Friday
Feb172017

Wenger’s on his last legs - seize your chance to get rid

It’s like I’m slowly waking up from a bad dream – more like a nightmare. Without wanting to get too excited, there is now genuine hope that Arsene Wenger will decide to call it quits and leave Arsenal at the end of the season. At this morning’s press conference, Wenger made the unique statement: “No matter what happens, I will manage next season. Is it here or somewhere else?” My first thought was, is that a threat or a promise?

But Arsenal fans need to be careful about how they respond to this statement. It is not conclusive, so this is not the time to empathise, get teary-eyed or celebrate the success of Wenger’s long-distant past. Since he has still not made a definitive statement about his departure, now is the time to force him out the door. Protests need to begin, home and away, between now and the end of the season, irrespective of results.

Don’t make the mistake of feeling sorry for Wenger. His past achievements may warrant respect, but as a human being he deserves only ridicule and derision. Wenger is a distasteful fraud that is more than aware of his own shoddy bungling and has been trying to manipulate the narrative for over a decade. Comments this morning such as “Even if I go, they [Arsenal] will not win every game,” demonstrate his continued refusal to accept culpability. Make no mistake, Wenger still seems to think he is beyond criticism and blames outside forces for everything that he is accountable for.

He’s not gone yet and Wenger will still do everything he possibly can to cling on to power. I read a blog quote yesterday that stated: “If Wenger does not sign a new contract, it will not be because he thinks he cannot do the job any more, it will be because he cannot stand the pressure any longer, which in turn leads to even more pressure from the fans”.

Wenger is an arrogant egomaniac who does not believe he is past his sell by date and never will. He has not had a sudden realisation that he’s a tactical cretin, or that Arsenal were humiliated by a bunch of old men at the Allianz Arena, or that he can no longer inspire or motivate his players - it’s the exhausting clamour from the fans and media that is choking him. The players obviously read it and are affected by it, and now see Wenger for what he is.

It was only a short while ago that Theo Walcott effusively praised Wenger for an Al Pacino-like dressing room speech, yet a few weeks later the lazy clown can be seen standing idle as Alonso jogs past him to score Chelsea’s opener in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge. That microscopic display of apathy was magnified x 10 at Bayern Munich, and says everything about the eroded bond between the manager and his players.

It's astonishing that what I wrote SEVEN years ago is as true today as it was then. Commenting on Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at home to Barcelona: “The fact is, after watching last night’s game and despite the undoubted excellence of Barcelona, I have never been more mortified by Wenger’s tactical ineptitude. He sent that team out there utterly naked, reprehensibly clueless as to what to do with regard to team shape, marking, communication, gameplan – anything. It was an abomination.

“Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows what I think; and that’s that Arsenal don’t compete for anything – they just give the illusion of competing by buzzing around the top four every season and taking part in a Champions League they clearly have zero chance of winning.”

Arsenal Football Club is at a crossroads. It needs a new owner, a new CEO, a new board, a new manager, a new assistant manager, new coaching staff and new players. But not everything needs to be changed at once to bring competitiveness back to the club. I still insist that the club’s figurehead, Arsene Wenger, is the primary rotten maggot feeding off the club and mismanaging it into a spiral of never-ending mediocrity.

You can blame Stan Kroenke and Ivan Gazidis all you want, but they’re not the principal reason for Arsenal’s failure to compete for major trophies. Yes Kroenke’s ownership model is derisory and Gazidis is a comatose CEO, but they have supported Wenger fully in terms of finances. The club is not profiting on transfers, quite the reverse - Arsenal have not made a profit in the transfer market in any of the last five seasons. Player expenditure has been £306m, with a £90m rebate on player sales. The wage bill has risen exponentially, and is now virtually on a par with the club's competitors. So don’t tell me that Kroenke is not supporting the manager financially. The problem with Kroenke is that he is comfortable making a net profit and does not make Wenger accountable for his perpetual failure to compete for major trophies.

But there are definitely problems at the club and the way it is run. Arsenal has long been a playground for protectionist rich old men. Shares cost £17,000 and are infrequently traded on the specialist ISDX market for SMEs. Stone-age Tory merchant banker Sir “Chips” Keswick is a puppet Chairman and the club’s top brass has its fingers in the till. Arsenal is a club where everyone buys each other’s silence and loyalty. This operates right from the top of the food chain to the bottom, from Kroenke pickpocketing £3m from the club coffers to Gazadis awarding himself an eye-watering £2.6m salary.

They pay an incompetent manager £8.3m as gratitude for keeping them prosperous, while further down the food chain, Wenger buys the loyalty of assistant manager Steve Bould – a once respected warrior defender that now sits mute on the bench. Like all corrupt dictators, Wenger throws money at his closest allies to keep them sweet – a lot of his coaching staff have been there since forever. They don’t question him, because he keeps their snouts in the trough. And Wenger has long bought the loyalty of his players, paying wages incommensurate with their talent - a policy that has become utterly self-defeating.

Over the past 10 years, the few players that have a semblance of world-class ability and ambition get bored, fed up and leave. That’s when Wenger gets busy covering his tracks, fervently manipulating the agenda by perpetually absolving himself of all responsibility and blaming other clubs’ wealth and resources for his inability to compete. But now, Arsenal is collapsing under the weight of its own ineptitude. Years of neglect and self-interest is threatening to cost the club its place in the big money league. Arsenal is a one-man team (Alexis Sanchez) who not only fires the bullets, but is the gun itself. When he goes, what’s left behind is abject.

Wenger is on his last legs; don’t let him off the hook. The club desperately needs change and the supporters need and deserve hope - your loyalty has been grossly abused. Seize your chance to put out the rubbish by making Wenger’s departure a reality, even if means not turning up to games. A half-empty stadium sends just as big a message as vociferous protests, although I would fervently encourage both.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Wednesday
Feb082017

Social media is rendering pundits irrelevant

Have TV pundits had their day? You might be forgiven for thinking so. Witness the inane ramblings of Martin Keown, Thierry Henry, Alan Smith, Nigel Winterburn and Ian Wright, or Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas on Sky Sport’s Soccer Saturday.

All of them are fence sitters, afraid to commit themselves one way or another on the subject of whether Arsene Wenger is still fit to run Arsenal Football Club. They've been skirting around the issue for years, but never commit to an opinion one way or the other.

To some extent, it’s understandable. They owed their livings to the club, have a genuine affinity towards it and are regarded as legends by the supporters. It would require substance to cut ties with an institution that still gives them all manner of perks while at the same time frowns upon ex-players being remotely critical of their day-to-day operations.

Witness how Wenger prevented Thierry Henry from coaching the youth squad because of his role as a TV pundit. Indeed, Henry may well harbour hopes of managing Arsenal one day; therefore he has to box clever. It would be foolish to sever his ties by going against the grain, potentially costing him his dream job.

So let’s not be too harsh on the pundits, but let’s also agree that their opinions on Arsenal are dead – they have no relevance. A biased pundit is a much use as a condom machine at the Vatican.

Social media is where it’s at, and the pundits are frightened of it. Witness Gary Neville slamming ArsenalFan TV. The YouTube channel has amassed such a huge following, that it’s eating into the mainstream broadcasters’ viewership and being seen as a threat, particularly by pundits who arrogantly believe their opinion to be superior and, wait for it, more intellectual.

Neville made a fool of himself criticising fans, and it’s not because he called an Arsenal fan an idiot – Arsenal fans call each other idiots all the time (and a lot worse). No, it’s because his point of view was loaded with contempt that ANYONE should have a trusted opinion other than the likes of him.

This is despite the fact that Arsenal fans’ opinions carry more weight than Neville because they, obviously, have greater expertise and a more nuanced understanding of how the club operates. It’s the fans that watch every single game, the fans that have an intuitive feeling for its performance metrics and the fans that have more in-depth knowledge of the club’s history.

Neville also rendered himself redundant by making one of the most laughable statements I’ve ever heard from a TV pundit, something along the lines of, “I’ll never call for a manager to be sacked”. How on earth can a pundit take that position when probably a third of Premier League managers get sacked every season in what are, most of the time, long, slow-burning sagas that have a massive effect on the players' and supporters' psyche before, during and prior to the event.

But then, what do you expect from a pundit who a couple of years ago ignorantly exclaimed Arsenal to be completely debt free. This was during a tirade AGAINST Arsene Wenger. He clearly didn’t do his homework on Arsenal, or Valencia by the look  of it.  

At the moment, everywhere you look ex-Arsenal pundits are squirming in their seats. They’re being pushed by presenters to give a yes/no answer to whether Wenger should remain, and sit there effectively giving every reason under the sun why he’s incompetent, yet refusing to pin their colours to the mast - scared to break protocol.

Even worse, they sway with public opinion. The more vociferous the call from fans/written media for Wenger to leave, the more they edge towards the precipice of agreement, and as the fans/written media back off, they predictably lean in the other direction.

By the way, certain blog writers are not immune from this either – witness Arseblog. Arsenal’s most popular blogger, no doubt, but you won’t find a much bigger fence sitter on the subject of Wenger.

The fact is, as soon as Arsenal owes you a living, unless you have the courage of your convictions – and he hasn’t, your views are bound to be tainted and completely lacking in objectivity. It’s embarrassing to watch, but no longer an annoyance if you’re able to see through the whole charade and completely dismiss their contaminated viewpoints.

You have to look at all these people as an extension of the club - a mutant leaf on the disfigured branch that is Kroenke, Gazidis and Wenger, and a bunch of other corrupt old bastards palming each other off for achieving jack shit.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the internet has changed the media landscape. We live in a “me, myself and I” culture now. The ordinary person wants his five minutes of fame. Television gave us permission with reality TV garbage, and radio, as desperate as the broadsheets for advertising revenues, has to equally encourage audience hysteria.

The internet has allowed the fans themselves to seize their own power, organising themselves to create YouTube channels that are starting to bypass the now-moribund experts’ prejudiced opinions, enabling us to go straight to source. It’s immediate, it’s rapid-fire, and it’s emotive. What it’s not is contrived, arrogant and dull.

The printed press are no better, they’re afraid to criticise Wenger in case they lose their seat in the press box or at press conferences. Meanwhile, corrupt media mouthpieces like The Mirror’s John Cross plant biased stories on the behest of the club itself.

I’ll close by saying that there are still a few pundits worth listening to. Roy Keane for example; a pundit seemingly willing to speak his mind on any subject with brutal honesty, irrespective of his links to Manchester United, or any future expectations he may have of working in the media or as a football coach or manager.

Somehow, I think Keane’s legendary standing has not been tarnished one inch amongst Man Utd supporters. Maybe more pundits should be like him, and maybe broadcasters should employ more pundits like him if they want to regain some sort of control of the media landscape. And I don't include Robbie Savage in that.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

Friday
Feb032017

Is Wenger’s contract already signed? I have my doubts

A question from KVD:

Lots of rumours surrounding Wenger's contract renewal. Some say he has signed a 2-year extension and the board are waiting for the right time to announce the deal. Others say we are in advanced talks with Allegri.

Do you have any insight as to what is going on as I hope to god that this is Wenger's last year as I cannot stand any more of it or any of the players except Sanchez, so I need some good news that this madness will end.

Do you think Allegri will do well in the Premier League?

__
AT

Sadly KVD, I have no genuine insight and anyone that claims to is either a liar or misinformed, so I wouldn’t believe anything you read. However, my best guess is no.

Many people say that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil’s future is tied to Wenger staying at the club, but I believe the opposite to be true. If neither Sanchez nor Ozil commit, what is the incentive for Wenger to continue?

Their departure would require a major rebuilding job from Wenger when his grip is at its weakest, especially if Arsenal are unable to finish in the top four. Under that scenario, attracting replacements of a similar quality to Sanchez, in particular, would be nigh on impossible as all the other high-profile English clubs would be far more appealing.

Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a major problem, but Sanchez has become so influential that Arsenal is a mid-table team without him.

Even if Arsenal cling on to their top four placing, both players will be very difficult to replace making Wenger’s desire to continue an unattractive prospect. With Klopp, Guardiola, Conte and Mourinho all in the early stages of new projects at their respective clubs, the PL is only likely to get more competitive. All those managers have improved those clubs from last season, albeit in some cases marginal. Pochettino is also doing a great job at Spurs.

For those reasons, I believe Wenger would be foolish to commit to signing a new contract at this stage, especially with supporters set to turn against him even more vociferously than they did last season.

I think Arsenal fans have to stop dreaming and accept that both Sanchez and Ozil are probably leaving. Arsenal will not compete for the PL or CL and their next contract will be their last major pay day. Sanchez is probably more ambitious than Ozil, and more likely to leave for footballing reasons. Ozil’s claim that he will only stay if Wenger does is merely a delaying tactic.

Let’s be sensible, if neither player signs in the summer both will have to be sold. Money comes first and Arsenal are not going to risk two assets, probably worth a combined £80m, to run down their contracts. If those players do not commit, Arsenal will have to sell and it’s better to try and control where they go than allow them to run down their contracts and move to a PL rival.

Arsenal’s defeat at home to Watford was a hammer blow to Wenger, but of course self-inflicted. I would predict a much improved performance at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but with so many midfield players missing, Arsenal may not have the quality to upstage Chelsea even if Conte’s team has a very bad day at the office.

Should Arsenal lose, and even if they don’t, this season’s failure to compete only confirms what any sensible fan already knew would happen. Personally, I think Chelsea will win the title, leaving Man City and Liverpool in their wake with Arsenal going neck to neck with Spurs for CL qualification.

Hopefully, Wenger will leave the club, but whether it’s Allegri or otherwise, should Sanchez and Ozil depart it will be extremely difficult for any manager to push the club forward having to operate with the detritus Wenger leaves behind. Wenger has mostly bought players in his own image: mentally weak and frequently incompetent.

To all regular readers, sorry I’ve been quiet of late. It’s astonishing how many people visit the site every week considering I hardly ever post anything. To be honest, I am not watching any Arsenal games at present, except for highlights, hence no updates.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

Tuesday
Dec202016

Thicko bungler Wenger blames the refs again

Damn, I’m annoyed with myself, should have trusted my instincts. I started watching the Man City game yesterday but turned it off as soon as Arsenal scored. In retrospect, I imagine Paddy Power would have provided attractive odds on a 2-1 turnaround.

Shorn of key players including Kompany, Aguero and Fernandinho, and without midfield runners such as Delph and Gundogan, this was the worst looking City team I’d seen for years. Having immediately gone a goal down, I simply could not envisage their garbage defence keeping it tight at the back for the remainder of the game.

But they did. And Arsenal only had one shot on target.

As always, the maniacal Wenger threw the full weight of blame onto the match officials. He even had the gall to retrospectively blame them for Arsenal’s lack of points this season, despite gaining five points against Leicester, Southampton and Burnley from suspect refereeing decisions that went in Arsenal’s favour.

Watching his post-match interviews, with his haunted, crazed stare, I now reckon Wenger actually believes his own delusional thinking.

Yes, it’s true that City’s first goal was marginally offside, but FA rules state that if there is any doubt a player is offside, the official must keep his flag down. That means the advantage should be given to the attacker, and in the case of Sane he was only offside by three inches. From that distance and at that speed, it’s basically impossible for a linesman to conclude a player is offside with any degree of certainty.

This type of human error will always happen until the FA figures out a way to further extend the powers of video technology. Calling out the refs and attacking them in the way Wenger did is pretty disgraceful behaviour, but all he’s really interested in is deflection. I reckon out of the 27 goals Arsenal have conceded this season, 27 of them were blamed on the officials.

City’s second goal was not offside because the shot had already beaten Cech before Silva could be considered to be interfering with play.

Either way, it’s irrelevant. The fact is, to win the title you have to be better than the decisions that go against you. That’s what title winners do - they collate more points than other teams by eliminating their exposure to risk. If you invite pressure and crumble psychologically, the risk of marginal decisions going against you increases exponentially.

Anyway, the upshot is that Wenger has once again proved what a tactical moron he is. Had City had a full-strength side, I would have partially agreed that Arsenal should sit deep and employ a counter-attacking strategy, but against an injury ravaged team, dire at the back, one goal down and clearly lacking in confidence, his tactics only encouraged City to overcome their frailties.

In the second half, Sanchez was screaming at his team mates to push up 10-15 yards to support him, yet thicko Wenger sat frozen in the dugout doing nothing. He is only capable of making like-for-like substitutions, and even then he made particularly stupid ones, like putting Giroud on instead of Perez. A speedy, agile forward coming from deep would have presented far more danger to City than a big slow lump that was never going to get any service.

It is now incumbent on the ‘Wenger Out’ supporters to bring back the banners and start protesting for his removal, and persist until the end of the season irrespective of results.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be unread and binned.

Monday
Dec122016

Dear idiots, shut up about pass completion rates

It’s been a while, but not much has changed since I wrote my last blog on November 9. Chelsea are still winning, Utd are still one-paced, City are still struggling to adapt to Guardiola’s tactics, Liverpool are still conceding too many goals, Spurs still aren’t scoring enough and there’s no point talking about Arsenal until March or April – only then will we discover if Wenger has grown a pair of bollocks.

I suspect not, but I’m a glass-half-empty kind of guy - a realist pessimist; it’s been beaten into me. These days, I usually forget Arsenal are even playing, which makes me an increasingly inadequate blogger. I suppose some would say I’ve always been inadequate, but let’s not got there.

Being drawn against Bayern Munich in the Champions League doesn’t exactly bode well though does it? I just read a hilarious article claiming how Arsenal should not be afraid, because Bayern are drivel right now – even though they’ve only lost 1 domestic game this season, scored more and conceded less than every other Bundesliga team and the game doesn’t take place for another two months.

At the moment, there’s only one Arsenal story worth talking about, the elephant in the room with the big trunk blowing chunks of scepticism everywhere – Ozil and Sanchez’ unsigned contracts. As I stated in a previous blog, Arsenal have royally screwed themselves by allowing 15 contracts to enter into the final 18 months. That means big pay increases across the board would result in a points deduction if the amounts involved fall foul of the FA’s newly adopted Short Term Cost Controls.

Ironic isn’t it? Gazidis and Wenger pissed and moaned for so long about financial disparity and the need for regulation, now they’re going to be hoisted by their own petard. That’s assuming either player even wants to stay. If I was a betting man, I’d say Arsenal have no chance in the CL, will bugger up the title and Sanchez will go to Juve or Man City while Ozil heads to Mourinho’s soft bosom.

Wenger claims Arsenal will allow both players contract to run out (stifles laugh).

Finally, I’ve been meaning to say this for some time, but bloggers and commenters, please shut up about pass completion stats – it’s fecking embarrassing. Getting sick of reading about Coquelin or Elneny’s 90% pass completion rate, when all they do is sit in front of the back four, rarely venturing beyond the half way line, playing against teams who play one up front with 10 men behind the ball.

Where else are they going to pass it, other than backwards, sideways, to Ozil or the wide men, who all have 50 yards of space ahead of them and need binoculars to get a clear view of the keeper? Basically, if those players don’t have a 98% pass completion rate, it’s a disgrace (I’m allowing for 2 long ball passes going astray per 90 minutes).

Pass completion stats are only really meaningful if a player has less than 10%, in which case they’re about as much use as a chocolate dildo whatever way you look at it. Leicester won the league with the lowest pass completion rate of any team in the PL last season, which demonstrates how utterly meaningless pass completion stats are. I guess they’d mean a lot to a laptop dunce like Arsene Wenger, but he’d make Ian Dowie look like a tactical genius.

Even for attacking players they’re pretty meaningless if the players in question are not attempting creative or incisive forward passes. Basically, you can’t just look at stats. You have to have to watch the games and see everything through the prism of a side’s tactical set up, the opponent on any given day and exactly where those passes are going.

Please do your duty and pass this blog to everyone you know so we can stamp out this analytical incompetence, and while you’re at it throw into the mix anyone that ever again mentions  that horribly overused phrase: Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Yes, we know it still applies to Wenger, but it’s time to find more imaginative ways to ridicule him.

Big week for Arsenal, with two away games at Everton and Man City, who will be without Sergio Aguero after his savage death kick on David Luiz. Remember, all great players have a bit of the Jason Voorhees in them – including Dennis Bergkamp. 

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be unread and binned.