Is Wenger’s time up? Parallels With 1983 & Terry Neill

Where to start with the abject performance of Arsenal yesterday? Perhaps with the preview from The Times yesterday morning.

Arsenal Blackburn preview Times 16Feb13006

This reminds us that we managed to spank at least six past Blackburn three times since 2006, and that was when they were in the Premier League, not some lower division they inhabit now. It also has the worst graphic ever, to show how many ‘failed campaigns’ Arsenal have had since winning a trophy. Whoever came up with that as a graphic needs shooting.

More usefully, the statistical form and class guide estimated that there was a 77 per cent chance of an Arsenal win, with only a nine per cent chance of Blackburn winning. Let’s look on the bright side: The fact they did win shows how great football is! Unless it’s happening to your team, of course. Or unless Arsenal threw the game for the benefit of an Asian gambling ring. Yes, perhaps that explains it.

Arsenal and Blackburn also met in the semi-finals of the FA Cup back in 1928. As The Times tells us, Blackburn were second best for much of the game, but won with a single goal in the second half. This is oddly familiar.Arsenal Blackburn 1928005

(The picture looks to me like Charlie Buchan leading Arsenal out for the match in his last season, five years before we switched to white sleeves.)

We should have beaten Blackburn, of course we should. But if we hadn’t and it was a one-off poor performance, where we’d dominated possession and hit the woodwork, and only Gervinho’s execrable finishing meant we couldn’t score, then most would probably be a bit more forgiving. It’s the continued lack of consistency, the scoring six or seven in a game one week then failing to even mentally turn up the next week, that’s what frustrates so many Arsenal fans. However you spread the blame – and surely everyone thinks that some blame must be attached to all of the Board, manager and players – it’s a bad situation and it seems to be getting worse.

My friend Kevin Whitcher, the Editor of The Gooner, has stirred up a bit of a storm today by suggesting that fan-power in the shape of sustained anti-Wenger chanting is now needed to get rid of the manager and start a rebuild. I’m not convinced about the tactic, but I am increasingly frustrated by Arsène’s seeming inability to motivate his squad and achieve results.

Perhaps it’s worth comparing the current situation with the one 30 years ago (is it really that long?), when Terry Neill was sacked – the last time fans turned on an Arsenal manager in a big way.

On November 29, 1983, Arsenal lost 2-1 at home to lowly Walsall in the League (Milk) Cup fourth round, having seen off Plymouth Argyle and someone called Totteringham Hotspurts in the earlier rounds. The Walsall match was a repeat of Arsenal’s most famous defeat to the same club in the FA Cup in 1933. In 1933 Arsenal were the best club in England, possibly the world. In 1983 the league table looked like this at the time of the Walsall defeat:League table 3Dec83003 Arsenal languished in thirteenth place in the 22-team division. This league form and the gradual decline from regular cup finals after Brady and Stapleton left meant that the knives were already out for Terry Neill. You could say we wanted our Arsenal back – at least the one that Neill had presided over in the late seventies, if Bertie Mee’s 1971 vintage was out of reach.

This is Neill’s message in the programme for the next match after Walsall, at home to West Brom:Terry Neill column 3Dec83001

It’s the message of a man who knows he’s under pressure, talking about everyone accepting responsibility in a bid to deflect a little from himself. I’m sure others did deserve blame too, but a secure manager would have held his own hands up without pointing to others. By this time Neill was not secure.

The position worsened when we lost that match to West Brom by a goal to nil, then lost the next match away to high-flying West Ham. That was the final straw, and Neill was sacked on 16 December. The programme for the home match the next day featured this message from the Chairman:Peter Hill-Wood message 17Dec83002

“Mutual consent”? Not sure about that, Peter. As a side note, they announced the, er, departure on the Friday, and managed to get it into the programme on Saturday. Usually they couldn’t include results from midweek games in Saturday programmes because they’d already gone to print, but they managed this!

Naturally Arsenal won the game that day, plus the next one against the Totts (4-2). The revival eventually took us to sixth place at the season end under Don Howe, but we didn’t set the world alight for a few more seasons after that.

Back to the present: Is Arsène likely to leave mid-season ‘by mutual consent’, even if we lose the next two league games and are beaten by Bayern? I doubt it. Like Neill, we are seeing a manager in something of a decline, though the heights he hit were far greater than the Arsenal of 30 years ago. We still have some way we could fall.

One thing that remains the same is that it probably would still be PH-W making the announcement of a change, but he no longer makes the decisions. I don’t see Stan Kroenke sacking Arsène Wenger anytime soon, however much pressure supporters in the stadium put on. My feeling is Kroenke will be thinking, ‘We’re paying the guy £7m a year, he’s got one more year on his contract, let him get on with it. If he doesn’t improve things maybe don’t give him another contract, but he’s not doing that bad.’

Stan might change his mind if season ticket sales stalled, the waiting list disappeared and none of the corporates renewed their box deals.

Of course Stan may also be thinking, ‘I don’t give a crap, I’m selling to the Russian in the summer anyway.’

I’m not the type to hope Arsenal and Arsène fail completely just to force changes. I’d rather stay top four and in with a fighting chance. I’m just worried that maybe it’s just going to prolong the agony.


Follow me on Twitter: @AngryOfN5


31 thoughts on “Is Wenger’s time up? Parallels With 1983 & Terry Neill

  1. I agree with you. Change is needed but not at the cost of the future of the club. The Liverpool example still burns bright of what might happen to Arsenal if we drop of the top four.

  2. The Terry Neill sacking followed a sustained fan revolt. One fan, who Neill mentioned in his book, hired a hall near the stadium to rally fans and the place was packed with many unable to get in.

    I know this guy well & he wants to do the same again, but this time doesn’t have the finance to do it.

    Fan power is on up & real Gooners have a voice & if properly organised can make a difference.

    For the good of Arsenal FC. Wenger MUST GO.

    • Right, because there are SO many managers to choose from who could do better.

      No. There aren’t. The Arsenal that you “want back” was going nowhere before he got there. The “mediocrity” that Wenger has brought since 2006 would have been considered a HUGE step up for Neill, or Don Howe, or Bertie Mee, or even for George Graham. In case you’ve forgotten, the last 4 seasons that Graham started as Arsenal manager, Arsenal finished 4th, 10th, 4th and 12th, following by 5th in the only year of Bruce Rioch. If 4th isn’t good enough under Wenger, what the hell were the years before him?

      It’s as if somebody other than Wenger managed the team to 3 League titles, 4 FA Cups, Champions League wins away to Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid, and a CL Final, and that, after that 2006 CL Final, that great English manager retired, and then we brought in the clueless Frenchman and he bollixed it all up. Well, that’s not what happened. Arsene Wenger took an underachieving club and made it better than it had ever been.

      Who’s going to get it back to where it was in the early 2000s? David Moyes? Don’t make me laugh: He’s NEVER finished ahead of Arsenal and has won ONE trophy (a 2nd division title) in 15 years as a manager.

      For the good of Arsenal FC, Wenger must STAY. There is NO viable alternative.

  3. For me personally, too many people are overreacting. Wenger put a team out there that talent-wise was more than capable of winning, the tactics were fine, but the performance was not. Its not any more complicated than that.

    To me it only underlines the challenge Wenger faces – to play his brand of football and in his squad philosophy, he needs a certain kind of player. Getting that type of player in the discount bin means that he must compromise somewhere and i think it is happening in the mental department. So he has to basically drive them harder and more ruthlessly.

    I wouldnt fire Wenger if I were the board. I’d demand that he get more ruthless with the players and give him a bit more money – not a lot but a bit more – enough that the overall squad quality is more even and effectively more of our guys are genuinely fighting for places: meaning that the starters are desperate to keep their positions and the subs are people who have realistic chances of becoming starters and are really gunning for it.

    You could of course throw out the baby with the bathwater, but from there on the walk would be a lot harder than it looks. No top manager in Europe will even look at this job under the circumstances that Wenger has been ie having to make a net profit on player sales every year. Below the level of the top managers anybody else who comes in is going to be a gigantic gamble. And the fall is very steep from where we are. Ask the likes of Newcastle, Villa and Liverpool.

    • I understand somewhat what you are saying about over-reaction, but the tactics were not fine. There was no movement from the front 3. Why not start with two up front? It was against a Championship side at home. On 70 minutes, when we usually make our subs, why not go with two up top? We needed a goal and they were not threatening with the current formation (other than Gervinho’s sitter).

      No one is saying that being a manager at a club the size of Arsenal is going to be easy, nor Wenger will be an easy act to follow, it is that at this point in time, we have seen these performances for far too long and too many times to believe that it is down to solely the players. It is time for a change of the record and let someone else come in for a crack at it.

      As far as being worried about who will replace him, I am sure that there will be a queue of able managers who want to manage a big club like Arsenal (not to mention the renumeration that goes with it). Sure, everyone has a right to be a bit worried as Liverpool have demonstrated, but to be fair, we don’t have the amount of crap players that Liverpool had when they started their downward spiral (which Dalglish littered them with – Downing, Carroll, Henderson, etc) nor are we owned by someone who is selling the future down the toilet like Gillette and Hicks (although some would probably have a good argument that this could happen with Kroenke). As far as Newcastle or Villa, they do not have Arsenal’s history.

      However, more than likely, as the blogger has pointed out, Wenger will see his contract out here. I, unfortunately, have come to the quiet acceptance that this will happen. He did get heavy abuse (I sit behind him) on Saturday. I haven’t ever seen this sort of abuse before.

      • ” I am sure that there will be a queue of able managers who want to manage a big club like Arsenal (not to mention the renumeration that goes with it).”

        There will be lots of takers. The question is will they be they ones that the club would want. The top top managers who can guarantee a certain level of performance will NOT come here if the remit is to earn 20MM every year by selling their best player. Dont kid yourself.

        So all you will get is managers who are ambitious but unproven at this level eg Laudrup etc. Or from a totally different culture eg Scolari, Lucescu etc which has its own risks.

        A Jürgen Klopp will NOT come here to be a profit center when he will get offered the Man City and or Chelsea job. You can forget about that.

        This NOT that easy. Go look at how AVB bombed out at Chelsea. Not easy at all. And you all who are running Wenger out of town will regret it when this club is looking at relegation and he is laughing at you lot while spending gobs on money on top players at Real Madrid or PSG:

      • Klopp won’t come because he is committed at Dortmund and has repeated himself about this over and over (and he doesn’t speak English).

        I don’t think that I would look at Chelsea as a model of how we will treat any manager at Arsenal. AVB was thrown out on his ear because Abramovich is an idiot and Chelsea are his plaything.

        I trust Gazidis to appoint someone credible. It will be his first appointment and he won’t want to bollocks it up. Also, don’t forget that Wenger was relatively unproven before he came to Arsenal. George Graham was also pretty unproven (as a manager) before he came to Arsenal – both prospered, so don’t knock these unprovens.

        If Wenger left, I sincerely doubt we’d go anywhere near relegation. We have too many resources and are too well run for that to ever happen. I also wonder if he would actually manage a team like Madrid, which would have a camera up his arse the minute he did anything – and they would expect instant results.

      • “I trust Gazidis to appoint someone credible. It will be his first appointment and he won’t want to bollocks it up. Also, don’t forget that Wenger was relatively unproven before he came to Arsenal. George Graham was also pretty unproven (as a manager) before he came to Arsenal – both prospered, so don’t knock these unprovens…”

        – Look man, its not 1985 anymore and this is not the old first division.Arsenal is exchanging hands these days for a valuation of the better part of a billion pounds, other clubs are spending more than a billion to compete, and the stakes are MUCH higher. No, Arsenal is not going appoint a young manager from Crystal Palace or any unproven team. When Wenger leaves, it will be at a time when the club has a big transfer budget to offer and he will be replaced by a proven manager. Its really that simpe. Forget about George Graham as a model. Those days are gone.

        “….If Wenger left, I sincerely doubt we’d go anywhere near relegation. We have too many resources and are too well run for that to ever happen. I also wonder if he would actually manage a team like Madrid, which would have a camera up his arse the minute he did anything – and they would expect instant results…”

        – The reality of the matter is that Wenger and the board obviously made a pact: he would stick with them through a lean period of stadium building and payback in which he had to develop players then SELL the best of them balance the clubs books. In return he got a high salary and his job was secure, as long as he kept make Champions league to keep the books ticking over. If he did better that was great- he also got the freedom to spend his (limited) budget as he saw fit, to try and exceed that 4th place target. But that was his benchmark. We can all see that by now. Its not rocket science: the club had to reduce its overall risk profile to compensate for the added risk from the stadium build and early years of payback.

        This doesnt make Wenger a bad manager – it means he agreed to work with one hand tied behind his back. If he goes to a Madrid, it would be a different deal: you get money to spend and you produce results.

        If you think this not something he would do then you have no idea. We were big spenders before when Wenger was winning trophies. And he hasnt been linked with Madrid every 2-3 years as a coincidence.

        Like I said, be careful what you wish for. Operating at this level while sellling of 20+ million of your best players every year is NOT a trivial matter. It is acrobatics of the highest level. Not a job for novices or even partially proven managers. Even many top managers would not accept this challenge for fear of being embarassed. You can talk about Mouruniho winng the CL at Porto for example, but today he isnt even considering taking any job where he is the profit center. Are you kidding? IN fact thats a rhetorica question: I am sure than many Arsenal fas are kidding themselves.

        Wenger will be here until 2014 and then will leave of his own volition. Only exception is if the club does not make 4th place. And even then it is almost certain that he would land a job with a bigger budget than Arsenal. Madrid, PSG etc. I would even tip that if Arsenal is foolish enough to fire Wenger this summer, Man City would snap him up – the “low budget” that Macini is constantly whining about would be megabucks to spend by Wenger’s standards!

    • I agree with this very largely. It is noticeable how the team we picked reflected what many people expected and asked for. It is also curious how many people forget that we did select a full strength team for the Bradford game – and they failed to turn up; most people said afterwards that we should have played squad players who would have been ore up for the game…. There is no pleasing people. I think we have improved the squad this last year, made it more stable in terms of key contracts and become less tolerant of weaker players. With greater financial stability now we should be able to compete more effectively for better players – albeit not the real headline acts. And we have a lot of talent at the youth level. I am as frustrated by our inconsistency as much as anyone, and yes Wenger must take a share of the blame for failing to have a fully motivated team on the pitch every week. But what could be more foolish than the dump a man who is clearly totally committed to this club at just the time when we have every reason to be positive about the future? We just have to face it, there are always going to be some bad nights for anyone who follows a football club.

    • Mate – I do enjoy debates with you, but can you leave out the insults like ‘ if you think that is something that he wouldn’t do, then you have no idea’ As if you have some sort of special insight into Wenger’s head that no one else does when you do not. Maybe he does go to Madrid, but I would think that it would be a huge culture shock for a man used to total control going to a club where he will have nothing near that control.

      Unproven today is not the same as unproven 30 years ago. I understand that. Unproven today would be a Laudrup and not someone from the Championship. My point is that we shouldn’t underestimate an unproven because they could good managers. I don’t know that Gazidis would appoint someone like Laudrup, however.

      I think that there are Wenger quotes from the beginning about buying the kids because he knew the financial restrictions that came with moving stadiums. Of course, that is admirable what he did, but I think that the point of contention would be the past few years which we have covered in another post and I don’t want to repeat (finances).

      I would agree that his benchmark is getting the coveted 4th place as well, which is why you get the ‘4th place is a trophy’ or ‘I would sign up to 2nd place for 20 years’. I think that is what annoys the fans most – he shouldn’t be saying this in public. It makes him and the club look like they are just a money-making machine and not looking to compete on the field. I think that many fans feel that they have been lied to and that Wenger is complicit in those lies to secure themselves financially.

      However, I still think that Arsenal can and will attract top managers. With a new sponsorship deal in place and people moving on this summer, maybe we actually will see some needed quality injected. I don’t think that Wenger will be going anywhere until his contract expires either. I don’t think that he is a bad manager either. I just think that things have gone stale with him tactically here and it is time to move on. When Championship teams and League 2 teams have you worked out tactically, it’s a bad sign.

      • “…Unproven today would be a Laudrup and not someone from the Championship….”
        – You think Michael Laudrup would be some sort of coup? Let me put it to you this way:
        1) the only thng Laudrup has ever won as a manager is the Danish league. But then ago so did Stale Solbakken, who just got fired by Wolves….in lower leagues!
        2) His Swansea team is currently EIGHTH in the league and just lost by five goals at Anfield.
        3) He has been in the UEFA cup but never in the champions league.

        If you are sincere about fourth place and 10 years of champions league knockout rounds being insufficient for a club of this scale, I’m not sure exactly how said manager would be a LIFTING of standards. The level of results which you consider to be grounds for Wenger’s dismissal would be a level that Mcihael Laudrup has never even experienced, let alone reached – never mind being expected to do it each and every year!!!

        If you want him to come and coach the Arsenal youth team, okay sure. But stop kidding yourself about this being the man who will take Arsenal FORWARD within the framework of this job ie SELLING 20 million quid of the best player each year.

        You will not get a top manager to take this job under those terms – and if you change the terms to free spending of money, its not clear why Wenger could not do the job. He is the same man who spent huge sums on Henry, Wiltord, Reyes and Campbell when there was money to spend.

        Dont confuse the manager being given an impossible task and going through a bad patch, with him being a #Hit manager. He is doing this job on terms that Ancelotti would say no to, Guardiola didnt even consider for one second – and Mourinho would simply laugh at. You might get Rafa to move across town after he gets fired at Chelsea, but that’s the best you will do.

        Stop pretending that this is an attractive assigment for a top manager. It is not. And any “promising young manager” will be one that per definition has never operated at this level of demands before, let alone with the added burden of selling his best player for profit each and every year. It’s a man’s job – and even the real men in this profession would run away from it.

        Yes, there is a reason why there is a statue of this man at the stadium. He isnt infallible, but just be clear and understand what you have here.

      • Ok – Let me entertain your attack on Laudrup. I will do so despite merely using him as an example of what an unproven manager would look like in today’s football.
        1. Your first point is irrelevant. Solbakken was also relegated last year with Koln (Podolski’s old side).
        2. Swansea just lost their manager, their starting central midfielder and are in their second year in the Premiership with a manager who is in his first year in English football. If they finish in 8th, that would be an achievement. Laudrup brought in players from the Spanish leagues who were cheap and could do a job. One of them was the highest scoring midfielder in La Liga last year. He bought him for peanuts – Michu.
        3. No – he doesn’t have CL experience, but glancing at the table, that soon may not matter for us either.

        The reasons that I want Wenger out is because of the same mistakes not being addressed year after year. We play one way – through the middle. We cannot defend set pieces. We rarely threaten with our own set pieces. We are usually pretty awful without the ball (sometimes that isn’t the case, but it is usually against the bigger sides. I expect us to win tomorrow night, by the way 2-1). We play the same way with the same formation regardless of the opponents or circumstances in the games. Sometimes, he may switch to 4-4-2, but the last time that I remember him doing it this year was against Reading in the Carling Cup.

        Now – let’s look at Heynickes (Munich’s manager – who is retiring at the end of the season). He said this today – ‘“I have been with Bayern for two years now and even the year before that we didn’t have a title. Two years without a title here means you have to do something about it.” Then went on to explain what they did. So essentially, they changed things tactically and it worked. Why can’t we do that? (he also defended Wenger as well from critics like me). The thing is that these things can be fixed on the training ground with the same players that we have with no spending of money.

        That is my main gripe with Wenger and why I want him to leave. It isn’t that I am ungrateful for what he has done, but you cannot dine on past glories forever and charge one of the most expensive match tickets on the planet.

  4. I was one of the many who demonstrated for terry neills removal, I’m not sure Arsene deserves this he has taken us to another level in difficult times( crooks running chelski and etihad city) I think arsene and the club need to be honest on who is pulling the strings at afc and also allow quality coaching in ,especially in defence. If arsene is in total control then yes let him go in the summer, if not just tell us and stop fleecing us, what is comparable is that the club in the early 80’s and now is being badly led at board level

  5. I took some flak on this site last year for criticism I aimed at the club mentors. I was accused in certain quarters of being anti AW when I expressed an opinion contrary to that of “true” Arsenal fans, when I made constructive criticism of the board I was told to get my facts right and that I was just like the other board bashers, I didn’t know what I was talking about. I have followed this club for over 40 years. I delighted in the double of ’71, cried and cursed Alan Clarke in ’72. We went through a rotten patch when we could win nothing ’till 79, 1980 and that bloody header, 1989 …. then the Golden Age. The Arsene years. All down those years I like thousands of others have followed this club religiously, I have never faltered in my commitment even when ridiculed. I am not a londoner nor am I an Englishman but before such things were important I saw Arsenal play and loved them from day one. In football as in life there is no room for sentiment. Your job depends on your ability to do it. Arsene Wenger has been a superb manager, much maligned in recent times but, for the most part, the author of his own downfall. He was “the man” a few years ago but was too placid and let the “Greedy Bunch” get in. Ferguson didn’t have it at united did he? No he bloody didn’t. Why should we accept it here? I, like the rest of you have watched our best players being poached by clubs like Man U, a club whose success has only “arrived” compared to Arsenal’s long tradition of success. As for Barca ? Lucky for them B comes before M in the dictionary. Arsenal is a wonderful club, it has the best and most loyal fans in the world . We need to be able to sign the best players we can afford and hold on to them. But most of all we need proper guardianship. We need to be able to trust those who are in charge. We need to be sure that Arsenal is in safe hands. Losing a match you should have won is one thing, but doing it on a regular basis is another. At this moment I believe that we need new ideas, a new approach, and a new manager.

  6. Every single time the club is under pressure, one of the papers publishes a story stating how much money AW has to spend in the next window. Maybe he’s saving up for Messi?

  7. Even though i’d love to see him turn it around, I do think the time is coming for Wenger to move on. But anyone that wants to damage the club and its fortunes on the pitch cannot, by any rational definition, be classed as a supporter of The Arsenal. That anyone at The Gooner would want such an anti-supporter as the editor of their fanzine amazes me. Fine to be constructively critical, it’s what good fanzines are all about, but to actually want to stir negativity, turn the fans against the team during a match and even justify splits amongst the support is beyond responsible. I stopped buying The Gooner a long time ago, largely because of that childish idiot – anyone that actually believes in supporting your team through thick and thin should do the same until he goes. Maybe we should have a chant for that after 7 minutes on Saturday?!

    Beyond the knee-jerk reactions to Saturday, there are still vital games to be played over the next few weeks and the team needs the fans behind them. If (once?) we fall away from the top 4 positions by losing at WHL next month, then I think there’s a very strong argument for immediate change (assuming the inevitable happens against Bayern). Otherwise, let’s see where we are after the full roller-coaster of the season has ended. Personally, even if we reach the top 4, I would look to move Wenger upstairs in the summer. More realistically though, we’re likely stuck with Wenger at least until the end of his contract, fan mutiny or otherwise. The interesting thing would be to see what the attendance is for the first home match of next season with Wenger still in place: my prediction is that, for all the talk of giving up season tickets etc, Whitcher et al will still be amongst 59-60,000. And that’s what’ll be most telling.

  8. ” When Championship teams and League 2 teams have you worked out tactically, it’s a bad sign.”
    – Also just want to point out that Blackburn gave up 26 shots on goal to Arsenal, with Arsenal getting 12 of those on target. Those are the kind of statistics you would normally typically find in a 3-4-5 goal lossi!! Basically Blackburn didnt “win” the game, as much as Arsenal’s forwards just had awful day in front of goal in an otherwise efficient offensive performance.

    If this is “working out Arsene Wenger tactically”, then surely Appleton must be the “promising young manager” you have so seeking in your desperate quest to get Arsenal relegated? 🙂

    • Tell me, out of those 12 shots on target, how many were clear cut chances? I’d say 2 – Gervinho and Walcott. Chamberlain had an awful cross that went straight to the keeper which would have been considered a shot. Rosicky hit the bar which wouldn’t have been considered a shot. It wasn’t an efficient performance – it was pedestrian which not a lot of movement and the passing was very slow. It was typical of a lot of games which warranted criticism this year and got the criticism it deserved.

      Working out Wenger tactically is quite easy and people have been doing it for years. The difference here is that Blackburn played with 2 up top which most will only use 1. Two rows of 4 sitting deep and squeezing the middle of the pitch, thus negating the attacking mid who may find joy there.

      Of course, the only manager for Arsenal is Wenger and no one else can touch him. 😉

      • 1) You really didnt refute my point. Arsenal had enough chances to win the game. Manager cannot be blamed for that.
        2) If you have a list of proven top managers who are capable of generating the club’s entire commercial profit before the season starts AND THEN throwing on a tracksuit and qualifying for the champions league and vying to win it, please let us know. Hell – you can sell the names to every chief executive in the premiership – they will pay you money for this insight. You wont be able to sell it to Gasdis & Kroenke, however, as they already have the #1 name on that list signed up.

      • Yeah – they did have enough chances to win the game. Blackburn offered nothing except defensive resilience. However, the manager can be blamed for failure to motivate these players. We all know where he places his priorities and the FA cup isn’t very high up there. The pace was pedestrian and there was no urgency about the play and we have seen that far too often over the years. The players change, but still this malaise continues….

      • No offense but nothing you are saying passes muster. For example “We all know where he (Wenger) places his priorities and the FA cup isn’t very high up there.”

        Let’s see. The game with Blackburn was THREE days before a Champions League quarter final with Bayern and yet Wenger fielded his first choice goalie, the three of his first choice back four, two of his first choice midfielders (Arteta, Diaby) and his ONLY real #9 (Giroud). So in all he fielded SEVEN of his top ELEVEN players just three days before a CL quarter final.

        And this you interpret as Wenger “didnt care about the FA Cup”. Are you for real? Or do you think these players are robots?

        Wenger put a team that was more than strong enough to win. In fact if you ask me, he fielded too strong a team. Many of these guys should be resting for Bayern, especially Giroud. I would argue that:
        – Miquel should be good enough to play in this game vs Championship competition, if not frankly cut him loose
        – Gnaby should have played
        – Jermaine Meade should have played
        – I see no reason why Chuba Akpom should not be fielded at least on the bench and Giroud rested.

        It’s the FA cup, but these are good players and they all should play. We cant flog the first team so hard that they are playing two cup ties in 3 days. Sorry.

        And if they are not good enough then it underlines that Wenger should be given a bigger budget to get a stronger squad, so that he can rest players and have more effective competition.

  9. Ziontrain – i’ve always been amongst the group that supports Wenger on most things but the reasons he played such a strong team on Saturday were solely:

    1. Because the years of underachievement from his teams have been so bad that he needed to take the game seriously (sending the likes of Traore out at Old Trafford most definitely was not that…); and

    2. The rest of the squad simply isn’t good enough to win against Blackburn. Miquel is not at the moment. Gnabry, for all his talent, is still a kid. Akpom the same and needs serious work on his finishing. Meade is injured and likely out for the rest of the season. And he clearly doesn’t think Arshavin or Squillaci are capable/appropriate or he’d have played them more than he has all season.

    The simple fact of the matter is that we lost on Saturday for the same reason that we keep losing games that we should win: because too many of the squad are inconsistent in their performances i.e. Wenger’s squad is not good enough.

  10. Someone tell me what goes on in Kroenke’s mind, his motivation, his ambition for Arsenal. Does anybody know? The fact is that nobody has a clue what will happen this summer. Will he sell up? It is almost certain that Usmanov has made some kind offer. Did Stanley even bother to reply? Who knows. Will he sanction the £70m transfer fund we hear about it? Will Wenger resign if he doesn’t? Anybody’s guess. Meanwhile Arsene takes all the flak, even though the older ones amongst us (inc you, I think, Phil) suspect that we’ll be worse off without him. Certainly further away from getting ‘our Arsenal’ back.

  11. So here we are again in November 2014 and never has this article been more appropriate. If we loose to Dortmund on Wednesday night, surely Arsene’s time as manager (and at the club?) must come to an end.

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