There's more in the afternoon Mailbox about Jose Mourinho and his potential return to Chelsea, while there's also a link to some pictures of eagles that look like Arsene Wenger...
After a disappointing end to his three years at Real Madrid, could Jose Mourinho struggle to bring immediate success if he completes his anticipated return to Chelsea?
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Fear And Loathing In Germany
Bayern must be shaking in their boots...
Hit The Road, Jack
I know that you will get plenty of these, but the look on Jack's face is exactly why he will move to United at some point in the next 3-4 years.
Mark (dispirited Gooner in exile)
Walking Away From Arsenal
Kudos to F365 for recognising, as we weary Gooners do, that every February when our season falls apart, the mainstream media publish a raft of stories about the 'massive war-chest' available for new signings. These stories do not simply coincide with the moment when the hob-nailed boot of reality stamps out the last smouldering embers of hope for a trophy, but with the commencement of season ticket renewals.
When Arsenal moved to the Emirates, I upgraded to a Club Level season ticket (£3,500 and that was a cheap one). And no, I am not rich but I loved my footie and thought this would be a great treat to myself and a couple of my mates did the same. We also invested an additional £1,200 in a 'Seasonal Dining Package'. Lovely. And it was for a couple of years. But as the dismantling of a once-great team began in earnest and the quality of performance and achievement slumped, so I chose to spend my 'treat' money in other ways. First, I did away with the wining and dining. Then a few seasons later when Cesc became the latest great player I loved to be sold, I left Club Level entirely and returned to the stands.
I was not the only one doing this. Many of our friends in Club did the same, at least those that do not have the tickets for use as corporate hospitality. Now, after eight years of watching the same mistakes being made by different players in game after game, eight years of knowing that after a miserable November collapse, there will be the inevitable February exit from any competition we may somehow have managed to retain a toe-hold in. Eight years of watching our manager and wider management receive bonuses of a scale I can only dream of, for performing worse and worse each year. After eight years of watching a once-great club sleepwalk into the mid-table mire, I've had enough.
I'm not going to suckered by the £100 million war-chest PR puff stories. Per John Nic's article earlier this year, I'm not going to endorse the behaviour of my club's management any longer. I'm not going to spend my hard-earned money watching Abou Diaby wander aimlessly around the pitch for another year. I am not going to sit in the cold and wet waiting for the 70-minute substitutions that make no difference at all. I'm not going to spend a quarter of my precious weekend traipsing across London to watch a team of complacent also-rans capitulate spinelessly to a team from a lower league. I'm not renewing my season ticket. I will still support and love my Gooners but I'm not going to pay a fortune to be made sad and unhappy (and angry sometimes too). I'm taking the only option left open to me and voting with my feet. Judging from the ever-dwindling attendances at the Emirates this season, I'm not the only one.
Carolyn, (very sad) South London Gooner
We Don't Want It To End This Way...
There are a lot of angry gooners out there at the moment but it's worth pointing out not every Arsenal fan hates Arsene Wenger.
I want him to leave as much as the next guy but the spilt between those fans who would like our manager to make way and those that he thinks he deserves to go out on his shield is not the gaping chasm the media would have you believe.
Meandering along the Hornsey Road on Saturday I heard an Arsenal fan on his mobile - his expletive-ridden call centred on Wenger's philosophy of sideways passing with no end result.
But then just a couple of minutes later I heard another Gooner who sounded heartbroken and I distinctly heard the words: "I don't want it to end this way."
It's a delicious irony that the result that may well spell the end for Wenger should come against as fans as classless as Blackburn's - those fans that turned their manager's life into a living hell, while Arsenal's fans have shown the patience of a Job with a manager who quite simply would have been put out to pasture by pretty much every club in Europe bar possibly our Scouse friends at Anfield.
The Blackburn hoardes taunted us with 'You don't know you're sh*t'. I contend that at least half the faithful did know that and Saturday saw the clear majority get with the program.
I agree with both Gooners who walked past me on their mobiles on the Hornsey Road on Saturday - I don't think the club can offer Wenger a new contract and I don't see how he can possibly see out the final year of his current one so he has to be moved on in the summer but I also agree with the other gooner - I don't want it to end this way either but it seems it must and it will.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Be Careful What You Wish For...
These whinging Arsenal fans, namely 'Billy Cicchino, Sad, Angry, Frustrated, Arsenal Supporter, New Jersey, USA' should be careful what the wish for. I was one of the loudest voices amongst the cries of 'Benitez out!' when his last season at Liverpool came to an end (if you can call mine a voice, given that I only ever watch from the comfort of my living room on a laptop, for free). I now wish the board hadn't chopped him when they did. I can understand why mind you. The last season was disastrous, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Arsenal's board go down this route when Arsenal only manage fifth place, but trust me, things will get worse. They clearly did for us.
That Arsenal squad is extremely weak, and without Wenger the quality of the football will nose-dive during the transition period and confidence will quickly drain. Before you know it you'll be scabbing draws away to some Romanian side in the Europa before a tired-looking Sunday afternoon run-out duking it out with Stoke and Sunderland for eighth place.
I don't think its necessarily Wenger's fault the board won't spend big. He's done the best with what he's got to work with in my opinion. Getting rid now will be the end of the club as a top-four contender for the immediate future. It might satisfy your frustration initially, but when the realisation hits you that you're just an average side with one or two quality players, you'll be pining for him to come back. By then he'll be at PSG with a war chest competing with the best again.
That said, you might actually bring in a decent manager who is better than Roy Hodgson.
Daniel (Still want Rodgers out) Benvenuto
Wenger Out. But Who In?
There's a lot of Arsenal fans out there calling for Wenger's head and I can hardly argue with them. Arsenal has been in a state of decline for some time now and defeats against supposedly 'lesser' opposition have become all-too common.
It has seemingly come to the point where Wenger can no longer hide now. His supposed obsession with imitating Barcelona's style of play has hindered the team's progress. His persistence with zonal marking on set-pieces has, more often than not, been detrimental to the team.
There's a thin line between persistence and stubbornness and Wenger has fallen on the wrong side. A manager's ability to change according to circumstance is surely as important as a staunch belief in his own tactics. I believe AVB's ability to adapt accordingly was highlighted earlier this season.
However, if Wenger were to be replaced, it is difficult to think of any candidates who might do a better job. Michael Laudrup has done well at Swansea this season but it is foolish to hand such a high-profile job to a coach based on one season of over-achievement.
And even if there were suitable candidates, would these coaches be willing to take up the job?
Maybe Arsenal fans can provide some answers to these questions?
Ming Kiat Tan
Here's One Answer...
Like all Gooners, I will be for ever grateful for what Arsene has achieved, but reluctantly now feel that at the end of the season it is time for him to step aside before he becomes too embittered by his own failures and a mere parody of himself. Obviously there are key differences, but I can see shades of Brian Clough's last few seasons at Forest - an absolute legend who had taken his club to unimaginable heights, but in the end they were relegated.
Thanks, Arsene. We'll name a stand after you and there is plenty of room for a statue, but often the secret of success is knowing when to quit. Sadly, now is that time.
Au revoir Arsene. Hello David Moyes.
Philip Lewis, Gooner since 1970
The Myth Of 'Walking It In'
While I'm pleased to see that growing numbers of Arsenal fans are coming to the acceptance that Wenger has to go (how has it taken so long?), Billy Cicchino's mail contained a standard myth about the reason for Arsenal's failure: that they spend all their time trying to create the perfect goal rather than taking shots whenever they can, preferably more from outside the area.
If Arsenal were supposedly so shot-shy against Blackburn, how did they manage to have 28 goal attempts during the game according to the official stats? Looking more generally, in the Premier League this season, 42% of Arsenal's shots have been from outside the area, which is about average. It's certainly much higher than Man City (36%) and Man Utd (35%), and I don't think anyone's telling them to shoot more from outside the box. Arsenal's problem on Saturday wasn't that they didn't shoot enough, but that they didn't shoot well enough: only 7 of their 28 attempts were on target, and many of those (such as Walcott's header) were easily saveable.
I definitely agree that Wenger should go, but at least criticise him for things he genuinely gets wrong.
Football Full Of 'If Only's
'Luca James Sparks' mail in yesterday's mailbox was absolutely spot on. Football is a game of unbelievably small margins where a bit of luck at the right time will completely change public perceptions. I was chatting about this a while ago with a few friends, here are just a few moments that sprung to mind:
1. Bergkamp's missed penalty in 99. Had he scored his 90th-minute penalty then Arsenal would have been in the FA Cup Final. No Giggs run, no treble for Utd.
2. V. Nistelrooy's missed penalty. If he scores, no Arsenal Invincibles.
3. Tim Howard being a tit. Had he not decided to palm a 40-yard free-kick straight to a Porto player then Utd would have gone through. No Porto Champions League win, no super Mourinho. Would Chelsea have employed him? Maybe, I would guess probably not. Where would he be now? I'd put my life savings that it would not be Real Madrid.
4. Gerrard's 40-yard screamer against Olympiakos (I think). Liverpool were all but out of the Champions League group stages. We all know what happened next. Without that goal Benitez's Liverpool record would have looked pretty darn shit.
Obviously there are infinite examples of these but it is interesting to sometimes reflect on what might have been. Alex Ferguson is seen as some kind of football demi-God but look at his two Champions League wins, both of them involving huge slices of luck. Outplayed by Munich and then John Terry slipped over when taking a match-winning penalty! How differently would history look upon him if he had never managed a Champions League win in 26 years with the financial resources at his disposal. As an Arsenal fan it pains me to see people criticise Wenger so viciously. 'Luca james Sparks' is spot on, a bobble here, a flukey shot there and everyone can think you are a God or a completely clueless b**tard. If Eduardo doesn't break his leg do Arsenal win the league that year? if Eto'o is correctly called offside in 2006 when he scores his goal do Arsenal cling on and win the Champions League? It is all ifs and buts but consistency is the only real way of judging the quality of a player or a manager. Wenger is a genius, I am backing the ball to bounce the right way on Tuesday and the mailbox will be full of 'Wenger knows' mails. They will be right.
Luiz's Lack of Proper Punishment
I hope this little incident isn't overlooked, but we have long since seen a relentless clamouring to introduce goal-line technology in to football. A system mentioned involves the introduction of high-resolution cameras positioned all around the stadium, Hawkeye styled, so we can detect whether the ball has crossed the line. We have the technology, we currently choose not to use it.
However, due to a human instinctive decision to issue a yellow card to David Luiz for his challenge on Jake Reeves by the referee, no subsequent action can be taken, and so we get to watch replay after replay, from every angle, of an utterly premeditated and cynical challenge and can do nothing. Not. One. Thing.
Reminds me of this quote. 'He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk; one cannot fly into flying'. Friedrich Nietzsche.
Chris, ITFC (I think it's Nietzsche, or it could be Prince Akeem of Zamunda) Liverpool
...David Luiz/Sideshow Bob proved yesterday just the kind of footballer he is. Unquestionable ability especially with a dead-ball situation, great reader of the game and excellent awareness of the movement of other players around him.
But for me yesterday he ruined what had been a great weekend of FA Cup football. Playing against minnows Brentford, Chelsea were cruising to an easy victory - when Luiz floored Jack Reeves with a shoulder charge that looked like something more suited to UFC. It was lucky really that Jack Reeves wasn't knocked out or suffered a broken jaw.
At the time the clearly sighted referee awarded a yellow card I guess he thought it was an accident, surely with this type of violent challenge this is the time to take retrospective action and change the card to a red and a three-game ban. I understand that Luiz apologised after the game - how about not make the challenge in the first place, he looked like the playground bully.
I worry that as this game was an FA Cup game against a smaller club, this incident will be forgotten, I wonder if this had happened against say Jack Wilshere of Arsenal in the Premier League what the media reaction would have been? I bet the back pages would be covered in the story today, rather than the Wenger story.
I am sure that sooner or later the Karma Police will be around, and I can only imagine the amount of rolling around/ screaming that will follow the first bad challenge on David Luiz.
The Big Conclusion
So I was watching the ITV highlights last night and something struck me. It's not really related to what happened on the pitch, and I might be a bit late to the party with it, but...
...Has anyone else noticed that Neil Warnock has no eyebrows?