“Arsene Wenger built a huge ORGANISATION but Arsenal are NOT a serious football club”


The last ten days have been introspective for Arsenal as a club and its supporters. Wenger1000 has dominated the media.

We have been thrust into looking into the past – It’s been wonderful selecting our favourite teams yearning for Patrick Vieira, yearning for Thierry Henry yearning for those super technical athletes with a winning mentality players prepared to fight for their profession.

So many blogs and well written articles eulogising over Arsene Wenger, the stadium, the training ground and sustainability of our club.

It makes you proud – too proud – We lose a game – The world ends.

Let’s look deeper – In my opinion Arsenal have reached a ‘Glass Ceiling’ we are seeing trends here that are staring us in the face.

We cannot approach the big moments that define you as a sporting organisation without preparation. We look like a plucky small club but we have built the expectation of a BIG club but we are not being as BIG as we are.

We have conceded 17 goals in 3 away games against our direct rivals and we have conceded 17 goals in ALL the other 28 games.

I see a trend which does not belong in what I call high performance elite sporting organisations which Arsenal are. You need to always push forward so you do not become stale and limited.

This is High Performance – The stages of managing high performance teams/organisations. There are simple leadership fundamentals that we should be following. In January there was a lot of talk about Julian Draxler. I was really excited as it seemed a continuation of a new strategy. With Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker already on board, I was ready to rake in the cash with my William Hill world cup free bet offers this summer.

It never happened – we hesitated.

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All this talk of DRAXLER I want to introduce you to DREXLER-Sibbet.

WHO I hear you say, who does he play for?!

See below Drexler/Sibbet…Stages of Team Performance…

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Wenger has been at Arsenal for 1000 games. My thought is Wenger is at the stage of Renewal. Can he renew Arsenal for a third era or has he reached burnout – can he either control the next phase by elevating himself in the organisation and control change from a higher role (the board).

Or will he stay on and try to reinvent himself at the front-line by changing his lair; his management team and his players.

The above model shows how it’s important to have clear goals and a clear strategy – Arsenal have done well recently via Ivan Gazidis to make our strategy transparent. We have a clear understanding of our Accounts, our commercial strategy has improved and our transfer strategy, is starting to change, the age dynamic of the squad has risen, the English core has been signed. Also we signed MESUT OZIL. The harder you work on creating a clear strategy the higher the level of performance will be.

We are starting to see collective goals that HAS forged an excellent team spirit this season. When you spend time understanding what you are trying to achieve you have a greater chance for high performance consistently as a team.

Bringing this back to Arsenal – The stage we are at is RENEWAL. Can we sustain this without change? Wenger needs to master change at Arsenal and admit maybe at 62 he is not the best one to be leading us into the new era.

Wenger himself said his reign is in 3 slices – The era where we could compete and win, the era where Arsenal built a stadium and had to make £30 million profit when others lost £150 million a season. For me this is his true legacy for which he gets little credit.

We are now in the third era where as a club we have the revenue of nearly £300 million similar to Bayern Munich but I do not think we have the people infrastructure that they have at Bayern to bring us forward to the level we need to reach.

I love to talk about the make-up of the team on the pitch and we can agree disagree on what makes the correct physical/technical balance to win games like at Chelsea and Manchester City – I believe Wenger is no closer to realising he HAD the solution in 2004 and has moved away from those basic fundamentals that made us a team to fear. Wenger has created a team with limits.


The beauty of Sport is not knowing what you are going to see, the unpredictability the fact that your sporting experience has NO Limits. Wenger has created a cosy LIMITED team and the beatings show clearly we have a team with a glass ceiling with little accountability for not reaching the top table.

We talk about strikers and centre midfielders – it’s so much bigger than this. This is about poor management, poor preparation. Arsenal and Arsene has built a huge football organisation but we are NOT a serious football club. That hurts me but it’s true. We allowed Chelsea to KILL Arsenal, they planned for it and they did it.

If we are serious our preparation for matches must be better, we go into games with no plan, no urgency, no belief, no attention to detail. It’s quite humiliating to be honest, and what is more humiliating is the fact this has happened many times. Not learning from mistakes or even attempting to learn is what is really humiliating.

We are and have been easy to play against for years. It started with Fergie and the 50th game. He targeted Jose Reyes and rotation fouled him. The referees in the EPL allowed it to happen and we were derailed.

It’s a simple plan that we fall for every time – How to beat Arsenal?

1. Set your team up with 2 Defensive centre midfielders and fast forwards who press Arsenal high.

2. Plan to always not let Arsenal get into any rhythm with passing – tackle tackle tackle. 

3. Wait for the error as Arsenal will always play the same way – through the thirds slowly with small players who cannot evade the press.

4. Score the first goal – Arsenal rarely come back and will capitulate and lose their shape.

5. Play fast transition football as Arsenal have too many players who can’t run.

6. Keep pressing and enjoy your win sleepy Arsenal will allow it.

  • Fergie did it many times using Darren Fletcher and Anderson to kick us. David Moyes beat us this season at OT by putting Phil Jones in centre midfield.
  • Brendan Rodgers used Henderson and Joe Allen, not superstars but given specific roles to press and unsettle.
  • City used Yaya Toure and Fernandinho and pushed on Pablo Zabaleta to transition against us fast.

Finally everyone knew Jose Mourinho would use David Luiz and Nemanja Matic to do the same and let me tell you we were lucky Chelsea could not pick the fast running pressing Ramires and Willian because if they had played we could of lost by TEN.

Every leader has limits, every leader needs to be renewed to sustain performance. If you are smart you control that change yourself proactively.

Wenger is showing signs of burnout by making the same mistakes time and time again and taking too long to correct them. We are not being a big team yet we have but a big club. We need some big people to take us on.

I’m not sure Neil Banfield and Boro Promovic alongside Steve Bould and Wenger are enough.

I believe we are at a major turning point in our history. We have the funds to turn a new page –  we are Renewing.

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  • Liam Brady moving on is huge – A Pillar of AFC going.
  • The arrival of Andries Jonker bringing a new coaching philosophy for our Academy.
  • Changes to Hale End – Upgrade of facilities.
  • A new Chairman in Sir Chips Keswick.
  • A new Board member in Josh Kroenke.
  • Changes to London Colney as it’s looking tired England no longer using it as their training base and now using Spurs training ground.
  • Review of our Injuries – Others use data analytics to a higher level (CFC) than we have managed at Arsenal.

Arsenal as a club are always forward thinking and innovative – I have no issues with losing a match as long as we learn from the mistakes.

Arsenal are not learning, we are slow hesitant in relation to decision making – we Need RENEWAL – We need Change – We need a new mentality.

Is Wenger going to control change or leave it to someone else. I sense he will control it. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Clive Palmer

21 Responses to “Arsene Wenger built a huge ORGANISATION but Arsenal are NOT a serious football club”

  1. JS March 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    This is an excellent article with very detailed, real and pragmatic analysis. Please keep up the good work. Can only come from a true Gunners fan. Proud to be a Gunner.

    • Clive March 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks very much four taking time to comment JS

  2. john March 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    yeah, ‘cos you know so much more about running a top level football club than arsene wenger.

  3. trugunner10 March 24, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    Absolutely spot on. Was gonna tweet something similar but this post says it all. Well done. My opinion AW is NOT the man to bring the change needed. Need someone new with a fresh pair of eyes to see us forward.

  4. @homebakedgoods March 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    Great article. Limited is exactly what we are. The sad part is those limits are clearly obvious and known to all, so we get taken advantage of by the teams who have the resources to do it. Cups are the best chance for silverware because we don’t have to play everyone, only those who draw us! Good draw = good chances for a trophy.

  5. charco March 24, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    Absolutely agree.
    I’ve been a supporter for over 55 years and see no improvement in the last few years.
    Again after a promising start apart from Villa we are fighting yet again for fourth place.
    I’m sure most fans will not be goung to Wembley with any confidence.
    All that happens is for Wengers CV 1000 matches, every year in the champions league etc. Again the glass ceiling.
    And what is the point of Kronke if he didn’t put his hand in his pocket when money was tight.
    There are no excuses we need change.

  6. LJB March 25, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    The most worrying aspect of the defeat to Chelsea are Wengers comments today that he doesn’t understand what went wrong and that the result was an accident.Well in this blog you have succinctly pointed out what went wrong on the pitch, so for a man on 7.5 mill a year not to work this out is deeply concerning.How can he corerct things if he can’t recognise the glaringly obvious shortcomings of both his players and his approach to big games? I hope Wenger decides to walk away as we desperately need a new face at the helm.The performances of Liverpool and Athletico Madrid this season have blown the ” can’t compete with the oil clubs” excuse out of the water .You CAN compete if you buy the right players,coach them properly and have a game plan that you change according to the opposition.Just “concentrating on our own game” as wenger loves to say is no longer good enough.

    • Clive March 25, 2014 at 6:37 am #

      I want to see a club that is serious about team and squad building. Maximises it’s resources and just brows up and modernises – we need to analyse ourselves and opponents. This is big time sport and AFC are playing 5-a side football with midgets who can’t run. IMO

  7. Twivil March 25, 2014 at 12:48 am #

    Interesting, but the problem is ‘Wegerball’. Two things have changed to make it much harder to achieve. Firstly, cute managers set up to nullify it more effectively than they did. Secondly, AW has been seduced by financial constraints (Oh yes) into buying players (Arteta, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud and Mert.) who cannot play Wengerball because they can’t run. Pass and move wears opponents down- which creates gaps to exploit. But it only works when all the players move off the ball to create forward space and movement. To have 5 players who cannot do this or keep this up or quickly close down when necessary- makes Wegerball a nonsense. Swansea and Wigan are better at Wengerball than the last team we put out were. To try to outplay Chelsea- away- with those stiffs was asking for a miracle.

    Get some players in there who can run- and you have a chance.

    • Clive March 25, 2014 at 6:34 am #

      For those that follow me I bang on all the time about runners. Arteta Flamini are not for me. Vieira Diaby Silva Theo Ox Kos Sagna players with a dynamic to give you that platform. Pace agility energy. Even Southampton out run us this season – it’s so obvious. We cannot play out of the press.

      My article tried to look beyond the shortcomings – and look at leadership as it’s too obvious so why has it not changed?

      AFC need change now we have the revenue to compete

  8. mick winnett March 25, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Excellent article as usual Clive, I’m not a massive fan of flow-charts, but I think we would agree we’re in the rebuilding phase, whether we think AW is the right man at the helm or not. I think if we accept that AW is building a new team, we can look at who the core of the team will be, who are the stopgaps, who are surplus to requirements. For me the core is Wilshere, Walcott, Ozil, Kos, Mertsacker, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain (and possibly Gnabry). There are roles for the others, but I don’t see any of them as the bedrock of our next team. I think the others should be regarded as squad players who will be rotated if they are kept on at all.

    To understand our current weakness I think it’s important to notice that four of those players are out injured, the heart of our team is missing, and we are struggling without them. We don’t have the squads of our competitors, we can still compete with our smaller rivals, but Chelsea and Man City have two full first teams to select from.

    As you point out, we are lacking in athleticism in our team, we have flair in abundance, but we don’t have too many box-to-box sprinters, with the exception of Rambo. Giroud isn’t enough of a threat up front as he has no pace, he does a good wall pass and that’s about it, and the opposition are now ready for that. Walcott provides a threat, he will take people on, and he will go for any through ball with real pace, he keeps defenders “honest”.

    Clive, what are your thoughts on our tactical play? It appears to me that we are playing a wing-half/overlapping style, but we don’t have anyone to cover the full-backs competently and I think other sides play on this. Where was Gibbs for the first two goals against the Chavs? Who was supposed to get back and tackle? I think I saw the Ox madly dashing to cover Eto, then falling over, I think we are naive tactically, as you point out, the other teams know what to expect, and we are dumb enough to fall for it every time.

    • Clive March 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

      Mick on the tactical side I’ve not been happy with pour balance even since Cesc arrived. Vieira is my favourite ever AFC player. He was the one that made Wengerball tick. He can play with and without the ball, has presence, speed technique and leadership qualities.

      Wenger teams play through the thirds so you need someone who can play out of the press in England. In Spain you get fouls easily, in England you have to have strength at your base. A block of 4 that is the platform. In the past Adams, Keown Vieira and Petit – Followed by Sol, Kolo, Vieira and Gilberto. From that base you can do what you like. Its your pivot that says don’t mess we are coming for you. CFC Saturday had Terry, Cahill, Matic and Luiz – AFC has BFG, Kos, Arteta and Ox – See the difference ?

      We need a Vieira badly if not 2. I’m not having Flamini or Arteta at all mate.

      Sort that out and tactically grow up and understand this is a new professional football and you have to prepare for the opposition then I will start to get interested.

      Last top AFC performance for me tactically and shape wise was Anfield away 2-0 last season – Funny that we had Diaby playing and he got MOM!

  9. Brian Dawes March 25, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Interesting stuff Clive. Agree with most of what you have to say. However I believe one of the key elements is that the third Wenger phase of building/rebuilding is only just starting despite various claims that we’ve had money for ages. Rebuilding teams takes time as both Citeh and the Chavs have proven it took them both a while, loads of money and quite a few managers to get where they are today. Wenger hasn’t been able to rebuild for years he has merely been treading water. He’s taken all the blame for this, but in my eyes his even keeping our Club near the peak of the Premiership remains an absolute miracle for which he’s been given little and mainly no credit whatsoever.
    Had Walcott and Ramsey remained fit this season would have been a different story. They didn’t, and that’s the sort of shit that happens. Also a great shame that Wilshere may be the new Richie Powling.
    Only world class players can elevate us back to the top given the current European opposition. Namely Real, Barca, Citeh, Bayern, Chelski, PSG. The clue is they all have great keepers, some world class creative and goal scoring individuals and a load of nasty bar stewards to kick the opposition. That and to able to get world class players being part of a team ethic.
    Wenger’s genius is that he sees and believes in players long before anyone else twigs their potential. How many fans saw that Anelka, Henry, Ramsey etc, etc had what it takes to be world class? His biggest fault is possibly exactly the same in that he could see, for example, how good Ramsey would be and so played him before his time.
    Can Wenger create his third wonder team? Who knows, but I’d like to think so. I don’t think we are too far away if we can overcome all the obvious fitness issue and make the right additions this summer. The problem is there will be about 10 other Clubs attempting to do the same thing with key transfers.
    Having endured so much financial deprivation for the sake of long term gain. A board who’ve been happy to leave him to take all the flak. And numerous fans who wouldn’t understand or accept reality if it bit them in the arse. I think it would be a crime not to give Wenger the opportunity to take the team to another major trophy, and I don’t regard the FA Cup as a major trophy no matter how much I want us to win it this season

    • Clive March 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      Agreed Brian that the third era is just starting but football has changed – player recruitment is key. There are no Vieira’s anymore at £3.5m – example is Pogba how much is he going to cost AFC £40m?

      We don’t set our teams up correctly we had the balance we won with that balance but AW changed and we have lost since.

      AW trusted players the wrong ones. Nick B is a classic example of a kid letting down his dad and suffering no accountability. How many strikers did AW turn down to allow Nick B to flourish.

      Its wrong there needs to be a culture of winning, AW has built a culture of eternal development looking for that Jewel.

      There are no secrets anymore. Every talented 14yr old is known and watched recruited – AFC need to modernise and I’m nit sure this regime can do it without change and help.

      Brian you’ve known me for years and you like me love Wenger and the times he has given us are amazing. But the best times were a while ago now.

      I want him to stay but I want to see succession planning that is transparent and planned and then executed.

      Thanks for taking time to comment – top man.


  10. Afam March 25, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    I do agree with you about arsenal having limits, but I believe those limits are down to financial constraints, which trickle through to almost every aspect of the club. With regard to the Draxler saga, I do not believe Wenger ever intended to sign him to begin with, the problem was that the media created that expectation that we were close, yet Wenger and schalke denied any such reports.
    I feel your comparison to bayern in terms of revenue is way off, we are not a team sponsored by the likes of Mercedes who are willing to pay off stadium debts, nor do we have an owner willing to through money at the club for fun, WE ARE STILL IN DEBT, and it will take a couple of years to rid ourselves of that debt.
    Wenger in my opinion is still the man for the job, he is not perfect and does get things wrong, but I do not think there is anyone more suited to the job than Wenger

    • Clive March 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm #


      Thanks for comments. I’m not really a WOB I just want us to grow up and get serious and stop making serial mistakes.

      I’m not saying we need to play fantasy football and buy Cavani, Flacao, Hulk, Pogba, Kroos and ruin the club and go bankrupt. I want us to get serious and not play CFC away with players who are small and cannot run and play off the ball and are easily dispossessed. Its really humiliating the predictability of it all.

      I want Wenger to stay but I want him to step up and drive the club forward globally and change the coaching structure and add modern coaches who analyse data, other teams look at our injuries, modernise our training ground. We are not at our true potential not even close.

      That is what Renewal truly is.

      Thanks again and keep reading!


  11. Rupe March 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    Have to agree with Afam, intelligent commentators should not even be mentioning Draxler unless they have some real evidence to suggest that we went in for him. Arsenal deny it, Schalke deny it. That saga had all the hallmarks of an agent trying to make something happen despite his club saying nothing would. As usual the media leapt at the chance to use it to try to unsettle Arsenal fans. Let’s not help them in that, please!

    Apart from that Clive’s analysis is good. But I’m with those who say the rebuilding has only just started and Wenger has earned the chance to carry it on.

    My one misgiving, not mentioned above, is that while it’s true that we’re missing too many key players like Mick says, it seems to me that we’re almost always missing key players and they’re almost always taking longer than expected to come back. Just bad luck? Or something wrong on the training/rehabilitation side of things?

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