Players need a new leader on and off the pitch by Big Gun
Looking back on Arsenal’s season, it has been another serious case of déjà vu. If we had a theme song, it would be the one on that broken record, likening to an old school country ballad, we all know how it begins and how it will end.
Personally I was optimistic going into the season, coming off the bat from two consecutive F.A cup titles, a new world class goal keeper, not to mention the unsettling changes of many of our rivals (United and later on Chelsea and City.) Conditions were ripe and it really was our for the taking.
We all know how things have panned out…Arsenal have choked yet again. It’s not about playing beautiful football anymore, those days are long gone as I believe the BPL has become a hostile arena, extremely fast paced and physical. Managers have become increasingly adept to adjusting tactics on the fly and ensuring their squad operates as a unit, especially in defense. This has made it extremely difficult for Arsenal to play the type of game we love seeing them play, the type of ‘sexy’ football we are renowned for. It is a dying breed, a dead horse that Wenger continues to flog. Not only that, but it has made us extremely predictable to play against. I’d say perhaps if we had better players at our disposal, we would be able to pull it off (like Barca) but the fact is we don’t.
There were one or two games, (the one where we stuffed Man United with three comes to mind first), where I thought finally we are playing to our strengths, hitting the opposition on the counter with pace and clinical finishing. But it’s almost as if Arsenal have gone backwards lately, we take forever to get the ball upfield and do any damage. By the time we get the ball to the opposition’s box, they have 10 men behind the ball, impossible to break down. Not to mention we have no one that can score those long range goals we see players like Kane do on a regular basis.
The biggest point I’d like to make, and I believe one of the reasons why we just cannot win the league and get very far in the CL, is simply because of our players attitudes. In response to the article written about our players needing the fan’s support even during this dark hour, I actually couldn’t disagree more and here is why.
1. Arsenal have the most patient fans I have ever seen. Just look at other clubs around the world and in England. Real Madrid, Barca, Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea etc etc are so ambitious that if they do not win a trophy after one or two seasons, the manager get sacked (Don’t necessarily agree with it but just proving a point). Us fans have supported our manager and club over the last decade and more without a single BPL title. Most of us understood that there was a period of time when we just couldn’t afford to bring in big names and win trophies but Wenger still finished in the top four. Respect given when due. But it has been three to four seasons now in which Wenger has had sufficient time to build a world beating squad in which he has failed to do so. Personally, as many of you know, I still supported him for the most part up until recent events. So enough about fans not being supportive, WE HAVE DONE OUR BIT, paying exorbitant ticket prices to experience something reminiscent to ground hog day.
2. On average, and Arsenal player earns between 70k-100k per week. Yet what we have seen for the latter part of the season was as if they were doing it for charity. There has been no desire, no passion to see some of the more crucial games off. How does a team leading 2 – 0, concede two goals right before half-time? We just turn off, and it has happened several times this season, games in which we look quite comfortable and then just go belly up, either drawing or losing. Our players are professional athletes who get paid insane amounts of money to perform, yet we (the fans) still get told we need to mollycoddle them otherwise they cannot perform? ABSOLUTE TOSH. They should be willing to bleed on the pitch not only because they are paid what most people can only dream of, but, for crying out loud, do it because you are proud and honoured to play for such a prestigious club as Arsenal. Our players need to start taking responsibility on the pitch, pick themselves up without the need for outside attention or recognition. After all the best athletes of all time have thrived in the face of adversity and criticism. How can our players and manager expect us fans to keep singing their praises when what we are witnessing on the pitch is a half-hearted attempt? This brings me to my third and probably most controversial point – Arsene Wenger.
3. There is no doubt Wenger has made Arsenal Football Club a better club in terms of longevity, not to mention all the trophies he won back in the glory days. I respect him much for guiding our club through a dark time highlighting earlier what I mentioned about consecutive CL football. But like they say, the only thing that is constant, is change. Not even Wenger and his god-like status at Arsenal can avoid it. To cut a long and convoluted explanation of why I think Wenger needs to be replaced, it’s simply because in the last while he has had the time and resources to bolster our squad. Even through my support, I made it clear Wenger still has not fixed some of our flaws, most noticeably our strike force. I was right about Giroud, been mediocre for three seasons, we will never get more out of him and we need better to win the league and CL. I was wrong about Walcott though, I really thought he was coming to light, but he just hasn’t developed into the type of player he had the potential to be all those years ago. At 27 years of age, he will not get much better. It’s not nice to bash players, but people need to realize it is nothing personal. Our aim as a football club should be to buy and field our strongest players. If there is a weak link, it needs to be rectified and it’s not as if Arsene hasn’t been faithful enough, he has given certain players PLENTY of time to prove themselves.
Reverting back to my point about player’s attitudes, we need to understand that our players are only imitating the mentality of our manager. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to manage a high profile football club (just ask Gary Neville) and get it just right, but in Wenger’s case it is obvious his taste for glory and success has been curbed and it has rubbed off on our players. The only person who can actually light that fire and get our players motivated again is the manager. If it was Wenger’s second season in charge, I would be over the moon for a top four finish and F.A cup victories, but the fact is we have seen the same old nonsense happen for the last decade. I have to say it, Wenger has run out of excuses. The board and Stan Kroenke are going to be around for a long time still, nothing we can do about that, but I think Arsenal simply need a change for better or worse because let’s be real, unless Wenger brings in another three world class players ASAP and gets rid of the deadwood we will experience exactly the same thing next season. As it stands, I don’t even see us making top four next season with Wenger in charge.