Finally – an actual solution to the problem that is Arsenal (Part 1)

If you were in charge at Arsenal Football Club! (PART 1)

So, we are all frustrated with Arsenal. Different levels, but frustrated. Even folks that think Wenger is doing fantastic work right now can’t love 6th place.

I’m sure it’s not just me that thinks about what they would do if they could make the decisions……

New Manager

I’ve swayed between a shortlist of five and after we lost to West Brom in the Spring I’d have taken my Auntie Marion I was so upset!

Then when I found out that after his stint at Bayern, that Pep Guardiola wanted to be our manager and he had an agreement with Thierry Henry to be his assistant. At that point I think my 7 yr old learnt a new word!

Here is my shortlist..
Jardim at Monaco, Sarri at Napoli, Allegri at Juventus, Arteta at City and Zidane at Real.

Eighteen months ago I thought that the AFC job was one of the most enticing in world football. Most popular league, capital city, large and loyal fan base, loyal board, cash rich, good team, play good football (just not right now) and the big one…. you could be the coach that restored Arsenal to Premier League Winners and the 1st coach to ever win the Champions League! This would arguably make you the most beloved coach in the club’s history!

Enticing, no doubt.

Since then we have lost some of our pull for sure, but the allure is still there.


Jardim has done so much with so little. To be fair, he lost so much again this summer and is still competitive in Ligue 1.


Sarri is clearly the coach in world football with the most aesthetically pleasing side beside City.
Only concerns are does he speak English and the chain smoking thing?



Allegri, they say, is even more tactically astute than Conte and boy do AFC need this!
Always competes. In both of the big ones too.


Arteta is the interesting one. We can only go on opinion as he’s not had the chance to be a head coach yet. Of all that I could say here I feel that the fact that Pep chose him to be his number 2 and lets him run practice is all I need to know…


Zidane sounds more fantasy than this post, right?
Well, after Real play PSG either Emery or Zidane is getting sacked. Zidane may lose his job either way, based on league performance.

I’m a big fan of having one of the most revered footballers ever be our manager as I think it quite simply gives you a 50% better chance of getting the best players when you pick up the phone and Zinedine Zidane says ‘bonjour!’

Much like the ‘Wenger Effect’ pre-2008.

I think Zidane will be the new France coach after World Cup.

For me, I would choose Mikel Arteta.

It’s a risk, I know.

Ultimately I would choose Arteta because of the heartbreak factor.

Arsenal fans are a different breed. We’ve had one coach for longer than Auntie Marion has not understood inflation and been religiously giving me £5 for my birthday every year (and I’m 43!)

True story right there. I digress…

I do fear that in 2-4 years our new shiny coach will want to leave to go to a bigger club. They all do. We are just not used to what the rest of the world’s sports fans have to deal with.

I think Arteta would be more likely to be loyal.

Beyond the future, his work with Pep would be seen instantly I feel. Would energize the fan base.

Bottom line…. Arsenal need tactics. Organization. A plan. A second plan. Modern tactical understanding.

The back end of this article checked so many of the boxes too …

Secondly, (as you will know from said article) his first thought was about accountability.

Do Arsenal need a tactical mind and accountability?

Top two on the list for me.

The Current Problem

Well, in reality Arsenal are in a bigger mess than I first thought. Over half of the first team regulars could leave for one reason or another.

In fact, nearly all of them.

I know this sounds way too dramatic. Look at this list. Courtesy of @coys100

It’s hard to say that any of this is too big of a stretch…

Future not.looking great...

Future not.looking great…

Arsenal 2018:⚽️

Sanchez- leaving
Ozil- possibly leaving too
Debuchy- leaving
Bellerin- wanted to leave summer ’17
Kolasinac- dropped for a right footed CM
Mertesacker- retired
Mustafi- homesick wife
Ospina- surely leaving this summer
Lacazette- how long before he’s sick of being a pre-planned sub?
Xhaka- about to be upgraded
Elneny and Coq- not trusted
Iwobi- needs a loan
Cazorla- likely retire
Wilshere- ?
Cech- 36- ?
Koscielny- 33 – how many more injections ?
Monreal- 32 1 yr left
Ramsey- 1 yr /hasn’t committed
Walcott- 1 yr and probably leaving
Giroud- 32 1 yr/wants more football
Welbeck- 1 yr /probably wants more football
Nelson- hasn’t committed. Scary.

Absolutely frightening.

I thought Wenger’s idea was to leave the next manager with ‘the team in great shape?’

I’d say that Ramsey will get you 50 million tops and Bellerin 40. In this climate where Spurs will probably get north of 150 million for Kane this summer, you see our problem?

Methinks that this is why Sven Mislintat has been brought in. Find the best potential for cheap.

So…. what do you do?

Firstly, you pick yourself up off the floor, get a wet rag and you do the above. Get a new manager. That will take care of some of this.

Sales and Signings

Sell Bellerin (£40m)… sign Meunier (£25m)

I get the feeling that Bellerin is gonna have a ‘Theo career.’ Doesn’t seem to improve as he is limited. Gets in great positions, passes the buck. I fully acknowledge that a better coach could help him. This was a tight call.


Meunier is a top player who is only sitting the bench because he is arguably playing behind the best right back in the world, still.
Far more tools in his box than Hector.

Sell Ramsey (£45m)… sign Fabinho (£45m)

Ramsey, the opinion splitter.

If Wenger would have bought Kante and if Ramsey guaranteed 15-20 goals per season then maybe I’d be ok with him standing at CF waving his arms.
With Xhaka as an immobile partner, nah. Absolute big fat tactical no-no.


Fabinho is a complete midfielder who would add much needed power too.

Sell Xhaka (£30m)…. sign Jorginho (£50m)

If we played a 4-3-3, I could see Xhaka possibly playing on left of midfield three but bottom line, there’s better.


Jorginho.. I toyed with Leandro Parades, Frenkie DeJong and Oriel Busquets but I believe that Jorginho is superior (for now, watch the latter two closely).

One of the best DLP’s in world football.

Sell ElNeny (£10m)..Loan move for Ceballos

Again if we played 4-3-3 I might keep ElNeny as a back up. I like a player who plays simplistically and is so willing but the almost bizarre lack of heading ability is frankly embarrassing for a professional footballer. And to think Wenger wants him as a Centre Back. I weep.


Dani Ceballos could one day be the best midfielder in the world.

Exudes confidence, skates around the field effortlessly. A natural born midfielder. Not sure why he thought that going to RM and trying to get minutes in front of Kroos and Modric was a good idea but heh-ho. Probably that ‘Zidane phone call!’
Don’t think RM would sell but until Modric drops off then maybe they would loan him to improve under fellow CM, Mr. Arteta?

Sell Sanchez (£25m)… sign Fekir (£75m)

Why didn’t we build around Alexis?
Why didn’t we build around RVP?
Why didn’t we build around Cesc?
Why didn’t we build around Henry?
Too late, he’s leaving.


Nabil Fekir is another gem of a footballer. Similar balance and skill to Alexis and now much better end product. I hear he dates dogs like Alexis! Not really.

Sell Welbeck (£25m)… sign Zaha (£45m)

Not sure about Welbeck. He might be one that flies under a new coach. If you were to ‘create a CF’ on a video game they would look like DW. 6″2, powerful, good all around player. Can a new coach make him great though? Or just a better final product?

I settled on selling him as I simply think that we need natural wingers.


I think Zaha is ready. If he fulfills his potential he has everything we need.

Natural winger. Natural dribbler. Will get fans wanting to show up again. Starting to improve his final product. If you can do this for Palace with 60% less opportunities on the ball, I’d say he can do it for us.

Oh, and he’s a Gooner. That helps.

Sell Walcott (£25m)… sign Mahrez (£50m)

Theo Walcott embodies the latter part of the Wenger era:

•  A player that hasn’t improved.
• A player given too much time.
• Big goals in big games (and a lack from our midfield) kept him here.

If Theo was born in the 70’s and played in the 80’s and 90’s in a 4-4-2 with a big man then I think his career is different. Not a good player against a low block.


I remember when Mahrez tore up the Emirates as a sub on his first visit to N5. Ever since then I’ve wished for him to sign.

In a word, highly dangerous. That’s two words.

Replace Per with Koulibaly (£80m)

Is Kalidou Koulibaly the best defender in the world? A monster defender with composure too!
Wow, what a player!


This wish is truly fantasy as I’m sure that he will go bigger.

Bold guess… Umtiti to City, KK to Barcelona.

Actually, no….. I’m still dreaming I’m in charge. He signs for Arteta on July 1st 2018. I will happily donate my 5 quid x 43 years of life to fund this purchase!

Thank you, Auntie Marion.

That is a net spend of £80 + my fantasy purchase of Koulibaly!

We could certainly do the first £80 and I think we not only get a better team but we get a) fresh, exciting players and b) players with resale value.

In Part 2 of this blog, I’ll keep dreaming and discuss a new formation, tactics, fan involvement and much more….

In the meantime…. what would you do if you were in charge of Arsenal Football Club?



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10 Responses to Finally – an actual solution to the problem that is Arsenal (Part 1)

  1. Steve January 5, 2018 at 8:48 am #

    I have supported Arsenal for nearly 60 years and can see two factors that to me are obvious. Wenger is totally spent as a manager and I cannot understand why he is still manager. The other more damming factor is that the team is just not good enough. Just a fact. No dominance, intensity or strategy. An ordinary team by any standards. Watching Spurs, Liverpool, United, City and Chelsea develop makes me realise how Wenger is so lost he cannot see what every one else clearly sees.

    • Mike McDonald January 6, 2018 at 2:09 am #

      I believe that you are correct but would love a chance for a new coach to actually coach the team to see its potential

  2. Joakim January 5, 2018 at 9:38 am #

    Best article I’ve ever read. I agree with every word.

    • Mike McDonald January 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm #

      Joakim… Very kind of you to say!
      What would you do with Arsenal?

  3. Harry January 5, 2018 at 2:07 pm #

    Very good article and a good read… I agree with the context of what you’re saying, but the actual player choices you made (or most of them) I don’t agree with…

    With managers, Arteta would be my least favourite choice… The last thing I want is Man U syndrome where they get someone unproven and fail miserably. my list would be in this order: Allegri, Jardim, Sarri, Zidane, Arteta… Allegri has the experience, been in a couple CL finals, won the Serie A multiple times, has experience with stars, and I’ll take that over loyalty, for now anyway, we need to get back into the “Arsenal are champions” days ASAP and then we can worry about loyalty of a manager which is next to impossible in the modern game…

    I’ll do the players in list form:

    Cech > Butland £30m
    Ospina > Lafont £15m
    Debuchy > Adou > £10m
    Monreal > Tierney £15m
    Mertesacker > Tah £30m
    Koscielny > De Vrij £20m
    Holding > Loan
    Ramsey > Savic/Kovacic/Suarez/Gomes £50m
    Elneny/Coquelin > Nzonzi £45m
    Walcott > Suso/Zaha/Fekir £45-75m
    Iwobi > Kluivert £10m
    Alexis > Lemar/Fekir/Insigne £80m
    Giroud/Welbeck > Werner/Belotti/Correa/Abraham/Sanabria £50m

    Net spend of around £235m I reckon, but that’s really really rough numbers, will probably be a lot less.

    None of the above are unrealistic or unheard of… May be a bit absurd to do this in 1 window, but we can dream…

    • Mike McDonald January 6, 2018 at 2:16 am #

      You clearly know your stuff and have a deep knowledge of world football. Impressive!
      I believe Arteta (alone with Xabi Alonso) will turn out to be some of the best of the new modern coaches. I know it’s a risk but a different risk to Moyes at Utd. Moyes is crusty and limited, Arteta is modern and energetic.

      I like your choice of Alban Lafont too. Ospina has to be off.

      I liked Kluivert and Insigne too but Napoli are doing something big and Ajax will want £30 million plus for Kluivert. It’s the inflated price for PL clubs, I guess

  4. victor Thompson January 5, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    Mike, I really enjoyed this article. It seems we all agree that Wenger is done. He is the primary problem for trying to progress before we are too far gone to be revived. I agree with Arteta and I think his intelligence and his knowledge of the club will be a huge advantage.

    I am afraid you have the advantage of me in regard to an alternative. There are plenty of foreign managers in the Premiership already who are never going to be a success here and the ones who do succeed appear to be top class managers already. I disregard Zidane, because we are not the calibre of club he needs. Indeed, I don`t think he will come to anyone here ( there may be a whisper for Chelsea ) if Conte goes too far with his complaints.

    We are not in the top 5 at present and as you have pointed out, we are likely to be having a root and branch clear out in the next year. It is within recent memory when Spurs bought 10 players after they sold Bale and it was a disaster. It is impossible for 10 strangers to gel immediately and hit the ground running. They would have to do that because these days if you fall 10 points behind in the first 2 months, the race is over for you.

    Arteta was here for so long with Everton and then Arsenal so that he is almost British. He has learnt a lot from Guardiola on top of his own experience of Premiership football so I don`t see him as a huge risk. He also conducted himself as though he personified “The Arsenal way” on and off the pitch. All in all, I believe he fits the bill. Certainly to risk another two years with Wenger is a massive mistake. It does not even rate the description of “Gamble”. He has as much chance of winning the London Marathon as winning the Premiership in the next 2 years. His odds of finishing in the top 4 are probably 20-1.

  5. Mike McDonald January 6, 2018 at 2:17 am #

    Love your London Marathon analogy, Victor!

    Great thoughts too!

  6. Kevin Morley January 6, 2018 at 9:29 am #

    All a bit Football Manager.


  1. Finally an actual solution to the problem that is Arsenal – Part 2 | Gunners Town - January 5, 2018

    […] you’ll need to read Part 1 for this to make sense, if you haven’t […]

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