Saturday 26 May 2018

The Post Wenger Arsenal Years Are Here

I am still mourning. I am still sad that Arsene is gone. I hope he comes back one day. As a fan; as an ambassador; or as the board chairman cum chief executive. I pray he doesn’t have to come back on a rescue mission as that will mean something terrible has happened. 

If you think I am living in the past and my head is stuck in the sand, I forgive you in advance. I pray Arsenal never experience a tiny fraction of the worst-case scenario of the recent change in management. 

Wenger leaving was always going to happen. In previous comments, Arsene had indicated a desire to retire sometime in 2021 or thereabout. So he was always going to leave but he decided to leave earlier principally given the way some fans have behaved. 

If you are a thinking person, you will see there is more to his leaving than this singular issue. But what is the point of dwelling on the underlying issues when Arsene himself for the sake of the club is keeping schtum for now. I hope one day, we will read all about it in the memoirs of Arsene, Ivan and any other major person associated with Arsenal.

Ivan Gazidis, Raul Sanllehi & Sven Mislintat deserve big commendations and massive accolades for the job they have done in conducting the recruitment process and in appointing a very good manager in Unai Emery. The less said about the part they played in the departure of the previous manager the better. 

It is now all about facing the future rather than holding on to the past. We have not forgotten the past but there is a new manager to support and the club is bigger than anybody including the shareholders. 

I think Unai Emery was very bold in the way he handled his first press conference following his announcement. To open up yourself to the potential ridicule by speaking in a foreign language that you are not totally comfortable with is high risk and Unai carried it off with aplomb. No doubt this is a sign of someone who is ready to take a measured high-risk action and achieve the desired high reward. 

I love Mr. Emery’s antecedents especially his time at Sevilla. That was the only time I knew anything about him. I wish to thank him for destroying Liverpool and J├╝rgen Klopp in that Europa Cup final in May 2016. 

Thank you Emery also for that 2:1 smack down of Mauricio Pochettino and Espanyol in December 2011. On behalf of all Arsenal fans, I hope you continue to beat down both men going forward. 

I am 100% certain, your numbers against Mourinho and Guardiola will improve significantly as Manchester United will continue to be poor or Jose will get fired and Guardiola will soon go for another sabbatical. 

I hope for great things from Mr. Emery. His record of dealing with the up and coming talents in Sevilla is a huge testimonial of what he can achieve with Arsenal. The absence of any destructive influence like Neymar or Cavani in the Arsenal dressing room is another reason to be hopeful.

While we are hopeful, we must give the new man a chance. The British football media and pundits have always insisted that new managers must be given three transfer windows before demanding results. I hope they extend the same courtesy to Unai Emery and not get on his back for the whole of next season and the first half of the following season.

We have also seen how the media have fawned over Mauricio Pochettino and have unanimously awarded him the title of the best manager in England for winning nothing and choking during semi finals and finals left, right and center.  Please in the name of all that is decent, kindly ensure that Unai Emery benefits from the same accolades irrespective of results. 

The most important group however who should never get on Mr. Emery’s back are the fans and the three executives who brought him in. If Arsenal are not achieving the desired results but are clearly not going backwards, it should be a time for introspection that perhaps we were wrong all along and not because the previous manager was past his sell by date or that the new man is not quite right. 

I fervently hope Mr. Gazidis will find a way to withdraw his comments at Unai’s first press conference when he said a team of Arsenal’s stature should not be 6thin the Premier League.  Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea have all finished lower than 6th. What is it in Arsenal’s stature that makes finishing 6thearth shattering?

If Mr. Gazidis had said a team of Arsenal stature should not be almost 40 points behind the league winners, I will not argue at all. You can finish 6thand be only a few points behind the winners in a competitive league. So 6this not the problem, the lack of competitiveness is. 

Manchester City, United, Liverpool, Chelsea, that club down the road will be back next season. Some of them will spend significant sums to improve their current squad. No Arsenal fan and no right thinking person will argue that City and United have more money than Arsenal and will outspend Arsenal again. 

Liverpool in the last two years have spent c£200m on Salah, Mane, Chamberlain, Wijnaldum, Van Dijk and have committed to spending another £55m on Keita this summer with perhaps £75m Fekir incoming.   Yes they have been helped by selling Suarez and Coutinho for significant sums. But they have only c£70m in debts compared to something like £300m debt at Arsenal. This allows for significant scope for spending which Arsenal does not have.   

Chelsea barring any issues the owner might have with the British government are likely to spend big this season after spending over £200m last season and over £100m the season before. Forget the over one billion pound debts hidden in its books as it is owed to one person and not to any bank. Don’t forget Chelsea are also quite adept at manufacturing record-breaking transfers to some obscure places. David Luiz to a Malaysian Club for £100m must be a deal they are working on at the moment. 

Now to that plucky club down the road. The one with no money according to gullible people. They have almost completed their tin pot stadium at a whopping cost of almost a billion pounds. That scummy lot have been fortunate to borrow money when interest rates are a pittance. They have recently given their manager a massive reward for failure. In the past two seasons, that club that does not spend money (according to the same gullible people) have spent over £200m in the last two years. 

The squad Mr. Emery has inherited needs a lot of improvement and also needs to deal with the expectation of the young lads to break into the first team. While I agree with Mr. Wenger that with the addition of two or three players, the squad will excel, I think even with the addition of the two or three, we will not equal Manchester City in squad talent or ability. 

Amongst the Top 6 goalkeepers, nobody will claim that Petr Cech is the best. Amongst the Top 6 Centre Backs, I would have backed Koscielny as the stand out boss two years ago; I don’t think he is close now. 

Bellerin is very exciting and has defended with minimal support from the players in front of him. Despite the undeserved criticism, I hope he has a long successful career ahead of him but as things stands he is not a standout right back in the Premier League. 

Monreal I will take ahead of any left back but Nacho is not getting younger. Arsenal forwards in Aubameyang, Lacazette, Wellbeck and Nketiah need no additions and might be the deadliest forward next season but we need a bit of steel in the midfield. Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil, Iwobi, Wilshere, Elneny, Mkhitaryan etc. are all very good at what they do and support the attack but we need some steel in the middle to help with the defence. 

I am excited at the new manager’s plan to play pressing football when we are out of possession and to be protagonists when we have it. I believe this will help ease some of the defensive pressures on Arsenal. 

If Unai Emery can make us more difficult to beat while playing attractive football, if he can challenge competitively for all four competitions we will be playing next season, he would have over achieved in my opinion. Top Four, winning trophies will be a bonus especially with the comments in this link that I definitely share 

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