Sunday, 17 February 2013

Arsene Wenger's One-Eyed Vision

......."we made more than six hundred passes in that game ( against Norwich ) and i watched it again twice, and they defended very well. We were not quick or sharp enough to create chances....... "


"We do not have a big gap between what our players earn at Arsenal. We are more a socialist model and vulnerable because of that. We have something that is defendable in front of every single player. We make exceptions, but the exceptions are maybe not as high as else where.


......" I couldn't see how we could lose the game because we had lots of the ball and they
         had one shot on goal but they defended well and it's the kind of game you can lose
         if you make a mistake at the back like we did".........

ARSENE WENGER - FEBRUARY 16TH,  2013.  ( after being knocked out of the FA Cup )

Those three quotes are a microcosm of Aresene Wenger's mentality as the coach of Arsenal Football Club, and the reasons behind it's lack of sporting success for eight years. It's not some kind of jinx, it's simply because the manager's raw instinct to win... that feeling of "my career here depends on winning a trophy this season "; that disconnection with the reality and aspirations of the fans ; that stout pursuit of an agenda that he has fostered, that he has gotten so mired in, so blind to, that he cannot fashion an exit strategy from..., is eroding his credibility. Arsene Wenger is lost as a football man. He now belongs in a wilderness of impractical theories and  self-absorbed in fantasies.  In this vain, his players are badly managed, and unfit for purpose..... figures of confusion, torn between their primal instinct, and how Arsene Wenger has programmed their minds to perform, hence their schizophrenic displays.

VISION : in 1996, Arsene Wenger inherited a winning squad, which he made even better, and went on to win more titles. He was influential in the move to a stadium of bigger capacity. The grand idea behind the move was to compete with Manchester United financially, and elbow them out of their sporting pole position. it made sense.  Old Trafford with gate takings from 70,000 fans, and Highbury with 38,000 was  depicted  as  a distortion of Arsenal's true potential. Man Utd could build a better squad of players than Arsenal because it had more cash to buy better players every year than Arsenal.  Arsene Wenger must be given credit for navigating the club through a period of austerity, while a new stadium was being built. He used his extensive surveillance network to bring in rough diamonds from Europe, Africa, and South America - Jeremy Aliadiere, Fabregas, Song, Emmanuel Eboue, Denilson,  for very cheap. He transformed the style of play, making the team technically affluent and flamboyant. To have masterminded such a delicate vision, and bringing it to fruition, amid a cash crisis was nothing short of amazing. It will be arguably his most admirable legacy. It got the Club loads of support from neutrals in recognition of it's noble cause. It takes courage to fashion out a business model that is healthy, sustainable, and taking practical steps to service the debt on a stadium.

ROAD BLOCK : Arsene Wenger's Baby was to get his team to play attractive,  technical football, and to give 60.000 thousand home fans entertainment and value for their money. He recognized ticket and hospitality costs at the Emirates stadium was about the highest in the land, but perhaps felt the fans would see it as a price worth the exchange for their pleasure. This is the point where the great man began to get it all wrong, and the drift away from reality. Football is a pleasure for fans only when their team win matches and titles. The writing was on the wall from the very first season at the Emirates. They thumped Liverpool 3-0, but struggled to break down teams that played on the counter attack with a resilient defensive shield. That trend has continued to this day. It's  been eight years  of a recurring pattern.... brilliant and incisive in one game, labouring to score in the next, permanently erratic. Titles remain elusive to teams that are void of consistency.

WHEREIN LIES THE FAULT ?  Sadly, you have lay it at the door step of the manager.  In my opinion far too entrenched in the club's financial side for the good of anyone. Wenger has taken his role as custodian of the Club's financial health to the detriment of his evolution as a coach.  Yes, he has brought in loads of cash from selling players for vastly inflated sums, but the consequence of that is the club has lost it's focus on trophies. The environment has become excessively commercial. Contracts and remuneration have overshadowed  proceedings. He has failed to galvanize the team to a winning ethos.
The synergy of player genre and style of play has resulted in untold malfunctions. Players are signed for the primary point of fitting in with the team's tactical structure. It is never about ambitions to help it win trophies, nor tapping the players experience at winning. Arsene Wenger puts style over substance, never generating a squad hell bent on winning. Too predominant is the idea of how to play the Arsenal way, failing to realize nothing has been achieved with this methods, and how upset the faithful are
Arsenal need to fashion a simple winning formula, that can provide consistency. This intricate, one pass too many makes their attacks  easy to deal with by the opposition. To compound matters, because the strategy involves pushing many men into attack, they are vulnerable behind,  and the manager let's this state of affairs' perennial existence. Even a novice could tell Arsenal's play lacks the right defensive organization.
Arsenal have become a club where too many players arrive for the purpose of their own development. It's the right place, there is stability with the manager, and youth being given a chance, then once that has been achieved , move on to win titles elsewhere.

ADJUST : Arsenal need to rediscover it's road map to titles. That has not been emphasized and worked towards with the gravitas required. The atmosphere must be imbued with a mentality to win, rather than for hollow plaudits for playing "good football". There is no doubt the details left to achieving formidable status are marginal. It's  a need to adjust the philosophy slightly, be smarter, the prestige of winning trophies complements the current project.... in fact it enhances it. There is no need for the club to be organized  on  wholly puritan values. Borussia Dortmund and Ajax have made success of the this laudable model.  The right balance is missing at Arsenal. Over to you Mr. Wenger.