By Tony Attwood
There are a number of reasons that are fairly easy to think of.
1: Arsenal have had three managers in the past three years.
That is not the way to create stability and growth.
Settled clubs do much better than clubs in turmoil, not least because three managers means three sets of staff. All coming and going. And of course when they go their contracts have to be paid off.
I have seen a number of quotes that it cost £17m to get rid of Mr Wenger and his team a year before the end of their contracts, and although it would not have cost so much to get rid of the Emery team there was still a lot more change and more costs at that moment.
What’s more we have had changes at the top level of the club as senior staff outside of the managerial group have gone and some have been replaced. It is hard to get stability amongst such turmoil, and it is not a productive way to spend the club’s money either. If a player is brought in by manager A for £20m and then a year later is not felt right by manager B, that player’s value declines greatly, so we get less back for him.
2: Arsenal now has a reputation of turmoil rather than stability
As a result we are finding it harder to recruit players and wanted management. While some of the changes may be for the long term good, the media will always make the most of changes and turn any change into “turmoil” – as with the move from having scouting staff across Europe to having just the video analysis staff.
Thus it becomes ever harder to attract the top people in whatever role as theey look at Arsenal and think – ok you want me now, but the way things are you won’t be here in six months, and I’ll get the chop again.
3: Dropping two players from the rosta makes it harder to bring in players
Having two players on the books who are simply not part of the “25” rosta either for the domestic or European fixture sends out a terrible message. There are always disputes, loss of form and the like in clubs, but normally these last a week or two, compromises are reached, and life moves on.
Buying more foreign players than can be fitted into the squad is new – and I think that sent shock waves through football. Players think, “I could go there and then just be frozen out, and my career will be over,” so they go somewhere else.
4: We’ve had two big transfer windows
The bloggers and journalists are still calling for more and more transfers, and yet we have had record numbers in the last two summers. Successful squads have a settled nature with one or two changes being introduced year by year. Maybe a club can get away with a big change around in one summer with a new manager, but not in two successive summers.
- The injury issue is still there
It was always said by the Anti-Wenger movement that Arsenal having such a high number of injuries was totally down to his antique methods of training. If that were right then presumably Mr Emery and Mr Arteta have followed the same system.
We are not at the top of the injury list, but we are consistently near the top, and the situation is getting worse and worse. That could be because there is something wrong with our training pitches (although Mr Wenger announced that they were being dug up and replaced in case that was the cause) or it could be that the club is targeted. Either way, if you were a top footballer would you go to the club that gets so many injuries?
6: Our statistics are all wrong.
I won’t repeat the stats that we are now publishing each week, and there should be a new set available tomorrow, but the fact is that we are getting more yellow cards than seems right for the number of tackles committed, compared with other clubs. We are getting one penalty given in our favour for every eight Leicester get, and so on.
We spotted this for the first time last season with Leicester’s very odd stats – and the refs started to catch on to what was happening after we highlighted them (although that may have just been a coincidence), but the oddities are still there and it is getting to the point where the way we are being treated by referees is affecting our ability to play.
That doesn’t mean there is a PGMO conspiracy against us, (although it doesn’t rule it out either) but there is no statistic we can measure in relation to tackles and fouls committed by Arsenal players, yellow cards we receive, penalties given in our favour etc, that is working to Arsenal’s benefit while it does work to other clubs benefit. We’ll return to this in the regular column.
I suspect even if Mr Arteta knows this, he doesn’t believe it. No one believes the refs are biased against us.
7: Why is the media not mentioning all this?
We also ask, why is the English media not covering all the scandals in Fifa when the rest of Europe is? The answer is the media goes its own way, and Arsenal never get any help from the media. Quite the reverse in fact. No question of corruption in football is ever mentioned until it is so big it no longer can be ignored.
- Is Arteta taking account of refereeing behaviour?
Mr Wenger was made very aware that there was something odd about refereeing and PGMO in the Premier League early on, not least when he was charged with assaulting a referee and banned for 10 games near the start of his career at Arsenal. He appealed at once and had the charges dismissed, but was forced to pay vast costs for the appeal even though there was no case to answer!
That episode, I believe, taught Mr Wenger what he was up against but I rather suspect Mr Arteta hasn’t quite realised how things work. Mr Arteta’s only front line experience in management was at Man City and they, as we know, don’t experience these factors.
Indeed I am not sure anything in his career as a player led him to experience the oddities that exist in Premier League refereeing. He was with PSG who rule the roost in France, Rangers (part of the duopoly in Scotland), and then Real Sociedad and Everton, neither of whom were considered a challenge to the established elite in their respective countries.
At Arsenal he played under Mr Wenger who knew exactly what he was up against, following the fake charges brought against him early on, and who dealt with it.
I am beginning to think that with all these massive changes we have had, we’ve missed the one thing: having senior staff at the club who are aware of how football works in the Premier League.
There may be other explanations as to what is going wrong, such as “we bought the wrong players” but that only raises the issue, “why did we do that, and what are we doing to stop that in future?” I’m not sure I see answers along these lines.
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP