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The Nev’s blind spot
As you’ve implied in the excellent 16 conclusions I found GNev’s commentary and views yesterday both thoroughly entertaining and deeply flawed.
I really cannot get my head around how he continues to absolve Wenger of any blame for what’s going on at Arsenal. There’s no doubt the players are not doing themselves justice but i put that firmly at the manager’s door. Nobody can say players like Cech, Holding, Koscielny, Monreal, Ox, Ramsey and Sanchez are professionals prone to throwing in half arsed efforts.
Compare the 2 starting XIs yesterday and quality wise they’re about equal, but Liverpool have a team that is set up to play to its strengths and are deeply motivated. Arsenal have the opposite. The managers job is to take his squad and mould a team to give maximum output from what he’s got. I’ve said it in the past but Wenger is extracting the minimum and has done for some time. His team play in his image, like Chelsea play in Contes image, Liverpool in Klopps and United in Mou’s. Swap Wenger for Klopp or Conte and i firmly believe within a year you’d see a strong reversal in fortunes, neither manager would accept the mediocrity Wenger has for years.
These players are shot because they have no faith in Wenger, it’s near impossible for them to continue going at full pelt when they don’t believe in the methods. The selection and tactics yesterday were baffling to say the least, his players aren’t stupid, they know they’re fighting an uphill battle before they start. Again, when you lose faith of players like Sanchez, Ox and Ramsey you have an issue… these aren’t luxury players like Ben Arfa or Balotelli, they’re consummate professionals who work their nuts off.
I wonder if 1) the fact Neville spent all his career under probably the best manager of all time means he has a blind spot where he thinks other managers are stronger than they are, 2) the type of ‘self starter’ player he was means he rates other player’s attitude and commitment levels higher than is reality (which is that many need a manager to motivate them) and 3) whether these kind of views are part of the issue with why management has not gone as well for him as I certainly expected.
I think he’s a fiercely intelligent chap, the way he reads games and comments on the fly is fantastic and he has the charisma to articulate his views superbly, but from his views on Arsenal, both yesterday and historically (his interview with Arsenal Fan TV a case in point) he seems to be of the view that the manager is not a large part of what is produced in the pitch. In this case, he’s so far wrong it’s untrue.
Can anyone explain Gary Neville’s omerta when it comes to Wenger? He had no problem calling Ozil “a joke” or ripping into the whole team, but he looked vacantly at the camera and kept his mouth shut when asked if Wenger was to blame. Then he mumbled on about his professionalism and that he’ll never criticise a manager.
Why do players come under the microscope but not a manager? Surely if there’s one manager around who has a club and team in his image then it’s Wenger. After the same sh*t for 10 years, he’s got to be fair game as much as the players.
There was a word that Jamie Carragher used yesterday to describe the Arsenal players. It was the same phrase he used after the 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last season. ‘Cowards’.
He’s spot on of course, the players yesterday were nothing short of a disgrace. But I think that the Sky pundits, amongst others, can be defined in this way as well. Whilst I thought Gary Neville’s commentary was excellent in the main (as were F365’s pieces covering it today), it is astonishing that he still refuses to admit that Wenger is finished at the top. It is very clearly not his opinion that he thinks Wenger should be given a chance to stay on. Surely pundits are paid all that money to give their honest opinion but Neville has consistently placed all of the blame at the feet of the players. He questioned their motivation, their energy, their tactics but won’t put any blame on the manager who buys them, picks them and is expected to motivate them?
Thierry Henry similarly acted like a politician after the game yesterday, ignoring a question about whether Wenger should have gone by answering a different question that was not asked. I understand that he may not want to jeopardise the friendship he has with Wenger, but surely then he can’t be trusted to be a pundit during Arsenal games if he won’t give honest answers? It is so uncomfortably obvious they agree that Wenger should not have been given a new contract and they are being cowards for not openly saying it.
Fair play to Carragher for saying that the Arsenal board had ‘bottled’ the decision in the summer and should have been ‘ruthless’, finally showing us a pundit who isn’t skirting around the main issue and giving the fans an honest opinion.
A sign of how bad things are
When Arsenal win I watch every highlights show and glue myself to football related social media. When we lose with even a glimmer of injustice I’m also glued to the internet, searching out kindred voices in self-pity and blame deference.
Today though, cannot even bring myself to read winners and losers. When things are this bad (transfers, coaching, governance, tactics and the old intangible giving a damn) I revert to disappointed rather than angry mode. Far more psychologically manageable and allows me to get on with some real life. Wonderful.
Relegation is on the cards
So the dust has settled from that shambolic performance so we can now take stock of the situation and see where we are and where we are heading. So after taking stock, and I’m being serious when I write this, but I seriously think we are in danger of being relegated next season. A mid table finish this season followed by a mass exodus in the summer and poor recruitment to replace them and then a relegation battle ensuing the following season. What a way for that stubborn man to go! Trust me this could really happen.
Frankie AFC (cash in on the Ox now)
Time to give up
I know that fans of bottom table and lower league clubs always say that ”if you think that’s bad, try supporting our club” whenever a fan of a top 6 club or whatever decides to go on a defeated rant about the state of his/her club and how far it has fallen, but I am sorry to say, I have literally given up on Arsenal.
It has come to a point where I do not even want to bother anymore. I feel like it’s a waste of my time and energy to even have any form of feeling towards them. The reason is not because we lose or because we haven’t won the league in a decade plus, a lot of clubs go through low spells. It’s because the club just does not feel like a football club any more. It’s just there. A thing in the league.
I know that lower clubs might say ”well I wouldn’t mind being in Arsenal’s position”. Would you though? It really is a shambles. It’s not even a football club anymore. Really, it isn’t.
Why do I care?
Hi, my name’s Thom and I’m an Arsenal fan.
I’m on holiday in Germany at the moment. Thankfully, although her first love is hockey, my girlfriend indulges my football obsession, so a large part of our holiday has been football related. Watching Fortuna Dusseldorf beat SV Sandhausen in a packed bar in Dusseldorf on the beautiful banks of the Rhine. Going to Signal Iduna Park to watch Borussia Dortmund beat Hertha BSC. All of it was fantastic. However, I knew it couldn’t last. Because I’m an Arsenal fan.
Despite, for almost five years now, trying to tell anyone who’ll listen that something is truly rotten at Arsenal and until it’s cleared out I don’t care, I do. I can’t stop giving a shit and it breaks me. I’ve even taken up a shiny new hobby in visiting, photographing and writing about nonleague football, and I love it (highly recommend nonleague to anyone who hasn’t been for what it’s worth). But, when Arsenal’s fixtures roll around I still find myself inexorably, almost unwillingly drawn to the TV.
So, in my blissful, beery, bratwursty happiness I found a pub showing the Liverpool game (namely all/any of them) and settled in. Why. Why, why, why. I sweated more in ninety minutes watching that than the players did on the pitch. I honestly didn’t write this to dissect the performance or slate the team – just to ask the question – why am I unable to kick the habit? Sat in the bar I felt ashamed in my Arsenal shirt (and not just because I’m a grown man in a football shirt), ashamed to be associated with what I’d watched. Fortuna fans who had just watched their team produce a stirring fightback and last minute winner looked at me with pity. I’ll say that’s it. That’s me done for the season, but realistically I know that like every junkie I’ll be watching next time. I wish I could kick the habit but I just can’t.
Final Arsenal thoughts
Gary Neville may have questioned what Sanchez had to laugh at but he pretty much summed my afternoon up. I couldn’t help but laugh at what I was seeing because of how predictable and pathetic it was.
Ox looked like he wanted to do his new employers a favour.
Bellerin actually got overtaken by Le Coq for Salah’s goal.
I want some of what our line was smoking because that was the highest I’ve ever seen it.
Did someone in the dressing room say you couldn’t possibly perform as bad as Palace away last season and every one in the dressing room collectively said “hold my beer” (or protein shake, whatever).
Kos, when they say you can lead by example, they don’t mean like this.
Xhaka, £35m for 3 sloppy passes leading to 3 goals in 3 games. And still has the balls to try back heeling to his GK in his own box with a player breathing down his neck.
Did anyone in that team even take 2 seconds to think about what Gegenpressing involved? So much dallying on the on the ball, we made Karius look quick of thought.
A past it LB at CB with a fit again CB on the bench. An out of form RB at LB with a bundesliga team player of the year on the bench. Welbeck who can’t finish at CF. The. 2 CFs on at the same time. It makes no sense whatsoever. Even 4 at the back was awful.
Oh Ramsey. When did anyone stop telling you to know where the ball was? Was third highest up the pitch for the goal and wasn’t even paying attention. Looked like he was getting instructions but surely he should just say to hold on until the ball was cleared.
Would quite happily that whole starting 11 other than Welbeck. I can accept being beaten by a better team, can even get other the unlucky losses. But to show up to Anfield with that attitude is what really grinds my gears. They’re paid to do this, if not even because it’s their job to play at the best of their abilities, surely they should just want to try and have some fun? All those fans as well, wasted their Sunday and all that money. We know Arsenal won’t offer anything back to them because they were quite happy to keep quiet after the Bayern Munich debacle.
I’ve already decided I won’t be giving them any more of my cash until we have a change of attitude in the club. It seems like no one cares at all. We’ve been stagnating the past 5 years while others have improved. We have a wealth of cash available and yet we’ve not invested in the squad. I don’t even enjoy watching Arsenal anymore, I just dread it because i wonder how we’re going to screw it up this time.
I’d rather pay £13 to watch my local team Chelmsford in the conference (thanks dad for introducing me to Arsenal) to remember why I enjoy football.
Danny (I expected nothing and was still disappointed)
A Man United view of Arsenal
I’ve read the obituaries, watched the Arsenal fans either go ballistic or at this point be apathetic about the situation and as a Manyoo fan have been to some degree amused by the whole thing, but after yesterday even I, someone who has no vested interest in what happens to the club felt a twinge of sadness at what has become of Arsenal.
I remember the trepidation I had as a fan wen Fergie left his post and I watched as Moyes come in the door (what the hell was that appointment about???) 8 months or so of dross and Van Gaal arrived in to steady the ship and start to actually manage the club in some sort of “normal” fashion, one FA cup and some very boring football later Jose arrived to save us all. In that time Utd have spent – I’d guess – over half a billion on transfers and are now somewhat back on the track they would like to be as a club, the major thing about all of this was that the clubs decisions makers continually did 2 things Arsenal simply either refuse to or won’t do. Invested properly in the squad and despite cup success did not accept the 1st team not competing at the top end of the league.
Arsenal as a club need to be stronger the decisions makers need to actually make the hard decisions, remember the all-conquering Bayern team of Heynckes? They won the treble playing amazing football, Bayern had Pepe waiting in the wings by mid-season that year, why? Because it was the right thing to do for the club, no sentiment, no let’s give him another season, the club came 1st and Heynckes was deemed surplus to requirements, Arsenal are the exact opposite, Wenger is not good for the club, a legend yes but, he is past his sell by date and the longer they leave him in charge the further the club will fall.
As for his man management, how any manager/club can allow 4 or 5 of their 1st team to enter the last year of their contract at the same time is mismanagement and frankly shown incompetence of the highest level, should they all leave for free someone at the club (possibly Wenger) should be held to account for sabotaging the clubs best interests
Finally I will say this, it has taken Manyoo four seasons and huge investment to find a way past the shadow of a great manager, who left a championship winning team on his way out the door, yes the club made errors during the 4 years or so after he left but in that time they invested heavily and made tough decisions quickly regarding the team and its manager. Arsenal are already in decline with a spineless and stingy board who are neither proactive nor strong, their manager needs to be removed not given more time and a pay rise, as a Manyoo fan it was once funny to see the struggles and the downturn in Arsenal but as a football supporter I find it sad now, what’s even worse is that you can’t see the club recovering to its once great standing in the medium term, leave it much longer and they will be destined for long term mediocrity and that may be the most saddening thing of all.
A Liverpool view of Arsenal
I have a friend who supports Arsenal. We don’t really keep in touch because a) we aren’t really that close and b) he can be a jackass from time to time. By jackass I mean, gloating about Wenger’s total football whenever Giroud scores from a header off a corner; taunting rival fans(me) about our lack of silverware; making nonsensical arguments(Ozil > Coutinho(oh f**k him, btw), Sanchez > everyone else) etc… and you know.. being a pompous d*ck from time to time when discussing all things football et al.
But days like yesterday is when I stand up and tip my hat off to him. Because, I have no idea if I could ever get myself to do that; supporting and keeping faith in a club or an institution after such levels of embarrassment.. week after week, year after year. And if you think I’m overreacting just three games into a new season, I’m not. I’m talking about the last three or four years when they’ve been comprehensively humbled and outplayed by every top 6 club at least once, getting humiliated in Europe at the same stage for seven years straight, Arsenal FanTv, Spurs comfortably being the better team in North London.. I can go on.
And I support Liverpool. We are no strangers to excruciating pain and suffering over the last two decades. We’ve excelled in misery every now and then, last won a trophy when Charlie Adam’s corners were a thing, and more currently, Dejan Lovren is still our preferred and starting CB. But what we are strangers to (and I take liberty to speak for the remainder of top 6) is the continous embarrassment. Embarrassment against the local rivals, top 4 contenders, and at the hands of title challengers.. against every possible team, in every way you can think of. Once is mistake, twice is a pattern, but anything beyond that is a habit, which Arsenal and my jackass friend now find themselves steeped into and dare I say, are used to.
Seeing them as my primary rivals for top 4 next year, I want them to fail and not win anything. But what I don’t want is for any club(except Man Utd) being subjected to never ending cycles of abject failure and humiliation and not doing anything to change it. I don’t really care about the respective clubs, but think about their fans for a moment. How can you keep doing that to them repeatedly and still expect them to support you no matter what? You can’t. You really shouldn’t.
With Arsenal, it almost feels like a broad social experiment at times, to see how far can a person go on supporting them, till he doesn’t, completely loses his will and stops giving a fuck. It has become a ritual of sort for Arsenal fans, to turn up to school/work on a Monday morning, be the eternal laughing stock and the subject of all things mockery. I don’t know if I could ever live with that, to be helpless, hopeless and mortified while we’re still in August of a brand new season. And this is where/why I bow down and empathize with this distant friend of mine, even though he’s an odd nut.
— Abhinav, LFC, Chicago.
Another team did play at Anfield…
Dear Ed, did nobody write in to the morning mailbox praising that Liverpool performance? Their front three is lethal when they have that kind of space. The only “A” word I will use is amazing.
First and foremost it must be said that Liverpool were incredible on Saturday. To say that it should have been 5 or 6 nil is a huge understatement.
Defensively we were much more solid than we have been in previous games, there was still an uncertainty that remained but we were far more disciplined and committed with very minimal brain farts. We were not perfect by any stretch but we made a huge improvement to what we have seen so far this season. Moreno looked like a somewhat decent footballer, in fact, he probably played his best game in a Liverpool shirt and I was extremely proud to see Gomez in the starting lineup given all his injury problems, he looks the real deal. Matip is the best CB in the squad and if Klopp could just get one class defender in the window, I think we could definitely challenge this season.
Offensively we were lightening fast on the counter and Arsenal couldn’t handle the pace of Mane & Salah as well as the trickery of Firmino. I would say Salah just needs to get shaper in front of goal and he could be the complete player this season. The connection between our frontline is something I haven’t seen in quite some time and if they continue to click against the “big” teams as well as the “lesser” teams than we could finally have a formidable attack on our hands.
I believe our midfield deserves the most credit, Henderson was immense, pinging balls all over the park and running back and forth like he had energy on reserve, Gini who I believe is rather underrated because he doesn’t have a “nio” in front of his name, made Ramsey look like a league 2 footballer and Can was literally the player we’ve all been screaming for. I very much doubt Coutinho would get into this team based on current performances, which is a testament to the team itself.
I don’t think Liverpool got enough credit for their win this weekend. I read more articles about Arsenal being the epitome of sh*t than Liverpool outsmarting and outplaying them. I even read in the mailbox this morning that we weren’t special, that is quite frankly bullsh*t, Klopp setup the players, he gave the orders, the players won their individual battles and our attack scored all of the goals, it’s all well and good giving the losing team an honest assessment but don’t discredit the team that actually won the game in the process. Liverpool were special, whether you admit it or not.
Daniel, LFC (sign da Ting Can)
Just an observation, not profound or anything.
Slavan Bilic is a lucky boy that Arsenal/Arsene f’d up so badly this weekend. All the talk/heat/speculation is about them and their pathetic display.
Meanwhile for West Ham the same could be said but they are below the radar somewhat.
Steve Limerick Ireland