How can you say that Arsenal still lack ambition?

Ambition or no ambition? by AndersS

”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

This definition is credited to Albert Einstein.

It seems to me, Arsenal for maybe 10-15 years had the strategy to strengthen the team with one or two star players, or one or two missing pieces of the puzzle. Whether Wenger and the rest of the management actually believed it would make us title contenders again is a bit unclear. But I am sure, there were many fans who at least hoped it would happen.

Looking back though, it is clear we haven’t been serious challengers for the title in that period.

We did spend quite a lot, and more than some teams who have managed to turn themselves into title contenders. Our efforts were enough to stay in the top 4 for a long time, but not to be title contenders. Maybe we didn’t spend on the right players or players for the right positions. Maybe our playing style was no longer competitive. Maybe it is a bit of everything.

The fact is, it hasn’t worked. If the ambition is to win the PL. It hasn’t even been close to working.

Not that we did really bad. The many years in a row in top 4 is of course a big achievement. But after a golden period, it was also very frustrating to see, we, season after season, were unable to challenge for the title. Especially, when it seemed, we kept doing the same things over and over again. OK, I would of course not call anyone involved insane, but how were we going to be title contenders, when we kept on doing more or less the same things, and other teams like Liverpool and Spurs were not only catching us, but also looking like they were going to overtake us? Eventually they did.

Whether you believe in Arteta or not, I will suggest anyone who follows Arsenal, fan or not, can see something different is now taking place. We have had a massive clear-out of players. We have brought many in, and nearly all players brought in, and certainly all the latest ones, are young players that were hardly established as stars when they were brought in. The difference is there for all to see, whether or not you believe in this strategy and in Arteta.

We are on a new path. Lately several pieces and several comments on this site, have argued the supporters of the new strategy lack ambition and possibly even knowledge of our glorious history. They could hardly be more wrong. I will suggest it may be just the opposite than what they are claiming.

For the first time in 10-15 years, there seems to be a new plan to make us contenders again. True, it isn’t happening this year, and possibly not the following year either. But exactly how would it have been better and more ambitious to stick with more or less the same strategy, which hasn’t worked for so many years? At least not in a degree to make us title contenders.

What I see is a manager with ambition and courage. A team with a very young core of immensely talented players, and a team willing to work 100% for each other and for the club.

Feel free not to believe in the plan. That is fair. I have had my own doubts, and they could of course surface again, if our progress is turned into going backwards again.

But honestly, I don’t believe the rubbish that those supporting the plan and lauding the obvious progress over the last few months show a lack of ambition.

And can you truly say that what you are seeing from our players at the moment is a sign of lacking ambition?

kind regards

Anders S

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Tags ambition Arteta strategy


  1. Nice article Anders S
    I don’t believe we have been lacking ambitions but we have definitely been lacking resources compared to some other big EPL clubs.

    Now we are trying the Ajax method and it seems to be working for us as well. Ajax has a small budget compared to most EPL teams, but they are producing remarkable results with their strategy and they have done it since the 70s. COYG

    1. Thank you. The Ajax comparison is good, but I think, with us being a much bigger club financially, we have the ressources to have a really good combination of our own “products” and players brought in. We just need to make sure all players are in on the project/plan.

      1. Yes we are, we should keep on spending our funds wisely and look for exciting prospects.

    2. Sorry to differ with you, some fans fell prey to a bunch of lies from the liar. Did we not spend in excess of 30M for Xhaka, Mustafi, Ozil, Laca, PEA. 16M for some unknown Chambers, Perez, Welbeck? Wages in excess of 100K/week for most of the players? Shame it is ESR & Saka, home grown lads on meagre wage who have led the club to be where we are today coupled with some astute bargain signings from the “magician” and now we see magic unfolding every week. Money was always there, it was swindled on the wrong players by the wrong manager and for the wrong reasons. Mikel may not be a so called “professor” but he is passionate and honest. Hence the right players hired on the right wage and we play the right way , moving in the right direction.

  2. Kroenke has shown his financial support towards his young teams in the US and in the UK, so I believe in his vision now. The guy is obviously ambitious, as shown by the amount of money he’s spent to support Arsenal managers

    He has just completely taken over Arsenal in 2018, therefore let’s give him another five years to realize his plan. We could win a major trophy with the current management or the next one, as long as the fans understand what Kroenke is trying to achieve

    He isn’t the most generous owner, but at least he isn’t as shady as the oligarchs

    1. Yes I agree Kroeke is now trying compared to before. He has injected some millions into the current Arsenal team let’s not be too critical.. People should be patient and let’s see how much he intends to move Arsenal forward if we reach top4 or Top6. What Arsenal does in the market after end of season would determine whether the board want the team to be really successful and compet well.

      1. I think he was losing money, hence the Super League involvement

        He can only make a huge profit by selling Arsenal. Therefore he needs to make Arsenal brand prestigious and popular again, by returning to the Champions League and winning a major trophy

          1. According to the news in May 2021, Arsenal had to repay their £120 million Bank of England loan. In August 2021, they have spent £150 million for Arteta

            We’ve been out of CL and haven’t won a big prize for five years. There was also no income from the tickets during the long COVID period

            Arsenal wouldn’t have been able to stay afloat without Kroenke’s help and he wouldn’t have joined the Super League if he was as rich as PSG’s owner

        1. According to Forbes, Kroenke’s net worth of $10.7 billion, making him 195th richest person in the world. His wife, Ann Walton Kroenke, ranks 261st with a net worth of $8.7 billion….he doesn’t need to sell Arsenal

  3. Good read Anders S.
    Regarding Arteta, what he’s doing reminds me a lot of what George Graham did in his early years. Getting rid of big named players and replacing them with players who have come through the youth ranks and buying relatively lesser known players who want to play for The Arsenal. Also their disciplinary ideas seem to be alike.

    Hopefully Arteta gets the players he wants this summer to move the club forward.

    1. That’s a good observation Herr Drier, hopefully we go on to have the same level of success, but with a better finale!

      Not so sure about the discipline comparison though, George was a bit selective on how he applied that virtue

      1. @FingersFurnell regarding the finale, I take it you mean the so called bung ?

        Keown sold for demanding a pay rise after George said no one would get a raise for 6 months as he needed to see what the players were capable of. Marwood sold after a bust up. Merson dropped for 3 months after he laughed when George told him to sprint in training. David banished from the first team for 16 months after disagreeing how he should play in midfield. Cross George and you’ll regret it.

        1. When you say “so called” Herr Drier, he got done for it by the FA, it was Arsenal’s money and he tried to give it back, they took it back but sacked him for that “indiscipline”, which was an unfitting way for a Manager who had done so much for the Club. But also after the two fantastic League wins, even with the domestic double and European trophy he let the team slide badly, he bought some very poor players and we were pretty awful just before the sacking came, he left a bit of a mess for Bruce Rioch and although he still had the famous back 5 Wenger had a bit of work to do, Rioch had brought in Bergkamp and Arsene soon decided on him over Merson and also brought in Anelka for Wright, Adams had sorted himself out by then, so that’s what I meant by finale, those two elements combined

          He could certainly make his presence felt but chose his battles, with players he didn’t want, but turned a blind eye to a few things, the infamous “Tuesday (drinking) Club” for example and by their own admission a few of the players trained and even possibly took part in matches the worse for wear because of drink and possibly other things

          His Captain was allowed to come back, play immediately and get a League Championship medal after serving time in prison for a serious drink driving offence

          The Merse story you have told says it all in itself really, he apparently got away with things others didn’t and eventually crossed the line as young players can do if allowed by their Manager

          And the on pitch behaviour of some players was also questionable at times, we were docked points for the Old Trafford battle but still won the League comfortably in 91

          Don’t get me wrong I thought George was great for us, particularly taking us from where we were when he arrived and his Club achievements are up their close to Wenger’s

          But in the end the “Magic Hat” went a bit skew whiff and as I say I thought the “discipline” was selective

          As the wonderful Mr Keown, he was surplus to requirements because we had better players in his position then but he didn’t agree and was sold for £200K and then George bought him back for £2M after both League Title Trophies were in the Cabinet!

          1. If you’re going to to receive a bung you go somewhere that is private, not the bar in the Park Lane Hotel which was part owned by one of your directors, which is where George met that agent and received the money. Also why would he have haggled down the fee for Jensen from £2.1m to £1.7m if he was on the take, as the original fee would’ve meant more cash for him. He gave the money back, plus interest once he found out that the money belonged to the club. Steve Coppell was one of the three men that found George guilty, yet before the case had even started he said in the press that George was guilty. Seems odd that he would say that. Was he still miffed that we had bought Ian Wright without his knowledge ?

            Yes the football was a bit dire, and some of the signings weren’t great in his last season, but he was on his way to creating history in the CWC, and who knows what could have happened in the final if the club has stuck to the agreement of George leaving at the end of that season.

            All clubs had those days where players went out on the lash, and yes players did train and play the worse for wear, notably Tony Adams at Ipswich in the Cup the day after falling down some stairs and requiring stitches in his forehead. Just goes to show how committed he was. Same goes with the brawl at Old Trafford, you pick on one player and the rest of the team, apart from Seaman, are there for their team mates.

            Selling Keown was a massive gamble, as it left us with just David O’Leary and a fairly inexperienced Tony Adams as our only CBs. Thankfully Tony came through, and became the captain the following season.

            1. We clearly have different views/memories on a few things there Herr Drier but both agree that George was up there as one of the greatest Arsenal Managers of all time for a while

              1. No problems FF. George Graham’s ratio of trophies to years, 6 in 8, is the best in our long, great history.

    2. @Herr Drier
      Yes, I think it sometimes is underestimated the foundations, that were laid by George Graham. The defensive discipline was something even Wenger could benefit from. When he became manager, he partly had that to “unleash” his positive football on.

      1. The greatest defence this country has ever produced, thanks to George spending a whole year training them. The defence on that glorious night in Copenhagen against a Parma attack of Zola, Brolin and Asprillia was truly amazing.

  4. “Lack of Ambition”?, on the contrary I think what has been undertaken at Arsenal over the last couple of years as Anders S has articulated is extremely ambitions, pretty ballsy actually

    Will it ultimately be successful?, who knows, but fair play to Josh Kroenke for giving it a go in an English sport that is usually on the leading edge of tradition!

    And it’s great fun watching these young guys enjoying themselves right now

    Really good piece in my opinion Anders S

    1. Thank you.
      Yes, that is the point. It is actually the most ambitious plan, we have seen for many years.
      We can only hope, Arsenal have the guts to stick to it, and that it will work.

  5. Excellent article from one of the deeper thinkers on here who now writes more often, thankfully. We HAVE A NUMBER WHO ARE CLEARLY VERY BRIGHT, as I read most of all the JA posts.

    I only wish though, that a few more of those would, at least occasionally, pen an article .This one by Anders gladdened my heart and is the best one on here for some time, IMO.

    It is clear that with MA, the club HAS made a complete change in direction from the too laid back latter years of AW and the intense but difficult to communicate UE.

    When MA first arrived, I for just one, took a great deal of notice about how many at Man City were praising his coaching and man to man management skills.

    This was in stark contrast to many of the, to my mind, utterly false and rather crazy posts from some who constantly slandered him with accusations of being a poor man manager.
    All previous evidence at City, the top team in the country when he was there and ever since, Liverpool being their only serious rival, directly contradicted those accusations.

    As an older and worldly wise fan, I decided that spoken and playing evidence from such as Guardiola, De Bruyne and Co, about MA s quality of work, had far more weight than CERTAIN fans on this site, who I need not name, as we all know which they are.
    As each week passes our exciting future under this intensely focussed, fanatically hard worker and WONDERFUL man manager is becoming obvious to more and more of tth former doubters. It is only fair ro say that at times most of us, myself included, have had doubts. Poor runs of results DO instill doubts ; that is only natural .
    The club did give the job to a rookie manager; that was then fact, though he is no longer a rookie of course. It was a brave decision that some saw as foolhardy. Well all opinions are valid but we need to say thoise who said “foolhardy” have been proved EMPHATICALLY wrong!

    What Arteta DID do , which upset CERTAIN fans was to say “No , we are not having players acting and playing as if the club owes them a favour”!

    Thank God for that correct decision that has been perhaps the single most efficacious change in the dressing room he inherited, with Ozil, Auba and Guendouzi already there .

    He saw through these shallow self centred characters and showed them all the door! Hurray
    Whether or not we make top four this season, it is now entirely clear to MOST of us that the club will be Artetas to run for the foreseeable future and, just as Anders’ article gladdened my heart, so does THAT decision.

    1. Thanks Jon, always nice to read your opinions.

      From a lot of nonsense to a no nonsense manager, I think we needed a totally shake-up. I don’t blame anyone for the mess, but it was about time to establish an performance culture again.

  6. Totally agree with your piece, Anders. Yes, incredibly brave to go with this really difficult approach to our problem. Unlike Man Utd, who can’t face up to their issues, and instead just spend money on more big name players on huge salaries without offloading their existing toxic, entitled and underperforming squad, or Spurs whose managerial hotseat is a revolving door and who seem unwilling to admit the attention their defence is crying out for, we simply ripped up every aspect of the club and started from scratch.
    Specifically wanted to comment on our player recruitment model, of which some key points deserve mention. Regardless of skillset and position all recruits must have the following:
    1) Football intelligence and the willingness and ability to learn
    2) Humility and a high work ethic
    3) Unselfishness, responsibility and loyalty to their team
    4) An individual and collective drive to never concede defeat
    5) Confidence in their own ability to contribute whenever called on.
    These are prerequisites for all of our recent recruits, having these these means we now also have several potential leaders. Many of the specific requirements of their role can be taught by a coach such as Arteta, as long as they have the above.
    Arteta is not swayed by big names alone. He has a constantly evolving shopping list of players he is interested in but only if the price matches our valuation and particular needs. We are no longer a club that panic buys either the wrong player or at too high a price. He WILL step away rather than see us being held to ransom.

  7. Thank you Anders for breaking the monotony of prophets of doom and gloom. Thank you too Jon for your usual objective, perhaps sometimes fiery, contributions. I have always maintained that what we need are optimists not pessimists. We need those who see a half full glass not a half empty one. Only the delusional ones can fail to see the improvement Arteta has made at Arsenal. For those ones there is very little we can do. However I am comforted by Shakespeare’s words that it is in vain talking to him that mean not to understand,

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