Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end
Football for many of us has always been our escape from real issues of life. Lots of us follow teams we are not even remotely close to physically but mentally our proximity is just as close as a copulation session between two virgin newlyweds. After life hits you with all its knocks, the illusion that eleven players chasing a round leather ball for 90 plus minus can bring you some measure of joy or escape is all we seek. The problem is when that escape becomes a pain in itself.
Thankfully, for me. I have another escape, Music. While with football, I can’t control the events on the pitch, with music I have to pick what I listen to and instinctively I always pick a playlist that reflects my mood. For instance, though I like Grime, I lam less inclined to listen to Stormzy or Skepta after an Arsenal loss. Post the defeat to Liverpool, headphones on and the first song banging in ear drums is Dido. (All Good things come to an end) and instantly my thoughts went to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Escape? Not so much
Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end
The problem with Arsene Wenger now is for many fans the burning flames of support has turned to dust, we have moved from lovers to friends and now enemies, and certainly, it doesn’t even feel like its good things coming to an end. Bar our two trophies in the last 12 years, (except you are United and you count a community shield) we have done absolutely nothing.
The truth is many Arsenal fans understood for many years the club was in transition and what we really wanted was for the club to compete. If simply finishing in Champions League position was competing in the eyes of the club, it wasn’t for many fans. The new deals with Puma, some freedom from stadium debt, signings of Ozil and Sanchez and our FA Cup victories signalled a shift from the competing era to the challenging era.
This transition, however, has failed to materialise with the club perpetually failing to win the EPL or do anything in the Champions League it works so hard to get into. It’s hard to divorce the thinking that the whole effort to get into the competition is simply for the revenue that accrues from it and the extra marketing advantage it gives us. As long as these prerogatives are met, the owner seems not interested in other things football related and as such Arsenal, the Football Club has suffered while Arsenal the Business continues to remain profitable.
Ironically, while I don’t like Stan Kroenke the man, I am a supporter of his style of ownership. He realizes he has no knowledge of the game and what it requires to make a football club competitive so he leaves it to people at the club who should know. Therein lies the major problem with Arsenal, there are no people currently running the club who know about football. No one currently at Arsenal has any experience sacking a manager or even hiring one. Given the lack of a Director of Football position, no one at board level aside Arsene Wenger is responsible for ensuring the team itself is equipped to have the best talents it needs to be successful. And this suits only one man, Arsene Wenger.
This was Gazidis in 2013
“Now we are in that stadium, the first part of our vision has been realised,” we are at the stage where some of the commercial deals that were tied into the construction of the stadium, and enabled us to take that first big step, will be renegotiated.
“When that happens, we will take the second big step forward and that will be comparable in magnitude to moving to the stadium itself. At times it’s been a challenging project, but we will have catapulted ourselves into the elite clubs on the European scale and that, for us, has been what the last 10 years has been about.
“Very clearly, it will push the club forward and put us into the top five clubs in the world in revenue terms, which will be a fantastic position to be in.”
You can’t blame Gazidis for speaking about revenue, in reality that is his primary job. The question is have we met that objective? Table below shows our current standing globally with respect to revenue generation for football clubs
|Deloitte Money League Table 2015-16 season – the top 10|
|Teams (positions last season)||Revenue in €m (£m in brackets) 2015-16||Revenue 2014-15|
|1 (3) Manchester United||689 (515.3)||519.5 (395.2)|
|2 (2) Barcelona||620.2 (463.8)||560.8 (426.6)|
|3 (1) Real Madrid||620.1 (463.8)||577 (439)|
|4 (5) Bayern Munich||592 (442.7)||474 (360.6)|
|5 (6) Manchester City||524.9 (392.6)||463.5 (352.6)|
|6 (4) Paris St-Germain||520.9 (389.6)||480.8 (365.8)|
|7 (7) Arsenal||468.5 (350.4)||435.5 (331.3)|
|8 (8) Chelsea||447.4 (334.6)||420 (319.5)|
|9 (9) Liverpool||403.8 (302)||391.8 (298.1)|
|10 (10) Juventus||341.1 (255.1)||323.9 (246.4)|
Manchester United with its history and its well-oiled marketing machine surely deserves to be where it is, however the remaining clubs bar Arsenal and Liverpool have been able to replicate this revenue success with footballing success.
In the same year (2013), Arsenal spin doctor Ivan Gazidis also said the club’s potential could see the club compete with the likes of Bayern Munich, a club which generates its own income and isn’t reliant on sugar daddy funding. In his own words;
“We have got fantastic support from Emirates through the new deal we’ve done with them”, “We’re very confident with the new deals we’ve got coming through, although we can’t talk about that in any detail. That’s showing really positive progression. We should be able to compete at a level like a club such as Bayern Munich.
“I’m not saying we are there by any means, we have a way to go before we can put ourselves on that level. But this whole journey over the past ten years really has been with that goal in mind which is why I say that this is an extraordinarily ambitious club.
Source : http://news.arseblog.com/2013/06/gazidis-we-can-compete-like-bayern/
Fast forward four years after the statement
Bayern Munich – 3 Bundesliga Titles, 2 German Cups, One Champions League and 2 Semi-Final Appearances in the Champions League
Arsenal – 2 FA Cups
We play Bayern Munich again on Tuesday in the second leg of our Champions League tie after the hammering we received away in Germany. The difference in class between the two teams was as evident as night and day. While the Germans looked like a very well-oiled machine from back to the front, Arsenal was as disjointed as Donald Trump’s hair. The truth about the Bayern Munich team we played is that they were not necessarily coached singularly Carlo Ancelotti to play that way. What we saw was a reflection of years of quality coaching that had formed a unit of players that really understood what they were expected to do.
Contrast that with the Arsenal side we now watch, the team looks broken mentally. They look a complete shadow of the team that went on a winning run earlier in the season. They are currently characterised by slow starts and a total lack of direction of what they what to achieve and how they intend to go about achieving it. While the first half against Liverpool would have highlighted more recently, we have been playing this way for a while now. Watford, Everton, Swansea, Man United, Bayern Munich are perfect examples of games you will never want to watch again.
Something is broken and the man who is primarily responsible for fixing it doesn’t seem to have an answer and is not open to being questioned by anyone outside the club about his capacity to continue to lead this team.
“I’ve worked in football since 33 years of age. Now at 67 I have to convince people I know how to manage a football club.” – Wenger
Manage a football club? That was never in doubt. Coach a football team in 2017 to win titles? I am not so sure. What worries me just as much is if Wenger is this angry when posed with questions about his future at press conferences, does anyone inside the club hierarchy have the guts to question him? I very much doubt so. The owner and Gazidis’ preference still remains for him to stay despite the clubs results, how much of this is caused by fear of the man himself or lack of knowledge on how to go about replacing him, I do not know.
Wenger is still respected a lot around football circles and remains a personal legend to me. He needs to do the honourable thing and announce his resignation so that those of us who still love him all around the world and the Club can properly plan Thank You events in his honour. Ivan and Stan need to know above all that angry fans who are likely to protest on Tuesday still love Arsenal as a football club, it’s Arsene Wenger and them they have a huge problem with.
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