Any business, including football clubs, should constantly review its operations and make sure things are going as well as possible. Even if things are looking good you should still regularly ask the question, “Is there anything we should change? What can we do to improve?”
‘Going well’ is relative. Most clubs wouldn’t dream of sacking the manager if they were in Arsenal’s position, but the Manchester Clubs and Chelsea certainly would. Even Spurs would think about it.
So who is reviewing how things are going for Arsenal? Me and you obviously, but the power vacuum that surrounds Arsène Wenger means that if he isn’t doing it – and he isn’t – then no one else in the club is either.
But let’s assume for the sake of argument there was someone willing and able to review the situation and address any problems. The situation is this: Arsenal’s league form is poor; they played a lower league team in the Capital One Cup and got knocked out; they have just been beaten by the team they must face in the FA Cup; they are still in the Champions League, but realistically have little chance of winning it. Overall assessment: the best we can hope for is standing still; we certainly don’t appear to be progressing.
1 – Do nothing. Let Arsène work his magic, as he has done so many times in the past, and hope for the best – ie top four at the end of the season so we’re no worse off than last year.
Best case: it works; income streams are maintained. Fans aren’t happy but they’ll live with it.
Worst case: we drop out of the top four, but we have some money saved (because it’s not spent in January) and we have the summer to strengthen and regroup.
2 – Force Arsène to spend the available money on new players in January, in the hope of turning the season around.
Best case: it works; new players invigorate the squad, there is genuine challenge for places. We cruise back to the top four, and make a damn good fist of trying to win at least one cup.
Worst case: the £70m in the bank is wasted on another couple of Gervinho’s. The team gets worse. We miss the top four, win nothing else and have no money left to make things better come the summer.
3 – Force Arsène to make other changes that cost little or nothing: new coaches from outside, or new methods of training, drilling the defence to within an inch of George Graham’s life, dropping those who underperform, preparing specifically for the opposition, getting someone in who can change tactics and formations even during a game, etc etc.
Best case: top four finish, challenge in the cups.
Worst case: we’re still crap, but we haven’t spent much. (This worst case is only likely though if AW spends the rest of the year sulking at being told what to do. So very likely.)
4 – Sack Arsène now.
Best case: new manager comes in – assuming we can find someone decent to take over mid-season, or we give it to Uncle Bouldie as caretaker until May – spends all the available money on new players and does well enough to finish top four.
Worst case: new manager comes in and it’s Mark Hughes. He spends all the money and we end up closer to the relegation zone than the top four.
Which is the best option? In an ideal world, number 3. In the real world, we’re stuck with number 1. Chances of success: 50/50 at best. But I may rewrite this paragraph if we manage to stuff Reading out of sight tonight. Fingers crossed, because that’s all we’ve got.
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