The Team In Turmoil
WRITTEN BY CHARLES ODUGBESAN
I’m pissed off. Yesterday I was having a relatively good day – I recently signed up to my local gym so I was in there pretending I know what I’m doing, I got some coursework done, spent a little time with the family… nothing to put a damper on my day at all! Until the evening kick off at Selhurst Park. A gutless, unorganised, woeful display from my team Arsenal Football Club resulted in a 3-0 spanking by a Crystal Palace side battling against the drop. Losing 3-0 to Palace hurt. How can it not? If ever ones team loses 3-0 home or away it will no doubt leave a bitter taste in the mouth. But personally, the result did not come as too much of a surprise for me. Form in recent weeks could have suggested a positive Palace result, but delving deeper into the nucleus of Arsenal’s problems, I have become a fan that is almost fed up of the current state of the club.
Once upon a time, Arsenal were a club feared by Premier League teams. They had a great team with a fresh faced manager that brought a revolutionary style of football to the game. They won trophies, challenged the dominance of Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United, fielded some of the world’s best players and enjoyed the longest unbeaten run in modern day English football. Nowadays the fresh face and the style of play seem, no ARE a shadow of themselves, two trophies have been won since I turned 12 (I’m now 23), we are restricted to having only 1/2 world class players at a time and Arsenal are having their worst run of form in 20 years. There isn’t enough time in the day to get into the players but consider this: against Palace (and indeed in a few other games this season) Theo Walcott was named Captain. Could a player like Theo have been named captain for any game 10/15 years ago? Regardless of injuries and absences? Could a player like Theo even feature in a starting line up 10/15 years ago? I think not. This isn’t a personal attack on him (well I don’t know, maybe) but it says more about the state of the club at the moment to me.
Given Arsenal’s poor 2016/2017 campaign that has been embezzled with rumours surrounding the future of the club’s marquee players as well as Arsene Wenger and horrendous performances on the pitch which have sparked a growing unrest and a divide in allegiance from fans, I have been asked the question that probably every supporter’s friends have asked them, ‘So are you WengerIn or WengerOut?’ To answer that question I usually bring up the two my most significant on and off pitch memories – April 18th 2007, the day vice-chairman David Dein left the club. August 28th 2011, the day we lost 8-2 at the hands of Man Utd and the day I first called for the managers head. Besides the two recent FA Cups, Dein is the man responsible for bringing in Arsene Wenger in 1996. The subsequent effect was the 3 league titles and 4 FA Cups won in the 9 years to follow. He had a hand personally in all the transfers of players to the club including Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell to name a few. He also had influence in the move from Highbury to The Emirates Stadium. No surprise that since he left the club has had minimal success, struggled to afford and attract some of the worlds top players to the club and as a result has been usurped as a force in the English game by the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. And the scoreline? Well, by that time we were entering trophyless season number 6 and already there were signs of a static, predictable Arsenal side. Sure there are contributing factors with a relatively inactive board and underperforming players on the pitch, but I truly believe that Wenger had lost his touch by this time. By 2011 not only were we not the team that once traded blows with United at the helm of English football, that season we were 19 points and almost 1/3 of the goal difference back from title winners City with no Cup trophy to our name. Fast forward 6 years and… oh look… same sh*t different year! If I ran Arsenal Football Club tomorrow I’d suggest the club needs remodelling from top to bottom, but change needs to start from somewhere. And though I as a fan bestow eternal thanks to Wenger for the general success of his 20 year reign, it’s time to get boot and keep it moving!
What frustrates me the most as an Arsenal fan is in fact the progress that our supposed ‘rival’ teams have been demonstrating over the past few years. I’m loosely using the term ‘rival’ because if things keep up in the manner they are, the other 5 top teams will not be in our range in the coming seasons. Chelsea have a habit of firing the old and hiring a new manager every so often. As ethically questionable as this may be, it is effective. They have the money, the means and indeed the accolades to constantly sustain this; they are Champions elect. The other North London Club have a bright young team, and deploy a great style of play under an impressive coach. They have now overwhelmingly eclipsed us as the prominent team this side of the Capital. Manchester City are similar to Chelsea. Their Arab ownership ensures they have an endless pot of disposable income to splash on just about whoever the feel. They too have a habit of switching managers frequently but again this has provided results as recent history shows. Much like the other North London club, Liverpool are a team on the rise with a top level manager at the helm. This year we have really seen the impact his tutelage has had on them and there’s room for improvement. Manchester United have underperformed for me this year but still have the finances and the appeal to attract some the world’s most famous faces in football: Mourinho, Zlatan, Pogba to name a few. And all the while Arsenal have gone from being static in progression, on the receiving end of endless trophyless campaigns, 4th place jokes and Champions League misfiring’s to a club that is rapidly imploding. #WengerIn or #WengerOut surely now action must be taken. Else Lincoln City and Sutton United might just be the only teams we can beat from here on! I really really miss the old Arsenal!!!