Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whither Arsenal?

After yesterday's fascinating discussion on World Soccer Daily with the Arseblogger, I thought it might be interesting to start a thread on the future direction of Arsenal Football Club. I hope the resident Gooners on LOB won't take offense, as I certainly only have the club's interests in mind. I've always had soft spot for the Gunners and, in the current era of ManYoo dominance, only hope that they can challenge for trophies in the near future. But that will take a complete regime change at the club IMHO, starting at the top and including a wholesale change in playing personnel. After four years in the wilderness, Wenger needs to go and he should feel free to take Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and William Gallas with him. That should give the club plenty of cash to get some proper strikers and at least one world class central defender in.

Your thoughts, gents?


Blogger gooner71 said...

I haven’t been able to download the Arseblogger interview, here’s my take on this question.

At the end of the 2007/08 season, he could point to horrible injuries-Eduardo and horrible refereeing decisions-the Liverpool SF’s for why we came away with nothing then. Arsene gambled in the make-up of the squad, gambled on the success certain players, and suffered key injuries that took us out of contention this year.

I would estimate that it’s not time to ditch Arsene because there really is no-one available that we could bring in that would do a better job with the squad we have. Managerial stability too, is key in the world Arsenal inhabits.

I would further suggest if Pat Rice is retiring, Wenger will bring in the successful under-17s coach, Steve Bould, and as a consequence, we’ll be more stalwart at the back. Bould can now demand a big role in training the team and perhaps help Wenger who has a tin-ear when it comes to appreciating defenders. I don’t think with Bould would make the mistake of only freshening up the back four with the Silvestre or of blooding the promising Gibbs next to him.

Wenger now also has a director of football, Ivan Gazides, who was brought in to take care of non-football matters that Wenger was handling. Gazides so far has impressed and he’s regarded as dealing tough with Zenit over Arshavin’s transfer.

Wenger knows he misjudged Flamini’s importance to the team. He saw Flamini as a bit player whose ability Wenger didn’t rate highly enough. When Flamini decided that he was better off elsewhere, Wenger saw in the squad young and technical players ready to break through. One, Diaby, couldn’t have helped but remind him of Patrick Viera. I don’t think he imagined that he’d be as injury prone. I think he had too high an opinion of Song, but even he did well from Christmas until March or so.

Wenger’s recent statements about how he misjudged how soon this group of young player would win something mean that he knows he blew it by choosing to put all of his resources towards first winning the CL, and then into finishing 3rd when the FA cup would have at least given the team the experience of winning something and having that under their belts for the next campaign.

Arshavin’s immediate impact must also remind Wenger of the necessity of blending in experienced players along with fantastically skilled kids. At the start of the season he deflected his lack of new signings by remarking that a new superstar player would retard the growth of the players he had. Arshavin can’t have not convinced him that bringing in a key quality player lifts the play throughout the team.

Adebayor’s gutless performances must surely mean he’s gone. Silvestre will go too. I imagine that some of the young guys who didn’t take their chance like Denilson and Diaby may go as well. I suspect the club will be looking to profit on one or two players like Vela or Merida or even Clichy or Bendtner if offers of 8-10M come in.

Rather than changing the manager, we need to bring in new players. I expect that we’ll buy a classy, experienced central defender and Xabi Alonzo-Marcos Senna-like midfielder from somewhere. I even suspect we’ll splash out a decent sum replacing Adebayor with someone like Santa Cruz, Anelka, Benzema, or even Podolski, but it will be a surprise when it happens because it won’t be the guy that the NOTW or the Mail says its going to be.

I think RVP stays unless a silly amount of money is thrown at him by a Spanish club. I don’t see that happening. Eduardo should have a bigger impact next season. Rosicky will likely return. Bendtner got 13 league goals this year and he’s 21. I certainly wouldn’t bet against him having a 2007/08-Adebayor-like-haul next term.

3:18 PM  
Blogger gooner71 said...

Just finished this and he touched on Gallas and Ushmanov that I didn't comment on.

I too think that Gallas will leave. He'd leave anyway because Arsene doesn't keep players his age around except on reduced-time and salary contracts. But having been stripped of the captaincy, he spent the rest of his time playing as well as he could so that he could leave. I'd be shocked if he stayed.

Ushmanov is a different story. I don't think there's any question that he'd leverage any majority share purchase which would endanger the club debt even more. But I think Arsenal fans have to get their heads around the idea that it's not going to remain "The Bank Of England" much longer. Silent Sam is the thin end of the wedge and I'm sort of ok with that. I'd hope we bar the door to disreputable characters like Ushmanov and outright criminals like Shinawatsera, but I'm resigned to having the family held nature of the club die out.

3:53 PM  
Blogger The Blue Devil said...

IMHO, Wenger's fatal flaw is that he wrote off English players after his early experience with the Tony Adams drinking society. After that wave of players retired or moved on, Arsene swore off them for good.

All the other high quality international managers in the Premiership understand the need to have a solid English spine to a Premiership team. If you look at all of the other top sides, they all have a core of inspirational English (JT and Lampard at Chelski, Carra and Stevie G. at Liverpool, Rio, Carrick and Roon at United).

At this point, what was an initial quirk has hardened into a philosophical and I can't see Wenger shaking it, which is why he has to go. Otherwise, he'll continue to try and craft a winning side from young, Continental lightweights who he tries to mold in the positions he needs to cover. He's done that very well in the past but at htis point it's catching up with him and there's no making up for a proper striker or a proper center back.

11:08 PM  
Blogger gooner71 said...

JT and Carra would be held in the esteem of Gallas if it were not for Essien and Carvallo, and Agger and Alonzo saving their duffer bacon countless times per game. There is one completely solid English defender at the moment and that's Rio. Period. Lampard is skillful enough to play for Arsenal, but Arsenal would have to dumb down to incorporate Gerrard's game. It might work, but what we do now certainly wouldn't.

It's not a blindness to English that's Wenger's failure. For a start, English is too expensive for Arsenal in our present financial state. And English lets him down. Bentley, and Pennant are the extreme examples of English players nurtured along, but who are just too thick and unprofessional in outlook to keep around. Arsene cleaved them off the team for the same reason I think that Kieran Richardson was cut off at Man United. All three of these guys turned out to be reasonably skilled, but complete dip-shits. We're not missing Steve Sidwell or Justin Hoyte or Paolo Vernazza (English) either.

I still contend that as important as getting the players in to fill the holes in this team is getting in a #2 to Wenger who can cover up Arsene's tin-ear about defensive play. If we'd played a season with Altentop paired with Kolo, and Alonzo paired with Cesc, that would not have been any more English, but a hell of a lot more solid.

10:52 AM  

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