Mail thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org – and read Mailbox referee Name Withheld on the f***ed R.E.S.P.E.C.T campaign in youth football. You can also read Alex Stokoe on Faustino Asprilla…
Time for a new brush at Arsenal
Arsenal need a huge clear-out in the summer. Not only are many in the squad not of the requisite standard, but many either don’t care anymore and/or have been drained of confidence and belief from years of being so close, but not quite good enough. The squad is perennially 2-4 players short of being ‘complete’ and I think this has taken its toll on many of the squad who have been at the club for three seasons or more. They go into a new season full of doubts generated by successive failures and look at the squad knowing that there are again glaring weaknesses not addressed and face another season of close but no cigar, or not even close at all.
If it means a few seasons dropping down the table, so be it, but I think Arsenal need to clear out the squad big time and enthuse it with quality players not tarnished and damaged by this constant failure, even if one or two of them may go on to prove themselves capable at another club. This would reinvigorate the squad and the club.
Szczesny, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Gabriel (bit harsh maybe, but just doesn’t look like adjusting to Premier League), Ramsey, Walcott, Chamberlain and probably Giroud and Ospina should all be cleared out. Arteta, Flamini, Rosicky should not be offered new contracts (should go without saying, but you never know!…)
Some of the promising youngsters should be given a chance in the squad, such as Bielik, Maitland-Niles, Toral, Gnabry, Zelalem, Reine-adelaide, Iwobi and Akpom, whilst at last spending big money on real proven quality, money which is already there in the bank and which would be supplemented further by the sale of the above mentioned players. Offering £80m to Everton for Lukaku and Stones would not be a bad place to start!
And obviously Wenger should do the decent thing and leave in the summer.
None of this will happen however and instead the only player we definitely do not want to see leave in the summer, Ozil, will surely leave. And who could blame him, at the moment he’s wasting his career at a club literally going nowhere. And Wenger will carry on regardless.
Wayne (Come On The Foxes!), Ireland
After Wenger? What about Schmidt?
I will start this mail with the caveat that my knowledge of German football mostly consists of reading excellent blogs by Raphael Honigstein and watching the odd highlights here and there.
So with my clearly extensive knowledge I would like to throw out a left-field suggestion for next manager of Arsenal. Martin Schmidt currently has Mainz sitting in sixth in the Bundesliga, a higher position then they have finished in the last four seasons. They play counterattaking football and are a team seemingly greater than the sum of their parts. Both of these things would suit Arsenal (especially the second point at the moment!).
Mainz have also had both Klopp and Tuchel manage them in recent years and both have both gone on to do some very impressive things. It seems unlikely this is a coincidence with Schmidt also currently doing very well so seems to point to a club that is good at helping create/develop good managers.
As alluded to earlier, my knowledge of German football isn’t great, and I would be happy to be proven wrong, but this seems like it could be a good solution as to what to do after Wenger.
Dave (Please, anyone but Wenger next year!) Sutton
Supporters do not have a job…
Could people please stop saying ‘the supporters’ job is to support’, or similar, in their emails. The supporters do not have a ‘job’ at a football match. They’re the only people who are paying money to be there.
As much as we hate it, as supporters we are customers buying a product. However you expect supporters to behave (support whatever the circumstances/expect to be entertained for their admission fees/take loads of selfies and go to the toilet and miss any goals) it’s their right to approach it however they damn well please.
Thom (to preempt any responses – as long as they stay within the law etc)
Not loving to see Arsenal lose…
Like John Nic but think he’s way off with today’s Wenger piece. I’m anti-Wenger and have been for a few years. I think his tactics are stale, he repeats his mistakes over and over and I don’t believe he’s anywhere near as proactive as he should be in the transfer window considering the money we have. He needs to go at the end of the season.
But my heart still sinks when we concede goals and lose matches, of course it does – I never ever want Arsenal to lose. The problem is under Wenger, they do it just too often. Nothing would make me happier than we win our last nine games, win the league and he goes out on top, but that’s not realistic.
And I for one won’t miss being furious at Wenger – I think it’s really sad actually that it’s got to the point is has now when you consider his first ten years. I want him to go both for him and for me. Please John, don’t think you’re speaking for all of us.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex
Time to change or walk, Arsene
I would like to respond, belatedly and perhaps with a little jerking of the knee, to the mail from James, North London Gooner last week (in tandem with Daniel Storey’s analysis). I agree in principal with the point, that casting all Arsenal fans into the same bucket is unfair and just because someone is shouting loudly in a room doesn’t mean the whole room is shouting. However, the question about ‘but will whichever managers don’t win the league receive similar criticism to Wenger for not improving their squads…’.
Pellegrini – being replaced at the end of the season.
Mourinho – sacked.
LVG – likely to be replaced and under fire.
Rodgers – sacked.
Wenger – Arsenal fans are moaners and should be thankful.
Ranieri and Poch have clearly exceeded expectations, but in part due to the failure of the big four/five clubs and those clubs have responded to this with a realisation that the management has not been good enough this year. It should not be considered petulant for Arsenal fans to be questioning the same.
Don’t get me wrong. I have been on Arsene’s side against all previous witch hunts because Arsene helped in transforming the club. He is not a bad manager and should have the respect of Arsenal fans for what he has achieved for the club, but respect works two ways and fans should be respected also. I don’t think any reasonable Arsenal fan would want to see Wenger sacked, it would be a very sad end to a legacy and really should be avoided. I can only hope that Wenger assesses what are clearly his failures and either a) change his philosophy on penny pinching (£40m & £1 still annoys me) and spend what he helped the club gain while realising the ‘mental strength’ of the club needs to change or b) realise that maybe he has taken the club as far as he can and chose to move aside to let the next era of the club take shape.
Wenger has earned the right to decide how he wants to walk off into the sunset, but failure to admit his errors may sadly end in his legacy being not what he deserves.
…So, Tom Goldenballs says, in his opinion, last season was the worst in Wenger’s reign. He anticipates this season being even worse. So off back to back terrible seasons, he wants to give Wenger another year, after a year that Leicester or Spurs win the title. I haven’t stopped laughing since I read that.
He’s had two years to plan, doesn’t address the most obvious of flaws in his team and he’s got the club playing worse football than his teams of 5-10 years ago. Now he doesn’t have the results to show for it. Four wins in 14 is absolutely embarrassing.
Good thing now is the season is pretty much over for Arsenal. Which inevitably means, a great run, third or fourth place and a new contract for Arsene for getting us there. I don’t think glorious failure is going to work anymore with the fans.
Alas, see you next year, same time, same place, same conversation, same F365 channel.
…To Tom Goldenballs, no, Wenger doesn’t deserve a second chance. He’s had 10 years of second chances. We came into this season knowing we needed a new striker. We knew we needed defensive and midfield cover. And he signs Cech. These are gaping holes in our team he’s known about for almost a decade now! Two FA cups in that time is not enough. We don’t want change for change’s sake. We want change because the same failure, with one common denominator (Wenger), suggests that he needs to be replaced. He is paid a ridiculous amount (the most in the league) to generate more money for our shareholders. Stan Kroenke has already come out and said you don’t invest in a club to win trophies. What the juddering f*** , this is from our owner. No wonder he is called Silent Stan, it’s because he comes out with such rubbish when he opens his mouth it is best he doesn’t. Then Wenger says it is a farce that he is being questioned. Four wins in 14, and how very dare the fans have the temerity to question him. The disdain comes from the board down is shocking. It reminds me of when Peter Hill Wood, in 2012, in a particularly fractious AGM, responded to the question of need to change the ageing board of AFC with, ‘Thank you for taking an interest in our affairs.’ Our affairs. The Etonian sense of privilege honks like a ripe cheese!
Even if we get a miracle result against Barca (which we won’t), that doesn’t change anything. We are still going to lose the league to Leicester or Spurs. How can Wenger’s position be anything but untenable? There were Arsenal fans fighting one another after the game, and although such behaviour is lamentable and incredibly embarrassing, as least they care. At least they want and expect better, which is more than anyone on that pitch or in the dug out at the Emirates. I’m sure a lot of rival fans are enjoying it (rightly so), but this is how clubs fall into obsolescence. Better the devil you know is b*******s, better any devil but the incumbent one we have!
John Matrix, AFC
Have Arsenal really done that badly?
I’d like to throw in my two cents in relation to Arsenal fans’ apparent despair at Arsene Wenger. As a United fan I completely understand the frustration, the feeling of being let down, the despondency at your team not living up to its potential and falling short of reasonable expectations. I also believe that a fan is perfectly entitled to air these feelings. We do after all hurt when we fall and rejoice when we succeed.
However, let’s be honest. Not one person here ever thought this season was going to go the way it has for any team. Most of us have followed football our entire lives and have a genuinely good insight into all things related to the sport. But nobody – and let’s admit it – nobody thought this season would go the way it has. No Leicester or Spurs fan thought they’d be sitting top within spitting distance of winning the league. No Chelsea fan expected the shockingly feeble defence of their title. Bournemouth and Watford fans probably would have accepted that they were being optimistic for the season to go the way it has. Newcastle, Sunderland, Swansea, and Palace all probably thought they’d be safely mid table, maybe even a run on Europe. Maybe Everton, Stoke, Southampton, West Brom, and Villa (obviously) have had things go closest to how they expected.
Yet despite the unpredictable way this season has gone, Arsenal sit third in the league only behind the unexpected title challenge of Leicester and Spurs. The semi-finals of the FA cup will be played out by Palace, Everton, Watford, West Ham/ Man U. On the face of things Arsenal, and Arsene haven’t done that bad: They are above City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and United in the league – who wouldn’t have jumped at that in August? They got as far or farther in the FA cup than City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and probably United. They are likely to be knocked out of Europe by probable eventual finalists Barcelona, but again as far or farther than any English team other than City.
Yes we all want our team to hit a stride and keep it up all season but few teams ever manage that. Typically the league is won by the team that recovers quickest from a slip and maintains consistency. This year Leicester and Spurs have rarely had a dip and have both been exceptional. In any other year to be the best of the unexceptional teams usually wins you the league and possibly a cup. United did that for years.
I can understand the frustration at Arsenal’s achievements this year but changing manager doesn’t translate to more consistency (if Mourinho had moved on after last season everyone would be putting their collapse down to the new man and be craving the expert). I know we all want glory and being third in the league, quarters of the FA cup and a likely exit in Europe to Barca is nothing to celebrate but in this the unlikeliest of seasons, that’s better than most.
Remember, Chelsea are worse…
Since Arsenal is all we seem to be discussing nowadays I thought I’d remind everyone of how rubbish Chelsea are.
After our disastrous start to the season it was quite pleasing to fly under the radar for a while under Hiddink’s stewardship. Steadily improving results up to PSG and the media focus shifting over to Man U and now Arsenal took the heat off the players, and allowed the fans to be (naively) hopeful that we could maybe have a decent run in the Champions League, and were in with a shout to win the FA Cup.
Now that both of these bubbles have well and truly burst, it’s time to reflect on what has been an awful season, and what needs to be done to rectify it. Nearly to a man the players have performed far below their capabilities, Willian being the only real stand0out player. It’s actually staggering to watch how poor Hazard is compared to last season and the booing in mid-week was justified in my opinion. Having lost Cech, Lampard and Drogba, the spine of the team has gone with only Terry left of the old guard who may well be entering his last few games for Chelsea.
Now you look at Mr. Emenalo has brought in over the last year to build for the future and the mind boggles:
Danilo Pantic – £1,250,000 (who?)
Asmir Begovic – £8,000,000 (decent back-up)
Baba Rahman – £21,700,000 (£21.7 mil?! can barely get a game, looks defensively suspect)
Pedro – £21,000,000 (had hopes but very underwhelming)
Papy Djilobodji – £2,700,000 (who, what, why, how?)
Michael Hector – £4,000,000 (que?)
Marco Amelia – free (whatever)
Matt Miazga – £3,500,000 (good in the MLS apparently but seriously?)
Falcao – loan (Every man and their dog knew how this would turn out)
Alexander Pato – loan (What is it with us and signing over the hill strikers?)
I appreciate some of those transfers will go straight on loan like the million other players on our books, but who in there would get into the first XI of any of the soon to be defunct term ;Top 4;? Do you think Tottenham or Leicester would swap any of their first-choice team players with anyone on that list? Absolutely not.
With Hiddink retiring at the end of the season, Terry potentially leaving, a squad full of players seemingly lacking any desire, and a charlatan for a technical director to oversee a badly needed overhaul I fear this season may not just be a blip.
Jimmy (BDP) Sham
* Credit to Aston Villa for not parking the bus against Spurs. It was only going to end one way, but with nothing to lose, you might as well give it a go. And with all the attention given to Vardy, Lukaku, Ighalo, and Mahrez, none other than Harry Kane is now tied for top scorer in the league.
* Bournemouth now at 38 points with eight games left. They’ve done it with essentially the same squad as last year in the Championship, with long-term injuries to their top striker and two biggest summer signings. They’ve defied the odds by emphasizing attack instead of defense. And their top goalscorer? Callum Wilson, who hasn’t played since September 26. Brilliant.
* Arsenal were on a historic FA Cup run, and it had to come to an end eventually. Losing to a tough and disciplined Watford team, even at home, is no disgrace. But what in heck was Wenger thinking by bringing on Walcott? Giroud hadn’t been brilliant, but Watford were clearly going to sit deep, and height was much more important than pace at that point.
* What’s happened to Bojan? His confidence and tactical awareness seem shot. And a prediction: next year will be Mark Hughes’ last full year at Stoke. The club wants to push on, but the record suggests Hughes is a mid-table manager. Soon they’ll decide he can’t take them any further than they are now.
* Forget the expectations and the handwringing. The bottom line: Manchester United and West Ham look just about evenly matched. Start practicing penalties.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
It’s not a penalty or a dive…
I just wanted to send a quick mail regarding one of my biggest footballing bugbears, that reared its head in this morning’s mailbox, which is that “It’s either a penalty or you have to book him for diving”.
When will people, including a vast number of former players (looking at you Robbie Savage (unfortunately)), realise that these aren’t the only two options? There is also: a fair tackle which made the player fall over. Now I haven’t seen the Payet one, so there is every chance he has dived and should have been booked on this occasion, but understand that the referee hasn’t necessarily just decided to bottle making a decision as suggested by some, he’s just come to one that you didn’t even consider, which isn’t even a particularly difficult eventuality to have had to comprehend.
Give referees a bit more credit generally, they have to take in so much more than any of us watching at home with a beer in hand and the option to switch off at will, the least you can do is recognise that before deciding they’re completely incompetent.
Mike (AVFC), London
Sometimes you need to hate your managers…
Reading John Nicholson’s article this morning I was saddened. Not saddened because I didn’t agree with the article – he’s right, it can be enormous fun to hate your manager, reveling in the joy of their pathetic, incompetent post-match quotes – but saddened because I used to know the feeling he describes. Disheartened because I know that, as a Leeds fan, I’ve evolved far beyond hating our various buffoons for enjoyment and now hate them purely as a coping mechanism, a lie I whisper at night to assure myself that things will be okay, that things can change if only the man in the hotseat would be replaced. (I’m aware that it’s not only Leeds fans, I’m sure many fans will sympathise with this.)
Sometimes, when things get dire (and I mean really, really dire) – when your club becomes so entrenched in a vicious cycle of bad ownership, bad signings and bad management – you become aware that for things to change the whole club needs gutting. Every member of upper management needs to move on to remove the poison within the club. Only you know this won’t happen, that the owner won’t sell, and even if he would you know that this takes years, not weeks.
So you kid yourself, you tell yourself that the dismal performances are just a product of the system, that a different, better manager would easily be able to pull promotion-chasing performances from Jonathan Greening and Robbie Blake. That someone other than Dennis Wise could easily pull a team that considered Tresor Kandol a viable option to start up front out of League 1.
Dennis Wise, Neil Redfearn, Neil Warnock, Neil Redfearn, Dave Hockaday, Neil Redfearn, Neil Redfearn, Steve Evans. An ignominious list of managers that I’ve been forced into blaming all the club’s problems on for my own sanity, just to believe that things might change. I’m sure fans of Blackburn, Portsmouth, Newcastle and more have a similar list of managers they can reel off that they’ve apportioned (probably) more blame than is fair to.
So yes, it’s fun to hate your manager, but sometimes the problem is worse than that. Sometimes it’s necessary to hate your manager.
Joe, LUFC, Telford (Every time I write in about Leeds I go and have a good long cry in the work toilet)
It could be Pearson…
After reading Ralph Ellis touting Howe for the LMA Manager of The Year award, I was only surprised that the papers aren’t touting Nigel Pearson for it. He built this title chasing team you know.
Grimsby > Leicester
Who will be the most successful professional team in England at the end of this season? It remains to be seen of course, but I think winning promotion and a cup, plus two days out at Wembley would run Leicester pretty close. The team in question? Grimsby Town. You heard it here first.
Now go and read Name Withheld on the R.E.S.P.E.C.T problem in youth football…