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By Jove, I Think I Have Got It….And It’s Not Good….A Distant View of Arsene Wenger

Written by on July 13, 2011 | 6 Comments »
Posted in Arsenal

I have watched Arsenal from North American shores since the nineties and grew from an admirer to a supporter over those years.

Wenger’s brand of football, intelligent, controlled, forward-thinking, called out the aspects of football I appreciated most.

I played the game all of my growing years into adulthood.  The combinations, the decision-making at speed, the timing and economy of players like Patrick Vieira, the overlapping runs from the back, and the ability to finish enough of the chances created, delivered a checkmate to the labored English game time and again.

It was irresistible, much like Barcelona today, and many tipped their hat to a unique way of playing football.  Of course, these performances masked and deflected attention away from inherent weaknesses of such fine tuning, but arguing with success never was and is an acceptable way of life.

To be the architect of such a display and record must be a heady experience; and Wenger became a master of really a new way; and a master will defend his or her craft.

Even into today, with those aforementioned weaknesses coming more and more to the fore, Wenger enjoys a great deal of trust and hope that he can retain that magic he introduced, but fix the structural problems that are getting in the way.

Just to call out one of these weaknesses — the inability to score.

Football, like all great sports, is a tough taskmaster and requires that you score or land a killer blow.

Wenger and Arsenal’s path to goal was never an easy one, and of course presented a weakness to exploit.  There are weaknesses to be discussed all over the pitch for Arsenal, but that is not the reason for this note.

As a supporter and increasingly dedicated sympathizer of what the manager and the team are trying to do, you start to wonder exactly what Wenger sees and try to establish what exactly he plans to do to address the problems.  That is the foundation on which you look forward.

Wenger’s statement on Saturday released on the team’s web site revealed the way forward to me if he means it (and he usually does), and it is not good.

“I have said many times that we have been very close, despite the disappointment we had at the end of the season, we were very close again to winning things.  I hope that provokes a response from my players to think we were so close. We want to come back and achieve it.  My responsibility is first of all, not to lose players and then to add and make us stronger. Let’s hope we can bring in one or two more additions of top quality.”

There are ways forward in any challenge.  One is to change the tools applied or the application of those tools.  Another is to apply more strength and pressure using the same tools and applications.  If these words are true, whether the reasons are financial or the inability to attract players, Wenger has revealed that he still bets on the latter way.

A manager in any field looks at what it takes to get sustained peak performance out of workers.  Getting that peak performance out of his players is not the problem at Arsenal; unfortunately, Wenger suggests that he thinks it is.

Furthermore, what he does not say is what many still look from him and these are new ideas.

Arsenal raised the bid, but other managers have managed to meet the ante.  Football leagues tend to do that worldwide spurring even more competition and new ideas to the benefit and fascination of many supporters.

Maybe Arsenal will start a period of renewal this season, and his comment and this note are moot.

But that comment, to this supporter, confirms the onset of a down cycle and a sense, for this supporter, that there is no more for Wenger to contribute in this situation.

Further, one looks at Barcelona and wonders whether the inevitability of this cycle will prevail.  Their disregard for financial order and their strong activity in the transfer markets each year suggest they see the weaknesses and are developing effective measures.

I look forward to see if history repeats itself.

At Arsenal, I am not predicting a downfall like this unfortunate Argentinean older gent River Plate fan experienced watching his beloved club fall to the B division:

But those that don’t learn from history…..

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6 responses to “By Jove, I Think I Have Got It….And It’s Not Good….A Distant View of Arsene Wenger”

  1. :)that video:)
    WOW! I can understand fandom. It happens, perhaps that is the source of fan madness, we fight our wars through the successes of our clubs and are thus shattered by their losses to insanely.

  2. Ed Gomes says:

    I won’t deny Arsenals success. Yes it’s still success due to the Top 4 finishes and CL performances. Fans might disagree, but the owners/board is enjoying the fruits of that labor.
    Let me add that it’s usually that Owner/board that handcuffs the manager in obtaining reinforcements or the missing piece. Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, it’s Wenger.
    This club hasn’t had a leader for quite some time. And when a player becomes frustrated with results and speakes his mind, he is usually shipped out. The strong presence in the locker room and on the field.
    You need strong personalities in the spine on teh team, and Arsenal just doesn’t have that. Cesc and RVP might be very good players, but they have never really stood out as leaders. They don’t have a strong center back or goalie either. All that falls on Wenger’s shoulders. Wouldn’t Yaya have been a terrific addition to the club. Strong personality that will give his all to the club and demand the same from his teamates. Wenger seems allergic to strong personalities.

    Gunners should be thrilled with the Spurs missing out on CL fortune this season, and Liverpool being out of Europe all together. But should those two clubs be able to maintain and upgrade, Arsenal will find itself in the Europa League. You just can’t imagine them passing Man United, Chelsea or City.

    Cesc is already gone, and it would be foolish to keep him at this point. They should have set up a deal like Man United did with real for CR7. That way they would have gotten their money at the end of last season.
    If Nasri goes, in my opinion Cesc replacement on the field, they will really stumble. More pressure will be put on Wilshere, who has proven to be very immature.

    The fall could be quick and painful. And that means that the road back could be even more difficult.

  3. Russell Berrisford says:

    The fascinating thing about Wenger is that pretty much everybody else has the same idea about what he is doing wrong but he refuses to change.

    Of course there is the Arsene Wenger type of “wrong” and then there is the Avram Grant type of “wrong” and I think that we grade the former on an incredibly high curve.

    If I were an Arsenal fan I would be less worried about how the team will do under Wenger than how it will do when he leaves.

  4. Soccerlogical says:

    Russell – Good point BUT it still doesn’t change the fact the Wenger’s stubbornness and transfer market “principles” frustrate the HELL outta us fans!!!!!!

    Especially as next season should be the most competitive since EPL inception for CL places.. not to mention the EPL title.

  5. loco4losche.com(valencia fan) says:

    9 yrs ago, I would listen to the radio of live matches and i always had this keen interest in arsenal’s ability to sweep aside any english team. I was 9 back then, and the highlights were the only medium for me to see the magical feet of henry, pires, and viera. but especially henry, he seemed like he was from another universe. he had strength, close control, heading, everthing. this is why i think someone like him needs to rejuvinate the team with his skill and leadership. I’ve done my share of scouting and have close candidates ie rodallega, ribery, and mata

  6. J says:

    I think the sane expectation was for the club to finish in a CL spot – which it did.

    The flirtations with first place, the 2-1 home win over Barca and the proximity to the Carling Cup…inflated hopes.

    The manner in which the team did not just sputter, but roll, catch fire, come to rest, then explode in the end…all traumatizing.

    There were fantastic displays of ineptitude at the back. Is that a coaching, spending or character problem? Maybe. But if 2 bounces or 2 penalties went in their favor, would we be obsessing about the inflexibility of the sleep-inducing Mancini for a fourth-place finish? Can anyone see the clear-cut managerial error that led to Ancelotti’s firing?

    Wenger is brash and flaunts his intelligence. That offends some people. He’s an economist. Right or wrong, he’s been cautious in the transfer market and many are jealous when big money lands players elsewhere. Sometimes that works, David Luiz. Sometimes it doesn’t, Fernando Torres. It’s hard to imagine Arsenal won’t be in fine financial shape (and able to remain CL-competitive) while Wenger remains. God knows what FFFP will bring, but Arsenal are going to have some maneuverability.

    The sane expectation next season is probably fourth-place, again. Ask a Chelsea fan about their confidence. Consider why there isn’t a character dissection of 19/20 managers each year. Some seem to magically avoid the microscope, David Moyes.

    Accept a wider view of success. Or try Pepto for breakfast (I live on the West Coast).

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