The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Obligatory Arsenal Comment, Again

Be honest, can anyone really say they were surprised by that result? It’s the same players executing (or not) the same tactics and losing in the same way to the same player, again. Nothing ever, ever changes with this team, to the point where there’s no real need to even write an analysis post since everything which could be said has been said a hundred times in the last few years. There’s several 1000+ word versions in the archives, change a few names and they’re just as relevant now. Nothing is learned from success, nothing is learned from failure, the same mistakes recur perpetually and there is no willingness on the part of the manager or his fans to even acknowledge them as mistakes in many cases. Almunia is still in goal. Still. Drogba is still left unmarked despite scoring 12 goals in his last 10 games against Arsenal. Still.

So, here’s something different: if you support this current manager, and you are resigned to performances like today’s and results like this season’s, fair enough; I strongly disagree with you, but at least your eyes are open to what it is that you’re supporting. But if you support this current manager and are angry or upset about today’s performance and result, then to hell with you. You have no right to be angry about something which you support unreservedly and have had fair warning of- these performances are every bit as integral to the side Arsene Wenger has built and continues to maintain and defend as pretty passing triangles are. Wenger does not consider height or the use of the head in attack to be a legitimate tactic, he does not consider goaltenders to be real football players, he does not teach defense, he does not select players on the basis of their mental strength in big moments, he buys only as an absolute last resort, he does not consider the FA Cup and Carling Cup to be worth fighting for, and he does not adjust his tactics to the necessities of individual games. Whatever the Arsenal Way was in 1997, now it’s this. He has put together games and teams and seasons which are exactly like this for YEARS now, far more than enough time for anyone with their eyes open to know what it is he’s up to. If it makes you upset all of a sudden there’s no other way to describe that than willful blindness.

The reality is that as much as people love to slag off Myles Palmer and Le Grove- and I have issues with them myself- they have both been a lot more accurate in regards to analyzing the Arsenal team, the manager, the thought process at the club and the likely results of the season than any of the more cheer-leading sites have. If you read Arseblog these days, it’s like reading Le Grove two years ago. What so many fans love to write off as cynicism or “hating Arsenal” has been, for the most part, an accurate reflection of what the team and club are. At what point does it become a bigger issue for the cheerleaders that the men they despise have a more accurate view of the club they love than they do? At what point do they insist that the club they love stops acting the way people they consider cynical haters expect it to? These are not rhetorical questions at this point; I am legitimately unsure if the people who think cheering louder is the best response to everything can ever be convinced of the need to adapt, learn and improve.

Until Arsenal fans grow spines and demand change at the club, seasons will continue to go this way. You can blame weather or injuries or voodoo or a vast FA conspiracy or anything you desire, you’re still going to finish 3rd or 4th and potless 9 years in 10. Eventually if this goes on long enough Arsenal will fluke a win of some kind, the same way Liverpool fluked a Champions League win; and if Arsene’s cheerleaders think a fluke of that sort and 20+ years between league titles is good enough, so be it. But if you don’t, if this game today and last week’s against United still bother you, then it’s time to demand change and accountability at the club. Amidst all his lies and obfuscation in recent weeks, Wenger has finally nailed his colors to the mast for all to see: 3rd place and qualification is good enough for him. If it’s good enough for you, fine; but if you expect Arsenal football club to try for more than that, to sometimes fail and sometimes succeed but always give best effort, then it is incumbent on you to demand that Arsene Wenger either accepts the verdict of results and changes, or else leaves the club. It’s either/or, because after five years with the current plan we know what it produces.

I’ll be honest with you though: I don’t expect it to happen. Arsenal fans are going to accept this, because for most of them, as with the manager, as with the board, as with most of the players, 3rd and a hope for a fluke is good enough. This whole club is mentally beaten in a way which goes beyond anything which happens on the pitch, beaten by the idea that somehow they “deserve” more out of a performance like today’s because they had a lot of possession, beaten by the idea that the same problems recurring are just bad luck, beaten by a dismissal of any attempt to point out those problems as “negative”, beaten by the idea that no one in the world but Arsene can manage the club, beaten by having their hopes dashed over and over, beaten by a fear of change, beaten by the idea that anyone who’s unhappy with this state of affairs supports the terrorists, er, isn’t a real Arsenal supporter. I don’t know how a club comes back from that. I would like to be wrong in this, but it has been years since my more cynical expectations for this club and its supporters have gone unfulfilled. Last year someone asked Wenger a slightly rudely worded question and it triggered marches in the streets to beg the man to stay; that’s a servile mentality, and so far as I can tell it’s still that of the majority.


February 7, 2010 - Posted by | The Arsenal

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