From Disgruntled Gooner : Time for a Change
There was a time when I loved Arsene Wenger.
He was so different to Don Howe, George Graham and Bruce Rioch (the managers I remember).
The football teams he produced between 1996 and 2006 were fantastic.
It was a joy to watch, but it was built on solid foundations â€“ George\’s back five.
Even the Invincibles had a strong foundation: Lehman, Lauren, Cole, Toure and Sol Campbell – players that knew how to defend.
However, it started to go wrong ever so slightly during 2005 and 2006 and it has got worse since 2008.
At first, the loss of Patrick Vieira didn\’t seem so bad. We got to the Champions League final in 2006 after all and but for Thierry\’s poor finishing, we could have won. Ashley Cole signed for Chelsea in 2006 but we got Gallas in return and Clichy looked the business.
But two things changed things fundamentally: (i) we moved into a brand new stadium, which had to be paid for (and we are still paying for it); and (ii) Arsene Wenger changed his philosophy â€“ gone was the fine balance between hard men and flair men.
In came the small, nimble and ever so injury-prone footballers. Was it a consequence of the stadium move? Possibly and hopefully the stadium move will pay off once the debt is cleared. Was it an inability to compete with Chelsea and Man United on the transfer front? I am not so sure.
Wenger had done the impossible back in 2003/4. He now wanted to show the world he could do something different. Total football in the land of kick and rush. Barcelona-lite on a shoe-string (in terms of transfer fees paid, but not on wages).
The thing is, we still believed. It looked like he had done it again in 2007/8 but our season collapsed. Eduardo at St Andrews. 2-4 in the Champions League at Anfield. It was over. It was not to be and I came to the conclusion that Wenger\’s time was up.
I felt guilty. How could I not be supportive of the man? He had changed so much at Arsenal â€“ be it youth development, the training ground, Ashburton Grove and the style of football. We kept qualifying for the Champions League.
But it was clear it was not the same. I often get asked who else should do the job or think of what he has done over the last 15 years?
But I do not waver. I agree, he has achieved so much, especially in the first 10 years but at some point it has to come to an end. Players stop listening, having heard the same team talk for year upon year and being paid handsome sums without justification (think of Bendtner\’s £52k per week, Denilson\’s and Eboue\’s £60k per week and there are plenty more). Opponents wise up â€“ tactically (think of the way United, Chelsea and Spurs now set themselves up to hit us on the counter-attack, knowing we cannot defend) and financially (either nicking our better players or gazumping us). The world moves on.
Yes, we cannot win every trophy every year (no matter how much we want to) but we do want hope.
Something that I haven\’t felt much since 2007/8 despite the odd string of performances or flashy result. This leaves us with two choices: we can continue to blindly believe in Wenger\’s project in some way hoping that the last 7 months is just a blip and things will get better (some blip: 19 points in 19 League games is relegation form in anyone\’s book) or we can accept things need to change.
Personally, I know which one I want.
I am fed up watching a team that cannot defend, fearful that we need a three goal advantage to be sure of winning.
I am fed up watching a team that shows little fighting spirit or tactical awareness.
I am fed up with the same excuses match after match after match (â€œtoo many injuriesâ€ â€“ it has been the same for the last 4 or 5 years; â€œwe played with the handbrake offâ€ â€“ come off it, we were mediocre at best as were some of the players (Diawara (remember him?), Stepanovs, Cygan, Chamakh, Eboue, Denilson, Arshavin, Rosicky, Djourou, Senderos, Traore etc. etc. etc.); or â€œwe were unluckyâ€ â€“ no, we weren\’t.)
You need to be able to take your chances and defend your lead to win at football.
Things need to change and change quickly.
Otherwise we face losing more players in next Summer and the rebuilding process will take even longer.
Who knows what that change will be but Messrs Kroenke and Gazidis- OPEN YOUR EYES AND YOUR EARS!