Where is the tipping point? by AndersS
For me it was a big surprise, that we didn’t see a change of Arsenal manager after the Champions League humiliation we suffered to Bayern Munich last year. Not only was the 2-10 result absolutely unacceptable, but watching many of our players playing with a total lack of belief and commitment, was shocking.
It also came at a time, where it was clear, we yet again were not anywhere near challenging for the PL title, and the reasons for not challenging seemed to be exactly the same as in the years before; losing most games against the other top clubs, and generally using tactics, where many opponents relatively score easily, especially if they are a bit physical and determined.
Not even at the end of the season, when we didn’t qualify for this year’s Champions League, which made the decline obvious, did we see a change of manager. Instead we saw Wenger continuing and promising “to put things right”.
In the claim to “put things right” there is of course an admission, that things weren’t right at the time. But there is no clear definition of what actually is “right”. So what are talking about. What would be right for Arsenal?
From Wenger there never comes any real specific targets. Nor did the recent annual meeting provide any clarification as to what the goals are for Arsenal. All that could be found was some loose quotes like “we want to be competitive”. But what is that? Does anyone know?
Anyone with just a minimum insight into top sport will notice, that winners set specific targets/goals that they want to achieve. You would very rarely find an Olympic champion, who found his motivation to train for hours and hours to make the necessary sacrifices and to find the little margins, which made him the winner, in a deepfelt desire to “put things right” or “to be competitive”. No, he/she wants to win, and that is the target. It’s as simple as that.
We have a distinct lack of winning mentality. The root of it is in the management, and of course it spreads to the team playing, and we are not going to win anything significant without a winning mentality. The manager and the players should at all times know what their targets are. Otherwise they don’t know what is demanded of them, and they don’t feel that little bit of extra pressure, which make them go that extra yard or two.
With the lack of specific and ambitious targets also comes the inability to evaluate. Constructive evaluation is also a winner’s trait. Good evaluation is knowing where you want to go, where you are in relation to that and planning what you need to do to get there. When you don’t know exactly where you want to go, how can you find out how to get there?
So we are in fact also in limbo here.
All the above also makes it impossible to say whether the manager and the team are doing great, bloody awful, or somewhere in between. Because anyone can set their own standard and compare against it. Some of us could say; Arsenal must be near the top of the PL every year, winning it maybe at least once every 5-6 years, never missing Champions League qualification, and every year we must be at least one of the final 16 teams in the Champions League. With these standards, we had a near disastrous year last year, and a new plan is called for. Others may say we did just fine, as we won the FA Cup and finished 5th in the PL and maybe adding that some of the teams above us have a big financial muscle, which makes it impossible for us to beat them in the big competitions.
While we as fans are disagreeing on where our targets are, or should be, I believe almost all of us can agree, we don’t seem on the verge of major achievements. We are as good as out of the running for the PL title this year, and as we are not in the Champions League, we are left with competing for somewhat less attractive cups + the Wenger Trophy. This seems undeniable.
With the risk of being called a pessimist, or something worse, I can’t help wondering if we have any agreement on what would be so unacceptable that we must see a major change like a new manager?
What if we finish the season outside top 4 in the PL and we win no cups? Would that mean Wenger has “put things right”. Not in my book.
Or what if we halfway through the season are lying 6th, 7-8 points outside top 4. Should that be enough to make drastic changes at that time? I would think so.
What if we lose by 2-3 goals to Tottenham and we don’t have a referee or anything but ourselves to blame and in fact, the players show the same level/lack of commitment as against Bayern Munich – or even Liverpool earlier this season?
Now, I am sure everybody can point to the fact, that it is only Wenger himself, or the owners, who actually can decide, and who can make the change. But I am also sure for both, there must be an absolute minimum for achievements somewhere. Where it is, I don’t know. But I feel confident, that if we were to finish say in the bottom half of the PL and not winning any cups, the owners would in fact begin to see a decline in income from sponsors, merchandise, maybe even attendance and TV rights so significant that they would be forced to act.
I don’t think we will finish that low. Of course not. It is just to underline my point; there must be a minimum for what can be accepted.
There is a tipping point somewhere. Where do you think it is? Are we near it, or far from it?