Before we get to the blame, shouldn’t we decide what makes a crisis?

By Tony Attwood

“Unai Emery is not at fault for Arsenal shambles – blame the board, Wenger and Ozil instead”

So says a recent Jamie Carragher article.   It is one of those pieces in which there’s not much point going beyond the headline, because he’s made his point, and you know he’ll just be reinforcing it for the next 500 words or so.

What however we really need to examine is the issue of “Arsenal shambles.”  Is there one?

Arsenal have a new manager who is doing things his way.   That is bound to bring about a certain of turmoil.   The only place you would expect not to find a crisis  with a new manager is a club that wins the title and everything else year after year.   Except that would include Manchester United, and… oh that doesn’t work.   All new managers can bring their own sense of crisis, in fact more often than not that is what they do.  OK not at Juventus, not often at Bayern, but certainly at Real Madrid.

But what about the board: in Arsenal’s case the board is dominated by the distant owner and his son who represents him.   The owner, we know, drives his sports franchises in order to make money, not to promote the owner, and not to fatten the club ready for sale.   That’s a policy.  We might not like it, but it is not a “shambles”.  It is a policy which is well executed.

Then there was Mr Wenger, the man who holds the all-time record for keeping a club in the Champions League for the most seasons, the record for the number of FA Cup wins, and for delivering an unbeaten league season.

Did Mr Wenger lose it at the end?  Did he create a crisis? Maybe – one can’t be sure although certainly the away form of the club in his final season was a great disappointment.   But if Mr Wenger was operating under the same financial restrictions in his last couple of years as Mr Emery seemingly is now, then it seems rather tough to blame him.   More sensibly one might, once again blame the manager.

But here’s another thought.  If there is really is a crisis – how is the word being defined?   If by league position, then presumably Chelsea and Manchester United are also in crisis.  The three clubs are within three points of each other, after all.

Now I may not be the sharpest brick in the building, but that looks to me like half of the “big six” – the top six clubs from last season, are now in crisis.   Are we really saying that half of the elite group (if I might call them that) are in crisis?

Well, in one way maybe they are, for after all five of the elite clubs are not going to win the league this season.   Five of them are not going to win the FA Cup.  Some for the League cup, and only one or two are going to win a European trophy.   Quite possibly none.

So is not winning a trophy a crisis for the top six clubs?   If that is the case then let’s see who’s won anything in recent years.  In fact the last six years

Club 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
Arsenal FA Cup FA Cup FA Cup
Chelsea FA Cup Premier Lge Premier Lge League Cup Europa Lge
Manchester City Premier Lge; League Cup League Cup Premier League
Manchester Utd Europa Lge; League Cup FA Cup Premier League
Tottenham Hots

Of course you can define the importance of these trophies in any way you like.   They can all be seen as equal, or some of prime importance, others secondary, others hardly worth nothing.

For example, if we consider winning the League or the Champions League as the two big trophies which signify dominance then Manchester United have one trophy in six years, Chelsea and Manchester City two, and that’s it.  Everyone else is in crisis.

But that seems a bit tight as a definition.   We could expand this to include all the competitions except the League Cup, which is a bit light in terms of the amount of work that clubs have to do to win it.

In that case what we find is, in terms of trophies

  • Chelsea: 4
  • Arsenal: 3
  • Manchester City: 3
  • Manchester United: 3
  • Liverpool: 0
  • Tottenham Hotspur: 0.

But let’s not be too mean – let’s include the league cup too.

  • Chelsea: 5
  • Manchester City: 4
  • Manchester United: 4
  • Arsenal: 3
  • Liverpool: 0
  • Tottenham Hotspur: 0.

On this basis then there are two clubs in crisis: Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.  Whichever way you measure it, they have not been doing well, in terms of winning trophies.   Maybe they will get one each this season, but even so on a six year analysis they are not exactly setting the world alight.

And this really makes the whole point.  What is success?  What is crisis?  Over what period is it measured.   The last five games?   This season?  Three seasons?   Six seasons?

If crisis is measured by not winning trophies there are only two clubs in absolute crisis among the top six of last season, who will probably the top six in the Premier League this season.  Liverpool and Tottenham.

Here’s an idea: before we claim there is a crisis, let’s define crisis.




21 Replies to “Before we get to the blame, shouldn’t we decide what makes a crisis?”

  1. A crisis is when former footballer or pundits (as they like to be called) sits behind the mic to churn rubbish on football management, making one line statements without valid evidence.
    A major crisis, in fact a deadly crisis is when some drunk fellows (investigative journalism / journalists as they wished to be called) print and reprint these lies over and over. Crisis? It’s what their fish brain tells them

  2. This is your definition of ‘shambles’ as used by Carragher – crisis. I don’t believe both words mean the same thing. Dictionary definition of crisis: a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change. Shambles: any scene of destruction: to turn cities into shambles. Or:
    any scene, place, or thing in disorder: Her desk is a shambles.

    Jamie Carragher (in The Telegraph): “When Unai Emery took over at Arsenal, we wondered what legacy he had been left. Now it is clear. He inherited a shambles.

    An imbalanced squad, inconsistent star player, extravagant contracts way above market value, a highly-rated international running down his deal, a chief executive on his way out and a head of recruitment who, having made errors in a short period, is on the verge of leaving.

    Emery has a mess to clean up. Worse still, there is no money available to start that lengthy process. This was not the job advertisement he responded to when Arsène Wenger’s exit was announced.”

    From your opening sentences I got the impression you didn’t read the article but only surmised it’s contents from your understanding of the headline. You could do more than that I believe but you’d rather not.

    This response is not to defend Jamie but to ask us to see if his criticism of Wenger had any merit. First shamble – an imbalanced squad – this is a value judgement both coaches are different and therefore are not expected to have the same approach to team building. This charge failed.

    Second shamble – inconsistent star player – another value judgement – if he means Ozil then most definitely Jamie is way out wrong about blaming Wenger on this score. All players have off days; if Ozil was of no use to the Club could he have been retained at such heavy costs knowing the sort of club owners AFC has?

    Third shamble – extravagant contracts, way above market value – this is a sweeping statement without any evidence to show how player contracts are extravagant by comparisons with similar clubs in the EPL. Arsenal, from recent figures has the 5th or 6th highest wages bill in the EPL. How can that be said to be ‘way out extravagant’? Compared with Cardiff or Newcastle? No disrespect meant to those clubs just a way of asking for clarity. AFC consistently turned a profit over the Wenger years even with stadium debts being paid. If their player contracts were extravagant, surely Kroenke would know and would have acted. He got rid of Wenger when gate takings started dwindling not because of extravagant contracts.

    Fourth shamble – a highly-rated international running down his deal – Ramsey? Wenger had warned of increasing player revolt before he left AFC and that players found it more attractive to run down their contracts than renew or extend because not doing either put the advantage of negotiating a bigger pay in their hands. In the case of Ramsey is Wenger to blame? Fact: a contract had been placed on the table for signatures by both sides before AFC withdrew from the deal. This happened well after Wenger left the Club. Another failed charge.

    Fifth shamble – a chief executive on his way out and a head of recruitment who, having made errors in a short period, is on the verge of leaving – Gazidis and Msintalt! Gazidis supervised the entire transition from Wenger to Emery. From recruiting Msintalt, Emery and the now joint CEO of AFC -Sanllehi. How is Wenger to blame for this if he was not responsible for the initial appointments?

    Sixth shamble – Emery has a mess to clean up. Worse still, there is no money available to start that lengthy process – A conclusion that does not match the allegations he had laid against Wenger from what we have noted above. No money for new transfers? Wenger to blame? No.

    You would notice Carragher hadn’t mentioned not winning trophies in the above summary of his article. However, he surely wanted to have a dig at Arsene Wenger given his valiant attempt to pin those spurious allegations on him. Envy? Maybe.

    Jamie should go get a coaching badge and then show the world how not to create a shambles when you do what AFC did to Wenger at the end of the 2017/18 season and then turn around to blame your creation on the sacrificial victim.

  3. There is a real crisis when it comes to finding journalists who report on the action in football matches. This is further compounded by failed managers or those who dare not even attempt such complex tasks trying to prove they are the sharpest brick in the building whilst sitting in a steel and glass structure. As a coach I am often asked about matches before the game which my players and friends feel is a greater value than telling them something after the match about what they themselves have already seen. I have never been asked to comment on any crisis as this is generally not a technical aspect of the game. I would think that countless years without a trophy may be a greater crisis than having say Jamie Carragher as a pundit.

  4. Most of the criticism is pretty lightweight throwaway stuff.

    Imbalanced squad…don’t you think injuries have something to do with that
    Inconsistent star player…perhaps but don’t you think any player being asked to do what he’s never been asked to do would be inconsistent. The system is new, Oezil is being asked to press and track way back…not saying he shouldn’t but

    Extravagant contracts…you’re a genius if you can figure out how to pay top players anything less than top money…ooops rather you’re an dullard if you think you can…Jamie.

    The business of our pencil pushers leaving…who knew but they?

    I dono’t believe we are a shambles or in crisis. Further, I don’t believe it is either Wenger’s or Emery’s creation…it is Jamie Carragher’s creation.

  5. Omnishambles: 1. a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterised by a string of blunders and miscalculations.

    Oxford word of the year: 2012

    2. a fabricated situation created by ex-sports players, such as Jamie Carragher, Paul Merson, Gary Neville, and so on; however the situation doesn’t actually exist. A kind of Trump-ism.

  6. In my opinion, the only way to measure a club’s success as progress. Now, how do we define progress and what are the parameters that hinder progress – this is where a cause and effect analysis involving various variables needs to be considered. Simple analysis of data without getting too technical.

    My variables:
    1) Manager
    2) Squad value – this is one of the major parameters to decide transfer amounts available to a club in cases where the owner is not ready to invest from the usual club profits via gate entry, TV money, commercial endorsements etc.
    3) Stadium atmosphere
    4) Owner spending power

    –> Mancity are the only club that tick all 4 parameters. Definite progress over the last few seasons.
    –> Liverpool tick off #1,#2 & #3. Squad value played a huge role here as sales of Suarez and Coutinho is what enabled them to reinvest in the squad. I highly doubt if the owner would have put in that amount of money had it not been for Player Sales. Definite progress over the last few seasons.
    –> ManUtd have had a problem with #1 since Fergie left. That is where they are failing since the last few season thus hindering progress. In fact they have been declining.
    –> Tottenham have #2 to fall back upon similar to Arsenal version 2005. They have huge value players who can then be sold to pay off stadium debts. They have a good manager and it will be interesting to see how the owners react to this situation. Will they invest? But definite progress over the last few seasons.
    –> Chelsea are the only anomaly to the parameters provided. But then they always have been an outlier due to the fact that they are run by a dictator and in all seriousness have not had the stability of a big club ever!!

    That brings us to Arsenal. No squad value – we have let our big players go for cheap which means no money to reinvest using player sales. Our owner’s spending power is negative – he sucks us dry. Fans unrest is huge – I sincerely believe that if we as fans had unconditionally backed Wenger we might not have been in this situation; but that is my opinion. We now have a good manager and I back him to take the team forward provided we have at least 2 of the other 3 parameters hold us in good stead.

  7. In Wengers ‘worst season’, the team was in the final of the League Cup, semi final of the Europa League, and only lost 2 home games. ‘Shambles’?

    Wenger left a decent squad that needed some defensive additions. Giroud said one of the reason he left Arsenal was that AW wanted a different type of striker, hence why Laca and Auba was signed (Auba might not have been an AW signing). Maybe all the changes behind the scene played a major part in the team bad performance last season.

  8. Well said Bobome and the others.

    What is clear that the rollercoaster that is our beloved team continues to operate as usual.

    As far as our defence is concerned, what we need is consistency in the defenders playing, which we have not been able to do so far this season.

    I wonder whether chopping and changing the defenders in order to, supposedly, match the opponents is beneficial. However, as our defenders stagger from one injury to the next the anomalies will happen.

    I, for one, believe that Jenkinson should be given the right-back role in Bellerein’s absence.

  9. The Shambles was a meat market in York . So quite where the derogatory meaning came from is a mystery.
    Wenger spent years as the front man defending the board whenever there was an incident he was shoved out front to be their buffer .
    Anyway it’s the same the whole world over it’s the manager that gets the blame , it’s the board that gets away with it and it’s all a bloody shame . ( apologies to any rugby club that may be reading ).
    Much of our current situation was caused by the rift between Dein and Fiszman which led to the selling of the club to our present owner. Whilst the shares were distributed to a few people a concensus was needed to go ahead with things . Now things are different as effectively one person holds the cards and the board have become nothing more than administrators or so it seems. People have the power to do their jobs but now that our finances are sawallowed by KSE they have the final say.

  10. OT: Injury to Bellerin

    I see nothing on, but the Sun is claiming that Bellerin is out 9 months.

  11. What have these “experts” to offer.

    I don’t read or watch them so what I learn is on this site.

    From what I have seen on here I am not missing a thing.

    My question is why do they get paid for spouting what is at best comment, uninformed as it is, and at worst complete crap.

    If I was paying I would want more than that.

    I am not an Arsenal supporter but I don’t see a “crisis” – I see a system that rewards corruption and penalises honesty. Well done the FA and Pigmob for dragging the game into disrepute

  12. I think since there isn’t an iota of truthfulness in all what Jamie Carragher has written to portray Wenger’s managed Arsenal first team squad he left behind which Emery inherited as ‘shambles’ , the best thing for us Arsenal fans to do over it in our reaction to Carragher’s illicit write ups against Wenger’s left behind squad is to dismiss his claims in his write ups with the wave of our hands, ignore it and forget about all the negative write ups he has written on Wenger’s Arsenal left behind first team squad as if we’ve not read it. And thanks, Bobome has answered him appropriately.

    Now, what I believe us Gooners, head coach Emery and the Gunners should be focusing on now, is Arsenal next FA Cup 4th round match at home on Friday night this week against Man Utd and not allow Jamie Carragher’s negativism on Arsene Wenger to distract us in our thinking on how Arsenal should best build on their last home big win over Chelsea last Saturday in the PL and follow the big win with another one over Manchester Utd.

    Till latter.

  13. PGMO Pretty Gutless, Mostly useless, Of no value


    OT: New managers and relegation

    Huddersfield have a new manager. I wonder what he is “charged” with accomplishing?

    Huddersfield have been averaging less than 0.5 points per game to this point. In order to get to 40 points (the typical relegation level in the past), they need to average 2 points per game. Which means of their remaining 15 games they probably need 7 wins and 8 draws. They are averaging about half a goal per game. How many games are you going to win, scoring half a goal?

    They could get 1-0 wins and 0-0 draws for their remaining games, and fit within what they have demonstrated so far this season.

  14. What would constitute a club crisis for me ? Or get me in a twist ?

    The Owner –

    a) Mortgaging the club or taking money out of the club to fund his other failing businesses .

    b) The banks/creditors closing in to get back all monies owed .

    c) The owner consorts with dictators, despots and other low life leaders .
    ( Here the lines are very blurred and often merging !)

    d)The owner who is generally uncouth and denigrates women.

    e) An owner who has alleged close ‘ties’ to organised crime and/or shady characters.

    The players –

    a)Incoming players opting to join the Spuds as the top team in N.London. !

    b) Our youth academy not producing promising players for the future.

    c) Our players being signed up by some super agent.

    d) Our players actually listening to our shitty ex-players and other experts.

    e) Our players following twits like Piers Morgan on twitter /Facebook.

    The PIGMOB –

    a) When they start to get 100% of decisions right .

    b) When they say that they have seen the alleged infringements and don’t need to review it .

    c) When the get FIFA accreditation .

    d) When they hop , skip and dance when the opposition score.

    e) When they line up our ‘dirty’ players at the kick off , and yellow card them preemptively to save time !

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