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Seen it all before
The Arsenal Disaster has been YEARS in the making, on and off the field. At the moment, the Gunners resemble a rich man’s Everton. The football landscape is littered with the carcasses of clubs that used to win league titles but are now unlikely to get anywhere near, ever again. Everton, Leeds, Aston Villa, Huddersfield, Newcastle, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest. It’s not impossible to imagine that Arsenal will soon be on that list (if they aren’t already).
All supporters of a team like to see their club perform above expectations. To me a key issue with Arsenal is the supporter’s current expectations and how that feeds into the club. Arsenal fans seem to have a few expectations that are about 15 years out of date, namely:
1. They should play attractive football.
2. They should be able to dominate most teams in the league.
3. They should be challenging for the league title.
4. They are a ‘bigger club’ than Tottenham and Chelsea.
These expectations are cemented into most fans minds. When they perform below these expectations, the fans are miserable, they bring a bleak atmosphere to stadium, and spread their misery online to where the players can conveniently pick up on it again. The performances get worse, and the cycle continues.
Having aims and expectations is obviously fine, but should Arsenal fans, for their own happiness, readdress what should be expected of this team, in this league, with their budget, off the back of 10 years plus of bad squad management. I propose to set the following expectations:
1. We should expect most games in this league to be very competitive – no games are a ‘should win’.
2. We should respect who we are playing, and plan the tactics accordingly, rather than expecting to overrun teams due to the clubs history.
3. We should be expected to finish 6th.
4. Tottenham and Chelsea have been better managed for the last 5-10 years, and as a result they’re better teams. London is not red.
Based on the expectations above, the fans can actually begin to enjoy games and support the team, rather than complaining that the outdated expectations are not met.
Arsenal fan (sick of the other fans)
Simeone at Arsenal
I too would love Diego Simeone at Arsenal, but can everyone please stop thinking this is ever going to happen. He is the highest paid manager in the world on €24m a year at a club he loves. He is not trading that in for a re-building job at a complete basket case of a club with a chaotic management structure and lack of major funds.
The only hope for Arsenal is they manage to unearth a gem who can turn this shitshow around despite the structures in place. If this happens it will be very much through luck rather than judgement if the last ten or so years are anything to go by.
David, Gooner in despair, Sheffield
…Re Vish (Melbourne)
” I want someone who will drill the players non-stop to mark the opposition, cover open spaces, hold the line and be aggressive in the air.”
Big Simeone you say, you have just given a rallying call for Big Sam!!
Mel – Dublin, Berlin, Athlone Town, HaHoHe
…An upcoming relegation scrap to navigate.
A defence in dire need of steadying.
An underperforming attack that seriously needs a kick up the arse.
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
Arsenal needs Sam Allardyce.
I’m serious about it, too. Tell me how this doesn’t make sense.
Bryan Chua, MUFC, Singapore.
…I am really sorry to do this, but here is a copy-paste of a post I wrote in to 365 in April, 2008:
“If Kroenke, the Arsenal fans and the Arsenal board do not act now and sack Wenger and arrest this irreversible decline in standards, it will be too late and the mess Wenger leaves behind will take at least a decade to fix.”
Arsenal fans have got coming to them exactly what they deserve. I do not forget how they spent years mocking Chelski as being “classless” for sacking managers, until Arsenal fans became the managerial circus. Sacking Emery with zero plan for a replacement. Fans content to witness 13 years of sh**e under Wenger but clueless bloggers hysterical losing it after 13 months of average stuff from Emery, who inherited an absolute sh**show from Wenger. Look at that wage bill that has shackled Arsenal: Ozil on £350k a week. Mustafi on £120k a week. Xhaka on £120k a week. Kolasinac on £180k a week. We all know who gave this rubbish those galactico wages that have hampered the club in the market.
Let us be clear here, what is happening at Arsenal currently is no big shock to those of us that had functioning brains as far back as 2007. This is a crisis years in the making, and its origins are simple:
1. Lack of leadership
2. Lack of basic defensive structure
3. Lack of winning mentality, content with 4th place
4. Undemanding fans who let players get away with murder (Xhaka can just stroll back into the team, no opposition. Joke)
5. Lack of desire and work-rate on the pitch
6. Arrogance in underestimating “smaller” opponents
7. Deluded fanbase with a belief a club with no European pedigree is a “big club”
These are all traits that have been obvious since 2007. Nothing was done. Arsenal fans told everyone that “once FFP comes in, Arsene will sweep the world”. Klopp was available, but Arsenal fans turned their noses up at him. LOL. Great shout that! Contrast where Liverpool and Arsenal both were in 2015 and look at them now. At big clubs, one man is never bigger than the club – Citeh sacked title-winning Pellegrini the minute Pep was free.
The fact is, Arsenal fans sat back and showed off about “last 16 CL qualification” for a decade, whereas at a big club, fans would be asking why the team was performing so dismally in the CL. Arsenal fans pretended they were some sacrosanct entity, “doing things the right way” – until their American owner sucked cash out of the club. The fans sat on their hands, continued to get fleeced and pretended they could do nothing about it.
The arrogance of Arsenal fans can be exemplified by the fact that 2 seasons ago I wrote in and said Arsenal should do everything it can to hire Diego Simeone. The general reaction? “He does not play the Arsenal way”. What is the “Arsenal way”? Is it losing 8-2 at Old Trafford? Or 12-goal CL thrillers where Bayern smash you 10-2? Perhaps it’s making Norwich look like 1970s Brazil in their yellow kit. Hard to tell. One thing the “Arsenal way” certainly isn’t: successful, respected.
Get it straight Arsenal fans: your players are utter s***. You spent the summer claiming you should be pushing the top 2, but it merely illustrates the height of your delusion. Not one Arsenal player outside Auba would make the Leicester team. The “all you need to do is start Ozil” brigade have been shown up as the ignoramus comedians they are; as Ozil has been predictably abysmal and the team far worse, since his reintegration. Seems Emery was right about that one after all.
Word of warning to Arsenal: if you do get down to the Championship, it’s an unforgiving league for teams with no desire. “The Arsenal way” will get you nowhere. Pulis is the only saviour I can see for Arsenal now. Klopp would have taken this job in 2015 and Pep openly courted Arsenal back then – you all chose to back a Specialist in Failure who is so brilliant, he remains unemployed.
Stewie Griffin (laughing at arrogant Arsenal fans since 2006. You are all reaping exactly what you sow. I told you ALL)
Pride of London?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London: “There will be those that ask why he’d come but we’re the biggest club in the greatest city in the world – why the hell wouldn’t he?!”
This was trolling but I will bite for everyone else’s sake.
Biggest club in the greatest city in the world?
Graham Simons is the exact reason Arsenal are in this mess, the fans are deluded thinking they should be in the top 4 or anywhere near the title race, they are 10th for a reason and the fans need to adjust to that. It would help if they could stop themselves from hyping up any player who shows some skill against the Dog & Duck and claiming they are world class & better than the rest.
Anyone would think this squad was the same one that went a whole season unbeaten or that this is actually 2005 when Arsenal used to be a contender.
Greg, Herts (Don’t even get me started on the “Greatest city in the world!”)
Tom Reed paints a picture of a poor hard done Arsenal, victims of the over commercialisation of football in a stadium that doesnt love them like the pure good old highbury did. How even the tube stop is named after the club in some altruistic display of cultural value.
Give me a break.
Of all the clubs out there Arsenal was selling their soul for money long before the premier league. How did they even get to Highbury? They couldnt drive around the M25 so I imagine they took the ferry to the north side. And why did they move to Highbury? For the tasty money, that’s why. And that was 1913.
It was Arsenal FC who pushed the station to renamed Arsenal. It was not a cultural gift. It means that for nearly a century people have had to learn that Arsenal fans are an invasive species in north London.
Look, I have a lot of sympathy for Arsenal fans. They were sold that investing in a stadium is how you get to the top. That you need to pay 7 pounds for a hot dog and not 6. That a ticket must be 70 quid and not 40. That it’s wrong for a Russian or Arab billionaire to spend their money instead of fans’ money.
When they got there they found that TV money had made match day revenue less relevant. There’s no joy in that stadium. They decorated with dates of cup wins and left it with blanks in expectation.
I think Bowie said nostalgic for a future that never came to pass.
The club needs to respond and change tack. This doesn’t mean mega investment above and beyond but it means aligning their club culture with the fans. You look at Liverpool and Klopp and Man City and Pep to see how that can go.
Oh and making their contractors pay london living wage to people who make the match day happen is an absolute minimum.
Alex, Grandad was a spurs fan
Arsenal in sharp focus
I think Amazon still has some wrinkles to iron out, I watched the Arsenal match in ultra HD last night and I still couldn’t see their midfield. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team with players missing in attack and defense at the same time. How we miss players like Rosicky and Cazorla who knew how to pass the ball forward.
Speaking of Santi
Now naturally Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo come to mind when I think of players who are good with their weak foot, you can easily find some crackers on YouTube from both of them two icons of the game, however one player that is known for an incredible right foot and yet has scored some cracking goals and some killer passes with his weaker left foot is Arsenal legend and all round lovely guy Santi Cazorla, his goal against Barcelona this season was outstanding, Arsenal fans will probably be able to go into more detail on Santi but whenever I saw him play I noticed he would take set pieces with his “weaker left foot” and yet play many of his killer passes and general game play with his right foot.
…Great weaker foots? Well i’m inclined to go back a while, as perhaps the furious pace of the modern game means frequent, noticeable and spectacular use of ‘the swinger’ is not as common these days, cos I remember the likes of Bobby Charlton (I don’t remember, more Youtube really), Hoddle, Barnes (the 4-4 FA Cup derby at Goodison, in front of the Kop last minute v Villa in ’89-’90, ooof), Beardsley, Waddle and Gascoigne all being very two footed and accomplished finishers with their weaker foots.
But perhaps the man who can consider himself king is the great Andreas Brehme. Scored left footed free-kicks in consecutive World Cup semi-finals (not to mention in the opening game of EURO’ 88), then due to Matthaus feeling a slight injury, casually steps up to roll in the only goal from the spot in the 1990 final with his right foot. He also scored a cracker v the Dutch (the Rijkaard’s gob / Voller’s hair game) in the last 16 on his right.
Perhaps Liverpool’s next great two footed merchant could be Curtis Jones. Tucked away the winning pen v Arsenal in the League Cup with his right foot, and has scored twice from outside the box with his left in this season’s UEFA Youth League, one an absolute blooter v Napoli.
Pissing on Brucey’s chips
After another excellent result for Newcastle last night, the pundits are out talking about what a great job Steve Bruce is doing and how Newcastle fans should get on board. In the past five games, results have been good, but digging below the surface things aren’t so good.
We beat West Ham and Bournemouth, who can’t beat anyone really.
We got outplayed by Villa, who are near the relegation zone.
A good point against City, where we did play well.
A win against a promoted side where we got dominated on xG.
The problem I have is that we’ve been incredibly fortunate in a lot of games this season. Until the west ham game we’d lost on xG in every game (so should have had zero points without luck) and last night’s game against Sheffield United was a classic of the genre. Ciaran Clark was given man of the match, yet we routinely allowed free headers or unmarked shots on our goal. Any other day we concede 2 or 3 goals (Sheff Utds xG was 1.2 Vs ours at 0.5).
We defend so passively, and there’s no press or defensive system beyond parking the bus and this means the ball comes into our box a lot and we have to rely on last minute blocks or great saves (Dubravka has been great recently).
Going forwards, we’re a joke. Almiron and ASM (what a player) are playing well but are miles away from the striker because we’re so deep. They have to carry the ball miles to get near another player. Our strikers are isolated and we don’t build attacks. As a result we score a lot of goals from free kicks or corners that the two wide men earn from their running. That’s not good coaching or a tactic, it’s basically give good players a ball and hope. There’s a reason Joelinton has only scored one goal, and it’s because of the absence of service he gets.
I hope we stay up and I don’t want to complain about some good results, but the way the media (and the mailbox) are fawning over Steve Bruce after being outplayed by two promoted clubs in 10 days is ridiculous. He’s doing no better than any other manager would be doing – we have quite a decent team and we’re where we should be.
Finally, the comparison to Rafa’s start last season is nonsense. We had Joselu (!!) as our only fit striker as Rondon wasn’t match fit and a number of other injuries. We gave big teams bloody noses and were unlucky in a lot of games. The best comparison should be the second half of last season. We had top 6 form from February and scored more goals than Man City. That’s the comparison and we went from that to turgid football.
I hope we keep winning and we have a very likeable team, but let’s not pretend that Bruce is suddenly the next Klopp, because nothing Newcastle have done this season suggests that he’s anything but the dinosaur we all knew he would be.
Pogba is hurt
Not that I want to appear as a Pogba apologist or anything but, Ben Manchester, some scientists are now saying that throwing a ball and kicking a ball are fundamentally different things. Wild, I know. Next they’ll be telling us that carbon emissions are causing some kind of warming effect on the globe. I’m not his biggest fan but even I, a cynical realist, can see that kicking puts a lot more stress on the ankle when combined with running and jumping, than just running and jumping alone does. Also, in a friendly game of basketball, you’re less likely to get someone flying in two-footed or trying to kick at a ball that is usually at ankle height.
For what it’s worth, I’m not actually that bothered about getting Pogba back in the team at this point; I would rather see us go out and bring in a younger & better replacement for Matic and a proper attacking midfielder/right winger at this point, especially if Real are stupid enough to pay us £130m for him (though I would not be having any sh*tty swapsies; there’s literally nobody at Real who would both actually want to join us and be a good fit for our needs).
I’d also like to chuck in my two-penneth about the Amazon coverage, and echo the sentiments offered by another mailboxer, in that watching the United vs Spurs game without commentary was a level of football-viewing enjoyment that I didn’t know existed. I’m now gutted that I can’t have that option on all the rest of my football viewing. Bloody Amazon and their good ideas.
Play to the whistle
I know Chrissy Wilder is a bit miffed (read apoplectic) about the VAR decision last night and the inconsistencies that continue to blight its application and interpretation, but the Blades forgot the first rule of footie – play to the whistle!
I think Henderson would have made a better fist of trying to save Shelvey’s shot and Shelvey’s mindset may have been different had there been a couple of defenders bearing down on him, but we can’t really blame VAR – even thought it is shit and ruining the game. In this case, and every case to come – play to the whistle.
Lesson learned. Hopefully.
PS: How good a job is Brucie doing with that shower he inherited?
Make of it what you will
From Big Weekend preview – “No sane person expects Liverpool to drop points against a stuttering Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon”
Cheeky Punt predicts Bournemouth to draw with Liverpool. Are you saying Degsy isn’t sane by any chance?