It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to blog due a holiday, work and illness. However, during that time the dark clouds have once again gathered over Arsenal FC. The worst thing about writing that sentence is the need to insert the word ‘again’ in to it. The fact is the dark clouds have never been far away over the last 3 seasons.
Last season the club made the decision to use the word ‘forward’ to create a motto for the 125th anniversary of our club. In some ways they were right, historically Arsenal have always been an innovative and forward thinking club. In the 1930’s Herbert Chapman pioneered the use of numbers on shirts, flood light games, revolutionary tactics and the naming of ‘Arsenal’ station.
Arsene Wenger has changed the mentality of the modern footballer through nutritional knowledge, a clubs use of their scouting networks, his footballing beliefs, creating success without spending millions and finally successfully moving Arsenal into a bigger and more lucrative stadium without suffering the same fate as other clubs who have move to new stadiums. (See Coventry, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Sunderland and others).
That was 2006, in 2012 is this club still moving ‘forward’???
Financially, most definitely. There isn’t another club in the Premier League or Europe in a better financial position that us. You can look at all the Forbes rich lists you want but the likes of United and Barca have debt levels they can not sustain. When we secured the cash to fund the move to the Emirates stadium, we locked into some pretty awful commercial deals as we needed money upfront to finance the big move. Fast forward to 2014 and many of these deals are now coming to an end. Emirates have already acted but committing £150million across 5 years to the club and from what I’ve read, I expect Adidas to complete a circa £25million per season a deal to be Arsenal’s new kit manufacturers from 2014. (Bringing us in line with Man United.)
If the financial fair play league is implemented with any vigour by UEFA or the Premier League, Arsenal will be in a very strong position indeed. However, if UEFA struggle to implant FFP, Arsenal will have ‘wasted’ years of direction and dedication to a policy that was never implemented. A massive risk.
What about where it matters, on the football pitch?
Well unfortunately, the ‘forward’ motto can not truly be applied. Since 2006, Arsenal have gradually moved ‘backwards’. Arsenal have always sold players who were close but past their prime; Vieira, Henry, Wiltord, Sol and more. However since 2006 we have unwillingly be ‘forced’ to sell players reaching their prime as their ambitions have outweighed our potential. The likes of Nasri, Cashley,Clichy, Cesc and recently RVP have all been tarnished with the brush of greedy footballers but deep down we all know they left chasing success along with a higher wage. Everyone of the players mentioned above have gone on to win trophies while Arsenal watch on with nothing.
Not everyone can win something every season but those that have ambitions will compete right? Unfortunately Arsenal are no longer truly competing for the top English and European honours. We are a tough challenge for teams at the top of the league but they do not fear us like they once did.
Our standards have horrendously slipped, from watching talents like Anelka, Vieira and RVP burst on the scene and create a devastating impact on the league, we now watch Gervinho, Ramsey and Walcott struggle to create any sort of impression on the first team let alone the league.
On Saturday 1st December 2012, Arsenal lost 2-0 at home toSwanseaCity.Swansea restricted Arsenal to 44% possession and simply outfootballed Wenger’s Arsenal in their own backyard. Saturday was a humbling with a large slice of humiliating served up on the side. When Arsenal previously dropped points through missed chances, I always said ‘as long as we keep create chances we’ll be fine’. Unfortunately we create little to nothing these days, see games against Villa,Norwich,Swansea and more for recent examples. We lack players willing to fight of the cause and the only one who I truly believe hurts like fans do, made the mistake that led to the second Swansea goal; Jenkinson.
I really could go on but something has to give soon. If the players are ‘jaded’ and ‘tired’ well we need a bigger squad, it’s only bloody December! We need to sign personnel in January.
If players don’t want to fight for the cause, move them on and bring in players that do.
Finally, if the manager is struggling to attract the players that could make a difference, motivate the squad to win simple games and tactically set us up to win games; then maybe we really are watching the end of Wenger’s reign.
Personally, I hope it doesn’t end like this.
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