The Fish Rots From The Head – Arsenal needs a culture shift

Another shambolic performance

Another shambolic performance

Another visit to Old Trafford, another shambolic performance.

I don’t bother with anger anymore. If a decade of resignation has taught me anything, it is that while the situation at Arsenal is helplessly rigid, emotion simply isn’t worth it. Pessimism has been a faithful ally of mine over the years; I’d recommend it to any Arsenal fan looking to embrace lost hope. Pessimism is comforting even at the worst of times.

As a fan, anger can take you to the point at which you seriously consider support for particularly players, the board and, crucially, the manager. Though I made up my mind on Arsene Wenger five years ago, I can’t bring myself to express any intense passion against him after watching Arsenal fail because I realise that the situation is a vicious cycle of arrogance, hopelessness and naivety.

Because Arsenal’s problem, that is their innate inability to recapture major silverware (no disrespect to the FA Cup, but the top tier teams do now privately consider it a consolation prize) under Wenger, is one which cannot be unpicked or solved without a major revamp of club principles, activity and attitude. And it starts from the very top.

My own mind has been made up over Arsene Wenger for almost five years now, but rarely do I revisit it in person or through social media because it is an argument that I am tired of having. Division in the fan base, for the most part, is unhelpful and counter-productive. I think Arsenal need to embark upon a search for a new manager, regardless of the club’s more recent FA Cup successes.

Gazidis and Kroneke are experts at deflecting blame

Gazidis and Kroneke are experts at deflecting blame
[image credit: Arsenal]

But Arsenal won’t look for a new manager, will they? Who would dare pursue such a campaign? Who at Arsenal Football Club would dare point the finger at Wenger, lay down rigorous ultimatums and demand results? Pressure at the club’s summit is non-existent. And why? Because turnover is good, and as long as turnover is good, Gazidis and Kroenke are able, quite wrongly, to deflect quite a lot of blame.

Piers Morgan’s Twitter summary (just after full-time at Old Trafford yesterday afternoon) of Stan Kroenke was stunningly accurate when he noted that ‘Kroenke lives in LA, never goes to games and couldn’t care less so long as [Arsenal] finish in the top four’. It is a sad and damning verdict of a club with so much footballing potential.

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Arsenal and Arsene Wenger need a cultural wake-up call. Players (many of whom winners on the international scene) need to have imposed upon them an attitudinal shift, from the very top to the very bottom of the club. Until such a lackadaisical approach to success is ousted, failure to claim the game’s two major prizes will only linger on ever longer.

Stan Kroenke’s absence, not just from games, but from club life and fan interaction in general, is particularly emblematic of a club in desperate need of a killer mentality. One would have thought that the owner of one of the world’s largest and most successful brands would at least attempt to adopt a far more hands-on approach to overseeing club progress.

Such a void at Arsenal’s peak has caused nothing but a vast breakdown in authority. It has positioned Arsene Wenger in such a way that he is no longer accountable to anybody but himself. His role at the club has changed from manager under the guidance of David Dein (my, do Arsenal miss him), to manager and caretaker director.

David Dein kept Wenger honest

David Dein kept Wenger honest

The lack of an authoritative figure overlooking and pressuring Wenger has ensured that success is no longer compulsory at Arsenal; rather it is optional. Almost twelve years have passed since the Premier League trophy was held by Arsene, and I cannot help but think that Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho would not have been afforded such a long, fruitless period of time in charge of their respective clubs.

And this is what I mean by an attitudinal shift. Arsenal’s management, players and staff have come to accept second best. We have, as a club, become too comfortable with the obligatory Champions League places, that we seem too timid to really push on. With nobody to hold to account, and no sharp changes in management or ownership on the horizon, fans are left to witness the effects of a vicious, repetitive cycle; one in which there seems to be no way out.

It’s time for a major culture shock at Arsenal, and Stan Kroenke must be central to it. If LA is too warm and cosy to leave, then perhaps it is time for an Usmanov takeover.

Something. Anything.




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One Response to The Fish Rots From The Head – Arsenal needs a culture shift

  1. Iceman March 2, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    I feel you mirror the thoughts of many disgruntled fans. It is shameful that this situation has been allowed to grow, unchecked for over a decade. Sadly, Arsenal have only one priority – making money. The are a business. Period.

    Wenger needs to go -albeit at least 8 years too late. We need a young, hungry, arrogant manager who will not tolerate the sort of ‘performance’ regularly displayed by ‘Project Theo’ and the rest of the hanger’s on. We need a manager who will change the boring and predictable DNA of this cub. If not, I fear we are already 8 or so years into a mediocre, 55 year Spud-like abyss.

    How can any serious title challenger not invest in players?

    How can one of the World’s biggest clubs not buy an outfield player in the summer window when we clearly needed at least 4?

    How can the board sit there and allow this to happen?

    Obviously, the board are fairly comfy with their annual turnover and fleecing fans. But payback time is coming. If you fail to re-invest in a company or refuse to move with the times, eventually your company’s product will become stale and old hat. Sound familiar?

    Now, we are at the situation whereby our lack of regular investment is going to hit us square in the face. We need to sell:


    That gets rid of a lot of dross, too old, injured and frankly overrated and over paid payers. Now we are left with major investment requirements, from the tightest board and most stubborn manager ever. Not sure if that makes pretty reading or not for some fans, but it does highlight the fact that we have held on to players too long, tolerated poor performers and failed miserably to buy regularly in order to freshen up the squad.

    Shame on you Arsenal.

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