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January 2021
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As Arsenal sink lower changing the manager again is not the answer

By Tony Attwood

And so we have now had the first suggestion that we should get rid of Mr Arteta and bring in… Brendon Rodgers.  That’s the media’s idea of course, I’ve no idea what other Arsenal fans think of it.  Not something I’d like to see.

But it goes on and on.  We got rid of Mr Wenger because some fans were fed up with coming fourth – “fourth,” we were endlessly told “is not a trophy.”   And indeed for his last two seasons Mr Wenger couldn’t keep us in the despised top four as we slipped to fifth and sixth (although both the club and himself personally won the FA Cup for the record number of times along the way).

Thus after coming 6th in 2017/18 he was forced out one year before the end of his contract, a move that cost the club something like £18m in compensation for breach of contract.  Then Mr Emery took us back to 5th, and Mr Arteta taking over half way through the season where we finally got to 8th in the league.

Now you might think that with three managers in such a short space of time, and a huge churn in playing staff, with the results getting worse all the time, we might now decide this was enough of chopping and changing.  But no, the media are starting to look for another change.

And I wonder, just how many managers are we going to get through before the notion that “doing something that doesn’t work and then doing it again and again, is a sign of madness,” as the anti-Wengerians used to say, is going to sink in.

Of course, when, in the days of Mr Wenger, Untold used to get vast numbers of comments in which “supporters” of Arsenal would suggest that this was the worst season ever and the club was collapsing under the guidance of the manager, we never thought it would get this crazy.

And just how crazy it has got, can be revealed by looking at how we are doing this season compared with the starts of other seasons of late, using a few key parameters: our position after nine games, our goals for and against after nine games, our points after nine games, and where we ended the season.

I’ve included recent years and our three title-winning years under Mr Wenger by way of comparison.

As you can see from the table below we have actually had a worse start to the campaign in the years that are being looked at here, for in 2012, although we were two places better off, had scored four more goals after the same number of games as now, and let in fewer goals, we actually had fewer points.  And yet at the end of that season we came in third.

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Here’s the table for recent years, with the same details added for the last three title winning seasons…  The figure after the end of year position reflects the change between the position after nine games and the position at the end of the season.

Year Position after 9 games Goals for Goals against Points End of year pos (cf 9 game pos)
2020 11 9 10 13
2019/20 5 13 12 15 8  (-3)
2018 4 22 11 21 5  (-1)
2017 5 17 12 16 6  (-1)
2016 2 19 9 20 5  (-3)
2015 1 18 8 22 2  (-1)
2014 7 13 11 11 3  (+4)
2013 1 18 9 19 4  (-3)
2012/13 6 14 6 18 4  (+5)
2011/12 7 15 18 13 3  (+4)
2010/11 2 21 10 17 4  (-2)
2003/4 1 18 7 23 1  (-)
2001/2 2 21 8 18 1  (+1)
1997.8 1 22 10 19 1  (-)

What we can see is that in the seasons examined we have never been this low in the league after nine games.  Also we have never had such a tiny number of goals scored after nine games.  

On the other hand our defence is doing its job by and large, with the number of goals against being similar to other seasons.   But the points total is right down at the bottom of the list.

Only once have we moved up six places between this time in the season and the end of the season – which is what we need to get back into the Europa League.  Going up far enough to reach a Champions League place is simply a rise that is completely unknown.

Quite clearly what we need above all else is an attack that starts working and a long running streak of victories.  And we have to remember that we have slipped so far that even getting to the Europa places is looking tough.

Unfortunately, most of the blogs and newspapers are still sticking with the notion of doing what we have been doing (which has taken us down the table not up) which is buy more players and change manager.  It is the same story over and over and over again.

And that does look increasingly crazy – if we change manager again and buy more and more players, what then?  If it doesn’t work, do we do it again?

But there is another option and that is to look at the tactics.  The tactical review we have started to publish after the weekend’s games is showing the tactics that certain teams are executing in order to get results.  Changing tactics is an alternative to changing managers and changing players.  Since we have tried the player and manager change approach maybe we should give the changing tactics a bash as well.  It would be a lot cheaper and be a lot more flexible.

2 comments to As Arsenal sink lower changing the manager again is not the answer

  • Mikey

    It would also be interesting to see how many points we were off a top four place in those seasons two because I really don’t see five as being a huge problem at this stage. Sure Mikel is still trying to get a few things right but he’s sorted the defence, which everyone and his dog was saying was our biggest problem. I say let the man get on with the transition. It’s mainly people who only started following the club when we started winning things under AW that are doing most of the moaning. They all think they now better how to run/manage a football club (despite most of them never managing as much as a market stall!). They got used to us being successful and now think we have a divine right to win things despite the huge change in the financial dynamics within the game. Even that idiot, Neville, was banging on about how fantastic Spurs are doing but we should be outspending them. As for Garth Crooks on Final Score on Saturday claiming the Spuds will win the League (despite the fact that he was only three and can’t even remember the last time they won it!). Most people can barely remember the last time they won anything!

    Pochettino was allowed by the media to fail season after season but was still drowning in media praise. It’s positively vomit inducing.

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