What’s Wrong With Arsenal? Here’s A List

Below is the text of an email sent by Arsenal fan Tony Ward to the AST and AISA, both of which Tony is a member.

The AST and AISA both have members who are at all positions on the spectrum of fan opinion, so it’s difficult for organisations to take up too much of a stance at one end or the other. They rightly stick to fighting for things that are best for all – or at least the vast majority – of fans, rather than too much criticism on subjective team matters.

However, this is a personal blog and I am under no such constraint!

Tony has given me full permission to publish this. I’m not saying I agree with every word, but I throw it out there for discussion. I’m sure I’ll be criticised by some, but that always happens. I’m getting used to it.

This was written just before the two most recent wins against Bayern and Swansea, but I don’t think they make a huge difference to the sentiment. We still lost overall against Bayern, and Swansea are just Swansea – we should be stuffing them out of sight.  

“As an individual member of both AISA and the AST and with my company being a Corporate member of the latter, can I please state the obvious and seek feedback:

We have a team that we expect to get beat whenever they play a decent side or top side. They are “average” at best.

We went out of both cups this year to vastly inferior opposition.

There is no sign whatsoever of a trophy.

We have had a wonderful Manager who is now quite simply past it. He is able to dictate all affairs at the club and is in actual fact now bigger than the club. He has made mistake after mistake re buying or not buying the right player at the right time. He has refused to strengthen certain key positions (Goal keeper etc) over a period of years. He seems to be under no pressure internally.

A dysfunctional Board with no access to a 29% + shareholder and a largely absent main shareholder.

We pay too much to average players and with a wage bill 40% more than Tottenham something needs to be done urgently.

We sell all our best players.

We pay far too much money to watch this dross.

We cannot buy the best players. It’s either youngsters (and expensive one’s at that) or over 25 year olds no one else wants.

We are not decisive enough and seem incapable of closing a player deal quickly.

Top players and good youngsters do not progress as they should.

In fact, the list goes on and on…

Everyone seems frightened to act or establish an open debate but all of my friends are fed up and want change!

At over £7M a year, we would have a long queue seeking the Arsenal manager’s job and must not fear needed change!

Well it’s a succinct list, with some good points. What do you think?

Leave a comment here or on twitter: @AngryOfN5


28 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With Arsenal? Here’s A List

    • The annoying part of having a blog: people come and stick their links in the comments on subjects that are nothing to do with the blog. At least it’s Arsenal related, so I’ll leave it this time.

      • Well at least it’s Arsenal-related spam. But you’re right, why encourage them? I’ve deleted the link.

        Such power! A-ha-ha-ha-ha!

      • Phil….either this blog is about AFC and issues therein or its an advertising heaven for the likes of Quincy….you can’t have it both ways so there shouldn’t be any excuses about flaming this guy and blocking his purely commercial content,please!

  1. Agree with everything you say! I’m sure we could all add to the list. I for one, am sick of the lies. How may years ago were we promised a marque signing!!!!

  2. Which were the good points ? I am so fed up with you “Wenger bashers”. You cannot replace the like of Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, Viera etc. Such players do not exist. Of the others, Cesc, Nasri, Clichy; Song, Toure, RVP, only RVP is a first team choice. If they are deemed “not good enough” for other clubs why should we be upset at moving them on ? Yes, for the most part, they are better than the players we have, but we still did not win anything with them here.

    • Out of curiosity – what would constitute failure on Wenger’s part?, and at what point would you say he is no longer fit to manage Arsenal. – care to respond – John Gee? I always find it fascinating that most Wenger supporters don’t set any goals for him to achieve other than to qualify for CL. Eight years without a trophy , 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Man U, league cup exit at Bradford City, FA cup exit to Blackburn can’t all be blamed on financial doping can they? . As for your point about not getting upset about losing our best players because they weren’t good enough anyways – totally ridiculous !. It wasn’t the players who left that weren’t good enough to win us trophies , it is the players who remained . As for Fabregas and his difficulty to start regularly for Barca, well , he is competing for places against players like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi. Heard of them?

      • “Can’t replace Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, Viera etc”
        Now that is just a childish statement. They were all amazing players but another generation of great players came after them and yet another generation of equally good players will come after that generation.
        This is typical nonsense spouted by AKB’s, living ‘Back in the day’ just doesn’t cut it.
        We are not back on the day we are playing now and getting mauled by what should be lesser competition and it is Wengers fault!

  3. I’d say that the problems are potentially – a lack of resources and a perceived lack of pressure on the manager from above. However, I do think that Wenger is only expected to finish top 4, so if that is his mandate, I don’t expect that the board will think that he is doing a bad job.

    The paying fans would have a different opinion about this, of course. Paying top whack for limited ambition gets old after a while…

      • What Arsene says isn’t true – two years ago there was at least £40m spare to spend in the summer, last year there was £70m. It’s perfectly possible – though unlikely – that the Board absolutely forbade him from spending any of it, but it was there. The accounts do not lie.

      • And that is the thing – the accounts say one thing, the Board echoing that and Wenger something else followed by a few days later something else. It seems a bit of misdirection is being done on purpose for Arsenal’s interests perhaps either in the transfer market and also with the fans. As a result of this misdirection, you have fans fighting because no one knows who to hold to account.

        For me, the only person who keeps changing his story is Wenger while the others have remained on song supporting the accounts view.

    • So tired of this supposed spending restriction that kept the club down,
      Arsenal spent 3 million less than United over the last 2 years, now tell me do you think by spending 3 million we would be jousting for position with UTD at the top of the table?
      Behave yourself…
      All Wengers fault, what he did spend wasn’t good enough with the exception of Santi and Podolski who he never plays!
      Good old Wenger breaking another player…

      • While they probably recouped more. Look, I am not defending Wenger here. We all know that he should do far better with the resources at his disposal and his tactics are appalling, but there a possibility of this is a massive ruse of divide and conquer while hoodwinking the support into paying. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if we found out that it happened years from now when no one could do anything about it.

  4. The issue I have with the current Arsenal and Wenger debate is that there are perfectly reasonable arguments at both ends of the spectrum but people go to such lengths to try and justify their position that they end up exaggerating. Phil, your colleague’s e-mail is a classic example of this.

    Yes, we have a dysfunctional board which is far from ideal, although it’s not really stopping the club from operating as the majority shareholder wants is it? Yes, we pay too much to average players, have sold some of our best players for various reasons (some understandable, some less so) and yes we have a shortage of top quality players. You could also argue that we can’t afford the ‘best’ players, although have we ever been able to and, if you consider the likes of Messi, Xavi, Ronaldo etc to be the ‘best’, how many other clubs can?!

    But we’re quite obviously not an average team, otherwise we’d be around mid-table and not competing in the biggest tournament in Europe. There are many many other teams that would give their right arm to be in our position. So this is an exaggeration.

    No sign of a trophy? No, not this season, but there have been signs in other seasons including lost finals. So another exaggeration.

    Refusal to strengthen the team? Cazorla, Podolski, Mertesacker, Monreal, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain are all good examples of us not refusing to strengthen in recent years. So yet another exaggeration.

    Wenger dictates everything? Does he? So he decides on ticket prices, the price of hot dogs, the design of the away kit, how often the dog toilet should be cleaned? Blimey he’s busier than we thought! Or maybe this is another exaggeration?

    I appreciate that this kind of article is good to instigate debate, but I come to this website for evidenced and reasoned thought, not for headlines from the Mail. It would be good if, for just a moment, all Gooners recognised that it’s fine to have grey areas, fine to take one extreme on one issue and the other on another, fine to be in the middle ground. If, on balance, you think Wenger should leave (for the record, I think he probably should) then fine, but communicate the view without exaggeration.

    Personally, I think it’s this crude ‘everything’s bad’ approach which makes the likes of Kroenke so reticent to deal with the AST and its members. If its members showed a touch more intelligence and balance (than is demonstrated in the above e-mail) then he might consider it more worth his time to listen.

  5. It’s hard to have any credibilty for an article that spends time trying to drag out sympathy for billionaires and spread false impressions. Look at this:
    “….A dysfunctional Board with no access to a 29% + shareholder and a largely absent main shareholder…”

    – What’s “dysfunctional” about the board? They all seem to be on the same page.
    – The main shareholder is not a PR figure or the manager – he is an owner. Do you get the difference? Who is the owner of the bar you drink at regularly or the restaurant you frequent? Does it matter?
    – Why cares about a “29% shareholder”? Has it occured to you that said person is more than rich enough to be a 30% or even a100% shareholder if he wanted to? He isnt because he is a corporate raider and he wants to either buy cheap or sell his take high. Spare us the sob stories please.

    Some of the point of view in here are beyond bizarre and lack a grip on the business realities of football.

    As for Wenger’s 7M a year, it’s not as easy as it looks. The job assignment is to stay in the top four and be in the knockout rounds of the CL…while selling about 20M worth of your best players net, every single year. The first part alone is difficult enough – doing it while spending less than Stoke and QPR is another matter entirely. These kind of requirements will not attract a Mourinho or Ancelotti – and last I checked the like of Mancini whine incessantly about the owners not rolling a Brinks truck around everytime the transfer window is open! Good luck with that. I think you havent quite grasped why Wenger is still being linked with Madrid and PSG. Hint: its not because he is the rank incompetent that you suggest he is.

      • They don’t Phil, although it is worth highlighting that Stoke are bank-rolled by a rich benefactor in a way that Arsenal aren’t. So if you hate Stoke and all they stand for, don’t use Bet 365…

  6. Tony Ward makes a number of points that are worthy of comment and debate. But I will proceed on the premise that Arsene Wenger will remain as Arsenal manager for the immediate future and that Stan Kroenke will remain as the main shareholder. That implies no change in the status quo. It also begs the question where do we go from here ? Firstly there are two Arsenals, one is the type Stan Kroenke wants. The other is the Arsenal the fans want. Arsene Wenger is at the pressure point in the centre. Sadly this is where our principle problems lie. For eight years now fans have lamented the lack of trophies. We have looked on while our most promising players have been sold on.We have waited with expectation while the manager has bought players only to be disappointed by either not getting the “star” signing we were expecting or the player we did get, did not do as well as he might. Football teams are primarily about players. Astute management can enhance a team by clever purchases and tactical awareness. Ultimately however it is the players on the pitch who win and lose games. In recent years a lot of money has been spent on players with a view to improving the team while at the same time a lot of others have been moved on. These comings and goings have caused heated debate among fans (RVPs transfer to Man U) The result however has been the same, no trophies. And what of Mr Kroenke ? Well he is a business man first and foremost. He gained control of the board and put in his own man Mr Gadzidas and gradually increased his shareholding to around 66% . Since his arrival Arsenal Inc has increased in value to the point that where any potential buy out would result in Mr K trousering a cool half a billion or there abouts. Wal-mart to whom Mr K is married to, is valued at around 28 billion pounds with an annual turn over of about double that. They make their money by paying staff low wages, they pay the minimum health and social security amounts for their employees (less than is required in most US States to qualify for medaid) and sacking is their way of solving workers issues. (All of this information is in the public domain lest anyone thinks that I’m making it up) There is in my opinion no chance of silent Stan putting his hand in his pocket for anyone including this football club. Whats ours is his and whats his is his own. At the outset I asked where do we go from here ? Well I am an optimist and I am hoping that Arsene Wenger can some how pull a rabbit out of the hat once again and get us to the CL. The few quid we get there might go someway towards paying for different or heaven forbid better players to do something similar next year.

  7. this article made me beyond angry. I am by no means some one who will be blindly positive and ignore negatives, in fact you have hit on some good points in this article, however it seems like you have gone to effort to squirrel out the negatives and make them sound worse than they are

    PLEASE, we need positivity, let’s have some. Let’s show class like our club is synonymous with eh?

  8. Don’t cite the trophy drought and then complain that “we sell our best players.” If Fabregas and van Persie were good enough to keep, they would have won trophies. Except for an FA Cup at the beginning, in which RVP was a reserve forward and Fabregas wasn’t even playing regularly, they won no trophies with us. Adebayor didn’t even do that, as he arrived the next year. They came close? If you’re going to credit THEM for that, then you have to credit WENGER for that, too, because HE BOUGHT THEM. But they proved unreliable, and then they proved to be clubhouse cancers and they had to go. We are better off without them.

  9. Another whine from a disgruntled AST and AISA cheerleader and clone of Phil. It is simply opinion like most supporters, either for or against Wenger, the BOD and the management/financial philosophy of the Arsenal….everyone is entitled to their opinion but Tony Ward’s lament isn’t any more factual than the so-called AKB’s blinkered support for Wenger. Nobody has any hard proof regarding how Wenger thinks, how much the players are paid, How the BOD provides funding for Wenger or how much, etc.
    It is a shame supporters don’t focus on what they do best…support the Club.

    • I asked on Twitter if anyone wanted to write an opposite list of all the good things about how Arsenal is run and its current direction (not history, and not vague promises of jam tomorrow), but no one has stepped forward. Perhaps you’d like to, Don?

    • Don, you are also rather overlooking the point that both the AST and AISA refused to do anything with Tony’s list, so to blame those organisations for it seems rather odd! Blame me if you like, but as I said I’m happy to put the opposite view forward for discussion at any time.

  10. Arsene may have a certain amount of flexibility in money matters but no real power. Nor does the BoD: none of them (bar Kroenke) owns a single share. So what Kroenke says is what goes. It may be that Wenger’s judgement and ability as a manager has waned, that time has passed him by – but in apportioning blame , the manager is always the easy option for fans. When the dust settles, it almost invariably turns out that the owner/BoD/CEO are the major cause of a club’s decline.

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