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On Arsenal’s Fiasco…

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One more season for Arsenal’s young guns, one more disappointment for their long suffering fans, one same excuse will be given by Wenger, and most importantly, zero addition to Arsenal’s cobweb collecting trophy cabinet. At a glance, this is the season when Arsenal is supposed to have matured as a whole cohesive unit, and this is the year in which the young Gunners are finally ready to be able to be considered “Big Boys” and finally challenge on all fronts this season. However, in the usual Arsenal fashion, they simply failed to deliver yet again due to an alarming slide down the top end of the table in the run-in of the season.

That’s at the macro level. Even looking at Arsenal at the micro level (game to game basis), Arsenal is still trapped in their old and usual routine, despite signs of that changing up to ¾ of this season, in which Arsenal will be blazing at the start of a match, and continue to do so while failing to register the second (or third) goal which would effectively kill the game after 20+ shots on goal or so, and then only to concede either 1 goal to make it a disappointing draw, or even 2-3 goals to make it a bitter and sorrowful defeat, all in the dying minutes of the game (between 85-90th minute). Thus, back to the macro level, Arsenal’s season (this season is no exception) is also the same. They go all the way to the top with a trailing blaze, only to lose matches unnecessarily against oppositions which other top teams would thrash to the tune of a 19th century football game (9-1 anyone?) such as Wigan, in which Arsenal was pitifully defeated 3-2 no thanks to 3 goals conceded in the last 10 minutes, and recently Blackburn, again after leading the game 1-0 most of the game. It must be really frustrating to be an Arsenal fan, seriously. Especially looking at all those shiny but unused gold in their coffers (which will be touched upon again later).

Their manager, Arsene Wenger can do nothing but moan and groan about how his oppositions are playing “anti football” and are just out with machetes and hachetes to dismember his fragile, tiny, kids. This was shown in its full glory just recently in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat against Blackburn, in which the Lanchasire outfit simply utilized the extremely low morale and confidence of Arsenal’s stand in keeper Lukasz Fabianski by intimidating and distracting him by using huge players such as Chris Samba all the time, which culminated in both goals conceded eventually. Well, Arsene Wenger was really enraged by that strategy. But, just like what I have mentioned in the previous posts, that’s what Blackburn (and a few other teams like Bolton) is known for, a rough but effective “Push and Shove” tactics. To be frank, that strategy works wonders for Blackburn and Bolton for instance, since both of them have been in the Premier League since their promotion back to the division God knows how long ago. And the fact that I, and I believe many other fans as well, have forgotten when the last time these two teams were outside of the division speaks volumes about how their general strategy is working!

Besides, in football, especially in the modern era of the sport in which the fine line dividing between winning and losing could mean existence and extinction has increased the volume of calls for Rationality in football, and rationality was just something implemented by Sam Allardyce during that match. I mean, think about this. You don’t engage in programming contests with a pale, horrifically thin computer geek, you engage in a push-and-shove match with the geek, and that’s how you win against the guy. I am apologetic for the possibly offensive analogy, but that’s the perfect illustration for this. Any team facing a team full of slick and fast small sized attacking players like Arsenal would employ the same strategy. You don’t engage in a dribbling and running contest with them, but you push them around the pitch and send high balls to your towering and burly targetmen instead of complying to a so-called “Law of Joga Bonito” and play carpet football and be thrashed by the Young Guns (just like how Everton found out the hard way at the start of this very season). Rationality and results are the keys, and most of the time in football, the end justifies the means, besides Blackburn didn’t go against the ethics of the game such as diving, play-acting, (Sergi Busquets!) or executing career ending tackles…

Arsenal’s main problem is actually the fact that even until today, Arsenal have yet to find the proper replacements for players such as David Seaman, Martin Keown, and Patrick Vieira. Not that Wenger hasn’t been signing players, but as one would have noticed, he has been signing the same kind of players all these while, and that the players have to have certain criteria which are: The players must not be English, the player’s height must be less than 180cm, the player must not be older than 23, and the player must be an attacking midfielder or a fast striker. (eg. Arshavin (OK he’s older than 23), Samir Nasri, Eduardo, Theo Walcott (OK, he’s English), Denilson etc.). Despite recent improvements in signing Thomas Vermaelen, William Gallas, and well… re-signing Sol Campbell, the much expected replacement for Vieira has yet to arrive…

Also, Wenger has, as usual, been refusing to make that “WOW” signing, or speaking in terms of Australia’s A-League, Arsenal have yet to sign a marquee player who will put bums on seats. A player along the line of David Villa, David Silva, Carlos Tevez, or even Leo Messi and C. Ronaldo! What I am trying to say is the kind of commanding player which can win games on his own, or even if the team is already leading, to be able to continue to spur his colleagues on, mostly by leading by example and I believe this will undoubtedly put a lid on Arsenal’s “routine” problem mentioned in the first paragraph. However, despite the availability of the kind of budget to initiate this kind of signing, Wenger’s continuous defiance and stubbornness to retain his own football philosophy would mean that Arsenal fans won’t be able to see such “marquee” signings anytime soon, and yeah, trophies as well.

To be fair to Arsene Wenger, his youth and thrifty policies are actually a honorable and perhaps an economically ethical philosophy. If we look at what football has become nowadays, it is quite scary to look at how obscene the amount of money being spent to bolster a team (such as the recent free for all spending of Man City and Real Madrid, which are both my favorite teams) as well as how some teams have spent way beyond their means to acquire the players they want but with a debilitating consequences to them (such as the well documented problems of Leeds United and now Portsmouth). However, Wenger has stood tall to refuse to spend that kind of obscene money and instead focusing on developing and nurturing young players to minimize costs and also to do things the “correct” way. It is also paying dividends, at least economically as despite the huge costs incurred by the club to build the Emirates Stadium, they are very healthy financially and managed to escape the crippling consequences of the recent global financial crisis, in which many clubs found out to their peril, most notably Valencia which almost ceased from existence. Also, as far as transfers are concerned, they are the only team among the top teams in Europe that have raked in profits, and a huge one, from player turnovers. Also, not forgetting the fact that they have been responsible for properly nurturing many megastars such as Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, and Emmanuel Adebayor just to name four to make them the world beaters that they are from relative obscurity. We must also not forget how Arsenal’s matches are so entertaining week in week out with the carpet football in full display! Such a delight to watch Arsenal!

However, his honorable policies don’t seem to have paid off so far, even after all these years. Due to this, Wenger has been coming out with the exact same excuse of “they have yet to mature” at the end of every single season such that you feel that at some point he should just record it on a tape and just play it over and over again at the end of every trophyless season. Despite the fact that the excuses can be recorded and be played over and over again in the same manner, the players’ age won’t stay the same. Each year that Wenger gives the press conference, the players’ are getting older and older and thus time is running out, as there will be a particular point of time when the “We are not matured yet” excuse has expired as the players can no longer be considered as “Young Guns” anymore and when the dreaded thought of the star players being frustrated for lack of trophies come forth….

Also, for the sake of Wenger’s legacy to be remembered properly by the future generations, he ought to abandon his policies, at least mostly if not fully and get down and dirty and most importantly to start winning trophies. Remember, only winners are remembered, not even runners-up. In fact, being second can mean insults to many, and I have heard instances when players and managers alike have been known to throw away runners up medals, sometimes to the fans as soon as they have obtained it. I mean, just look at Tony Mowbray’s delightful playing style instilled on his teams. First up is West Brom, despite playing good attacking football, they were relegated, and I believe there are many who have forgotten West Brom exists, let alone their exploits in the Premier League last season. Secondly is Celtic, in which their season ends in total disappointment as they win nothing and they have to play second fiddle in the league to a Rangers side with a plethora of financial problems off the pitch. Now, Tony Mowbray is contributing to Britain’s unemployment rate. Thus, what use is his attractive attacking football now? Food for thought here….

Many Arsenal fans, and even those cynical non Arsenal fans would just quip, “Hey at least Arsenal is still hovering somewhere in 3rd and 4th position all these while, while YOUR Man City and Real Madrid fail big time despite having spent obscene amount of money”. Well, as a civilized fan, I would just be cool and tell them to their faces in a polite manner as I leave them alone, “Yeah, but if that continues, then it’s the matter of when, not if, their star players such as Arshavin and Fabregas’ moans and groans in the media about how playing for Barcelona is the greatest thing that could happen in their career gets louder and louder and eventually culminating in them wearing the Blaugrana colors…” That’s what is brewing right now, and Arsenal, you have been warned!

Even if that’s not happening, I mean the exodus, even this season, Arsenal is still in danger of being usurped by Tottenham of all clubs and they might have to see Tottenham finishing 3rd, higher than them in the league table. Also, if the exodus does happen, expect Arsenal to be the second team losing their Big Four Status after Liverpool, and if the Reds’ status is wrestled by Manchester City, then Arsenal fans will be in an even more intense pain, as the one who would wrestle it from them is none other than Tottenham, again of all the teams…

However, in any case, actually I have no rights to say all of what I have been saying up to the last paragraph. After all, I am just an ordinary football fan who is simply trying hard but in a futile manner to be heard and known for my infatuation on football over the internet, while Arsene Wenger, the man I am talking about here, just like his nickname “Le Professeur” suggests, is a full time football professor who is one of the best in what he does, and thus, maybe what he is doing is the right thing and the best thing for Arsenal and for football in general, and also because we don’t know what might happen in the future and Arsenal might be at the top sooner rather than later. I mean, just like how I said about how those journalists who criticized Robinho would struggle even to produce 1/20 of what Robinho was producing if they are given Man City’s number 10 shirt, and thus perhaps if I am given one season to manage Arsenal, perhaps they will be relegated for the first time in their history with a plethora of financial problems. Thus, Wenger might not be wrong at all. In any case, we shall just sit back, relax, and see how the Beautiful Game unfolds!

Written by cp

05/05/2010 at 11:16

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