Adam Kemp – All good things must come to an end! Wenger Out!
We’re only two games into the season and the same shenanigans continue. I recall first posting six years ago and many of you heavily criticised my views about Arsene Wenger. Many of you thought I had no right to call for the manager to resign, as in your view he was still the man to take the club forward. Six seasons on… lo and behold the penny has finally dropped! A sudden realisation that the man is indeed, a specialist in failure! Arsenal Football Club has not transcended into the elite bracket of teams we supposedly would be joining after moving to the Emirates. The fans are finally united in this mutinous fashion.
I feel there are several issues that are now the catalyst for this wake up call. Let’s look first at pre-season. Since 2010, Arsenal have won just one of their seven first league matches of the season due to a combination of not making new signings until the end of the transfer window and players either being injured or not fit after pre-season. There seems to be the odd early signing illustrating a false dawn of further business, i.e. Cech and Xhaka, followed by a couple of youngsters who may or may not make it. I cannot understand why Wenger seems eager to write off the first few games of the season.
Another trend of Wenger and including certain board members for that matter, is to make certain statements, then to follow up with hypocritical comments. After the Liverpool game he noted “some players are not ready” when one week earlier he stated.. “we look ready” after the Viking fixture. Comments like this just show how he lacks any integrity and respect for the fans. He takes no responsibility for preparing his players properly, which has been the same for the past six seasons.
One of the most frustrating aspects of his management is the clear lack of ambition when compared to the resources at his disposal. Arsenal Football Club have the most expensive season tickets in Europe which in part covers his world class salary, yet the ambition is that of a mid-table side (second tier club). This is why he comes across as being cheap in the transfer market, when last season we should have won the league. If only in January he added to the team, then we could be starting the season as Champions! No we just keep paying premium prices for mediocrity at the highest level!
Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis is another yes man. Do you recall the comments this yes man made in June 2013 – “We should be able to compete at a level like a club such as Bayern Munich. I’m not saying we are there by any means but this whole journey over the past 10 years really has been with that goal in mind. It really is time now for us to turn that into sporting success. We have a certain amount of money which we’ve held in reserve. We also have new revenue streams coming on board and all of these things mean we can do some things which would excite you. We are moving into a new phase where, if we make our decisions well, we can compete with any club in the world.” Fast-forward three years to July 2016 – “We can’t afford to outgun competitors that have far more money. We have to be very careful, very selective.” Sure, let’s pretend we are not wealthy so we can claim austerity when we fail to acquire world class talent.
It is evident that the club has not utilised its spending power by the publication of Arsenal’s financial results for the six months up to November 2015, which exposed cash balances of £159 million. This is in line with the £162 million cash at the same time in 2014, but is lower than the £228 million reported in the annual accounts as at May 2015. This is simply due to the usual phasing of cash inflows and outflows with most of a football club’s income coming in the second half of the season. In particular, most of the overpriced season ticket renewals are paid in April and May, so Arsenal’s cash balance will always be at its highest when the annual accounts are prepared, estimated to be close to £250 million.
Wenger has explained that his lack of spending is due more to supply and demand than an unwillingness to spend: “It is not a shortage of money, just a shortage of players”, adding that there was “not quality” in the transfer market. Of course, not all of this £250 million is available to spend on transfers. Chief executive Ivan Yes-Man emphasised this point: “It is quite untrue that we are sitting on a huge cash pile for some unspecified reason. The vast majority of that cash is accounted for in various ways.” Whilst the most Wenger Loyalist may agree to some extent with his comments, I find it disappointing that his scouting network has failed to identify a few decent players somewhere in world football that could improve the squad.
Wenger’s summer transfer budget is in the order of £100 million to £150 million. He does have the money to spend, given that with the increasing revenue (new television rights), he doesn’t need to worry about breaking the bank. This team is so close to challenging to major honours, but we lack a world class striker to ease the burden on Giroud and a quality partner for Koscielny. Another issue is that Wenger seems to stockpile players, particularly midfield. He is also loyal to some very average players, none more so than Theo Walcott. We need to freshen up the squad and add the right players. That is part of his job description. His job is build a side, with the resources he has, capable of challenging for major silverware. Being honest with ourselves, he is not good enough to compete with this newer breed of manager, ruthless in their approach to win at all costs.
A big worry for Arsenal fans is that the two genuine world class players we have in the team may not extend their contracts. Alexis and Mesut both came to Arsenal to win major honours. Can you really see them hanging around if they cannot work with a genuine world class striker? If we fail to qualify for the Champions League this season, which is a realistic possibility, then they both may be sold next summer. Arsenal do not have the appeal of Manchester United in the Europa League, and we will revert back to being a selling club, in the same fashion as 2006-2012. This is Wenger’s legacy. A club on the brink of success, ending up a second tier club but financially secure for years to come. Is this why we support the team to be proud of our financial position, or to be proud that the club gave everything to compete? Sadly, with Wenger in charge we will never progress beyond a top four finish, the odd domestic cup success and a last sixteen exit in the Champions League.
Arsenal under Wenger are stuck in the same old rut, not signing players we need to cover our obvious and evident flaws. Everyone and his dog knows what’s wrong with the team – the manager, the board, the players and the fans to some extent, but we enter this season with morale lower than it has ever been. I also believe Wenger has too much power in his role. He acts as if he is the owner of the club, not just the manager of the first team. He is not challenged by the owners and set relatively mediocre targets, given that he is still employed when an ambitious owner would have sacked him five-six seasons ago. Another aspect of his management is his paranoia to have former players in coaching positions as it could undermine his authority, cited in the recent omission of Thierry Henry from his position as under 18’s coach.
Personally, I find the most frustrating weakness to be his ability to set up the team to win football matches where he needs to be a tactical coach. His tactical naivety has been evident pretty much since 2004, and fans cannot understand how the same glaring defensive weaknesses are not addressed year after year. Seeing the team ship four goals against Liverpool on the opening game was unbearable for supporters but what made it worse was that it was hardly surprising. We conceded eight against United in 2011, fours, fives and sixes on so many other occasions. This is borne from his lack of ability to identify the oppositions playing style and adjust to them with the personnel at his disposal. Could Mourinho or Klopp get better results with this group of players? Almost certainly so!
Furthermore, how can we forget that all the players seem to be made of glass. The never-ending injuries at Arsenal is almost up there with the club’s transfer policy as a universal hindrance. The main frustration is that so many of the injuries could seemingly be avoided if Wenger managed his player’s workload better. Recall last season where Alexis looked visibly shattered against Zagreb, then he was played at Norwich with the outcome of a two-three-month injury layoff. I recall fans begging for his not to be risked in that game. Wenger’s decision making in recent seasons is progressively becoming more irrational, proving how far this once great manager has fallen from the limelight.
Remember the ‘time for change protest’? That was an opportunity there for the fans to unite and sing ‘Wenger Out’! Instead all these brainwashed fans sang ‘Only One Arsene Wenger’. Pathetic! Then they got on Twitter and type #WengerOut in the following weeks when we blew the title. Some of the fans lack any true conviction to voice their frustrations, and for that I say shame on you! I hope true Arsenal fans can finally wake up and agree with everything I have been saying for the past five-six years? I hope you can continue to revolt and if so force the change we need at the club! Arsene Wenger, thanks for the memories, but it’s time to say goodbye!
Tweet @adamjohnkemp with any questions you want me to consider or address in my next post.
kind regards, Adam