Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Has Arsene Wenger Lost The Plot?

After their disastrous start to the season on Saturday Arsenal now head off to Turkey for a Champions League qualifier with a squad so thin they could struggle to field a team. There have been no arrivals of note this summer and their injury list is mounting by the minute. They have to somehow patch together a team that can bring back a result which gives them a chance of qualifying for the group stages.

The latest injury news would seem to indicate that only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missing from the squad which was available on Saturday and Nacho Monreal will return. There are quite a few players carrying knocks though and despite being in the squad there are still doubts over Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. All of them could well be available for selection but it's always a risk playing players who are carrying a knock.

There is no choice for Arsenal though with such a thin squad and virtually no players added to it over the summer. While almost all of the other Premier League teams have a week's rest between each game at the moment Arsenal have two vital games against Fenerbache to play. How the squad was allowed to reach this stage in the season without strengthening is anyone's guess.

That leads me to the blog title because Arsene Wenger is the man who makes the decisions at Arsenal and he seemed to be happy to wait until closer to the deadline day to make his moves in the market. I can't help feeling that he thought the side which finished last season so well was strong enough to make a real challenge this season and decided that he wouldn't add to it unless he got the right players at the right price. He has often said how only top, top players will improve his team, but those players cost top, top money.

Gonzalo Higuain was allowed to join Napoli as Arsenal concentrated on chasing Liverpool's Luis Suarez in the mistaken belief he had a release clause in his contract. A month later they have got no further with their quest for Suarez and don't seem prepared to up their offer to a level that would make Liverpool consider selling. While they have been chasing Suarez it appears that they decided to put all other potential targets on the back burner.

The lessons of two seasons ago don't seem to have been learned and Arsenal are making the same mistakes all over again. That summer Arsenal sold both Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas and did virtually nothing about strengthening their squad until the disastrous 8-2 defeat away to Manchester United. Then they went on a deadline day shopping spree which resulted in a few good purchases, but some pretty bad ones too.

They were in the market for any player they could get at the right price and it smelled of panic. This season the transfer window is rapidly approaching and Arsenal are again sniffing around for any player they can get their hands on at the right price. The most annoying thing for me is that Arsenal can afford to buy the quality they need but they just don't seem prepared to pay what has to be paid for genuine quality.

There are still players out there who could make a genuine difference to the Arsenal team and who could be bought if the right money was offered. Those players were available in June and July and are still available now and can be acquired if Arsenal truly go all out to get them. If they end up buying three or four reasonable players who will fit nicely into the squad but not actually walk into the team then they will have truly missed an opportunity to get back among the title contenders. 

What I also find hard to understand is that Arsenal allowed both Frances Coquelin and Ignasi Miquel to go out on loan before they brought players in to play in their positions. I have no doubt both of those players could benefit from the loan moves, but why were they not kept until closer to the deadline day just in case they were needed. With the current injury problems Arsenal have those two players could have at least shored gaps until the end of the month.

When Laurent Koscielny was sent off on Saturday Ramsey had to fill in at centre back and surely Miquel would have been a far better choice if he hadn't been shipped off to Leicester. I have no doubt Miquel wouldn't have been caught so badly out of position as Ramsey was when Villa broke to score their third goal on Saturday. I'm not blaming Ramsey though because he's not a centre back and shouldn't have had to have been asked to play there.

If I made serious errors of judgement in my job such as the ones previously made by Arsenal and then repeated them I would expect to be in a lot of trouble. It's one thing to make such serious errors of judgement, but not to learn from them and repeat them is an entirely different matter. If Arsenal end up partaking in another deadline day shopping spree it can be nothing but mismanagement in my opinion.

Whether the boss has lost the plot or not is another thing, but I'm not sure that he even knows what the plot is at the moment. Until the club can have the where with all to work out a cohesive transfer policy and follow it through then the fans will continue to lose confidence in the management. It is getting very close to the stage where even the Arsenal fans loyal to the boss have decided enough is enough and the next two weeks will decide an awful lot.

Arsenal could turn it all around and qualify for the group stages of the Champions League as well as beating both Fulham and Spurs before the window closes. However unlikely that sounds it is of course possible and the world of Arsenal would seem a much better place if they did so. They could also spend all of their transfer loot on the players that are needed and make a real challenge in the league for the first time in a few years. 

That scenario seems highly unlikely at the moment though but it was the one sold to Arsenal fans at the beginning of the summer when it was season ticket renewal time. If the club fail to live up to those promises there will be an awful lot of very unhappy fans who will not forgive what has happened. It's a scenario I really don't want to see but it's one that's becoming increasingly likely. 

Ideally I would like to see Arsene Wenger lead the club forward by investing the money the club has properly and bring the glory days back. There was a real opportunity to make that happen this summer and that opportunity hasn't completely gone yet but the likelyhood of it lessens almost by the day. 

In summation I don't think he has lost the plot but it's quite possible he has got severe writer's block with his publication deadline approaching. The money has been paid up front and if he can't overcome his block then he'll have to hand it all back. If Arsenal don't make the Champions League group stages and drop out of the top four then the financial consequences could be just as severe for them.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. I genuinely believe Wenger has a mental health problem. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder targeted on money. He cannot spend it because he is internally challenged by his disorder. As such he should not be leading the transfer side of the club. We should have a director of football and then Wenger can coach. The man is obviously troubled and should not be in charge of our beloved club. He needs therapeutic intervention, but he also needs to leave quickly or we will be in serious trouble. With Spurs buying Erik Lamela, one of the best prospects in World football, and Willian too, I am feeling sick to my stomach looking at the business they are doing. We have done NONE.

    1. They haven't sealed either deal yet but surely if we have ambition we should be trying to get in for those players before them.

  2. I agree with all you say except that you only tell part of the story. The club is complete disarray due to incompetent mismanagement.
    Have you see what has been happening to the under 18s. Losses to Luton and Colchester 6-0 and 7-0. Liam Brady gave 1 year's notice but has not been replaced.
    There is something wrong with the medical team, Wilshire not playing for 2 years, Vermalen out for a year, Rosicky 2 years and so on.
    They do not have a clue how to negotiate. If you want to buy someone, agree with the player and then talk to the club, not through the publicity department.
    Where it will all end I do not know but any success this eason will be a miracle.

    1. There's an awful lot to be done at all levels in the club but once the first team can be sorted out I will be happy for the moment at least. I'm not so sure the medical staff are to blame but Arsenal seem to have so many long term injuries that it's very strange. I agree that any success this season will be a miracle and it's not a nice feeling to almost write the season off in August.

  3. He has lost the plot since 2004 and not 2005. The FA cup win was fluke.After that he started by buying one wc kid after another.
    It has been a failure and yet he shows no sigh of giving it up.
    Given his track record these last nine years it is surprising he has not been sacked.He will be axed one of these days if the gunners continue to struggle.
    Anyone can see the probles in the team from defence to attack.He has refused to fix them putting his trust in those whom he had bought. Diaby is a good example. Injury prone and inconsistent.
    When you see how other teams score its laughable why the gunners can't do likewise.It's due to Wenger's insistence on scoring the perfect goal.The gunners merry passing in front of massed troops is a joy for counter attacking team. '
    Arsenal may dominate in possession and shots but goals win games. I am afraid he has lost it and shd go asap before he brings more misery to Arsenal. He has lost the trust of most fans.

  4. The inadequacies in the transfer market tend to overshadow the bigger problems the club has and to be honest everyone focusing on one area of ineptitude is allowing an incompetent manager to continue mismanaging other areas.

    It's been mentioned above the state of the reserve and academy teams. Teams that fall under the remit of Arsene Wenger, like everything to do with football at the club.

    The fact is that in recent years we've been beaten in a Cup Final by a Birmingham side on their way to relegation, beaten in extremely winnable cup competitions by Blackburn and Bradford, beaten at home in the league by sides like Hull, Swansea and Aston Villa and destroyed by sides like Schalke in Europe. None of those teams come anywhere near us in terms of resources, wages OR transfer fees. They weren't all the result of fixture congestion, injury crisis or bad refereeing.

    Arsene Wenger had early domestic success with exceptional players, the main part of which were made up of French players that he knew from Clairfontaine and other clubs rarely looked abroad when compared to today. He also has a couple of strokes of luck when Kolo and Lauren turned out to be excellent players in positions they were in no way intended to play and Sol Campbell refused to leave London. Since the decline of French football in the mid-2000's and other clubs developing their own scouting systems Wenger has found it more and more difficult to find and secure these players. This lack of players has simply highlighted the fact that he is indeed a very poor manager. The incompetence in the transfer market is stunning, and being as it was Wenger that assumed the power that David Dein left behind and essentially acts as a Manager and Director of Football it's clear where the blame lies there, but for me the bigger issue is the complete incompetence displayed in his inability to put out a team that's prepared and ready to win. Phrases like 'playing with the handbrake on' and 'maybe we underestimated them' have become commonplace and I really don't understand who he thinks is responsible for adequately preparing the team.

    The bottom line is that although he won three titles and 4 F.A. Cups when he had by far the best team in the country (and even then he gave titles to United who had a far weaker team), he simply isn't able to compete when other teams players are as good as what he has.