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Monday 22 August 2011

Neptune Or King Canute?

There are still plenty of Gooners clinging on like grim death to the hope that the greatest manager our glorious club has ever known, might yet prove he’s not become entirely presbyopic - seemingly to the point of not being able to see the nose on his own face.

In the knowledge that the blow of losing two of our most virtuoso stars has been a problem, which has been on the horizon for so long, it seems inconceivable that Arsène has carried on regardless of this worst-case scenario, without any contingency plans? Recent rumours contend that the club’s failure to plug the most obvious gaps is a direct result of le Boss being at loggerheads with the board, both in his efforts to strengthen the squad and to provide the wage parity, which could prevent our remaining world class talent being cherry-picked at will in future, by those with deeper pockets.

With Arsène being such a steadfast company man, we'll never be privy to what goes on behind the boardroom’s closed doors. Nevertheless, while the media delights in portraying British football’s increasingly endangered Captain Sensible, more and more like a deranged Mr Magoo, we continue to clutch at the straw which protrudes from our manager’s sleeve, so long as the transfer window remains open, praying there’s a masterstroke up there which might stem the Tsunami of criticism.

Never mind the opportunity offered by the trip to Udinese of being able to see Venice before it sinks, I’m more concerned with the potential scuttling of the good ship Arsenal. The mascot for tonight’s game in Italy might’ve been best advised to pack his boots. Or perhaps better still, a bucket, so long as we continue taking on water with the disastrous deluge of injuries that threaten a premature Champions League exit. Far from being a much-needed fillip, survival in Europe is paramount, if the Gunners’ season isn’t to be grounded on the rocks on its way out of port.

With the rash of naïve crimes that have resulted in the suspensions that will see us travelling to Old Trafford on Sunday with a gossamer thin squad, if ever there was an outing that’s guaranteed to sift out the loyal wheat from the glory-hunting chaff, it’s this daunting trip, where only the bravest masochists amongst us will fancy the prospect of facing further ridicule in the North-West.

Even in the event that we scrape into the Champions league proper, with the lucrative cash-cow of the group stages providing welcome respite to what looks likely to be a season long struggle to keep pace with the domestic competition, with each passing day it becomes harder and harder to defend our esteemed manager, in the face of the mounting hysteria.

They were taking bets in the pub before Saturday’s game against the Scousers, on how long Manny Frimpong would last before being booked. But so long as the young Ghanaian tank remained on the pitch, there was a glimmer of hope that, combined with Vermaelen’s resolve, the Gunners have begun to acquire a long-awaited air of robustness. Sadly it’s not like we haven’t grown all too accustomed to dropping crucial points on home turf, but what was most disconcerting about this display was the patent absence of the glue that binds the Gunners disparate parts and which has in the past at least enabled us to dominate possession of the football.

While Arsenal fans have spent so long obsessing about our frailties at the back, suddenly without Fabregas at our fulcrum, there’s an apparent disconnect everywhere else on the pitch; seemingly with Jack Wilshere’s vision as our one and only hope of stitching the Arsenal back into a viable team unit. Not to take anything away from the Scousers first league triumph at our place in 11 years, but compared to the utterly demoralizing massed ranks of Mancini’s mercenary star turns, and in spite of Dalglish spunking up £43 million, Liverpool are still some way from looking anything like genuine contenders.

To my mind, there was no greater admission of our squad’s limitations than the involvement of Nasri and Bendtner, players who are likely to be pulling on a different shirt by next week. But with the inability or unwillingness of the likes of Ramsey, Walcott and Arshavin to stamp their mark and maintain control of the ball over Lucas, Henderson and Adams in midfield, you have to fear for how we might fare in the face of a stiffer test.

Whether Wenger is browbeaten into a bout of panic buying by the circumstances, or the mounting pressure (when he’s never buckled in the past!), what baffles most Gooners is how the likes of Fergie managed to conclude much of Man Utd's transfer business, even before last season ended: while our increasingly forlorn leader is left looking like the kid in the playground, picking over the left-overs, forced to choose from the ever diminishing bunch of ungainly bozos, who no one wants on their side even as a makeweight.

Silent Stan’s arrival was supposed to offer the Arsenal the same sort of success of some of his other “septic” sporting franchises. Who could’ve imagined Gazides’ “sustainable business model” would mean that after all these years of waiting for the pay-off, the Gunners would morph overnight, into the footballing equivalent of Walmart.

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Anonymous said...

Excellent, well written article. Enjoyed reading it.

Anonymous said...

Is Wrighty wearing a body bag or what?
Time for all Gooners to remember to support the team, no matter what. Remember when we were shite and we all sang anyway without any thought of winning the title after October. Those times might be coming back. But we still must get behind the team even if the manager has lost his conkers.
But yes,agree with you.

Zach said...

Bittersweet reading there. Great article but frightening times indeed.

It really grates that there seems to be insufficient will in the broadsheet press corps to investigate the board situation rather than keep re-writing the same "no experience, won't spend, stubborn and/or crazy Arsene" article that they've been rehashing since 2009, with the added pearl of the completed and pending departures of Cesc and Nas of course. Not only does it look as though there may be insufficient will from the board to up the wage levels and sign the "top quality" we lack, but is it also possible that Fergie's young charges, average age 22.9 yrs v Spurs, could expose the frailty of the youth aspect of the project as well. Will they have a lower average age on the day I wonder? Which would surely provide the press, should the result not go our way, with even more blown out coverage of Arsene's supposed unraveling, being that both the youth aspect and the inadequate spending will have been exposed in the northwest. I for one hope that one of these crack investigative football experts, with the considerable (phone-hacking??) resources at their disposal could enlighten us on the underlying reasons for our malaise, rather than delight in diagnosing the symptoms so plainly visible to all.

For what it's worth, know that the old lady and I already have a long-standing Wally World boycott in effect, but perhaps a massed boycott of Walmart by other Septic Gooners could force Stan's hand...? Shall I pen a call to arms Bernard?