlike the throwaway comments currently found on some of the other blogs where some individuals would do well to remember what the term “support” means.

  48. So good to read balanced and intelligent debate on this issue. This website is a sadly necessary oasis at this time of panic and doom!
    Yes, we have blown our chance to win the league this season, and yes it was (compared to last year) a good chance too. if we had not lost twice to Man U and chelski… if we hadnt thrown away 2 goal leads to west ham and wigan… if… if…
    But… to call for wengers head is (in my opinion) absolutely ridiculous. He is the single best thing to happen to arsenal since chapman, and as tony points out arguably has had a greater effect even than him. No, that doesnt mean he is untouchable, but a) as has been patiently discussed so many times on this site injuries, financial prudence coupled with long term vision over short-term-itch-scratching, has meant that actually to be further forward than this time a year ago or even two years ago is a genuine achievement, and one that with the benefit of hindsight will I believe be rightly recognised as so to future generations looking back at this key juncture in the history of football! and b) who would you replace him with? Rafa? Mark Hughes? Steve Maclaren? hmmm, didnt think so…
    Well done as ever Tony, walter and all the regulars for intelligent debate and good perspective!

  49. Absolutely fantastic post Tony… Thanks Andrew for patching this into your post…I believe in AW!! You know here in India – the one thing I always maintain is the fact that i believe that Arsenal fans are fans of football first… we love the science we love the games we love the nurturing process all of that… most importantly i believed that we weren’t the kind of fans that would turn on our managers! Don’t for one second think that I’m happy with our performance in the last couple of games – but i trust & believe in AW to rectify the situation and bring back the glory…But it frustrates me no end to have (who i thought were logical)illogical fans talking like blondes about sacking AW! So to them i say – Get your heads out of your asses, get your chins up – We are the Arsenal – we do have the greatest manager and we need always believe in him and our club!

  50. I find it depressing to read the comments from Arsenal supporters on the Wigan game. They must have read some of the stuff on this site in order to want to comment here. Yet they have zero grasp of the fantastic achievement that is the current Arsenal FC.

    They must all be City types or others who believe that money grows on trees. Arsenal has achieved competitiveness while not making a loss on football business. How clever is it to buy your way to success? When Arsenal becomes the dominant team in England and Europe, as it will in 2011/12, perhaps these supporters of feeble brains will see the light.

    I see all this outrage directed at AW for not “doing something”, but I saw not a single comment on Walter’s observation on the two refereeing decisions immediately preceding the first Wigan goal. That is where our anger should be aimed. Like the West Ham game and the Burnley game, terrible refereeing cost us dearly.

    We have eight automatic starters, if available.
    • Almunia
    • Gallas
    • Vermaelen
    • Clichy
    • Song
    • Cesc
    • RvP
    • Arshavin
    One out of eight is not enough.

    I detect more than a little schadenfreude in some of the comments. They are so unhappy about our lack of spending that they want us to lose. Wankers.

  51. I agree with your setniments and we need to remember that one other major European side went years without winning a trophy …..Barcelona and they relied an building from within.What does irrtitate me is that Willshere and Szczeny have been on loan at Bolton and Brentford when they oculd have waltzed into the team against Wigan and had a chance to show their talents. To all those who are calling for Wenger’s head two questions 1) Who the hell would you replace him with (and don’t say Mourinho , he only follows the money) and 2) listen to someone who has been wtaching the Arse for 55 years…nothing,but nothing compares to the quality of football and the success that Arsene has brought to us.
    Let’s not fall into the trap of Man U, Liverpool and Chelsea where we sacrifice the ethos of the club for a quick thrill. Arsenal stands for something in football, the worst thing we can say about anyone is ‘he’s not an Arsenal player’and we don’t just mean in terms of skill, its attitude, it’s the reason Arshavin should go….sadly along with Eduardo (the dreadful injury destroyed his confidence), Silvestre (good one Fergie),Fabianski, Almunia…and is Walcott ever going to mature? We have a tremendous chnace to put things right (a bit) on Saturday when the team that offers no value for money comes to town….

  52. In actual sense we have gone a step backwards this season. Last season we got to the semis of the CL and FA, lost six games in the league and conceded 2 less than we have this season (which still has 3 games to go). The only positive is in the attacking stats that hav improved considerably! Something i believe to have come about from our defending from the front attitude in early season.

    We still have a lot to learn and we need not look further than barcelona. They have built a team through their academy, are not afraid to spend the odd 40mil pounds and have great teamwork (NOTE: they don’t have world class defenders but have conceded only 19 goals all season! 10 fewer than real madrid and in a league that values attack)

  53. Cape Gooner, yes the outrage of conceding the last two goals were so big, I also was furious but also for other reasons – like you mention. The ref had put on a Wigan shirt in those last 15 minutes. Before he had a rather good game, he missed two penalty’s one for each side but he was not so biased. But at the end he gave us nothing. When we was fouled he gave it the other way (begin of the equaliser), no corner when it was clear to see that is was a corner for us.
    Even my match commentator was wondering what was the matter with the ref and saw it like I saw things.

  54. Why worry,
    there will be titles after pain
    There will be trophies after rain
    These things have always been the same
    So why worry now

  55. @Maurice…

    I love the way you hav skipped the way you have ignored our progress in the league. While last year we went upto semis we were beaten by Man U. Not that we would have defeated them for sure but atleast Barca is a team quiet far away for now.

    Our reserves played in FA cup and we lost. How can we say that we have not progressed. We have lots of mental energy and we can kick out team who play zero football. There is only one area where we need to progress this year is Man U and Chelsea. And I am very sure that we will do it this year.

  56. Maurice, MU and Chelsea also have lost more games if you compare with last season.
    The champion will have at least 4 points less than MU last year and if MU win it will be at least 5 points less.
    Chelsea and MU also went our earlier in the CL compared to last year.

    So you could say that the topteam all have gone backwards compared to last year (Liverpool…even far worse). It could also just mean that the EPL has become even more difficult to win.

  57. To the “Wenger out” brigade, please see Terence McGovern’s comment of “Be careful of what you wish for.” AW has performed near miracles for this club on a shoe string.

    I wonder where he’d be on a “points gained per transfer millions spent” table. What would it look like?

    I wonder where MFU and Chel$ki would be if their ‘spine’ was missing for as long as ours through injuries? As close as we were? I doubt it.

    I wonder where we’d be had he said after the Invincibles…”Can’t improve on an unbeaten season. I’m off.”

  58. Good article, well argued and as ever, very consistent- only one thing missing – the evidence of my own eyes. An unbelievably optimistic view of the future- does not address how Arsenal will address the defensive vulnerability which Arsene himself says we have had against the top sides.

  59. Correct me If I am wrong,but is it not next season that heralds the introduction of UEFA’s new rules regarding squad size and composition?
    Personally I think it is implimenting division through football but that opinion aside, It would be worthwhile taking that new template and running it over our current squad.
    I suspect that these new rules will be causing chaos for other teams whilst I believe that we have already done the leg work involved (bit like our financial policies).

    Either way, it is probably worth one of those immaculately prepared articles of insight there Tony or at the very least provide the Doom & Gloom Brigade with potential players whom they can gleeefully say have to go under new rules.
    (Bit like throwing a tennis ball for a dog. You know what he is going to do but gives you intervals of peace inbetween his return visits)

    PS. superb soundbite Abishek Kumar! My literary hat is off to you.

  60. Managers who could replace Wenger (and who are always French):

    1. Laurent Blanc
    2. Claude Guell
    3. Didier Deschamps

    Athough, one problem is that I doubt the current board have the footballing nous to select a great up-and-coming manager with a penchant for youth development. We were lucky that David Dein was running the club when he appointed Wenger. I can’t see anyone else on that board with the inspiration to do something similar.

  61. Gf60
    April 19th, 2010 at 10:19 am
    To the “Wenger out” brigade, please see Terence McGovern’s comment of “Be careful of what you wish for.” AW has performed near miracles for this club on a shoe string.
    I wonder where he’d be on a “points gained per transfer millions spent” table. What would it look like?

    They did this once on the Guardian. I think Arsenal ranked 4th or 5th. One of the relegation strugglers was first. Or maybe Aston Villa.

  62. it has failed end of story.

    None of the players except ransey, song fan amd clichey will make it.

    The emporor has no clothws.

    If he doesnt over haul this team we will struggle next year.

  63. Hi MoMoney and Terence..

    Thanks for your comment and your appreciation.. I just wrote it in frustration without realising what I wrote..

  64. Best comment here – stubby224 @ 12.46. Nice sarcasm mate. I hope that is sarcasm of course. If not then you are just an idiot.

    Once again I think the big thing we have to ask is “what were the alternatives” to this youth project. Some people say things like “AW should have kept players like Pires and Vieira while bringing in the youngsters” but of course that wasnt an option and people are deluding themselves if they think it was.

    The options, 4 years ago, were:

    1. Keep the “Invincibles”, maintain the high wage bill, and have ZERO money to buy anyone. ZERO MONEY. That is, 0, zero, nothing, absolutely nada. Look at the accounts if you think that is being extreme. That is a fact. So had AW kept the like of Vieira, Henry, Pires (and not even all of them, just some of them) we would now be in debt, have none of the young players, and probably be in MAJOR trouble.


    2. Rebuild the team, completely. Sell the players that could raise money and try to get as much as you possibly can for those guys in return. Lower the wage bill in order to be able to expand the squad (people forget how thin our squad was in the Henry/Bergkamp/Vieira years). Build through youth (since we couldnt afford experience) and try to stay competitive until those youngsters grow up. Concede the fact that some of those youngsters would leave before the project reached its conclusion.

    Those were the choices. There are many people that would have taken option 1. AW chose option 2. It was a hugely brave decision. Has it been a failure? Well, go back and look at the choices again. Ask the question again after having looked at the choices.

    We are now coming out of the stadium rebuilding phase. We are not out of it yet. Anyone with a grasp of accounting will know that. When we come out of this phase we will be remarkably healthy. Would we be as healthy had AW chosen option 1? Again, go back and look at the choices he had and ask that question again?

    I have said all along that AW should be judged next season. That is the season that is important. This team is still in the rebuilding phase right now and to say they are failing is ridiculous to me.

    If people disagree with me please provide evidence form the accounts that shows that we could have taken alternative options to thsoe shown above.

  65. Hello from Canada Everyone,

    Tony – congratulations on perhaps the best post I have ever read in defence of our team’s manager and overall progress these past couple of years, though it pains me that in a winning-at-any-cost-hyper-obsessed sports culture AW constantly needs defending when from a total management view of sporting and business factors, he is clearly the best manager of any top side in the world. Full stop.

    While there cannot be any real excuses to lose a late season match to a relegation threatened side inside of three minutes, we all need to remind ourselves of who we really are.

    From a financial perspective as Tony has ably pointed out, Man U is a financial basket case and Chelsea and Man City are drawing from the largess of their benefactors.

    Thinking about future team development, while many of us a sick of hearing of our perpetual “potential” while continuing year after year without silverware, we are in so much better position than say, Chelsea, who may very well go on to win the domestic double – yes – but with 7 players over thirty and an uncertain future at best.

    And if you agree as I do with Mr. Khare’s post that real Gooners are fans of football first, then first and foremost among EPL and most European teams we are really all winners.

    Finally, since it the beginning of the “2nd season” over here with (ice hockey) Stanley Cup playoffs, I remember (quite painfully) that I once used to bleed blue and white (the Leaf colours). It was 1967 since the once mighty Toronto Maple Leafs last won a cup and they have yet again missed the post-season this year. Oh to be a Gooneer…

  66. Absolutely brilliant piece of writing by Mr Attwood and i agree with all the comments and also have been pro Wenger even before he went to Arsenal. My only gripe is the number of times Arsenal players set in to what appear a shooting or even have a go opportunity but make another pass. This may well be illustrated by the goal Danny Rose scored (or put in the box). Feeling is an Arsenal player would have trapped it and pas-Alex

  67. That transfer league says everything really,how many managers in world football would be able to get the team into our league position with the budget we’ve had since the new stadium had to be financed?
    Dein was right when he said wenger is a miracle worker.
    Benitez is respected as one of the top coaches in the world, but could not manage with losing 1 midfielder this season.
    We lost 4 starting midfielders last season, and still managed 2 semi finals and stayed in the top 4.
    We have improved and gone much closer in the league this season, just have’t had the big game know how at certain times . Hopefully we can keep the squad together this summer and find the right couple of additions to take us to the next level.
    Also I’m sure the injury crisis cannot be as bad as this again.
    I really believe we are so close, and hope the players don’t lose faith because i feel that is the biggest danger to our developement.

  68. GF60, thanks for this link. Very intresting.
    To stay in the top 4 with that transfer budget… it is almost unbelievable. No other manager could do what he has done since the invicible season.

    Yeah, why don’t we just sack the manager…. sigh…
    If he ever leaves we should rename the stadium and give it his name.

  69. I think the last two games will bring out a positive change. It has shown that we lack “that mental strength ” and ” squad depth” to go all the way. Arsene has done tremedously well and I am sure he has also seen the glaring and gaping holes in the squad. Fix them and we will do much much better next season. Arsenal we written off even before the season started. So I would say we have tried to hang in there till the last couple of weeks.

  70. I do laugh at those that claim we have had five years of project youth and that it has failed, lets take each of these points
    Five years – well only four years ago we were in CL final with a squad that had Lehman, Campbell, Toure, Cole, Bergkamp, Henry, Reyes, Pires, Ljunberg, Clichy, all memebers of the invincibles, alot of oldies there too,
    Project youth – has worked, we have produced Cesc, that alone makes it worthwhile, but also from our academy Bendtner, is now part of first team squad, Djourou is too, then their is the other lads brought in at 17 or more, Song is a success, Denilson is good squad man, as is Diaby, Walcott, Ramsey,then we have the next generation of youth, those that came right the way from Hale End Academy from age 9 and 10, the Jack Wilsehre, Emmanuel-Thomas, Lansbury and Eastmond, all showed last year they are as good if not better than what any other academy have at present,
    there are more players in each of the two caterogies(bought in/here since 9), we have since we moved to the Emirates have on average a profit of £9M a season on transfers, think about that, not one other club in the entire FAPL can say that, never mind still finish in top 4, so without bringing in experienced players, this squad full of project youth has kept us up near the top, if nothing else this shows it has worked,
    yes no trophies yet, but if we measure it on trophies then no more than four side can be successful any season, has that made all the rest unsuccessful, of course it has not

  71. Ok. I’ll put my hand up and say I was extremly disappointed (not to the extent of asking for the boss to resign though) but to the extent where I wanted some players to go. Reading this blog has put things into perspective and I see the light. There’s always next season.

  72. this is the only site that makes me feel right for supporting arsenal. half of our own fans on other websites make me feel like i’m supporting chelsea or the scum!

    great post

  73. @Abhishek and @Walter, I agree that in the league all the big teams have not performed as well as they did last season. This should not be a reason to celebrate thou! We should be asking ourselves could we have taken advantage of this slip? In the coming seasons we will have other teams coming into the frame with all the money being poured into football and this season has definitely been one of missed chances and opportunities!

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