WTTGT Writer: Nicholas Charles (@TNCharles)
Wednesday’s result against AC Milan may have seemed disastrous but it was the manner of the performance that should cause grave concern to all genuine Arsenal fans. The fact that we were lucky to lose by only four goals, in what was the worst defeat in Arsenal’s European history, is extremely damning to both the players and the management of our great club. Quite simply no one turned up to play on the night. There was no spirit, no cohesion, no fight, no creativity and too many basic mistakes were made on the night. After we conceded the first goal we never looked like coming back in the game. The worst thing about the result was the fact that we lost to a very beatable AC Milan team. They may be top in the Italian League but they cannot be compared to the great Milan team won back to back European Cups in 1989 and 1990 with players such as Gullit, Van Basten, Baresi, Maldini and Rijkaard.
The saddest part of last night’s result was that it was inevitable. It angers me greatly that our Board our fantastic about talking up our ambitions to become a major European club yet in reality are only interested in maximising our profits by selling our best players. We had a poor squad last year with a frail mentality who disintegrated after we lost the Carling Cup final to Birmingham. The summer presented us with a brilliant opportunity to spend the funds that we had built up over the years of strict prudence and build a team that was capable of competing in the Premier League and Champions League. It was obvious to all and sundry that the team needed a strong spine and that a top class centre back, central midfielder and a striker needed to purchased. Wenger kept telling us to trust his judgement and based on the calibre of players he has brought into our team we all believed him.
Unfortunately instead of strengthening in the summer we sold our 2 best midfield players, failed to replace them and also failed to bring in the world class players we desperately needed. Wenger was correct in July by unwillingly predicting the lack of ambition that our club has shown not just this year but for the last 6 years in which we have failed to win a single trophy. I simply do not understand Wenger’s persistence in continually looking for a bargain when searching for players. Are we really that desperate for money? Does it take a genius to figure out that by selling your best players your team can only get weaker?
It seems that we are being rapidly left behind the current domestic competition and if we fail to qualify for the Champions League this season I cannot see how we will be able to attract the quality players that we will need to dramatically improve our team. January presented us with a window of opportunity (no pun intended) to strengthen our team but Wenger declined to make any significant moves. Henry was brought in and gave us much needed joy but he is gone now at a time when our deflated team needed his inspiration the most. That was the risk (which I highlighted in my blog at the time) of bringing in a short term solution to a long term problem.
The fact remains that since our appearance in the 2006 Champions League Final we have gone backwards as a team.
A quick look at our current squad highlights our weaknesses. Where are the leaders? Who has replaced Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Patrick Viera and Sol Campbell? Who has the ability to inspire our team onto victory during a match when it seems that all is against us? Why do we only have 1 genuine world class player in our squad? Why have we spent less money on players (measured in net purchases) than any team in the current Premier League? Why did we sell Cesc and Nasri with no contingency plan in place?
I have been a very vocal supporter of Arsene Wenger but he is making the same mistakes repeatedly. He has failed to bring in new coaches to freshen up our training and to bring in the much needed impetus to our style of play. We have become far too predictable and one dimensional in the way we play. We seem to only have one tactic at the moment – pass the ball to RVP and hope he scores. That is just not good enough for a club that wants to be a dominant player in Europe. I have criticised the Board of Directors repeatedly this year but the tactics, coaching and team selection are the responsibility of the manager and he has failed in all three areas.
We may have financial stability at the moment but our club heavily depends on the income generated by the Champions League. If we fail to qualify this year then we will struggle to get back in for many years to come and this will only exaggerate the downward spiral we currently see ourselves in. Why has no one seen this?
There seem to be far too many questions that have been left unanswered. Interestingly Pep Guardiola is in his last year at Barcelona and it does not seem that he wants to sign a new contract. Arsenal would present him with a fantastic new challenge and if he is interested we may have to say thank you and “Au Revoir” to Arsene in the summer.
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