Saturday, February 16, 2013

If Arsene Wenger Were Sacked Today...

Today, Arsenal crashed out of the Football Association Cup, England's national soccer tournament, losing to Blackburn Rovers, 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium, at home.

Barring a Champions League miracle, that's 8 full years without a trophy, and it will most likely extend to 9 years before we could win something next year. This, after manager Arsene Wenger had guided them to 7 trophies in 8 years: 3 Premier League titles and 4 FA Cups.

This was the worst Arsenal loss since I began watching in 2008. How can that be, when it was only 1-0? Simple, actually: There was plenty of reason to believe we could have won this game, and gone on to win the biggest sports prize in the land, the FA Cup... and it's not just that we didn't, and lost our best chance for a trophy, but how.

It was a home game against a second-division side. We had our usual heavy advantage in possession, about 70 percent in the first half. And we got 16 corners. You would think that, with that many corners, we could score on at least one of them.

But look at what the players did:

* Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was called on, really, to do one thing all game long, and he blew it, knocking away a Blackburn shot, causing a rebound that led to the only goal.

* Centreback and team Captain Thomas Vermaelen, again, wasn't very good.

* Midfielder Abou Diaby, whom I've ripped mercilessly for his pathetic passing, worked his ass off, and got 4 shots, 2 of them pretty good. But he had a poor game. By his standards, it was a good game, which is simply not good enough by a real player's standards.

* Midfielder Tomas Rosicky, aside from his shot that hit the crossbar and almost did a "Geoff Hurst," looked like a man who should have retired 2 years ago.

* Midfielder Mikel Arteta was anonymous again. This is a leader? This is a guy with dedication, with commitment? All he did today was pick up a paycheck. If I'm the manager, and I get an offer for at least 7 million for him, I take it.

* Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did not have a very good game. He should have been subbed off for Jack Wilshere much sooner. This mistake is down to the manager.

* Midfielder Santi Cazorla was also brought on too late. He could have come on for Rosicky at the half. But, as always (except for one time with Denilson, emphasis on the "nil"), Wenger doesn't make halftime substitutions except for injuries.

* Forward Lukas Podolski was left on the bench. Gee, I wonder what Podolski, who plays the exact same position, could have done instead of Gervinho? This is also down to the manager, who was resting key players ahead of Tuesday night's Champions League Round of 16 clash at home to mighty Bayern Munich.

* Forward Olivier Giroud barely touched the ball in the first half. Maybe he missed Podolski and/or Walcott.

* Forward Theo Walcott was also brought on too late. He could have made a difference. This is also down to the manager.

* There was no sign of centreback Per Mertesacker, not even on the bench. This is also down to the manager: You think a 6-foot-6 guy might've been able to head one of those 16 corners in?

* No sign of midfielder Andrey Arshavin. Even rusty, he could have done better than Gervinho.

* And then there was attacking midfielder Gervinho. Last season, his first with Arsenal, he got off to a great start, then went away to represent the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations, missed a penalty in the Final, and came back to London with his confidence shattered. We all thought he might do the opposite this time, that he'd come back from the ACN and regain his skill and his confidence. Instead, he did the same things he was doing before he went down there. Hesitations, bad passes, missing a sitter.

This was, without doubt, the worst game I have ever seen by an attacking player for Arsenal. What was it Eminem said? "Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip?" This game was Gervinho's moment to seize, to show that he still deserved to wear the Cannon. And he blew it.

Referee Mike Dean, again, screwed us over, denying a stone-cold-dead penalty. But even if it was converted, all that would have gotten us was a replay at Ewood Park, and how optimistic would we be about that? No, blaming Dean, this time, does no one any good.

Look, I understand the need to rest good players ahead of a Champions League game, just 3 days away. But Wenger usually doesn't let Podolski play the full game anyway. It would have been so easy to make that one simple change: Take Gervinho off at the half, and let Podolski play 45 (well, 49) minutes, and let him score or create a goal, and it's 1-0 to The Arsenal, and the substitutions he actually made aren't necessary, the Blackburn goal probably doesn't happen, and we're through to the Quarterfinal, with just 3 more games to win, and we raise the Cup at Wembley.

This time, more than at any time since the 2010 game where Wenger sent out the kids (and a past-it Sol Campbell) away to Stoke and threw a good shot at the FA Cup away, Wenger blew it.

And it didn't have to be this way.  Boss, this one is on you.


For a while now, the Arsenal fan base -- known as the Gooners, a play on the name Gunners, from the cannon on the club's badge -- has been divided into the AKB, the Arsene Knows Best group, and the WOB, the Wenger Out Brigade.

The WOBs have demanded that Wenger be fired -- or, as they say in England, "sacked" -- in favor of Joseph "Pep" Guardiola, manager of "the best team in the world," FC Barcelona in Spain.

Except that, for all they have achieved, Barca have actually underachieved under Pep.  If they're that great, why didn't they won the Champions League every year he managed them? 3 straight La Liga titles, 2 Copas del Rey, sure... but while they won the CL in 2009 and 2011, beating the cheating bastards from Manchester United in the Final both times (not that Barca aren't also cheating bastards), they also lost CL Semifinals to Inter Milan in 2010 and Chelsea last year.

Besides, that Barca team was not built by Guardiola: It was built by his predecessor, Frank Rijkaard -- who, it should be noted, has never won managing anywhere else. Both Rijkaard and Guardiola, who were great players, are, as managers, products of Barca's system; outside that system, Rijkaard hasn't won, and since Guardiola didn't build that team, it's hardly clear that he can manage a team without Barca's gifts (from their board and from UEFA) to trophies.

Now, Guardiola is out at Barca, and has already been handed the Bayern job for next season. So no matter how much the WOB wants him, they can't have him.

They've also demanded Louis van Gaal, who managed Ajax Amsterdam to the 1995 CL title and got Bayern into the 2010 Final... but is now managing the Netherlands national team, so he's unavailable.

They've also demanded Jose Mourinho, who's won the CL with Porto of Portugal in 2004 and Inter in 2010, and led Arsenal's London competitors Chelsea to Premier League titles in 2005 and '06, and got Real Madrid to the La Liga title last year. But he wouldn't take the job: If, as is currently believed, "The Special One" is out at Madrid at the end of the season, whether they win the CL or not, he's the favorite to become the next manager at one of the Manchester clubs, as Manchester City are believed to be about to fire Roberto Mancini (even though he got them their first League title in 44 years last year and their first FA Cup in 42 years the season before that), and it's no secret that Mourinho wants to succeed Alex Ferguson, Sir Gumchomper himself, at Man U.

They've also demanded Jurgen Klopp, who has won the last 2 Bundesliga titles in Germany with Borussia Dortmund -- although they haven't done too well in CL play, either.

In spite of today's result, I've been in the AKB all along. There are some things that Wenger does that drive me crazy: His too-late substitutions, his refusal to trust certain players, his trusting of some players well past the point where it would have been sensible to sell or release them, and his habit of letting star players whine their way out of Arsenal due to money or "lack of ambition": Patrick Vieira in 2005; Ashley Cole, Robert Pires and Sol Campbell in 2006; Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg in 2007; Gilberto Silva, Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb in 2008; Kolo Toure in 2009; William Gallas in 2010; Cesc Fabregas, the man the team had been built around since 2005, and Samir Nasri in 2011; and Robin van Persie and Alex Song last summer.

In spite of all that, I have stuck by Arsene Wenger, for 2 simple reasons:

1. He has won before, so it stands to reason he can win again. And

2. There really isn't a better option available.


Let us suppose that the WOBs get what they want. Let us suppose that Wenger is sacked today, and, to use possibly the best example (assuming he would leave Dortmund to come to Arsenal, and Arsenal were willing to pay the compensation that Dortmund would demand), Jurgen Klopp is brought in.

And Arsenal finish... 6th.  (At the moment, they're 5th.) No Champions League for the 2013-14 season. No Europa League, either. And since we're now out of the FA Cup, we no longer have the option of the back door into the Europa League.

Okay, Klopp couldn't be expected to fix it all at once, right? The Wenger Out Brigade are willing to give him the patience they haven't given Wenger.

And let's suppose that, in the summer transfer window, Klopp brings in players he knows well. From his own club: Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Błaszczykowski (these 2 as replacements for Podolski, Giroud and Walcott up front), Hummels (to replace Vermaelen at the back, as Vermaelen is either moved down to replace Johan Djourou or Sebastien Squillaci, who would be dumped).

Let us also suppose that Bayern, for whatever is left of that 70 million pounds the Arsenal board of directors supposedly has just sitting around doing nothing, is willing to sell us Manuel Neuer (to bump Szczesny down to Number 2 goalkeeper, to replace Lukasz Fabianski or Vito Mannone, who is dumped), Philipp Lahm (to replace Bacary Sagna, who allegedly wants out, at right back, with Carl Jenkinson as a capable backup), and Mario Gomez (to replace Gervinho and Arshavin, who are both sold, at left wing).

It takes the first half of the 2013-14 season for these players to settle in. So now it's February 2, 2014. Arsenal are out of all the cups -- no European football, and already knocked out of the League Cup and the FA Cup -- and are 8th in the League. In other words, getting worse.

If Wenger were still the manager, the WOBs would be spitting blood. But in the transfer window that just closed, Klopp has "spent some fucking money." He has spent £60 million for Neymar, the mercurial, high-strung, strange-haired, but high-scoring Brazilian star.

It's a big Sunday afternoon match, and Neymar is making his non-Brazilian debut, his 1st senior club match for anyone other than Santos... away to Manchester United. The whole world is watching.  And he's driving forward, and Man U's terrifying midfielder Nemanja Vidic is covering him, and clips him, and he goes down in the box. A-ha! An obvious, stonewall penalty!

Wrong! Referee Mike Dean (of course, it was going to be Dean assigned to Man U vs. Arsenal at Old Trafford) gives Neymar a yellow card for diving! Neymar screams at Dean, telling him he didn't dive, and Dean then gives him a 2nd yellow for "dissent," and sends him off. And, within 10 minutes, a tight 0-0 draw becomes 2-0 to ManUre, the 2nd goal coming on a Wayne Rooney dive that Dean allows to become a Rooney penalty.

Arsenal's best chance to get back to respectability this season is shattered. Neymar is suspended for 3 games, which end up being a home draw to London club Fulham, an away loss to North London arch-rivals Tottenham, and a home loss to Manchester-area club Wigan Athletic that leaves the Emirates crowd booing like never before.

Now, more than any Arsenal manager ever, Klopp has followed the WOBs' demand of "Spend some fucking money!" And it hasn't worked.

March 1, 2014: Arsenal are home to Liverpool, and there's a Black Scarf march, with KLOPP OUT! signs all over the place. Sky Sports and TalkSport are full of people saying, "Arsenal need to get the fuckin' Krauts out of the club and get some Englishmen in there. And that fuckin' Neymar! Why did that fuckin' Klopp spend 60 million on that piece of shit?"

You know, the way they used to yell at Wenger for relying on his fellow Frenchmen.

Arsenal finish 5th. Santi Cazorla and Kieran Gibbs put in transfer requests.

However, there is still a majority willing to give Klopp a chance. After all, he's had 1 one full season, and has spent only £150 million on new players.

September 6, 2014: The 1st Saturday after the summer transfer window closes. Liverpool, needing cash because their owners are throwing money away trying to fix the Boston Red Sox, sell us Raheem Sterling. Patrick Hermann comes in from Borussia Monchengladbach. Giorgino Wijnaldum, the hero of the Netherlands' recent World Cup win, is purchased from Rotterdam club Feyenoord.  Julian Draxler is brought in from defending Champions League winners Schalke of Gelsenkirchen, Germany, having turned down both Manchester clubs and Real Madrid because, he says, "I believe in Arsenal."

With Newcastle United dropping toward relegation, owner Mike Ashley needs money badly, so he sells us Hatem Ben Arfa. And, needing a defender after yet another Arsenal injury crisis, Klopp finally listens to the people demanding "English defenders," and banks on the Southampton-to-Islington connection working again, and brings in Nathaniel Clyne.

May 16, 2015: Arsenal have finished 6th. Have crashed out of the FA Cup in the 4th Round, losing to Sheffield United. Have crashed out of the League Cup in the Semifinal, losing 1-0 away to Hertfordshire club Watford, and only getting a 0-0 draw at home. And, tonight, having gotten all the way to the Europa League Final -- the WOBs reminding us that, unlike Bertie Mee and George Graham, Wenger never won "a European Trophy" -- Arsenal lose to Romanian club Cluj.

Klopp is sacked.

Seven days later, Paris Saint-Germain win the Champions League. All the available money to spend has paid off in the 1st-ever French treble (Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Champions League). Their manager raises the European Cup, and afterward he tells the press, "Now, I can retire on top, and with a clear conscience." When asked if his previous club can return to glory anytime soon, he says, "Can that happen in the next few seasons? No, I do not see it."

Of course, that PSG manager is Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal offer Jose Mourinho "total control" if he will leave the team that just lost the Champions League Final, Anzhi Makhachkala, of the Dagestan region of Russia. He tells majority owner Stan Kroenke, "Shut up, Stan!" Then he takes the job at Barcelona, after a string of 4 seasons in which Barca have won just 1 La Liga title and have not reached the CL Final at all. Former Arsenal golden boy Cesc Fabregas, who whined his way out because he was homesick, puts in a transfer request, a rat jumping off the sinking Catalonian ship.

Arsenal hire Malky Mackay, who in the past 3 seasons (2013, '14, '15) has gotten Welsh club Cardiff City promoted to the Premiership, won each of the domestic cups once, and gotten them into the Europa League with a 5th place finish this past season -- one ahead of Arsenal.

Rumor had it that they had to go for him because, otherwise, he would take the Tottenham job, after former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was sacked for the 2nd time, having gotten them relegated and put into administration. Granted, MacKay is not English, but he's at least British, which is close enough to satisfy the troglodytes.

Mackay calls Special One and asks how much he wants for Fabregas, now 28 and the Captain of the Spain national team, which was shocked by the Netherlands in the '14 World Cup Semifinal. "I want £50 million plus Neymar," Mourinho says. In other words, £50 million plus the player on whom Klopp had spent £60 million. Mackay goes for it, and brings the prodigal son home.

May 15, 2016: The season ends, and Arsenal finish 7th. No cups. No qualification for Europe in the 2016-17 season. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain puts in a transfer request. He tells the media, "It's not about the money." Man City manager Pep Guardiola and Man United manager Darren Ferguson (who has finally succeeded his father) bid for him, and he goes to City for £70 million.

May 20, 2017: The FA Cup Final is held at Wembley Stadium. Arsenal, who finished 9th in the League and crashed out of the League Cup in the 3rd Round, are going for their 1st trophy in 12 years. Man City are going for the Double. The two Captains, Jack Wilshere and Vincent Kompany, get into a tussle. Naturally, Wilshere is sent off, but Kompany is not. In spite of this, the game goes to extra time, 10 Arsenal vs. 11 City. It goes to stoppage time in extra time, and penalties look likely, until Fabregas tries to backheel a pass to Sterling, but it goes to Sergio Aguero instead. And Samuel Eto'o scores the winning goal in the 123rd minute, 1-0 to City.

"MACKAY OUT!" is the chant from the Arsenal fans heading back to the Underground. Sure enough, he is sacked within days. Meanwhile, Tottenham have won the Championship (that's the 2nd division, after having been relegated after the moronic spending spree in Harry the Twitch's 2nd tenure as boss), and get promoted back to the Premiership, and their fans go on the Internet and remind Arsenal fans that they're "champions" and have "won a trophy."

On Match of the Day, Arsene Wenger, now 67 and retired from PSG, is asked what Arsenal need to do to get back into the elite. "It does not matter what I say," the old man says, ruefully: "They didn't listen to me in 2011 and 2012 and 2013, so why would they listen to me in 2017?"

No trophies since 2005 AND no Champions League play since the 2012-13 season.

Compared to that, how does sticking with Wenger look now?


looneygooner said...

What a useless lazy piece of writing, leave the club to the fans who care not some part time supporter who thinks he knows best, youn haven't got a fucking clue mate and people like you will never understand, as the idiot PHW said, "We don't want their kind over here", take that on board you deluded AKB moron

Uncle Mike said...

Lazy? Even if everything else you said made sense - and NONE of it does - you've seen how much work I put into it. To call it lazy makes you a goddamned liar.

You want "your Arsenal" back? The Arsenal that finished 4th, 10th, 4th, 12th and 5th in the last 5 seasons before Wenger? If that's what you want, then you're a hypocrite: If what Wenger has done isn't good enough for you, why accept less? Because that's what you'd get with any other manager, less.

Fuck off to Chelsea. You'll have to check the news every morning to see who your manager is, and to see if the law or the Russian Mob has finally gotten the owner, and you'll have a team full of moral slugs. And in the stands, you'll be surrounded by chavs and BNP types. But you'll have trophies, and you won't have Arsene Wenger to kick around anymore.

You stupid cunt.

Uncle Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.