Arsenal Debate: What is the minimum targets? Where is the tipping point?

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?

by AndersS


  1. Robin Vanpayslip says:

    Position 17th or above is the minimum.

  2. Durand says:

    Profit is the minimum. Too expensive to compete for title, so let’s go for “top 4” CL has some prestige (and much money).
    Now with huge TV revenue, other clubs competing for top 4 so that is quickly becoming too expensive. CL not worth spending to get there, only to go home immediately after rd of 16.
    Now club and sad fans big up FA Cup, talk about past achievements, and blame everything except those responsible.
    Said it before, Europa league new Wenger trophy and FA Cup is just as good as premier title,

    1. Come on man..Europa is a good trophy..Chelsea and Man utd who are champions league winners have fought for it and won it, why should it be beneath us now?

      1. ks-gunner says:

        bec we are by far not cl winners and still have much to prove, where the uefea leuage is just a secondary loser competion

        1. Break-on-through says:

          It’ll give us decent experience at traveling Europe and facing different styles. Liv won the Europa not long before they won their last CL. Also it’ll give us a good opportunity to open up some channels in case we spot a player we might like, or down the road it could be beneficial that we dined and wined with different owners managers players and such.

  3. Eat Pie says:

    We are the new Tottenham.

    1. Joe says:

      No, we still win things.

    2. ks-gunner says:

      Cant see us beat Real m with this team around ever

  4. dave says:

    if the team finishes outside the top 4 again this season, then it will for certain be followed by a mass exodus of key players. the club will be at a dark and very unfamiliar place while it tries to find a new manager and rebuild the squad without champions league to attract “top” talents. there is a real danger that that this vicious cycle will perpetuate for extended years to come. if you are an optimist, then the situation could present a turning point in the club’s operating strategy: from profiteering to prioritize winning, from stagnation to reformation. Or, if you are a pessimist, be prepared for extended spell in no man’s land (à la the Súper Dépor team of the 90s)

  5. Simon Says says:

    For me the tipping point happened a few years ago when I started to see our team on a regular basis perform without any desire or seemingly any fight, the huge loss against Bayern was just conformation of that. Wengers speech at the AGM consisted of money in the game and how things are different now with a pinch of the values of our club, it’s classic Wenger just like blaming refs and diving players, a pure deflection tactic. Loose to Tottenham and expect hundreds of unrealistic January transfer targets to be leaked, none of them will arrive, Arsenal maybe a Europa league club now but our PR machine is top of the league.

  6. Ivan says:

    It is quite simple. We should at least be able to compete for the EPL most years. Winning it regularly may be a bit much but we should at least be able to compete and we have not done that in 13 years. Oh yes we should be able to get at least half the points on offer against the other top 6 clubs.

  7. Yossarian says:

    The problem is that the fan’s target and the best player’s target, is to win the EPL and UCL, or at least look like we’re capable of doing so. The owner and manager’s target is to finish 4th in the league, and maybe get a domestic cup as a bonus.

    The ill feeling from fans is because we were told that the fan’s target would be the same as the owner’s and manager’s target after the cost of building the Emirates Stadium was covered, but it clearly isn’t. The ill feeling from our best players is because they sign at Arsenal with the promise of more quality additions joining them, to make Arsenal a team that can reach their targets, which never actually materialises.

  8. ks-gunner says:

    Maybe Arsenal changing its name into Arsene would be the last straw, would it be? As this club has become smaller then some individuals anyway

  9. FrankN says:

    One of the best articles I’ve seen on this website for a long time. Thoughtful, analytical, well wriiten and thought provoking. And correct in its conclusions.

  10. Grandad says:

    An excellent article.The tipping point is when the Board of a club feel that drastic measures are required to improve the Club both on and off the pitch. The trouble is ,the tipping point at Arsenal differs from clubs like Man Utd. Man City etc. where the Management is accountable to the Board if they fail to meet expectations. Arsenal is unique in the world of professional football in that the Manager is not accountable to anyone .Year after year he displays incompetence in terms of tactics,team selection, motivation and in his forays into the transfer market yet the Board are sufficiently satisfied to rest content with the slow decline which is taking place and will carry on with AW at the helm.

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