The club is very close to being in disarray. So close that we can see the brick wall that we’re about to drive into about 20 metres away but we’re going at 100mph and aren’t sure where the breaks are. What I mean to say is that we can see the change that is about to occur, however there is no idea in anyone’s mind as to how that change is going to happen, what the new world might look like and who might be there with us to see it. A real moment of clarity into our future as a football club hangs in the balance. We are in a situation whereby stories circulating around Alexis’ omission from the Liverpool game are said to be centred around bust up last week. The stories coming from 3/4 news sources look to mean that it’s a message coming from within the club, therefore it would be a massive surprise to see Alexis at the club next season. On top of this, the stories also note that if not for Ozil’s ‘illness’ he would likely have been dropped for the game as well. The club is fire fighting at best and chuck in the uncertainty over the managers’ future and it completes the circus that is going on currently at Arsenal Football Club.
Wenger. The man that it all centres around, and not through his own fault to a degree. The board have not planned anything since Wenger signed his new deal in 2014 (a contract that we all believed to be his last one), which seems like the worst change management planning that we could have possibly imagined. The board are the most un-confrontational set of club owners in this league. Wenger having to drop the likes of Alexis based on a bust up with team mates/himself is something that you might understand on one hand, but many of Wengers teams have had disagreements before. In the famous Invincibles season we drew with Man Utd 1-1 at home and in that game Henry and Lauren had a bit of a row after the game as Lauren could have squared to Henry to win the game and instead chose to shoot. They were winners, it mattered to them. It’s this attitude that won us the big trophies back then and it’s what is missing at the moment. Alexis seemed to show a bit of that albeit a little selfishly at times, but showed it nonetheless and Wenger made the decision to make an example of him when playing Liverpool away, which was always going to have a bearing on the result in a negative way. Needing a fast start against a pressing team without your most enthusiastic and direct player doesn’t work very well. There’s no need to analyse the game, it’s a story we’ve all seen before. A slow start, followed by a bit of a fightback, ultimately ending in disappointment. Liverpool deserved the win, some horrendous officiating aside, and wanted it more. Yes Can should have been sent off, however it shouldn’t have needed a red card to ignite our performance with 20 minutes to go. We didn’t register a shot on target after our equaliser. Not one. Faith in the wrong players continues (Coquelin!), too much pressure on young players continues (Iwobi), it’s just a bit of a mess at the moment.
The last few months of the season are going to be highly fraught ones with some big games coming up. The board needs to front up right now and force Wenger into making a decision. Either he decides to stay or go. In my heart of hearts I’d love him to stay and win the league with us one more time, however it doesn’t look like he has the dressing room anymore, which means only one thing. Change is required. But in either scenario, the fans and the players need to know what is happening in order for succession/future planning to take place effectively. If he is to stay then the contracts of existing players and the search for new ones can begin, if he is to go then the succession planning can begin. The rallying of fans behind him will more than likely happen, however if nothing is done then it’s an environment that will only become more and more poisonous to work in. For Wenger, the players, the fans, the board, everyone. The only reason that I can think of as to why nothing has been said is purely because there isn’t a successor in place. Imagine Wenger announces he is to leave, yet no successor is in place – does that help the Ozil and Alexis contract situations, nor some of the others that are hanging in the balance. Additionally it gives the impression that we as a club don’t quite know where we are going so doesn’t really appeal to many players that we might be interested in. The whole situation points to an indecisive board and it’s the board and their lack of planning that has left us where we are. In a speeding car, with no breaks, about to hit a wall.
Where to from here? The truth is I have no idea, but what I would really like is for the board and Wenger to say that this will be his last season in charge followed by the news of his successor to kick off from day one of pre season. That is exactly what is required for the club to be able to move forward and also to unite the fan base. I’ve never been a Wenger out man nor will I ever be a part of that ‘camp’, however as @Gunnerblog put it so perfectly; I love Arsene but I love Arsenal more. The club’s future is at stake and it’s a little more important than one man’s pride, no matter how great that man might be.
Clarity is what I and many others are asking for. I hope it’s provided to us swiftly.
Have a great week folks.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.