I do find it interesting when a theme emerges and lots of blogs, or indeed lots of journalists, all go down the same route, saying much the same thing.
One of the key blog themes at the moment, in seems to me, is the issue of the Lord Wenger’s “stubbornness”. In that everyone in the world can see it is all going wrong, everyone can see the solution (which often involves buying lots of players), but Wenger won’t budge from his line.
The point is that when such things are said over and over again, they take on a life of their own. Arsenal are in trouble because… well everyone says Arsenal are in trouble.
Of course the league table this morning makes poor reading, (unless you look at the bottom bit). But then so does the injury list, not helped by the fact that a poor run of injuries has been made worse by the maniac activities of the Lord Kitchener of football – the England manager. While the generals of 1917 sent a whole generation of young men to their death in the space of a few weeks, the England manager (and come to that the Togo manager, and last year the Dutch manager) work in different ways, but the parallel is there. Crass idiocy, and we have more players injured.
But back to the Stubborn Wenger episode. I recall many people saying that Wenger was impossibly stubborn when he played the new Thierry Henry in every game, having just signed him. It looked bizarre to many supporters (and I must admit I was bemused – a centre forward playing on the wing, a centre forward who couldn’t hit the clock, let alone the goal….)
I remember all the moans and groans about Gilles Grimandi – an unknown French player who meandered around mid-field and never seemed to do much, but was so vital to Arsenal that on one occasion he had to play two games in two days.
Part of the current argument is that Wenger is not only stubborn in playing Denilson instead of an enforcer in the middle (ie a Gilberto instead of a Flamini) it is that when players are not playing well he keeps playing them. Bendtner is an example at present.
The same was true of Pires who had a very ordinary first season – so ordinary indeed that we wondered why he didn’t go out and buy a much better player. Pires went off to the European championships and came back to win EPL player of the year and be one of the most staggeringly brilliant players we have seen. TV often failed to pick it up, but Pires could take the ball under close control and meander along the half way line, waiting for the definitive pass. If he didn’t find it, he’d wander back again, until the pass was there and Henry was off. He’d then trot down the middle while Henry took the defence off left, get the pass back and score.
So my point is that such skills from Henry, Pires, and indeed Bergkamp were not in evidence at first – we had to wait. We remember Dennis scoring goals with balls that seemed to be heading towards the corner flag before changing course and going in the goal – we forget the first season or two.
If Wenger is stubborn, then he has always been stubborn, and it has served him well. The difference we have at the moment is that
a) after years of automatically being in the top 2, we have slipped, and people have forgotten how to wait
b) the competition has intensified through clubs risking bankruptcy (I think particularly of Liverpool) just to win this year.
Of course I would like us to win things this year – and although the EPL now looks out of sight, I am anticipating some interesting cup games to come – but I also want my Arsenal to be playing football in the top division in five years, and challenging for honours. I suspect that some of the teams we see near the top will not be there at this time. The model that the owners of Manchester U and Liverpool have used has fallen short, and they are left with the debts from which they cannot recover. The model of Chelsea depends utterly on the well-being and long-term interest of one man.
In due course the notion of the Euro Final being played between two clubs who together owe over £1 billion will be just a note in history, an oddity along with the maximum wage, Robert Maxwell, and Tottenham winning the double. Those who engaged in such silliness will have gone, either removed totally from football, or just a dim memory. But we will still be there.
I guess in the end I believe in the future more than many other bloggers. But I suppose it takes all sorts.
- Manchester City accused of over 100 breaches of Premier League financial rules
- Every club now knows how to beat Arsenal (according to reports)
- Guardiola’s excuse for losing to Tottenham reveals the quality of Arsenal
- So it wasn’t so bad after all. Arsenal still five points clear with a game in hand
- WSL Round Up – West Ham v Arsenal Sunday 18:45