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Apathy, Arrogance, Naivety have caused Arsenal’s Demise – It’s the time to ‘Act not Talk!’

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Stan Kroenke & Arsene Wenger before gaping cracks emerged.

 

The saying goes, “It may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.”  Towards the end of Wenger’s reign, the majority of Arsenal fans weren’t naïve to the fact that things may have to ‘get worse’ before the glory days returned, but there was a general belief that they would return and him stepping aside would enable that.

But after Thursday’s night European exit, for many, that belief is now gone, with the rest left wondering, ‘how much worse are things going to get?’ The sad and harsh truth is, numerous people have been asking that question for a few years now; Thursday night’s exit was just one more disappointment in a long line of let-downs and one that emphasised the starkness of the situation we now find ourselves in.

 

The Latest Disappointment.

 

The club need to be winning titles, that has to be the ultimate goal, yet, in years gone by, the club were contented with the consolation of Champions League qualification, then that slipped from our grasp and the consolation prize then turned into the goal. Europa League football was almost a stain on our reputation when we entered it under Wenger four years ago, now we will even have to go without that.

Followers of the club are under no illusions, the club has been in a downward spiral for several years and although there have been glimpses of potential and flashes of hope, that trajectory isn’t showing any genuine signs of letting up. A trophy less season where the club yo-yo’s between the top and bottom half of the table could only be worsened by a relegation battle, something unthinkable for a club of Arsenal’s stature. It seems, we’re running out of room for regression, but if the mismanagement of the club has taught the fans anything over the last decade, it’s that the unthinkable can happen if there’s no clear and strong leadership!

Under the tenure of Wenger, things had been left to go stale. In the early stages of his Arsenal career, the Frenchman had some of the best players in the world at his disposal, the freedom of expression he gave those players left room for; brilliance, leadership and ultimately success. The same freedom he gave his players toward the end of his career, left room for the opposite; stupidity, weakness and failure. At the end of his Arsenal career, we were starting to see predictable and passive performances that were making the dream of a premiership win drift further and further away.

At that time, it was easier, to pin all of the club’s problems on one man, to say that the club had become impotent because football had somehow overtaken Wenger; new coaches, new methods and new formulas of winning, he just couldn’t keep up. The general consensus at the time was that Wenger may have been holding the club back; we could only go off what we were seeing on the pitch and that opinion seemed a logical one.

 

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The blame game started and never stopped for Wenger.

However, when Wenger left, the cracks many accused him off causing weren’t filled and repaired, they kept growing. One would assume that it would feel like a big change when you swap out a manger whose been at the helm for over two decades, but honestly, the change wasn’t as tangible as one might have expected. The performances and patterns were similar; we were overwhelmed against the top teams, we were sometimes impressive against lesser opposition and the style of play was more or less the same under Emery, as it was under Wenger. This was the first sign, that the culture of the club couldn’t be solved with replacing just one man for another.

From Wenger, to Emery, to Arteta, drastic changes on the pitch are hard to find. You could be fooled into thinking that the same man oversaw our last two semi-final defeats in Europe against Villareal and Atletico Madrid or our final against Chelsea in 2019.  Different men, at very different stages in their career but the same frustrations and the same whimpering performances.

 

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The Faces of the Disheartened.

Of course, Arteta cannot be absolved from all blame this season but he also cannot be expected to hold back a wave that’s been building for some time. Clearly, the problems run far deeper than the man standing on the side-lines, a so called ‘quick-fix’ would not work in our current situation. Although, a trigger happy approach toward managers might appease some fans need for ‘action,’ it wouldn’t necessarily provide the catalyst for change that is needed at Arsenal at the moment. Moving Arteta out now, would create a distraction to the bigger problems at play, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the solution to them.

Ten years ago, a change of manager might have proved the difference in Arsenal winning titles, but not anymore. Things have drifted too far, yes, you need to have the right manager in place, but more than that needs to be done around them. At the moment, apathy and arrogance is bleeding from the top of the club all the way down, for too long the reputation of Arsenal has kept the club afloat, but the name and reputation isn’t enough to keep us in the elite of Europe or the top six of English football anymore.

There has been speculation and debate over who and what may be to blame, for the state of the club right now; apathetic owners, a board lacking football intelligence, ill-advised recruitment, the legitimacy of those claims seem hard to dispute. Then there’s the claim that, we’ve had the wrong managers and speculation over rotten apples in the squad, they’ve been issues that are harder to agree on. One thing we can take as a cast iron certainty though, is that it’s going to take a long time to undo the culture of the club and set a new one.

The words ‘process’ and ‘project’ are already sowing seeds of contention amongst fans, naturally, we don’t want the club to be a project or in a process, we want real success and we already feel we’ve waited long enough for it. Alas, we can’t escape reality, the club has been a victim of the previous boards incompetence, now, the club is suffering due to the inexperience of those in power. It will take time to undo the actions of the former and it will take time for the latter to gain experience and see it through, facts that are bitter pills to swallow.

 

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The Inexperienced Trio tasked with the challenge.

 

Time though, isn’t on Arsenal’s side. Years of riding purely on the club’s reputation has resulted in the club being increasingly uncompetitive in an increasingly competitive league. We’ve seen changes to the board, changes to the recruitment team and changes to the structure; all desperate attempts to turn the tide. Unfortunately, this has just added to the turbulence. The club need to start learning from their mistakes; the changes in roles and staff walking the plank won’t steady the ship. If this kind of indecision and lack of leadership continues, things will get worse and may not ever get better.

Another time sensitive issue comes in the shape of Arsenal’s best young players. Arsenal have been gifted a lifeline, but one with an expiry date. Saka, Smith-Rowe & Martinelli look to be amongst some of the best young talent in the world, they’re the type of players that don’t come around often, certainly not at the same time. They look destined for big things, but at the moment Arsenal don’t. If Arsenal continue on their current path, those players will outgrow the club and they will leave, just like most of the club’s best players have done over the last decade. The club need to learn from their mistakes on and off the pitch or they’ll continue repeating them.

 

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Our Lifelines on a time limit.

The club is under severe pressure at the moment, the shouts for the owners to sell up are getting louder and louder; yet they seem undeterred and resolute in keeping ownership of the club, they tell us they’re committed to the cause. The odds for Arteta being relieved off his duties have been slashed, the man himself sounds frustrated, but determined to prove himself. The words of the owners and manager don’t hold much clout with the supporters anymore; the fanbase has grown tired of the weary talk of ‘warchests’ and shouts to ‘trust the process.’  If the Kroenke’s are committed to returning the club to glory and if they’re committed to Arteta, now is the time to back that up. The prospect of Arsenal bobbing along and ‘just’ qualifying for European Competition, collecting the income but not delivering any European glory is finished. Arsenal will have to fight for their place back at that table and they’ll need every one pulling in the same direction to do it.

The club have been left to drift into mediocrity, the culture shock of a European exit has confounded and exposed that once and for all. The hierarchy haven’t got a world renowned manager to hide behind, neither can they hide behind European qualification or try and cash in on the club’s reputation to buy themselves a seat in a European Super League.  The hierarchy have lost their battle in keeping up appearances; their neglect has been exposed.

Mere talk cannot get the fans onside anymore, that ship has sailed. Things have got as bad as they can be allowed to get for a club like Arsenal. Now is the time for action and the owner, manager and players, need to be hungry, humble and be ready to fight or they should take their leave, because the club is up against it and they’re against the clock. Top to bottom, all need to be pulling in the same direction, to make things ‘better,’ to make things right and to pull a massive club back to the top.

 

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4 Responses to Apathy, Arrogance, Naivety have caused Arsenal’s Demise – It’s the time to ‘Act not Talk!’

  1. sean vassallo May 10, 2021 at 12:19 pm #

    If anything Wenger was the one who held it all together and not the one who started the down fall.A lot of fans knew this the ones who didn’t are the know it all generation who grew up with the the Mansours and Abramovichs….spend spend and spend.You kept thinking Wenger could perform miracles even against all the odds.That in itself was downright arrogant from Arsenal supporters.It’s not like we were spending hundreds of millions each summer now where we?We were always fighting a losing battle with all these billionaire owners spending what they want not to mention the Premier League dragging its feet with FFP for 10 years straight while they let Chelsea and City build empires.

  2. Gooner Nige in NZ May 10, 2021 at 3:02 pm #

    I agree with Sean’s comment, above. I never wanted Arsene Wenger out. I’ve been a Gooner since 1977 and Wenger was the best thing to happen to us, in that time. But, Arsene’s success attracted a new kind of Arsenal “fan”. The kind who believe they have a right to immediate success, without doing the journey. The kind of “fan” who criticises and denigrates the club. The kind of “fan” who isn’t really a football club supporter. In fact, they don’t even know what it means. They’re just glory-hunters, who will throw their toys out of the pram at the first disappointment.

  3. James May 10, 2021 at 6:39 pm #

    Well balanced article well done Harrison, we have are fan base is split. The nieve want to chop off the managers head when it’s painfully obvious that are demise is the result of a decade of neglect. One thing we need is a plan we make and stick too the cull has began in the squad and it needs to continue.

    I recall the dark winter we had wherever had a dismal run of form. The senior players downed tools, maybe as a result of players like Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac and Ozil being forced out. In comes Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe and we bounced back a little and Lacazettes form improved massively after being made a scapegoat by the said nieve fans.

    My hope is the cull continues, were going to see Cebellos and Odegaard return to real and hopefully the other inconsistent players are moved on. We have some very promising youngsters coming through at we need to continue with an academy first, sign externally second. Our coaches will have their first preseason to work with the players hopefully we can promote and sign the players to strengthen our cause. Without a thursday night euro distraction, target a much improved position in the league and the 2 Cup competitions domestically.

    Our owners, the people who have caused the issues at our club for the last 10 years might not go away yet. But we have to hope the back Arteta and we’ll judge progress at the turn of the year.

  4. andy784 May 11, 2021 at 6:44 pm #

    Yes, Kroenke has neglected the club (though I don’t know where the money came from for Partey and 75mil for Pepe), forced redundancies etc…but I don’t want an owner trying to dictate what happens on the pitch. Supply the funds but don’t act like you know how to win trophies. That’s what the manager is for.

    If Arteta could read the game, things would be different. Mistake after mistake after mistake! WILLIAN! Not getting a left-back. Offering Mustafi a new contract! Yes…they tried! NOT taking off Ceballos! Not playing Saka at left-back. Playing a false 9 in such a crucial game – I genuinely believe we could have won. Thinking Xhaka is still our most important player. Not playing Martinelli or Nelson! Making Partey look like the worst player ever. Everyone is not playing to their max.

    Any other experienced manager would have had us at least sixth and importantly above Sp**rs.

    I dread that the man who thought giving Willian a massive 3-year deal will now decide what to spend more money on. The evidence shows Arteta doesn’t learn. He is as unmoving as his hair.

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