Mails: Fear and anticipation for Arsene-less Arsenal…

Date published: Friday 20th April 2018 1:48

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In Kroenke we trust
Wow, so Arsene is gone. Finally. The man who has defined modern Arsenal, the sublime and the ridiculous. He deserves an untarnished legacy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good he’s gone.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to throw out a controversial opinion. Arsenal are in a position to kick on in a big way, and it is BECAUSE, not in spite of its owner, Silent Stan.

Why do I say this? Because Stan has recent track record with his NFL franchise, the LA Rams. And the parallels between them and Arsenal are crazy similar (turn back the dial one season for Rams).

Outbound manager/head coach respected for his long tenure at position, but now commonly regarded as outdated in approach and motivational style: Check
Talented squad under-performing to a consistent/mediocre level: Check
New/ish stadium that needs a shot of excitement to revive a fan base: Check
So what did Stan do in LA? Trusted his newish lieutenants (for Les Sneed, read Ivan Gazidis) to bring in a young, hotshot coach who offers a complete makeover in energy, tactical focus and player development. The results? The LA Rams went from bottom of the league in explosive plays and general excitement to the top. This season? He’s taking big ticket free agents out to dinner to convince them to sign, getting all in on transforming the franchise. A combination of smart delegation, resourcing based on talent rather than choosing a ‘reliable’ pair of hands and getting involved personally where it counts to tip the balance.

There’s a lot to dislike about what’s happened for Arsenal recently, and I don’t want to come across as a stooge for the guy, but if Stan and co can replicate even a fraction of this magic for Arsenal, we’ll see some fireworks and he can go some way to restoring trust that he’s the right person to own and drive Arsenal forward.

Or we’ll do an Arsenal in the recruitment process and end up with Alan Pardew. And everyone can go back to hating the guy.
Tom, Now in Walthamstow

 

Arsene-less Arsenal
Obviously, it has been a long time coming – both in the sense that it was inevitable, and in the sense that so many have been calling for it (mostly foolishly) for many years.

All the same, it doesn’t feel real that Arsene is leaving.

The Mailbox submissions today are going to include plenty of people crowing about how they managed to drive our most successful manager of all time out of the club – and that is sad. Not only because it shows a lack of respect to the man, but also because to all of us too young to remember the 89 title win, this is scary new territory. It could be an improvement, but when you look at how far ahead of us City and the also-rans are, it is impossible to see our next manager enjoying any silverware at all.

Without their punching bag, fans less open to introspection about their own expectations are likely to get even worse… I have no idea where this is going to go.

Wenger In?
Rick (Oh, Arsene We Love You) Belfast

 

Wenger in… for United
First of all, thank you Arsene for all that you had done and accomplish for Arsenal throughout all these years. It is an honor to witness what you did and Daniel Storey summarize it perfectly.

Just a quick question, why dont Man Utd give it a try with him? You could argue that in footballing terms he is a “poor Pep Guardiola” nowadays. But look at the squad and monetary backing which made it possible for Pep, it is not easy to spend, yes, but this is not a thing that perfection is possible for every club.

And then take a look at your squad. Look at your god damn squad once again. Those are the players that can produce absolute wonders. Could you imagine all the attacking prowess and brilliance which will be displayed later? Pogba will be push up further and together with Martial, Lukaku, Rashford, I believe everything will unfold beautifully with the united mentality coupled with his attacking mindset.

It will hardly be back to the Alex Ferguson days of old, but I believe you would rather this than watch Mourinho method until youre old.

Anyway, thanks again, Arsene.
Syfq Amr, a bias Gooner

 

Thanks, Arsene
What an odd feeling – even though Wenger leaving the club has been in the pipeline for a while, it’s somehow shocking. The atmosphere around the club began plumbing familiar depths of frustration and ended plumbing new depths of apathy, but still…no Arsene Wenger in the dugout next season? Come again?

I found a small chunk of his statement to be quite interesting: “following discussions with the club”. Oh to be a fly on the wall and see those conversations in full. Was the decision mutual? Would he have stayed had the board implored him to, but their silence was deafening? Did Wenger himself dcide enough is enough, and the board agreed? The latter is surely the most unlikely of the three scenarios.

Now that Wenger has resigned, it makes the decision to stay on last year even more bizarre. It bears repeating: why, why, why did they leave it so long before announcing a new contract? What exactly was the plan? So far, every aspect of Wenger’s departure and the subsequent transition period for Arsenal has been mismanaged. They have to get his successor right. They have to.

Finally, Wenger leaving truly does feel as though the last tie to a bygone era has been severed. In an age where three years at one club makes you a relic, the 5, 10 or 20 + years of Ferguson and Wenger will surely never be seen again. He’ll not only be remembered as one of the great and glorious, but the significant force in the revolution and evolution of English football in the last 25 years. Regardless of his final years, we owe a debt to his foresight and conviction and that must never be forgotten.
Jack, 23, London

 

…Arsene, when you joined us it seemed so perfect to me and my friends – your name just.. fit. We liked the fact you seemed different to most other managers. Growing up in London, mostly of mixed heritage, we readily accepted a Frenchman, a foreigner, to our beloved club. Here’s to you Professor:

22 years at the helm.
20 consecutive years of Champions League.
3 times league Champions.
7 times FA Cup Winners.
Two doubles.
13 Finals reached.
The Invincibles… 49, 49 undefeated… 49, 49…
The new stadium at Ashburton Grove
Legends brought in… Bergkamp, Henry, Pires, Vieira, Anelka, Ljungberg..
Greats brought in Overmars, Van Persie, Fabregas, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette, Aubamayang, Cazorla, Rosicky…
Countless memories, scores of great players, some bought at the peak of their game, others made at the club, thousands of goals, constantly challenging for honours (sh, I know..), great rivalries (Ferguson, Benitez, Mourinho..), upholding the values of the club, (almost) always acting with dignity.

A father to his players, a figurehead for the greatest period of Arsenal’s history, overseeing the move to the new stadium, a legend to us all.

Arsene, you revolutionised our club, and the English game, and you did it with style. Forgive us for all the grief you have been given these past few years, we never stopped loving you.

You’ve been a part of my life for longer than all but my very oldest friends and my family. And I’ve probably spent more time talking about you, listening to you speak, watching you work and watching the results of your work than any of them.

Thanks for everything you did for all of us. A true gentleman, and an Arsenal legend.
Alay, N15 Gooner

 

…Recent years have been strange for us Arsenal fans. The media, opposition fans, social media, and our own fans (in particular the Fan TV generation that I personally can’t stomach) have continually demanded as a fan that you fall on one side of a divide, Wenger in or Wenger Out, AKB Or WOB or whatever other ‘catchy’ name these dick heads could dream up.

As a fan since the early 90s, with the majority of my life and football life running alongside Arsene’s reign I always felt this was too black and white, too knee jerk, too hashtag as it were.

I have never stopped appreciating what Wenger did for my club, the amazing teams, seasons and moments that my life revolved around (sad as that sounds). Schools, university, jobs, homes, relationships have all been and gone throughout his reign and he has been one continuous presence throughout.

However, in recent years I felt that the club was stagnating, that change was needed, that this might not end how we all dreamed. I already see fans of other clubs and journalists telling us ‘be careful what you wish for’, calling us ungrateful for feeling change was due.

I myself never joined in the chants, banners or reprehensible comments on social media that embarrassed 99% of fans and this hangs over his exit in a way it shouldn’t. But today I find myself both happy and sad for the first time ever in my life and it’s strange.

Happy as I believe this is the best decision for everyone, sad because the memories are so strong, so great and because he loved the club as much as we did throughout. So ignore the social media bullshit and just appreciate everything he’s done for us and for football and let’s give him the send off and genuine thanks he deserves.

Thank you for the invincibles, that champions league run and so many great teams and football that made so many others jealous and thank you for the many sacrifices you made, we know you suffered with us all.
LD

 

… A quick anecdote. A couple of summers ago I was diagnosed with cancer, right before my 30th birthday. I was sat on my sofa a few days after surgery feeling sorry for myself when I saw a guy in an Arsenal tracksuit walking to my front door. He had a letter from Arsene Wenger extending his sympathy and wishing me better. Then, and now, thinking about that letter makes me emotional. It still have pride of place in my study.

He has had his highs and lows on the pitch, and it is the right decision to go, but I dont think Arsenal will ever have a manager of his class again
Danny

 

…Screw all the haters. I love Wenger and all he has done for Arsenal. I will appreciate his efforts for ever. A thoroughly decent man and a genuinely great manager. Thank you Arsene for everything.
Andrew

 

…1228 games managed, 704 won, 279 drawn, 245 lost.
3 leagues.
6 FA Cups.
2 Doubles.
The Invincibles.

If he doesn’t retire, someone’s going to pick up a manager who’s won leagues in two countries, 3 trophies in the last 4 years and reached ( at least ) the semi-final of a European competition this year.

But yes, it’s time to go and I wish him well.

I just hope he’ll be afforded the dignity and respect he deserves when he leaves (but not when he comes back next year with Chelsea).
Doug, AFC, Belfast

 

…Whatever his underperformance in recent year were, Arsene Wenger was manager of Arsenal for 22 years. In an era where most managers aren’t guerenteed to even survive a year, that is quite something indeed and shows how iconic and how great his overall contributions to the club was in the past. And he did it at the top level too.

Even the most successful managers of today, I suspect won’t even last half as long and maybe won’t even get near that. Either they want to go find something new somewhere else or get fired due to falling out or not meeting expectations. For many years Arsene achieved both relative success and stability even if if that has dropped lately.

It was overdue decision, but that still doesn’t make the moment tinged with sadness and respect for all he has done. And I’m not even an Arsenal fan.
Yaru, Malaysia

 

…Dear Arsene, we have seen the good, the bad & the downright ugly. However all in all I would like to say thank you for your contribution to English football and the greatest head to head rivalry England has ever seen.

Thank you for some of the most entertaining football this country has seen
Sincerely yours Deeno (MUFC – lets help him one more time by pouring some misery onto Spurs. “it’s not spurs” anymore but excited never the less)

 

Too late
The Mighty Sir Alex Ferguson, MBC, MBA, KGB, HAHA, knew when to step down and he did so when winning the 2013 English Premier League title. Arsene Wenger should have known when to quit, and that would have been when he won the 2015 FA Cup. He had successfully defended the trophy and would have walked off into the sunset like a true hero. Instead, he leaves the Emirates with a massive piece of sh*t floating in his office toilet stinking out the place…
Keg Baridi

 

Learn from the mistakes of others
I imagine that you’ll be inundated with mails about the imminent departure of Arsene Wenger, but I’d like to offer a United fan perspective.

Other than Mourinho at his peak when managing Chelsea, I can’t think of any other manager who I disliked as much as Arsene Wenger during his best years at Arsenal. Nothing against him personally, but because the Arsenal he created was, for a Manchester United fan, disastrously magnificent. Losing to them was always painful and beating them fantastic – one of the best victories I think I’ve ever witnessed was the 8-2 at Old Trafford, and there are few other teams upon which it would feel so satisfying to inflict that. But I think that this kind of reaction from opposing fans is really the highest compliment that can be given within football – receiving hatred for being irritatingly good shows just how well you’re doing. The Invincibles’ achievement is up there with the greatest in the history of the game and will rightly be remembered by all who witnessed it. Obviously the subsequent decline, although not exactly catastrophic, has made it easier to like Wenger and has somewhat diminished his legacy, it shouldn’t overshadow the brilliant work he did for much of his career.

With United having been through the same process that Arsenal are about to, I would like to offer some words of wisdom to both the fans and the club. This is just based on my experience of the post-Ferguson years and I don’t want to appear to be preachy, I’m just trying to offer some friendly advice.

To the fans:
It’s alright to be unhappy with the clubs next choice of manager. One of the biggest mistakes that I think we United fans made was pretending that we believed Moyes was going to be a success and then flip-flopped when it emerged that, no, he wasn’t. I’m not saying boo the new guy or whatever – that’s not constructive at all – but you are allowed to think the wrong choice was made and still support the club at the same time; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
If things go south under the new guy, don’t hammer the Wenger Out Brigade too hard; they had every right to want a managerial change as much as the Wenger…In Brigade(?) wanted to keep him. Both sides won’t always agree, but in-fighting from the fans will only put off potential managerial or player acquisitions.
Don’t jump to conclusions too early. Don’t come up with a cringey nickname for the manager (like the Chosen One or Moyesiah), don’t persist with awful manager songs (damn that “Come on, feel the Moyes” shite), and don’t start issuing battle cries or winding up other fans until things have settled down. It’s ok to get excited if it looks like a corner has been turned in the first few weeks of the season, but be aware of dead cat bounce. Just give it time.
Don’t – just, please don’t – hire a bloody plane to fly a banner over the stadium. For any reason.

And to the board:
Don’t be tempted to hire a rookie, an Arsenal legend, or promote from within; you need a heavyweight now, someone with true pedigree on the elite stage, or at least approaching it. Thierry Henry is just not going to cut it (yet). They can be a newcomer to the Premier League for sure, but now is the time for an experienced hand, not someone for whom Arsenal would be far and away their biggest job yet.
Don’t automatically bin off all the Wenger-era staff for the sake of it when the new manager comes in. Too many changes to the structure at the same time would be damaging in the long run, and the players need some modicum of continuity to keep things stable.
Don’t just hand out ridiculous contracts to certain players (ahem, Jack Wilshire) for the sake of keeping long-serving players at the club. United made that mistake with Rooney and it backfired dramatically. If they are genuinely worth keeping then fine, but you can’t be sentimental about expensive assets if they aren’t offering value for money.
Don’t try and radically change the philosophy or style of the team overnight. You have a group of players who are accustomed to playing in a certain way, and it is folly to try and play in a completely different way with massive upheaval and expect to remain as competitive. It’s fine to make fundamental changes but do it gradually and in a considered way; fast and extensive turnover of players is not required at Arsenal, they just need a few changes here and there.
Decide the long-term goals now, put a plan in place and stick to it. City put things in place in advance of Guardiola’s arrival with an obvious long-term goal in mind and it’s currently paying dividends. United’s approach has been scattergun at best, and it’s caused numerous problems along the way, despite flashes of success. Set the priorities and aims – and be really bloody specific – early on and make every decision based on whether or not it will help you towards that goal.
Stop the in-fighting between shareholders. Now is not the time to risk the stability of the club, in fact, this would be the very worst time to start a power struggle at board level, with the club going through its biggest transitional period since the move to the Emirates stadium.

There will probably be a few tough years ahead, but it will get better. It’s a shame to see the last truly long-term manager leave, but I think it will ultimately be for the best – eventually. I genuinely hope that they can end the season on a high and bring home the Europa League trophy; it would be a fitting way to end his tenure.
Ted, Manchester

 

Pogba price
Having heard the latest rumours on Pogba and if there is any truth in it, do Utd really expect to receive £120m-£140m for him?

I am seriously not trolling with the mail but as a Liverpool fan, I wouldn’t want Pogba for half the money Utd paid for him. I think he’s ill disciplined with his positioning, he doesn’t score enough goals, he loses possession too much and off the field he seems to have caused Utd nothing but trouble.

So I guess my question is to the rest of the ‘top 6’ club’s supporters – City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and Burnley fans, would you honestly have Pogba in your team for £45m?
Jimmy (Not for me, Clive) Spain.

 

Getting shirty abroad
I do this too and it drives my wife insane!!! I have to put aside a day of every holiday we ever go on to track a top down!!!

My collection started 18 years ago, when aged 18, I went on a post A-Levels lads holiday to Gran Canaria and bought a Las Palmas top because Spurs cult hero Vinny Samways played for them!

Since then, I have added tops from: Barcelona, Roma, Venezia, Raja Cassablanca, NY/NJ Red Bulls, Sparta Prague, Hertha Berlin, Nantes (where I lived for a year during uni) and the latest was a Kaiser Chiefs top bought whilst on my honeymoon (thankfully they had a store at the airport as I think divorcr proceedings would have started if I’d gone shopping for one during that)!!

Perhaps my most obscure though is from Enosis Neon Paralimni, a side just down the road from Ayia Napa in Cyprus!!
Paul (Spurs) Tunbridge Wells

 

Somatotypes
Hey Naz, the 1940s called, they want their debunked pseudo-psychological evolutionary theories back.

Luke Shaw is just barrel chested, a curse many of us suffer from, where we could have 8% body fat and still look like we’ve been slightly inflated by a bouncy castle pump. I seem to remember dynamo Brazilian bruiser Lucio had the same issue.

Now Andy Reid was a man who looked like he enjoyed a pie…
Tom, (Roger Fox for) West Hampstead

 

British bosses
Last night Mark Hughes, surely about to take 2 teams down this year, said after the 0-0 stalemate with Leicester “we need to go for it more, take more risks”.

If that is not an indictment of a British manager I don’t know what is. Essentially, a British manager’s tactical acumen is limited to “come on lads” and “run around a bit”, “show some passion”. Not all are like that, some even use computers to show how much their team has run in a match, but most are just “come on lads” type managers.

Now compare this with the top European coaches working in the premiership today:

Guardiola – a specialist in attacking football, can even teach Raheem Sterling how to hold off an opponent and be positive in his play, an excellent talent spotter.
Juergen Klopp – a specialist in high press attacking football, only buying players that religiously fit his system, an excellent talent spotter.
Pochettino – specialist in fitness and tactics, keeps his teams highly motivated and highly efficient
Antonio Conte – a specialist in tactics and highlighting the weaknesses of other teams and exploiting them.
Jose Mourinho – a specialist in tactically strangling opposing teams forcing them into making more mistakes than his team. A good talent spotter and motivator

There are others but my point is that there is a fundamental difference in management style between the UK and the rest of the non-English speaking world.

In the UK a manager is a generalist. No specific knowledge of what they’re managing, but good at “bringing people together”. Abroad, managers are specialists. They are subject matter experts where success is to improve all processes within their area and ensure everyone is happy and motivated.

I can guarantee that unless you’re a generalist yourself (ie a politician) the best boss you’ve ever had will be a specialist, not a generalist. This is why I think that British managers will never succeed because they just don’t know enough about what they’re doing. In football, it’s laid bare for everyone to see and why you always hear people like big Sam taking all the credit when his players play well, then criticising them when they don’t.

I don’t blame UK managers for following the roadmap for managers in this country, it’s just so nauseating watching them flounder around pretending how good they are.

Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City, Spurs and Liverpool have all finally made the correct decisions regarding their excellent choices of coach.

Do we really need Big Sam, Pardew, Pulis et al when teams like Huddersfield, Brighton, Swansea, Watford and Bournemouth will all stay in the premiership easily?
Fat Man Scouse (Hughton and Howe are not typical British managers, neither is Southgate, that’s why I like them)

 

Ban stats
Firstly. If there is one word over used more than any other it’s probably legend but for once it’s entirely appropriate. Sad to see you go, even though it’s the right thing. I hope we get the loudest biggest crowd we’ve ever seen on Sunday and if we don’t bring the Europa home for him I’m personally going to kick each of the players in the balls (probably wont).

Secondly, following on from whoever was moaning about stats the other day I’d like to go further and call for a blanket ban of all statistics in the mailbox. I know that sounds draconian and definitely wont happen but here’s why it should. Obviously stats are not, of themselves, useless/ irrelevant but I would argue that in an open forum like this they become so. The ‘you can use stats to prove anything’ line, is true to an extent but more than that they limit the discussion to a series of numbers rather than encouraging interesting debate. Even worse people then start talking about the stats themselves rather than where the data comes from. A truly awful example was Yaru this morning who told us sagely that “in statistics 10 is a very small and unreliable number” well that might be true mate, in statistics, but in football 10 years is literally a generation! More to the point are you telling me that 3800 matches in a small sample size? F*ck, now I’m doing it. See it brings out the worst in people. Ban it
Matt, AFC

 

Friday feels
Afternoon all, hope you’ve had a spiffing week. In a bit of a rush this Friday (back to the UK to attend a wedding tomorrow), so let’s crack on, shall we?

1. Croatia shirts. Love those chequered designs.

2. The continued and improving acknowledgment and appreciation of the women’s game.

3. By that token, the increasing standard of the MLS. Watch a couple of games. It’s not bad. Some decent players, moments of genuine skill and, okay, the atmosphere is a bit forced, but I quite enjoy the untainted innocence of it. Give it a go.

4. Brechin City. The worst thing about their position is that they’re not getting smacked 6 or 7 – nil week in, week out. The fact they’ve come so close to a win many times is more heartbreaking somehow.

5. Obscure replica shirts. I’m similar to Jimbles, WFC, in this morning’s mailbox in that I do tend to buy a football-based shirt if I visit a new city, but not necessarily a replica kit. Maybe just something with the logo on it somehow. I have a purple t-shirt with a small, simple Ujpest logo in the middle of the chest somewhere, I’m sure…

6. Athletico Mince. They haven’t talked about football – not really – for ages now, but still…

7. Mysterious nicknames of football clubs. I’m pointedly not researching this, because I’d quite like the mailbox to answer. If you’re a fan of Exeter City (I know a couple of fans contribute), Peterborough, or Lincoln City, can you please explain why you’re the Grecians, the Posh and the Imps respectively?

8. Relegation not being the end of the world. Zbrojovka Brno are currently staring down the barrel of the 2. Liga having gone five games without scoring a goal (no, really!) and it looks like a season touring villages beckons. But hey, it’ll be an excuse to go to places I’ve never been. I mean, everyone wants to see Třinec, right? What’s Prague got that Varnsdorf hasn’t? What’s wrong with Sokolov? I want to discover what’s right with Sokolov! *grins maniacally from behind dead, yet still staring eyes*

9. Fantasy Twatball. I have no idea if it’s running for the World Cup, but if it is, seek it out and get involved. Here’s a link to the Euro 2016 version. http://www.twatball.co.uk/

10. Arsene Wenger. No matter who you support, or whether you’ve been #WengerOut for donkey’s years, appreciate what the man did.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.
David (any local Scottish football near Ayr on Sunday?) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep.

 

Many of you are asking the same question?
Luke Skywalker needed Darth Vader

Neo needed Agent Smith

Tom needed Jerry

Where is Stewie Griffin? Has anyone checked if he’s OK?
Matt (I imagine he’s sitting staring into space with the expression of a dog that has finally caught its tail and has no idea what life means anymore) LFC


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