Arsenal’s two games against Manchester City this week told us quite a lot about where Arsenal are as a club and a football side, and it’s not a pretty place.
Well, it perhaps confirmed it more than revealed, but there is no denying that this week the club, players, supporters, and press all seemed to cross the Rubicon.
There can be no going back…
1Arsene Wenger has no plans to leave
Wenger has always said that he will know when the time is right to quit Arsenal but it is clear at this point that he is not able to see that time has long since passed.
Like a person in a destructive marriage, too afraid to leave for a life unknown, he is convinced he is the man to turn things around despite being the one causing the problems.
He probably could turn things around, at another club, because he is a very good manager.
The problem, for the most part, is not his ability, it’s the staleness that has set in after more than two decades with the same manager teaching the same methods backed up by mostly the same people
At Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson changed his assistant manager regularly to ensure that he had fresh ideas injected into the squad.
Wenger has had two – Pat Rice and Steve Bould – and the latter would most likely not be in the job if the former had not contracted cancer.
Ferguson, by contrast, had seven over the course of his 27-year tenure. That’s a new one every four years or so, on average.
Wenger’s first assistant stayed in the job for 16 years while Bould has already surpassed that four-year mark by two years.
Modern footballing wisdom says that managerial changes are needed regularly in the game these days to keep on top of emerging methods and tactics and there is a reason the likes of Pep Guardiola only stays at a club for a few years before moving on.
Things get stale.
Players become immune to instructions, like children who’ve listened to their parents tell them every day for five years to tidy their room. There comes a point when they just stop listening because they’ve heard it all before and it’s boring.
Arsenal passed stale some time back.
Now the club is starting to rot.