Daily Archives: December 13, 2012

Arsene Wenger on the Hot Seat as Arsenal’s Crisis Intensifies



Arsene Wenger's methods at Arsenal are coming under intense scrutiny

Can he still change this around?

For every thoroughbred Arsenal fan out there, this is certainly one of the lowest points of being a fan of the team we love and support with undying faith. Everyone concerned with the club had a tumultuous summer with its captain jumping ship to seek greener pastures elsewhere. The new kids on the block did their bit to adjust to life in North London and the Gunners began the campaign well, with three clean sheets in their first four Premier League games.

Fast forward to December and the Gunners are in shambles. Two of its key players, Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna are having serious issues with their contracts and all directions currently point to the exit door, which will be a big blow to the Gunners. Sagna can be ranked among one of the best right backs in the business, while Walcott’s output on the pitch is unrivaled, as he currently leads the club’s scoring charts.

With Manchester United among others on the prowl for the Englishman, I won’t surprised if Arsenal buckles and sells him off to the highest bidder. The last time I checked, Arsenal is all about the profits.

There are also issues with some of the club’s playing personnel, that are more than happy to get their paychecks at the end of each week, instead of giving their all on the pitch. Arsenal currently employs ineffectual employees like Sebastien Squillaci, Marouane Chamakh, Johan Djourou and the rest of the lot that earn more than they play but when it comes to giving deserved pay to those that are worth it, it suddenly becomes an issue.

Robin van Persie had smashed in close to 50 goals in his last one and half seasons or so with Arsenal, and he single-handedly guaranteed Champions League football for the Gunners with 30 Premier League goals in the last campaign. With his past injury record and age slowly creeping in on his side, he had hoped to get one final bumper deal from the club he claimed he loved, but Arsenal could come up with a paltry offer of £130,000 per week.

Van Persie would have still been on everyone’s good books if he secured a move abroad, but he chose to join Arsenal’s rivals, Manchester United, and he currently earns £235,000 per week, which was three times his last deal at the Emirates. Yet Arsenal chooses to pay Chamakh £60,000 per week (same with a more productive Giroud) and Squillaci £50,000 per week.

If the club joined their combined funds of £110,000 per week to van Persie’s standing £80,000 per week contract, he would have still being Arsenal’s captain. To top it all off, after making claims that they were going to make him sit out for the remainder of his contract, the Arsenal hierarchy sold him for £24m, an amount we can produce from our coffers without blinking twice.

I might be opening old wounds with the van Persie saga, but the Gunners have failed to replace the Flying Dutchman with a proven goalscorer of repute. The media Vultures did their bit to link the Gunners with many forwards, but Wenger opted for Ligue 1’s top goalscorer last season, Olivier Giroud.

I must say that Arsenal struck a great bargain with Giroud. He’s a strong, well-built lad with a frame that makes him a thorn in the flesh of opposition Premier League defenders. However, Giroud wasn’t meant to support van Persie, not replace him.

In van Persie’s absence, the Gunners have struggled for goals this season and when they’ve had their chances, inept forwards like Gervinho pop up and spurn the clear cut chances. Here’s a friendly reminder.

That miss against Bradford was just a tip of the iceberg in Gervinho’s appalling season thus far. The Ivorian cost the Gunners £11m from LOSC Lille Metropole, and one has to ponder on the kind of talent Ligue 1 produces. For every Gervinho, there’s a Hazard and for every Chamakh, there’s a Drogba.

I’m sure you get my drift.

For all the excellent passing play and orgasmic football Arsenal entices its fans with, football is a game graded by results and the club has been found wanting on this front.

The club was paired in a Champions League group with French champions, Montpellier Herault SC, Greek Champions, Olympiakos Piraeus, and German heavyweights, Schalke 04. The Gunners were expected to sweep through the group with ease but a return of three wins, a draw and two defeats saw the Gunners finish Group B as runner-up.

This means that the Gunners could face a European superpower in the Knockout Phase in February, and the Champions League adventure could come to an abrupt end yet again. The worrying issue is that the Gunners might not make it to Europe’s elite competition next season, judging from their inconsistent showings in the Premier League.

Arsenal had a very realistic chance of ending its trophy drought when they took onto the pitch in Valley Parade to play a Fourth-tier Bradford side 65 places below them in the English football rankings. Even with the strength of the Arsenal squad on display, it took a late Thomas Vermaelen equalizer to bring the game into extra time. We all know how the game climaxed so there’s no point taking you down memory lane.

There were protests after the Swansea game but the last AST Forum with the Arsenal hierarchy didn’t go down well. The AST can’t fathom why the club’s reserves are under-utilized and they want the boss to wipe the dust off Arsenal’s cheque book this January to get some quality players into the team. For fuck’s sake, Klass-Jan Huntelaar is available for a knock-down price of £6m.

Heed to these words from AST spokesman, Tim Payton,

“The AST believe a shake-up is needed. We would like to see younger blood added to the board, and they also need to exercise more control and direction over Arsene’s strategy.

“One man cannot direct all transfer targets, wages, coaching methods and manage the team. It’s too much for one man.”

This is certainly the lowest point in Arsene Wenger’s 16-year stint at the club. The fans have dealt with the regular disappointments of the past, but just like the way S.H.I.E.L.D. director, Nick Fury lied to the Avengers, revealing the blood-stained cards of Agent Coulson, which gave them the right push to fight Loki in the hit movie, the Avengers, the humiliating loss to Bradford was the push Arsenal needed to act.

The fans want Wenger’s head on a plate but the manager, as always, has the backing of the Board. There has been some talk about Pep Guardiola expressing his interest, rather tentatively, in Wenger’s job, but I’ll take it with a pinch of salt. There’s also side talk of some players losing their faith in the manager but ex-Gunner, Martin Keown, thinks otherwise, as he has urged everyone to keep the faith.

I’m no AKB (Arsene Knows Best) but sacking Arsene Wenger right now will not be in the club’s best interests. What I’d rather say is that this is certainly a pivotal season for Wenger and his position as manager will definitely be reassessed at the end of the season.

If Arsenal buys some quality players during the winter transfer window, get to the Champions League semis only to lose to Barcelona courtesy of a Vermaelen red card and late Lionel Messi penalty, finish the Premier League in fourth place and win the FA Cup, we all know that it would be more than enough to make Wenger save his job.

I’m certainly no soothsayer, but I really love what Wenger has done for the club. It would be a shame if everything go down the drain because of his undying faith in useless, yes, useless players like Gervinho, Chamakh and the rest of the lot in their mold.

A win against Reading will go a long way in picking up the pieces.

Till then, keep calm and love Arsenal.


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