Arsenal’s 2011 Crisis – Who’s Really To Blame?

By on October 10, 2011

To most Arsenal fans the greatest source of dismay in 2011 is our sudden decline (ie. collapse) and undignified position in the Premiership. For me the next most frustrating area for debate is … whose fault is it ?

I must agree …. too much time, these days, is spent apportioning blaming. But it is indeed frustrating when the club’s affairs are so opaque that we – the die for the cause supporters – are unclear who is responsible for what! It was the same for years as a shareholder before Silent Stan Kroenke bought most of us out. The Annual General Meeting (for the people who owned the club) was a carefully staged affair – at which the Chairman deftly brushed aside anything awkward and concentrated on the harmless bromide.

Nevertheless ……

A) The Manager : –

There can be nil debate over who is ultimately responsible for playing issues E.G. : –

  • We move to zonal marking at set pieces and stay with a high defensive line in open play.
  • We will not stray back to 442 or 4411 or etc. We don’t do tactics, we let the other teams worry about us. (except that all the others know exactly how to play against us)
  • Both fullbacks – and the deepest midfielder – are encouraged to end up in or near the opposition penalty area … because the best form of defence is attack … and we will worry about breakaways later (!)
  • Arshavin and Walcott or Bendtner or Vela must play wide (ie. not in their best position) and try to work back down the flank (which they are not good at) because that is what our inflexible formation demands. Only one, isolated Van Persie can play down the middle.

Yes … there are highly experienced ex internationals on the coaching staff and yes … there is lots of consultation with le boss. But there is only one man really dominating and he ….. ” will never change my attacking principles.”

Equally, he will not buy a player as aged over 30 years – like Scott Parker – even when other Arsenal coaches, according to rumour, presented a video to persuade the great man that Parker was sorely needed. Spurs have picked him up instead and are prepared to amortise (say) £1m p.a. for a few years. But Harry Redknapp is not only very wide but very shrewd – and probably flexible. Mr. Wenger will not grant players of 30 plus a two year contract … irrespective of who he is, how good he is, how fit he is (eg. Robert Pires, bless him).

B) The Board of Directors : –

Meanwhile for a whole raft of financial matters the Directors are necessarily responsible.

  • The development of and funding arrangements for a wonderful Emirates Stadium … albeit with much input from Mr. Wenger on its design.
  • The decision NOT to offload the development risk / reward on the luxury Highbury apartments … to a developer – but to retain that exposure to the property market.
  • The universally unchanging, uninteresting and uncheap catering in every single stand. One can blame Arsene Wenger for a lot of things but not for that.
  • The semi egalitarian wage structure with a ceiling set at some £90,000 (?) per week with hardly any exceptions … while younger emerging players receive £40,000 or £50,00 or even £60,000 per week. It is said Danny Fiszman persuaded the Board of the merits of a jolly happy (and over comfortable) dressing room. We now see the demerits : we can’t pay a world class player as much as other clubs and we can’t shift overpaid under performers. I don’t know how far Mr. Wenger was enthusiastic about this wage structure but it could not have been introduced without the Board’s blessing and it has made life a lot more difficult for le Professeur – and for the supporters.

C) The Imponderables

Let us move on for the Directors seem to have been perfectly happy for the Manager to carry the can for as far as possible – without allowing the situation to be made clear E.G.: –

  • Was it all down to Le Boss that we refused to pay up to £4m in summer 2010 for a big, ugly, experienced goalie called Schwartzer ? Yes … it was a lot to pay for a 37 year old but Almunia and Flappy Handski gave away several points before we settled for the then number 3 keeper in late season 2010/11.
  • One understands, Nasri (and/or his agent) asked to negotiate a new contract in Autumn 2010 when he was assured a big wage increase would be organised. It is said he asked for this in writing but was never given it and lost patience some months later ? Was that down to Le Boss ? It sounds more like the Directors than the Manager.
  • It has to be mainly the Directors who insist that transfer money must NOT be reinvested till money from player sales comes in. This despite the fact that (say Fabregas and Nari) represented very firm collateral – and despite the damaging uncertainty thus caused.
  • Is this why we left it till the last 36 hours and 2 weeks into the new season before buying 4 more experienced players ? Was it the Manager or the Directors who needed to be convinced by an 8 – 2 caning that we had to recruit ? Of course it has been difficult to integrate all the late comers. Other clubs had weeks to train together!

At the end (or beginning) of the day … if there has been a key strategy to meet financial challenges – without a Usmanov – perhaps at its heart has been a determination.

‘To develop young players whose value, we hope, will appreciate while avoiding mature players whose value , we fear, will depreciate ’

Does this lie behind the obvious failure to blend youth with experience ? (as well as technique with power … and attack with defence etc.) If so, did the Board dictate to the Manager (which it is entitled to do) or did the Manager persuade the Board ? Or was it a joint effort ?

Whatever else the last few months have exploded the club’s plans and policies and goodness only knows what will happen now. If anyone can suggest the answers to some of these questions please respond … because I would love to know and so would many, many other supporters.”

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16 Comments

  1. Northbanksy

    October 10, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Ultimately the buck stops with the board, who are supposed to instruct the manager accordingly if they feel he’s not doing his job properly.

  2. Ibude george

    October 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Arsenal problems has just started by the time RVP leave in january then we be fightin relegation as no other striker has adapt to our 433 system. But we just need to sign three players in cahill,marko marin or marvin martin and eden hazard to RVP,Walcott and Vermealen to stay.

    • dawnho

      October 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      wat a vivid imagination.

  3. Olaitan

    October 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Arsenal problem will be solved by d grace of god tel winger to do his job..

  4. jaiye ige

    October 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Brilliant article.
    The BOD is our problem.

  5. Ibude george

    October 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    The systematical business oriented pattern Arsenal has been run for the past 6 years has cruelly be exposed. Everyone can see what I have been sayin for long that we have never replace henry,veira,toure,nasri,clichy,cesc,adebayor with the board changin Arsenal a manufacturin factory or feeder club with huge monetary profit indetriment of trophies or star players. Let us just try to avoid relegation this term and plan for next season by following the below points
    1-offload the followin mediocre players,they are eatin up our wage hence we can sign more players-almunia,fabianski(he can never be number one so was the point of keeping him),diaby,squillaci,djorou(loan),rosicky,benayoun(back to parent club),chamakh,park,denilson.
    2-extend RVP,walcott,vermealen and sagna contract
    3-sign cahill,hazard, martin or marin,schwazzer and another inteligent striker
    4. Push walcott to the frontline,as he is not multidimesional to excel there.we even hav hazard,ryo and chamberlain in the wing!
    5 send aneke,afobe,ozycup and ebicilo to english primiership clubs on loan in january to gain expirence like wilshere
    6 recal Iansbury,toral,ryo,aneke and afobe to the first team durin the preseason

  6. George ibude

    October 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    The systematical business oriented pattern Arsenal has been run for the past 6 years has cruelly be exposed. Everyone can see what I have been sayin for long that we have never replace henry,veira,toure,nasri,clichy,cesc,adebayor with the board changin Arsenal a manufacturin factory or feeder club with huge monetary profit indetriment of trophies or star players. Let us just try to avoid relegation this term and plan for next season by following the below points
    1-offload the followin mediocre players,they are eatin up our wage hence we can sign more players-almunia,fabianski(he can never be number one so was the point of keeping him),diaby,squillaci,djorou(loan),rosicky,benayoun(back to parent club),chamakh,park,denilson.
    2-extend RVP,walcott,vermealen and sagna contract
    3-sign cahill,hazard, martin or marin,schwazzer and another inteligent striker
    4. Push walcott to the frontline,as he is not multidimesional to excel there.we even hav hazard,ryo and chamberlain in the wing!
    5 send aneke,afobe,ozycup and ebicilo to english primiership clubs on loan in january to gain expirence like wilshere
    6 recal Iansbury and integrate toral,ryo,aneke and afobe to the first team durin the preseason.

  7. Domhuaille

    October 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Another fabrication by someone who wants to ¨blame¨ anyone but ideally Wenger and the Board and maybe a few players as well for our ¨collapse¨! The blame lies squarely with you bunch of shite writer(s) and posters who moan,groan,whine and find all sorts of negatives to thrive on. Why look to blame anyone, the season isn’t 10% complete, give AW and the gunners some time…it will work itself out.
    Half the shite written here is patently inaccurate or totally false. The writer and the posters have NO idea what the truth is and what is really happening at AFC but since when have these cretins ever allowed their ignorance to interfere with their prejudices?

  8. John

    October 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Poor article; conjecture, inaccuracies and a large dose of armchair management. I’m all for questioning what’s happening at Arsenal but please let someone who understands football and/or the running of an organisation do the questioning.

  9. The Gooner

    October 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I’ve been an Arsenal fanatic for 34 years and have seen a lot in that time.

    I no longer believe players like Walcott, Rosicky, Squillaci, Arshavin et al can win us the title.

    They’re not hungry enough and they’re not courageous enough.

    And anyone can see that Almunia, Senderos, Bendtner etc were way, way short of Arsenal standard.

    Chamakh is sadly also looking like wasted money.

    They’re all overpaid, spoiled prima donnas.

    And what’s with making Van Persie captain? A captain should always be a hungry, strong-minded defender or midfielder, who can lift his teammates.

    You never make a striker captain, simply because he is too far away from the cauldron of the match. This is Football 101 stuff.

    I had never been ashamed of Arsenal until that Manc u match this season.

    Every player who was there that day owes the fans big time.

    We’ll see in next season or so who are the men and who are the mice.

    Arsenal forever.

  10. moyeen

    October 11, 2011 at 12:04 am

    why he doesnt buy class players i do not understand.he could have bought Hazard,cahill,mavilla,benzema and probly the one of the greatest signing ever Mario Goetze he opted to buy after the thrashing knowing his jokers arent good enough.

  11. Mike Gunner

    October 11, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I say I blame Arsene for the decline.As to wheteher funds are available,I believe they are. The Fm blew it on kids.
    Actually the decline started from 2005. The defence was not fixed.You just have to have to recall the gks playing from 2003. Stack,Shamam (the Egyptian)Wright,to name a few. These together with Mannone,Almunia,Fabianski were not the quality custodians a club of Arsenal’s staure should have.In contrast the red face pushed out Carroll,and those not deemed to be fit to play for MU.Granted he had greater resources.
    Tactically the gunners play a onesided game:attack.Everyone joins in the attack bar the gk.Wenger is fond of indulging in 100 one hundred passes to unleasha shot.By then the opposition would have got got many players back to pack the defence.MR.Wenger,please watch how other teams score.
    As to the defence,conceding goals from set pieces and free kicks and corners seem to be a cancer afflicting the gunners the last five years and yet no c ure has been found.To compound it,Spurs winner is a typical goal conceded like the one to Dotmund and the Greek team and in games in the last five seasons.
    Thatswhy the fans are getting furious.These problems have been going on for too long Eithe Wenger changes his system or he will be booted out if he carrieson as if nothing has happened.

  12. Weslee

    October 11, 2011 at 1:50 am

    READ THIS
    “Even before [Financial Fair Play] we were of the view we couldn’t rely on Mr Abramovich for ever,” Buck told the Daily Mail.

    “We had to figure out a way over the medium term to stand on our own two feet. Maybe Financial Fair Play is making us do that a little bit quicker.

    “We have to up our sponsorship income. We have to reduce our transfer fees, reduce our payroll and up our match-day revenues if we can. Naming rights could also be important.

    “An academy costs maybe £5m a year to run, so if you can get maybe one player every year or 18 months into the first team, look at the transfer fees you’ve saved. The economics are pretty clear. Implementing it is much more difficult.”

    Sounds like they want to go the Arsenal route.

  13. Khan

    October 11, 2011 at 5:06 am

    This probably one the better written article on this issue. Arsenal board and everyone evolved need to think hard … how to make this club a melting pot of talent… we need to sell our ambition … there are players who don’t mind being on the bench of barca or real madrid …. or should i say they rather be there then come to arsenal … Football has change a lot from the last 10 years or so … Arsenal needs to change and join the big league … i was shock to read a comment from Gazidis that ” It will be not be a disaster if arsenal doesn’t make to CL next season ” … I mean not even 1/3 of the games are over … these people giving talk like this … Dear friends and my arsenal fc lovers … these cooperative f—k– will not change they sit in the director boxes have some nice wine and meal … and a true arsenal fan is furious be it on the t.v or in the stadium … I personally think a major shit is need at the very core of Arsenal f.c … before anything can be improved … !!!

  14. terry

    October 11, 2011 at 9:12 am

    i still think a lot can be achived if we play to our strengths… we have to accept that 433 is not the way to go… no one can gaurantee that 442 will bring success back to us but atleast we can try…
    flaws of our formation…
    high defensive line.
    very poor set peice play.
    we donot press the opponents when we do not have ball possession.
    RVP canot play lone striker.
    walcott and gerviniho not smart enough for wing play.
    no creative mid in fab mould.
    ——————————-
    442 RVP can get a partner up front.
    arshavin is the 6th best player in the world when he plays in his natural position.
    AOX our new recruit can be the best right winger/midfilder we hav ever had.
    we need not play a high def line.
    song and arteta would both fit perfectly in a 442 formation.
    only problem is who will play left midfield.
    my 442 line up:
    schazny
    kozzer mertesucker vermy santos
    AOx song Arteta walcott/gerviniho
    Robin Arsahvin

    subs:chamak, gerviniho, frimpong, yossi, rosicky, djouru, coquellen, ramsay, flappy

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