I hope this letter meets you well as I understand you’ve been having some bad days at the office… okay, A LOT of bad days at the office.
On a good day, I wouldn’t have bothered much, but alas, the ‘bad days’ have dragged on 7 years 7 months 33 days 2 hours 48 seconds and still counting!
I have no doubt about your managerial abilities, no doubt at all. You’re one of the best football managers to have graced God’s green earth; intelligent, driven, ambitious, resilient and diplomatic (maybe too diplomatic).
We’ve heard it on the radio, seen it on television and read it in newspapers and on blogs – “Arsene Wenger says he’ll spend big“, “Wenger to buy new players”, “Arsene wants to add two special players” – the speculation and your “want to’s” never stop. Not that I find anything wrong with wanting to buy new players; I dare-say that no team is ever complete in itself, new ideas and talents are always needed.
It’s not that I have any issues with your business model either, a business should be able to fund itself or else it’s not a business but a charity organisation. What I have a problem with however, is the way you go about handling these two subjects – purchasing players and the Arsenal business model – there’s no balance. At all.
Now this is the most difficult part – what comes first, the chicken or the egg?…
I’ll start anyway.
First, it’s our psyche. The psyche of the Board, the psyche of the players and even now, the psyche of the fans.
Our problem is more fundamental than just buying ‘big’, it’s more fundamental than sticking to one style of play.
A book I once read taught that once a man is defeated in his mind, he is well and truly defeated. We don’t play like champions any more! Just look at the matches with Swansea and with Chelsea on Sunday. It’s like we went in to take pictures and smoke cigarettes, and the twitter-sphere seemed to agree with me on that one:
— Austin (@Frimponged) January 20, 2013
Team selection all wrong for me today. Needed fighters & those committed to the cause. Rambo, Jenks and Ox over Diaby, Santi & Sagna for me
— Daniel Cowan (@thedanielcowan) January 20, 2013
The Board seem nonchalant, the squad seem complacent and the fans are beginning to hope for a Champions League spot and fourth place each season. This was unheard of 7 years 7 months 33 days and 2 hours ago and I refuse to settle for less than I settled for 7 years 7 months 33 days and 2 hours ago.
Arsene Wenger ( I call you by your full name right now ‘cuz I’m so totally serious), where is the drive, the ambition and the hunger you came from Nagoya Grampus Eight with in ’96?
The hunger to win, where is it?!
That hunger and ambition which led you to buy and at the same time raise a team of players who will forever (I believe) hold the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League? That hunger that won us 11 trophies under your management, where is it? The hunger that made Ferguson red in the face, the hunger that made us the toast of Europe, that hunger…where is it?
“Of course we want to win the league, but I think the most difficult thing for the club is to be consistent and we have been remarkably consistent. We lose the league to a team [Manchester United] who spends 50% more money every year – last year they bought a player for £30m pounds when they lost the championship. They will do the same next year and we [have] done miracles just to fight with them.” (Emphasis mine)
Remember when you said this Arsene?
We don’t even talk of winning the League any more.
As much as I hate to admit it, it seems to me that Ferguson’s the one doing miracles, the dude’s been bloody consistent. How the old man does it I do not know.
Have you ever asked yourself what he’s doing that you’re not?
Have you asked yourself how he’s able to constantly create in his boys the hunger to win?
How he is able to keep and draw out near stellar performances from nearly expired lads like Giggs, Scholes and Ferdinand? I’m not trying to compare you with him Arsene, but sometimes a person needs to sit down and ask himself some hard questions. Is he better than you Arsene? Is his squad better than yours? Are his fans more loyal and more passionate about their club than yours Arsene?! Tell me! (Do I hear silence?)
Well, I choose to believe this Arsene, nothing makes Ferguson or his boys or his fans better.
The players you bought when you arrived Highbury in ’96 were hardly household names when you purchased them yet, they flourished under your management; Ferguson is no different, he doesn’t splurge, he buys when he needs to.
The fans are the same and I want to believe you’re the same man… maybe it’s the Board that’s different, maybe priorities have changed.
Sometimes fans say we shouldn’t use Manchester United as a yard stick, they believe Manchester United are too strong a team. Fine. And Everton? And Tottenham? Surely you don’t want us to compare ourselves to the latter, that would be preposterous; I refuse to.
Just to let you know, buying ‘a special player or two’ WILL NOT solve our problems. Believe me, Neymar, Messi and Llorente upfront with Ramos, Alves, Luiz and Pique at the back will still not solve Arsenal’s trophy woes (yes, they won’t).
If these players get into Arsenal and carry on with the 1st half complacencies, lack of responsibility and ‘okay-with-4th place’ attitude, the very same problem would stare us in the face holding out a cup-cake with a stupid smile on its face; and somehow I believe you know this and deep down, some fans know this.
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
The problem however that most of us have is the many times when you said “You Would” and you didn’t. Arsene, you don’t play with peoples emotions like that. Demba Ba. Llorente. Zaha. Huntelaar. Nobody knows better than you that we need fire power upfront, nobody knows better than you that Theo Walcott (the upgraded and improved version) is NOT the answer to Arsenal’s blunt attack; you know this, I know this and the fans who can still think clearly and logically know this.
Furthermore, I notice that even when you do manage to buy players, you splurge on the midfield forgetting most times the front and the rear; why is this? I don’t want to dig up old dirt but it was one of the reasons the Judas who’s still the highest goal scorer in the EPL left, it’s also the reason some others might leave.
Arsenal legend Tony Adams totally agrees with me on this one. And so does Iain Macintosh:
Can you see how crappy our defence stats are?
See where the area where the most goals are scored?
Would you keep on experimenting like you are if your job was as unstable as that of poor Benitez?
Would you keep giving the fans the same lines you have for 7 years 7 months 33 days 2 hours 48 seconds if you weren’t sure your office keys would let you into the building the morning after the match with Swansea?
Look, I know there some things you know about the Board, the club and the squad that we’ll never know and that’s fine. However, I’m asking that you fix this, even if it means brainwashing the boys to believe they all have ‘Superman’ as middle names (because as a man thinks, so is he), even if it means putting aside your personal interests (we all know you do have personal interests in the club) and educating the Board about the club we were, the club we are and the club we want to be. Look at it through the eyes of fans who have hoped and hoped and maybe, sometimes, still hope.
Arsene, between you and me, we know there’s only so much people can take no matter how loyal they are, that’s why we have break-ups, separations and divorce. So, whatever it is you have to do, do it quickly Arsene, fix this.
Yours in football,
PS: If you need my expertise, you know where to find me.