Since the start of this season, a number of Arsenal observers have commented on the performance of the Premier league team. General observations have included that there has been little apparent creativity in front of goal, instead an approach that includes much running around and passing sideways and backwards; that passing out from the back seems to be very confused; that there is a lack of tenacity by the team which is thus open to being bullied by more physical teams; that there is a lack of heading ability during each game; that there is too much reliance on just one individual to score goals because the team is too defensive in attitude and set up; that opposition teams are being allowed too many opportunities to make shots on goal; that despite being too defensive, the defence is weak etc.
A number of advanced metrics and analytics have been available on the internet to suggest that the Arsenal Premier team is underperforming in comparison to other competing teams. One statistic worth looking at could be the Arsenal point accumulation this season compared to other teams. At the time of writing this article, Arsenal is 9 points behind the 4th placed team in the league, 17 points behind the league leaders and 10 points ahead of last place! This after Arsenal has made an apparent huge financial investment in new players and coaching staff over the last 18 months.
Many commentators have suggested that this statistic is significant whilst others suggest it is not significant at this stage of the season. However blame has been apportioned from a vast array of so-called experts and supporters as to where responsibility lies for this state of affairs. Should individual players be lambasted for poor performance? Should the coaching staff be verbally abused for poor coaching and tactical analysis? Have the owners, through the board members, issued specific mandates to the coaching staff and players that involve policies within the club that have not been explained to supporters outside of the club? Does the quoted statistic justify vitriolic abuse by supporters toward certain individuals within the club, through the National and social media domains?
How much do we supporters really know and understand about the way the club is organised and run? For whose benefit is it in operation? Is there an owner’s agenda that we, as supporters, are not party to? How transparent is the running of Arsenal football Club and its parent company?
Over the past 18 months there have been major changes to Arsenal personnel, both on and off the playing field. For many of these changes I am completely ignorant as to their reasons, other than through mere rumour, either on the internet or through tv, radio and the occasional newspaper. I feel that many of these changes have not been adequately explained to Arsenal supporters.
For instance, why did Arsene Wenger leave Arsenal one year before his contract expired, if indeed he was half way through a two year extension to his contract? Was Mr Wenger sacked? Did he resign? Was he paid off to leave, otherwise he was to be sacked? Did KSE respond to the empty seats appearing at the Emirates so it acted to change the manager. Did KSE want a new set up at Arsenal based on a managerial approach much touted in American sport? Why did Mr Wenger’s coaching staff also leave en masse? Why did Mr Gazidis leave so soon after the appointment of the new coaching staff led by Mr Emery? Was he in support of the appointment of Mr Emery or did he support a different candidate? When did the owners know that Mr Gazidis would be leaving the club? Had something happened at Arsenal to cause Mr Gazidis to seek employment elsewhere? When and how did KSE appoint two new CEOs to run the club? Are either man fit for purpose in these posts? I have no idea myself.
What caused Mr Mislintat to leave? Was he sacked or did he resign? Can anybody explain why he is no longer at Arsenal? Reports indicate that Arsenal have recently sacked 8 members of the coaching and management staff of the youth academy. Why? To save money? Who is responsible and for what reasons?
Things seem to happen, full stop! What information is/was forthcoming from Arsenal? Transparency?…..hmm!
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Who withdrew the Aaron Ramsey contract and for what reasons was it withdrawn? Was Mr Ramsey about to sign this contract? What happened to cause Mr Koscielny to refuse to go on pre-season tour? Ten years at the club and the club captain. What really happened and why? Why did Nacho Monreal suddenly leave the club? Why has Mr Ozil been side-lined so often? Has Mr Mustafi been so bad as to be virtually excluded from the Premier team? Who was responsible for Mr Bould returning as coach to the youth team and Mr Lungberg promoted to become one of the senior coaches? Do we really know what happened? Does any of these help account for Arsenal’s current position in the Premier league?
Change is not necessarily a bad thing, but without adequate explanation or occurring within a climate of secrecy, does not engender me as a supporter of Arsenal, with any optimism for the future. Transparency issues again?…..hmmm
The inconsistencies of referee performance and the use of VAR should not surprise us Arsenal supporters! Such had been predicted since last season. Why? Well, a small so-called elite group of Premier league referees for a start! This group mainly arising from the Midlands and North England. (How many are from London and the South East regions?). The Premier league and FA purport to want to ‘kick racism out of football’. What is the ethnicity of this elite group? A group shrouded in secrecy. Again, little or no transparency as to how this referee organisation chooses its participants; trains its chosen few and above all operates throughout each season. Who appoints the referees to each game and how does this process operate? How can any team be officiated by the same referee over and over again? The PGMOL are rarely mentioned or investigated by the media. Why is this, or is it simply my imagination?
The Premier league and Football Association never appear to be dissatisfied with the operation of the PGMOL. However, many football followers are dissatisfied. Why is this? My problem is that I have no information as to how the PGMOL operates, nor how the Premier league operates, nor how the FA operates. What or who is behind these organisations and how are such persons appointed? How is the work and financial accountability of these organisations monitored and evaluated, and by whom? Yet more transparency issues……hmmmm!
A number of Arsenal supporters’ follow particular internet web sites and tv channels in order to try to gauge, gain and update news concerning Arsenal. Many supporters vent opinions which do not always seem beneficial and supportive of the team and the Arsenal management staff.
Are young professional football influenced by what is written about them through such media outlets? Is it necessary for them to be to be subjected to vitriolic verbal and written attacks through such media? If young footballers are subjected to such attacks, should they not be allowed to vent their own opinions back, if and when the need arises? Or is this merely an accepted part of the game since verbal abuse has been around since the game became professional, as has been argued by others. Football authorities in the UK purport to fight racism, sexism, homophobia, issues that have also been part of the game since it became professional. However, there is very little opposition to the verbal and often vitriolic abuse, received and heard at football matches. Verbal abuse towards individual football players is tantamount to bullying! Bullying is supposedly to be challenged at the workplace in the UK. But is it? If not, why not?
For instance, booing appears to be an acceptable form of derision for some, if one is unhappy with a team or player performance. Why is this? Perhaps less booing and verbal abuse would arise if supporters were given more information about the team and the way the club is organised and run; about team tactics; about on-field decisions from referees; about reasons for substitutions; about reasons concerning team selection etc.
Transparency issues yet again perhaps or do such issues have nothing to do with supporters?
Perhaps some supporters may well find that they react because they are seen to be supporting a team and a sport within a vacuum of information which they are not privy to, according to the powers that be within the sport and the club. So,supporters resort to using their own existing belief systems in order to make sense of the team performance and sport that they are following, or indeed, tap into other belief systems that seem to parallel their own. Do we Arsenal supporters have the opportunity to become more objective or rational through the exploration of relevant information, if such information is not forthcoming? Is a once-a-year question and answer session between Arsenal board members and a selected few supporters sufficient information transfer to help thousands of supporters understand what is happening to the club they support?
Apparently, over 1 million people now subscribe to AFTV. If true, one million is not an insignificant number. Not all will be Arsenal supporters but it is a shrewd guess that many are. Why do supporters feel that there is a need for such a channel? Perhaps the need arises because there are few outlets available to supporters that allow for a transfer of information between supporters. Perhaps supporters feel that such a channel offers the chance of more transparency of information than that which is currently emanating from Arsenal, and is thus an important medium to follow. Even now, a central character to AFTV has indicated that an Arsenal player did not invite him to his own Emirate’s box, despite what media outlets suggest. Instead, it was Vbet that issued the invite. If true, since Vbet is a financial sponsor of Arsenal, Vbet might now be seen as supporting this channel too. However, Vbet has never indicated its support for AFTV. What is the truth of the matter?
Transparency issues yet again? hmmmmm?
I have been following Arsenal since 1957. Despite the age of information communication, I feel that I know less about the Arsenal organisation of today than ever before! But then, perhaps I am just a sad old man!