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October 2020
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“Mikel Arteta’s rebuilding job has barely scratched the surface”

by Tony Attwood

That headline is taken from an article in the Guardian and I suspect that after last night quite a few people might agree with that.

Although the situation takes on a somewhat surreal notion when one looks at other headlines and finds this one from The Hard Tackle.

“8/10 Mustafi the sole bright spot; Leno among ten to get 5 or lower – Arsenal Player Ratings”

It does highlight the problem at Arsenal.   The media and some supporters have united to attack Mustafi over a prolonged spell, and he has survived that assault.  But the impact on the club as a whole of the raging campaign against him will surely last for a considerable while.  If you were a player having a decent run with another club, would you risk coming to Arsenal and playing in front of these fans and this media?

In a sense for any player looking for a transfer, it is now a bit like applying for a job with a company, going to the interview and having a walk around the firm’s premises with a current employee who spends the entire tour telling you what a bunch of ne’er-do-wells the management and other employees are.  It probably wouldn’t encourage you to take the job if offered.

So any potential signings will look at Arsenal and the endless complaining in the media and on the blogs.  Everyone, I suspect, will admit that Mustifi must have the most extraordinary mental strength to have been able to put up with what he had to take from journalists and Arsenal fans alike and come out the other side  But will potential players feel like putting up with it?  Perhaps not.

And I think on these lines because we’re now approaching the second anniversary of the time when the club bowed down to the demands of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal by spending £17m on encouraging Mr Wenger and his staff to leave the club before the end of their contracts.   Was it money well spent?

Of course it can be argued (and I have heard it argued) that Arsenal would be in a better position now if Mr Wenger and co had left two years before, and we can’t know if that will be true.  The past has happened, and yes maybe some potential transfer targets will indeed ignore what some Arsenal supporters and the media did to Mustafi, but I am not sure.

Certainly, at the moment we look as if we are travelling along the West Ham route – a club whose list of managers is so plentiful of late they have taken to publishing the list of past bosses in alphabetical order, to avoid drawing attention to the multiplicity of changes.   They’ve had 17 managerial changes this century (although to be fair, they’ve appointed David Moyes twice, and that total does actually include two short term bashes in the joint by Kevin Keen.  So maybe we should say 15.  In 20 years.

Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv

Anyway, we’ve had three managers since the start of 2018, and we have been spending money – exactly as the AAA demanded.  So maybe their argument now is that we have not spent enough and that in the new window we should have spent more.

Personally I suspect it is unlikely that Arsenal is going to spend £150m a year on new players (which is the average spend of Manchester City over the last ten years), even though we approached that total last summer.  Mind you Man City have been buying on average 28 players a years across those ten years and I can’t see us doing that either.

Although even that is not matched by the 577 players bought by Juventus in the last ten years.  (Actually I should add that these figures come from the Sun, so a certain amount of sodium chloride might be necessary to take with these figures.)  Still it is undeniable that the approach works – at least in Italy.  Juventus as bought its way to the top of Serie A for each of the last eight years and are top again at the moment (although only just).

And Manchester City has won the Premier League four times in those same past eight years which is pretty good by English league standards.

So spending vast amounts of dosh can buy the league title, but I find it hard to believe that Arsenal’s owners are going to continue down the route of chasing the biggest spenders having spent so much last summer.   And besides for most clubs, it doesn’t work.   The six biggest spenders last summer are all doing worse or pretty much the same, as they were doing this time last year.

The alternative approach is the one of bringing through lots of youngsters and finding players who are off the radar but are real gems.   But then that was Mr Wenger’s approach, and the “fans” protested against him so much, he departed the club.

As last summer’s transfer spending shows, Arsenal were right up there with the biggest spenders, and as the managerial charts of the last couple of years show, Arsenal is right up there also in terms of managerial turnover, exactly as the signatories to the WeCareDoYou letter demanded.  (That was Arseblog, Arsenal Armed Forces Supporters Club, Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Black Scarf Movement, Gooner Fanzine, Goonerholic, Gunnerblog, Gunners Town, Highbury Squad, Hugh Wizzy, Le Grove, REDACTION, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Suburban Gooners, You Are My Arsenal Blog, 7am Kick Off in case you missed it).  It is their policy that the club has been following these last couple of years, and this is where we are.

Of course the club could now change direction and follow a new policy, given that this one doesn’t seem to be working (what with being ninth in the league and out of Europe).  We might get up to fourth and qualify for the Champions League (and maybe they’ll forget that fourth never used to be trophy).  Maybe they will focus on youth – although the stories that Bukayo Saka is not going to sign a new contract and will leave at the end of his tenure, are annoyingly persistent.

Or maybe the club will realise that although Mr Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal didn’t bring us any trophies in the latter years (apart from making the club and the manager the most successful club and manager in the FA Cup of all time, but that appears to have been written out of history) it was not a bad approach.

Fourth might not have been a trophy, but at least when we went out of Europe it was to Barcelona or Bayern Munich, not Olympiakos.

 

17 comments to “Mikel Arteta’s rebuilding job has barely scratched the surface”

  • You don’t appear to give credit to the victors , we lost because frankly we didn’t turn up and they did . They didn’t give up and their game plan was executed perfectly. Shit happens after a few days of reflection I expect us to bounce back and hopefully put this defeat behind us .

  • Steven

    Well said.

  • Josif

    It’s all true except for one little thing:

    first time Arsene was in our dugout in Europe, we were knocked out by PAOK. Arteta needs maximum support as there is a.vision in his approach. Arsene needed some time to build a top team.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Josif, if that is a sign then we are in for a good time again 😉

  • Chris

    I think the out may be a blessing in disguise.
    At the rythm our best players are playing, the risk of injury increases.
    The City$ issue means EL places are realistically within our reach, and maybe even CL.
    FA Cup is still there

    I feel our team is playing much better then it has for at least 2 seasons. We’ve got a bunch of young Gunners who are just as good as any seasoned professional.
    Sure, we’ve got defensive issues, but my guess is that Mr Arteta knows that and it may take time, it will get better. We are not taking in as many goals as before, so it has already changed.
    We’ve got a new recruit, a Mr Mustafi. Wonder where this guy came from…. ;=))

    The sequence of games is taking a toll on the team, with the same players being present day in day out. So yesterday I believe we saw that. We played well in ‘moments’.
    All in all, we may have lost, but we’re out of a competition that would have depleted our team and I feel our chances of getting into european competitions are better aiming for spot 7 or 4.

    For once, I felt the european referee was having a PGMO moment… or maybe in italy, some fouls etc are not fouls. I still can’t understant how the sandwich on Pepe was not a red card, and there were other situations on both sides where I’d have expected a foul to be called. Maybe Walter can give his opinion.

    But again, I still believe we are on the right path and that it will be ok.

  • Rondejonge

    Nice one again Tony thanks!
    Good to call these so called fan/supporter blogs out. They should eat humble pie but in the Trump era alas, admitting your mistakes is for those media-attention-prostitutes a possible let down in revenue, so they keep on riding that high horse.
    Tony you should be very proud to carry Diogenes lantern in a media-world choke-full of hypocrisy and incomprehensible arrogance, which boils down to a lack of intelligence.

    I m positive the loss will strengthen the Arsenal this running season. So don’t let us be down about it.

  • rondejonge

    Good to call these so called fan/supporter blogs out. They should eat humble pie but in the Trump era alas, admitting your mistakes is for those media-attention-@#$$** a possible let down in revenue, so they keep on riding that high horse.
    Tony you should be very proud to carry Diogenes lantern in a media-world choke-full of hypocrisy and incomprehensible arrogance, which boils down to a lack of intelligence.

    I m positive the loss will strengthen the Arsenal this running season. So don’t let us be down about it.

  • we have played with fire in all of our early knockout rounds of the europa league (we lost to östersund, BATE, rennes) … that time we got scorched.
    as for the AAA, now that shkodran’s put himself (for how long??) out of harm’s way, they’ve turned to laca – you know, the guy who, 10 months ago scored four in four games in the EL Ro8-Ro4, and took us to the final (oh, by the way he also scored our only goal in our 2018 semi-final, against atleti). valencia, napoli, atletico, three teams who have made it to the 2020 CL Ro16. but no, this 28-y-o CF’s finished, pathetic, abject …
    so much so that unfortunately, i think you’re right about talented players thinking twice before putting their signature down an arsenal deal. if i were in bukayo’s advisers’ shoes, i certainly would think more than twice … at the first sign of weakness, those sorry people will swarm around his wounded body/soul like ghouls. damn them.
    we’re at a crossroads now: either we give two seasons to arteta to nurture our best bunch of young players in decades, whether they come out of the academy (bellerin/saka/nelson/smithrowe/nketiah/mniles/willock…) or not (chambers/holding/tierney/torreira/martinelli/saliba/mavropanos/guendouzi…), or we follow the money-spending path, and – i agree with you again – this great club might get westhamized .

  • Chris

    @rondejonge,

    you see, last night, sure it was a deception, But far less one then on some of the autumn afternoons and evenings of last year.
    The guys, even if they were visibly tired and had not their best day were still trying hard. Pushing. Not giving in.
    So yeah, win some, win more and lose some. It is the art of the losing that is different and I did not wake up this morning all pissed off about last night’s result. Nice change I feel

  • John

    Some perspective :

    Olympiakos were very good.
    Our players were all slightly below their best, despite some flashes of great skill, therefore the overall cohesion of the team was largely lacking.
    Result was very close and could have gone either way.
    Mustafi outstanding, Luiz not so good.

  • Blacksheep

    Tony, you know I think this but…

    We cannot keep managers for ever, however good they are.
    Managers come and go, they leave for better jobs, more money, they die, sometimes they just get stale and need a new environment.
    Players will come to Arsenal for the money, for the city, because their against tell them to, because they love Arsenal, they like the set up, the colour of the shirts, etc. They will come more easily if we are in the CL or have a chance of winning trophies but THEY WILL COME.

    Mustafi is much improved under Arteta, perhaps he just needed a kick/a hug/confidence. He may still be sold in the summer and now, we might even get a few quid for him.

    We will have off days/nights. Last night was one of them. Its annoying/upsetting/frustrating but blaming it on the AAA is getting silly now. Time to change the record IMO.

    To me a more important issue from last night was why, 5 minutes into extra time, a large group 25-40 blokes, were gathered in the concourse watching the game on the TVs and singing hate songs about Sp*rs rather than being in the arena cheering on a side that was then trying to beat a very competitive Olympiakos side who were supported by a 5000 travelling fans who sang their hearts out. The Emirates was quite again, the East and West stands were quite again, and without the Clock End the only noise was coming from around me in the north bank. If we want a successful team we all have to do our bit, not just moan about keyboard warriors and the home made banner brigade.

  • Blacksheep – I’m sorry your post went into moderation – nothing to do with me I assure you. A glitch somewhere.
    And I do recognise the point you make and agree about the drunks in the bar who had given up on the game. But you do misrepresent me a little. I think we would be doing better if
    a) there had been no anti-Wenger protest movement and he had been allowed to organise his own departure in his own time, working with the club to appoint his successor.
    b) the attacks on individual players (Mustafi et al) had not happened but we had continued to support manager and team as we did in the past.
    The media loved every moment of the protest movement from the AST allegations of criminal activity by directors by taking money out through to the planes flying overhead with banners, and all the Wenger out cards.
    If the club had managed the handover to a new manager, working with Wenger during his final season, we could have had a smooth transition. But we didn’t – and the reason was the constant protests.
    The problem now is, being here now, I can’t see how we get out of this place. We are here, how do we get to somewhere else? I am sure we will in the end, but oh, wouldn’t it have been better if that transition could have been smoothly arranged?

  • I have been really impressed with Mustafi, last night he did several excellent blocks, really putting his body on the line. He has shown great character and mental strength getting back to his very best despite being written off as worse than useless by a large number of fans and pundits, including several ex Arsenal ones who should know better.
    Up yours Keown et al.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    some thoughts:

    1) We have a ways to go
    2) We didn’t play great
    3) Olympiakos played well
    4) I am more interested in how well we play right now than results in what I think is an unimportant competition. I place this well below the FA Cup in importance
    5) I agree with others…we still have a chance at 5th and rest coupled with better performance might give us a chance
    6) The lack of mid week games will give our manager time to work with the team on the training pitch.
    7) I think the last 2 years of mediocre performances has weeded out the deluded amongst us. We are who we are and we deserve (PGMO notwithstanding) to be about where we are. We aren’t entitled to anything simple because we are the Arsenal – that belittles the efforts of our club over the last 30 years.
    8) We have a ways to climb so we can either get on with it or, as some do, throw stones at each other. I prefer the former.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I agree that we are not the finished article , but I like to think that we are on the right path. More undivided and loyal support for the players , manager and the club will push us forwards.

    I really enjoy watching our team play after a poor and prolonged period of dour and negative play earlier . The smiles on our players are genuine , as was the disappointment on losing the game.
    Hope we bounce back in style , and give joy to our faithful masses again.
    Up the Gunners !

  • Menace

    The difference last night was hunger. They were hungry and we were not.

    Our shooting at goal is still poor. How can a player who is professional miss a damned huge goal by yards from a good position outside the box? The miss by Auba is just that nothing more. There were so many chances that were not attempted that it makes one wonder why players shy away from scoring and pass to an opponent by mistake.

    That shyness should be addressed and changed to a ruthless attempt at goal.

  • porter

    “”If the club had managed the handover to a new manager, working with Wenger during his final season, we could have had a smooth transition. But we didn’t “” .

    The problem being , when was the final season going to be ?

    He was regularly renewing two year contracts and there was no reason to believe that the board who used him as a shield against themselves and KSE would not have offered him another deal and that he would have not accepted.

    His tactics had gone stale and we needed change . I wish that he had gone earlier after the Villa game although we may not have got the 2017 win , I feel it would have saved much heartache and been better for the club in the long run.