Sunday, 23 March 2014

A QUESTION OF CHANGE


It’s not easy losing to a direct rival, its not easy being annihilated by a team as loathsome as Chelsea and its not easy taking a beating from a team managed by an obsequies popinjay like Mourinho but the truth is that the Portuguese loudmouth has got the measure of Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. It seems that we are consistently failing to beat the teams with whom we purport to challenge when it comes to the crunch. Time was that a gifted XI with a strong mental attitude went to Old Trafford, The Bernabue, Anfield, Milan and Stamford Bridge expecting to get something out of the game: and they usually did. The team of which I speak was one that needed little instruction and could often beat their opponents in the tunnel before kick off. An extraordinary set of players and a thing of the past that some might argue it is futile to measure Arsenal 2014 against except that the question of the assurances made of replicating that golden era are unanswered.
The move to the Emirates came with assurances that the Arsenal would be competing home and abroad, that there would be funds available to spend on players and that if we were patient we would reap the rewards. That patience has, for many, come to an end. If yesterdays result is seen as merely an aberration then I contend that this is a false statement: it happens too often now as reverses against Manchester City and Liverpool showed before yesterday’s debacle. Our record against the other title contenders is awful: away from home it is diabolical.
What is frustrating for me is that for a ha’porth of tar the ship need not go down. To think that we could honestly compete without vital additions to the squad in the transfer window seems somewhat delusional. If it’s not delusional then questions, hard and forthright questions, need to be asked. Why do we have such a poor injury record? Something is not quite right is it? Let’s be honest it can’t just be a case of bad luck again and again. Why the 70 minute substitutions? If there was a pattern of these changes making significant impact on results I would understand but they seldom do. Why do we not adopt a tactical approach in key games? This squad of players show genuine heart on occasion and I feel that they have more of a connection with the club and supporters than previously more talented players but they are not at the level where they can just play their game without adapting to the strengths of superior opposition.
Learning from defeat is something that Arsene spoke about in Friday's Metro yet can we honestly say we've seen enough in the last few years to suggest that any learning has taken place?
The answers to these questions can only really be answered by one man: the Manager. Like it or not I think he makes decisions that he feels are in the best interests of the club, but what if he’s wrong? What if his belief judgement and methods are no longer effective? Some are bogged down with hurling insult and invective at fellow supporters whose views on Wenger differ, but the thing is that in the Football world, especially at the highest level the manager is ultimately held accountable. I think that by and large Arsenal supporters have shown great patience given the cost of watching the team, the loss of our better players and Arsene’s failure on 34 consecutive occasions to win a trophy and perhaps this 1000th game malarkey meant that some took their eye off the ball.
The manager should not be above criticism: constructive criticism, yet some dare not raise their head above the parapet to raise concern.
The revival of Arsenal that changed us from a fair to middling outfit into a club that won titles, competed at the top of the table, appeared in European finals and won cup competitions along the way along the way probably started in 1989 under George Graham then, after a pause for Bruce Rioch, continued with Arsene Wenger until our move to Ashburton Grove. Yes none foresaw the rise of the Billionaire plaything clubs (why I don’t know: financial analysts and all that) but is it a case that other managers and Clubs have taken Wenger’s innovations and marched forward or could it be that Arsene is a man out of step?
I’ll have no talk of not wanting to win the FA cup: we have to, it’s as simple as that. Our patience deserves that.

A lot of questions in this post, the reason being that I really don’t know what ails our club meaning I can’t diagnose a cure. But whatever acronym camp you choose to fall into it seems to me that our Manager has to make some changes in order to learn from defeat and move forward. Whether he is capable of that or even thinks he needs to is anyone’s guess. Wanting Wenger, who after all is a decent bloke, to change and learn from adversity is what most want but I fear that deep down he won’t or can’t.


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