Saturday , 23 September 2017
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Cannon Fodder: Thoughts on Wenger, Arsenal and beyond

Howdy friends?! I hope things are doing well in your lives, better than the Arsenal portion at least. After the game against Swans, my air of insane over-confidence had returned, I was so sure that a victory against a Chelsea side that struggled against Reading was inevitable. In a fit of cock-sure arrogance I had decided to wait until after the game at Stamford Bridge to write a piece on our “double victory” against the faux- Arsenal and our bitter London rivals, and also address a few thoughts I’ve been having about the club and its fans. After that ridiculous farce against the blues, I’ll be focusing more on my thoughts and less on the aforementioned games.

I’ve hearing words such as “superb”, “resurgent” being used to describe the second half performance. Frankly that irks me; yes, Vermalen & co. played as thought Wenger had tanned their backsides with a bullwhip during the interval between the two halves but it does not change the fact that we LOST as we failed to score the requisite number of goals. Words like that cover up the fact that the overall performance was found lacking, three points were dropped and that we let those despicable clowns pull a double over us, something my blue buddies won’t be keen on letting me forget for a very long time.
I think I mist have lost track of the number of times I heard the word “Theo” and “offside” in a single sentence through the game but in all fairness his goal was well collected and smashed in with precision. In spite of his contribution, I am of the opinion that his constant presence around Giroud is becoming more of a hindrance than an asset. His presence on the flanks would benefit the team far more than trying to compete with our primary striker whose confidence could do with a boost. I often wonder if Theo’s new found habit of playing a more narrow game is a product of his own ego or the manager’s decision. Time will tell I guess…

Thought the double pivot of Diaby and Coq was employed once again, unlike the game against the Swans, this time, it was as effective as a paper helmet in a construction zone mostly due to Diaby’s muted performance. The younger Frechman on the other hand was impressive yet again. He may not be the combative defensive midfield green beret we need but he’s showing signs of being a nifty all-purpose midfielder in the mould of Mikel Arteta (post ‘Wengerification’ of course). Arsene would do well to turn the youngster into the Spaniard’s permanent understudy. In other good news, the Verminator has finally found all of his missing files (“Verminate.exe” perhaps?) and his link back to Skynet. His performances have been getting steadily better over the past few weeks and now he’s back to being the linchpin of the back-line. No doubt he will back to his verminating best in the coming run of games. Mert on the other hand has been a little more quiet, one cant help but wonder if Kos needs to be given a few more starts if only to get his confidence back from the boogeyman. Consistency has to be the name of the game for the back four if a Champions league ’14 berth is to be booked. But it can be achieved only if the players themselves wish to play to their fullest potential; sporting a lackadaisical attitude could prove fatal for our European plans in 2014.

Arsene Wenger: Is it time? (image from www.arsenal.com)

With every unsatisfactory performance, the restlessness among the fans seems to grow like an ugly giant pustule on your nose; you’re never certain when it’s going to burst but you know that it’s going to be painful, ugly and unfortunately inevitable unless drastic measure are taken. That begs the question: What precisely are these oft-mentioned “measures”?

I guess those depend on what you think the problems are. I posed the question in a public forum and every fan seems to have a different answer:
“No player rotation!” screams one,
“Paper thin-squad” howls another,
“tactical inflexibility” shouts a third,
“Dearth of player motivation”
“Terrible transfer policies”
The cacophony of complaints goes on for a few minutes….

Most of the problems listed above remain on-pitch or player performance-related issues for the most part; inshort these are problems that the manager himself is directly responsible for. The way the club is being owned & run and the others non-player-on-pitch related issues are far from perfect but let’s place those issues on a back-burner for now. Each and every one of those issues listed is directly linked to the manager and his team. Wenger’s ability to grind out results has been growing weaker over the years, initially financial reason were cited and the fans amicably agreed, seeing reason in Wenger’s unassailable logic and vision. But his vision has yet to become reality and the grumbles of discontentment are growing louder. There are already sections of the fan-base calling for his head. For the most part, these creatures tend to sound cheap and disrespectful if not out-right abusive. I find myself cringing every time I hear one of these distasteful creatures speak.

Herbert Chapman may have laid the foundation upon which our great club is built but the architect of the modern European power house that is Arsenal FC is indubitably Arsene Wenger. The ingrate who forgets this and showers the manager with abuse simply loses the right to call himself (or herself) a gooner (or goonerette). Without Wenger the Iceman would have probably left the club after a few seasons; Henry, Pires and the other super-stars who pulled on the red and white would have probably never even been signed and in all probability we would be languishing below the Spuds.
Pray remember those things before you speak of the man.

To one such as me, to imagine an Arsenal without Arsene at the helm is indeed a scary thought, as with many other fans of my generation, I have never known an Arsenal FC bereft of the iconic Wenger. Humans fear change, but change itself is inevitable, and sometimes even necessary. Wenger has served the club far better than most before him and probably better than most that will come after.
But Wenger’s Achilles’ heel is that he has failed to grow and evolve as a manager, something that his arch-nemesis: the chewing-gum knight of Manchester has managed quite brilliantly.

Arsene’s “my-way or the highway” attitude is starting to cost us. His adamant refusal to rotate the squad is wearing certain players thin while causing others to grow fat and permanently out-of form. Sometimes Arsene’s perennial substitutes need to be ushered in to give the big-guns a rest, this is a fundamental fact, but yet for some unknown reason players like and Santi and Sagna who are mentally or physically exhausted tend to start games until the inevitable injury occurs. It is high time Ramsey plays a game or two in Santi’s shoes and Jenkinson gets a crack at the fullback slot. Both players have remained substitutes too long. The upcoming game against the hammers is a perfect opportunity to shuffle the line-up a little.

But for all his flaws, Wenger is still a manager par excellence, replacing him is one thing; but replacing him with a successor who can take the club forward is something else entirely. While I could never support the act of terminating him, I would hope that he is not offered another contract. And even if he is, I highly doubt he will take it. But the question still remains: Who can fill the Frenchman’s large shoes?

For all those fans who believe that going against the club is nothing short of sacrilege and that Wenger should be a permanent fixture in the manager’s chair, I recommend this strange yet brilliantly thought provoking article about one of the greatest players to pull on the red and white.
But more importantly, it is a lesson to ALL ARSENAL SUPPORTERS on what an ideal fan is like. Adams is obviously not happy with what’s happening at the club and not impressed with certain people running it. He’s frank about his opinions and sometimes even critical about certain aspects of Arsenal yet ultimately he supports the club.

Being a fan is not about being a blind fool that believes that everything that the club does is perfect. Adam’s interview is a sign that a fan can have his own opinions/likes/hates/peeves about his/her club; yet the only thing that matters is the fact that you support it wholeheartedly.

Au revoir, Stay Arsnalish…

About Varun Chand

Profile photo of Varun Chand
Full time nothing doer and part-time Engineer (supposedly). I really hate the Arsenal and that's why I spend so much of time writing/talking/discussing/debating about them. I enjoy mocking YOU because it's fun.

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