It’s in our hands
This is going to be quite a long post so please bear with me. It will also be the first part of a 2 part trilogy (Stolen phrase from Poznan In My Pants (@PoznanInMyPants) the funniest Arsenal blog around).
Thankfully the cockerels choked again and Newcastle were unable to overcome Citeh (I was hoping for a draw as I don’t want City to win the premier league. I don’t care about Na$ri, I just don’t want players like him to be able to justify their money motivated moves with trophies). Going in to the final game of the season 3rd place is again in Arsenal’s hands but that is not what this post is about.
No. This post is about we the fans. Maybe some fans do not comprehend the level of influence we have over our club. There are many things that we do not like about the club that we can change if the majority of us spoke in unison and in some cases that is exactly what we are doing but in all the wrong ways.
I had some interesting twitter conversations over the weekend and the general themes are: Wenger doesn’t know what he is doing, our tactics were shit/we should be playing 4-4-2/We should sell Ramsey/Ramsey should never play for the club again/The Ox should start/Song is rubbish/Vermaelen is rubbish/Szczesny is rubbish/We need M’Vila/We need Hazard/We need Gotze/We need Vertonghen.
The one thing I haven’t heard enough of is what this post is about. We need to get rid of our fans.
We don’t need to replace the fans. Just convert them and make them supporters. The comebacks to me saying this at the weekend were all very predictable “We haven’t won anything in 8 years (7 but will be 8)” “We pay the highest price for our season tickets”.
I’m going to dissect all of this and hopefully appeal to the better nature of my fellow Arsenal fans and hopefully soon to be supporters.
Wenger doesn’t know what he is doing, our tactics were shit
This always amazes me. The man is our most successful manager ever, could lose the next 100 games and still have a better win % than any other Arsenal manager. He has brought a style of play and sophistication that Arsenal supporters of the pre-Wenger years would never have dreamed of. Has also qualified us for Champions League football for 15 years in a row having spent very little (net) and has given our club the lowest spend per trophy (£2.1m, the next is Utd with £8m) since 1992.
Wenger does know what he is doing but he did make a mistake yesterday and in every game since Arteta has been injured. His mistake has been playing Ramsey and there are two reasons behind that. Firstly, we have played all season with two deep-lying midfielders, Ramsey is not used to playing Arteta’s role however credit must be given to him for trying and actually making more tackles than Song in most of those games. Coquelin should have been playing in those games when fit. Secondly, Ramsey is completely off form and the fans are on his back every time he touches a blade of grass. Wenger should have removed him from selection for the rest of the season, let him get his head together away from the negativity of the fans (who would have forgotten to give him grief as he would have been out of sight) and start fresh in pre-season where he could pick up some form away from high pressure matches where the fans are constantly on a knife-edge.
Tactically that is his only mistake (I disagree with other things but wouldn’t call them mistakes) and I touch more on that over the next few points.
We should be playing 4-4-2
I do not necessarily disagree with this as this formation won us the most trophies but I do disagree that it is as easy as some would think. We cannot play a conventional 4-4-2 because we have no natural wingers. Not one player at the club is a natural winger except say for Ryo who is actually on loan. Theo and Gervinho are strikers who play wide or at the very least wide forwards. Arshavin, Benayoun and Oxlade-Chamberlain are not natural wingers either. Would you have played Pires and Ljungberg in central midfield and put Vieira on the right wing and Bergkamp on the left wing? I think not.
Wenger changed the system to suit Cesc and then he built a team around him and as a result when Cesc left the players that remained we’re best suited to a system that was missing its vital piece. Wenger did what he could to remould the team without changing the formation too much and we’ve done okay this season considering. The summer may herald a change in system but remember, if we go 4-4-2 we can only play 2 of Song, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky, Ramsey, Ox and Coquelin not to mention Frimpong, Eisfield or the signings of M’Vila, Hazard and Gotze that many want so badly.
I think that a two striker system would be a great plan b or against certain teams and that is one of very few tactical issues I have with Wenger. We have no plan b but if we did have one we certainly have the players to play our old formation of 4-1-3-2 which looks similar but is quite different to a conventional 4-4-2 with counter-attacking wing-play.
We should sell Ramsey/Ramsey should never play for the club again
This I feel is harsh. He is just out of form. Every player in the world, good, bad, terrible and the exceptional all have runs of bad form. Ramsey is unlucky that his run of bad form has come at a time when the squad is a little thin, we are desperately hanging on to our league position and the fans nerves are in tatters because of the topsy-turvy season we’ve had. Every time he makes a mistake the entire stadium boos him and every keyboard warrior and armchair supporters are screaming along with them. He may get paid a lot of money but he is still a person and not one of us would be able to perform to the best of our ability at our jobs if we had 60000 people screaming at us every time we stapled the wrong papers, sent the wrong email, laid the wrong brick or took a wrong turning. This is the power of the fans at its worst. We are just as much to blame for the poor performance of the team at home as the team are themselves but more of that later.
The Ox should start
This one always makes me smile. The kid is good, very very good but he is still just a teenager. I remember a 19-year-old kid looking like the real deal and showing everyone why Wenger bought him at such a young age. That kid is now called “Aaron Fucking Ramsey” to some fans.
Alex is a great little prospect, exciting and direct but we should not put too much expectation on him and just assume that he is the answer to any problem we face on the pitch. At the moment he is at his best when coming on late in the game, 60m+, not always from the start. He had a blinder against Milan but he only started because we were so short. At 18 years of age, with his body still developing it would be a mistake to try to get him to sustain that over a season. Wenger has been shrewd with him this year and I am glad because I wouldn’t want to lose him for a year like we have with Jack who incidentally also had to sustain a full season whilst still physically developing.
Song is rubbish/Vermaelen is rubbish/Szczesny is rubbish
Every player that has a bad game is rubbish to some fans and there are those that will claim to have said they were rubbish all along.
Song is not rubbish but he has fallen foul to the power of the fans. He is a player that did his defensive duties very well for a few years despite his roams forward that had many fans, including me, screaming “Song you muppet you’re supposed to be a fucking DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER, track back you cock”. This season he has played some delightful balls to Van Persie and the fans have been excited by this new found understanding. Song has picked up on this and now fancies himself going forward because the fans don’t scream at him as much. We’ve given him the idea that he can attack when his job is to defend. This is as much our fault as it is Songs.
Vermaelen is rubbish? If Vertonghen is so much better why is he 4th choice in the national team and Vermaelen is 1st? Vermaelen is a quality player, he has just had a few bad games. Have all Arsenal fans forgotten about this thing called form?
Szczesny is rubbish? This is total bollocks and 99% of the fans know it. Yes he made a howler against Norwich and it was very Almunia-esque but I put this down to two things. Firstly, he has become comfortable as no.1. Despite him saying he hasn’t I believe he has and I think we need an older keeper to come in to challenge him but also to help enhance his abilities. Schwarzer for me is an obvious choice. Secondly I blame Gerry Peyton. Every one of our keepers since he took over as GK coach has made similar handling errors as Szczesny did at the weekend. Coincidence? I think not. We need a new GK coach and a specialist defensive coach whilst we are at it.
We need M’Vila/We need Hazard/We need Gotze/We need Vertonghen:
Dave Seagar of http://1nildown2oneup.net (@goonerdave66) did a great piece a while back about the repercussions of signing M’Vila. I am still not convinced about Yann. Yes I know he has a lot of hype from ex-France Internationals and French Journalists but he still doesn’t dominate an inferior league the way Vieira dominated the premier league. Yes he has played well at international level but anyone who thinks they know anything about football knows that international football cannot be compared to league football. A few good international games does not mean you can sustain that for 38 games at varying intensity and at a much greater pace and against different styles. If we sign M’Vila we have to sell Song and probably Coquelin or Arteta. At £20m+ M’Vila is a big no for me.
We need Hazard/Gotze. No we don’t. Wenger would only play them on the wings and would that fit in with the 4-4-2 we all so badly want? I don’t think so. Should we spend £30m on Hazard only for him to force through a move to City a season or two later? No we should not. The guy is talented but he is a mercenary and we’ve had enough of them using Arsenal as a stepping stone to bigger contracts elsewhere. Gotze I would love to have because he is a quality player but I don’t think we need him and especially not for the £30-40m it would take for us to buy him. We need to think inside our price range. We cannot compete with City, Chelsea, United, Madrid and Barca on monetary levels and I will expand on this in another post.
Vertonghen is an option and someone I have changed my mind on recently. I didn’t think he had the versatility I believe we need from our next defensive signing but another excellent piece from Dave Seagar swayed my mind. What the fans have to understand though is that he will again be yet another player that will take 6-12 months to settle into the league. Vermaelen for me is suffering from 2nd season syndrome having missed his actual 2nd season. Koscielny was not great in his first year and Mertesacker has had his share of critics this year too. Vertonghen isn’t going to be an immediate answer. Someone like Jagielka would be because he is used to the league but he wouldn’t be a popular choice I don’t think.
The comebacks (“We haven’t won anything in 8 years (7 but will be 8)” “We pay the highest price for our season tickets”) I will expand on along with our ability to compete financially in part 2.
We have one game left to ‘save our season’ (a term used too much) and I am glad that it is away from the Emirates because too many times this season I think our fans have been more hindrance than help.
On Saturday the Norwich fans were louder than us. How can 3000-4000 be easily heard over 55000 Gooners? It’s a total disgrace and we should be ashamed of ourselves. I’m sure some of the 20000+ people on the ST waiting list would love to take your ticket and make more noise that you. Highbury was called a library for a reason. Let’s not give the Emirates the same reputation. Even when we have been loud it has been for the wrong reasons (5pur2 aside). Our fan power has been used far too negatively recently and it is affecting our players.
I’m confident that we will do the business this Sunday and am hoping that QPR can get a draw with Citeh and that Newcastle can beat Spurs to 4th and as with my last post I am already looking forward to next season.
Next year we can create a vocal fortress at the Emirates, we can carry our players through periods of bad form, we can intimidate opposition players into making mistakes, we can be the clichéd 12th man or we can continue to boo our players, goad them into prolonged periods of bad form, pressure them into making mistakes late in the game or give our opposition hope by turning on our own team.
We can be fans or we can be supporters. It’s in our hands.
Until next time! Thanks for reading. Please comment on this post, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan)
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