Monday, 24 March 2014

My dream Arsenal: one bereft of Arsene Wenger

For the first time since the Blackburn and Bayern nightmares, I have seen a remarkable acceptance from the majority that Arsene Wenger needs to leave from Arsenal. Of course, most of those perceptions might just change after we scrap a win against Swansea at home, but it's good to see Wenger at least come under long overdue intense scrutiny.

I felt, (and have done so for a year), that Wenger should have left the club at the end of the 2010/11 season. Losing the Carling Cup and capitulating in such stylish fashion (with a team that had Wilshere, Song, Robin, Cesc, Nasri, Koscielny, Sagna and Szczesny in their ranks) was not only disappointing, it was shameful and a disgrace to the name of the club.

I have maintained that regardless of winning the Premier League and the FA Cup this season, Wenger's position will remain untenable at the club. I don't have any personal agenda against the man, but I don't see why he deserves any more of Arsenal's time and resources. He's arrogant, money-oriented, a tactical joke, averse to changing his outdated mindset, living off past glories and out of touch with the modern world, to name a few faults.

Winning the FA Cup will not change one shred of Wenger's managerial mentality. One of the myths of ending our trophyless run has been that once we do so, an invisible barrier will be broken and Arsenal will evolve into a trophy-hungry team with a rejuvenated manager at the helm. I can guarantee to everyone that that is NOT going to happen as long as Wenger is in charge.

Wenger is extremely arrogant and at 65, will not change his ways. If you tell him to not struggle his way out when stuck in quicksand, he'll shut his eyes tight, clench his teeth and try as hard as he can to fight his way out of it. It doesn't matter if his way is wrong or right. The more you'll tell him to change, the harder he'll dig his heels in the ground and resist it.

Losing against Chelsea was not the final straw for me. Even if Arsenal had defeated Chelsea 0-6 I'd still want Wenger gone, judged on the above reasons. Comprehensively losing against Chelsea was just further proof of what I'd known for over a year - that Wenger has been the root of a plethora of Arsenal's problems. It is not because of bad luck, bad refereeing or the board. It's all Wenger.

I will not waste further time in highlighting Wenger's faults, I already did that in the 6-0 review of Chelsea. However, removing Wenger from Arsenal is not the only solution, although it solves a lot of problems.

We've known for a long, long time that the board has been incapable and inactive since David Dein departed from the club. It wasn't coincidental that Dein's departure led to Wenger's decline - Arsene no longer has anyone to challenge him at an upper level, and he has thus lowered expectations upon himself season after season. Now Wenger's finished, forget about him, he's beyond repair. I don't think that bringing Dein back will bring back the best of Arsene Wenger.

Players need to be brought in as well. We don't need a whole revamp of the squad, we just need a few world class players that can take us to the next level. Le Grove made an interesting point today, I'd like to quote it:

"I’ve read around the web and there are people questioning the players psyche. Sorry, it doesn’t rub with me. Giroud is a league winner, Cazorla is a World Cup / European Championship winner, Ozil is a La Liga winner, Mertesacker is a Bundesliga winner, Podolski has won things. The problem isn’t the players, it’s the man who sets them up. These are top professionals. These are players that boast similar qualities to Chelsea. They boast better qualities than Liverpool. Yet they're collapsing."

I have always stood beside these fantastic group of players and I readily continue to do so even today. However, it doesn't take a genius to see that to flourish, they need reinforcements. I am not one for wanting Giroud, Arteta or Cazorla to leave the club. Instead, I want to augment them with world class players, a much astuter manager, a fresher tactical approach and more sensible approaches to matches. Let's face it, under Wenger, we're going stale and at this rate, backwards.

We need change, I think everyone agrees with that by now. But where? Here's what I think.

Board:

If there is no change in the board, the next manager will not be cleverly appointed.

Currently, there is no one in the Arsenal board who boasts of a footballing brain. Ivan Gazidis may sympathize with the fans, but he is afraid of taking action because he doesn't know if he's doing the right thing. I doubt if he'd know the difference between the offside rule and advantage play; no wonder he just gapes on while Arsene fields a tactically unprepared team.

As for Stan Kroenke, I think he's a clever man. Not clever in football, but clever in making profits. Kroenke knows that Wenger earns profits for him, he knows that Arsenal is currently a financial goldmine. Wenger, according to him, is the only manager who will guarantee (the profits of) Champions League football and keep the business smooth. Why replace him, he'd wonder.

There is no one above Wenger who will judge him based on what he does on the pitch. Look at Liverpool, they have footballing minds in the board (Tom Werner, John Henry, Dalglish), they have a progressive manager, therefore they're doing better than us besides having lesser money.

What we need, in my opinion, are at least two people in the Board of Directors who can think from a footballing perspective. Might I suggest David Dein and Dennis Bergkamp?

Manager:

Well, duh.

Wenger just needs to go once the season ends. He's turned into a money hog and power-hungry after he got too much space since 2006, and is completely beyond repair now. I also don't want him to pick out our next manager or get a position higher up in the board - he'll probably select one of the "yes men" and control them from above. Sorry, but I don't trust him anymore to affiliate in any way with the club.

Who should replace him? Contrary to some opinions, I wouldn't want someone like Roberto Martinez or Mauricio Pochettino at Arsenal. David Moyes at United is proof that average managers don't cut it at the top level, we should learn from that. I'm convinced that a board with Dein and Bergkamp will make a correct, informed decision, but nevertheless, I'd like to offer my suggestion: Jurgen Klopp.

Superb tactician. Charismatic. Passionate. Big name. Winner.

In my eyes, he's perfect.

People suggest that we don't need a big name as manager, we need someone with a revolutionary philosophy. I disagree. Only by getting a manager like Klopp will we attract top talents to Arsenal Football Club. Look at Moyes at United - he only managed to buy Fellaini in August even though he was in charge of a title winning side. Moyes might be a guy with the right ideas, but if he can't attract great players how will he implement them?

Klopp, we all know, is a big man with big ideas. He's ten times the tactician of Wenger - Dortmund's passing and pressing game plan prove that. He possesses a similar ideology of honing young talents and making them greats; Ramsey, Szczesny, Gnabry and the English core would benefit from that.

Contrary to popular belief, Klopp is not afraid to spend. He doesn't spend much at Dortmund because they aren't financially healthy. However, at a club like Arsenal (£140m in reserves), you'd expect him to go all-out on top talents, unlike Wenger. Even if he is reluctant, Bergkamp and Dein can keep him in check.

Klopp is my dream Arsenal manager. I'm utterly convinced he'll be a great long-term boss. Even if he isn't, he'd sure be better than Wenger. Klopp would change the medical staff, change the hectic training schedule, change tactics and keep the club classy. And I like that.

Players:

The next step - after making necessary changes in the organization of the club - would be to sort out the futures of the players in the summer. Vermaelen, Sagna, Podolski and Giroud are quality players that have uncertain futures, and I'd want to keep every one of those.

Forget Fabianski (and Bendtner) - these players will leave and there's nothing we can do about it, they've said as much. However, we need to build a good foundation by winning the Cup and finishing in the top four (why does it always fall down to this?). In the summer, we SHOULD strengthen the side. Here's how, in my opinion:

  • Buy Julio Cesar [to replace Fabianski]
  • Buy a young, promising goalkeeper [to replace Viviano]
  • Buy Piszczek [if Sagna leaves]
  • Keep Semi Ajayi [I watched him, he seems good and we need depth in CB]
  • Buy a decent center back [Bould's choice, whoever is compatible with Ajayi (Ashley Williams?)]
  • Convince Vermaelen to stay and make him a defensive midfielder [He'll get more game time in a more suitable position]
  • Buy Draxler [If Podolski leaves]
  • Buy Balotelli [We need a striker, and he has power and pace].
  • Keep Joel Campbell and send Sanogo on loan
  • Get Diaby, Kallstrom and Bendtner off the books

Irrespective of managerial changes or board additions, the fact remains that we're in for a very busy summer. And if we handle it the way I suggested, we could have a title-winning side at the end of August.

Main squad (potentially): Cesar - Sagna/Piszczek - Mertesacker - Koscielny - Gibbs - Vermaelen - Ramsey - Ozil - Walcott - Cazorla - Balotelli


Substitute squad (potentially): Szczesny - Jenkinson - Ajayi - *able CB picked out by Bould* - Monreal - Flamini - Wilshere - Rosicky - Chamberlain - Podolski/Draxler - Giroud


Notable reserves (potentially): *promising goalie* , Miquel, Arteta, Zelalem, Gnabry, Joel Campbell

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Imagine that. Getting rid of a regressive manager. Adding dedicated Arsenal servants to the pinnacle of the club. Appointing a revolutionary person as head of the club. Building a team of greats. Making the Emirates feel like home. Winning trophies.

It's every football fan's fantasy. And to top it all - it is possible.

We are very close to rebuilding a team of legends. It will take work, it will take bold decisions, but we have the resources and should have the guts to do it. And if you care about Arsenal FC, you better hope we do.

Wenger's given us a fantastic foundation, and I thank him for that. However, he has consistently failed to build on that and propel Arsenal into one of the greats. Just wonder what would happen if we got hold of a manager (and a board) that can do just that.

Will this ever happen? I am almost certain it will not.

But what if it does?




P.S. I don't know why Wenger hid from the press and ordered a complete shutdown of Arsenal media. However, if he thinks that people will forget about the Chelsea annihilation due to this, he could not be more wrong. Either there is something huge happening, or the manager is just too scared to face the world. Personally, I think it's a bit of both.

Oh yeah, and preview of Swansea will not be available.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )