After the weekend’s debacle and manager’s subsequent inevitable denial that his players don’t lack effort at the moment, last night we had rumour and counter rumour with regards to Arsène’s future. Usually at this time of the year it’s the build up to the transfer of contractual sagas of the players, but the press have something else to feed on and they’re gorging. Gorging like never before.
Rumours of an apparent approach for Thomas Tuchel of Dortmund will please some Gooners I’m sure, but the musings of the journos closer to home make for more alarming reading. The press in the UK are talking up the intention for Arsène to stay for another two years. It’s mainly the guys who are fed into from the club too, so this carefully managed PR positioning is starting to worry me.
I’ve become resigned to this season petering out. I know it will and I’m bored already. But in my head I’m still not believing that Arsène has become so blinded by his own power that he won’t relinquish his empire. I have said that I think his race is run for a while now, but what I also hope I’ve been able to get across is that despite how I think he’s done as Arsenal manager, I still have respect for the man. Not just because of what he achieved either, but because of the person I think/hope he is. I have always hoped he is aware enough – even though sometimes he shows nothing of the sort – to realise when enough is enough. Every Arsenal fan I know has admitted that the only way Arsène leaves is by himself saying he’s had enough. Our board are spineless and pathetic. They don’t care about Arsenal as a successful football club, they care about Arsenal the corporate entity, so as long as that’s doing fine then they don’t really give a flying f*ck about the playing side.
But that’s Arsène’s bag and deep down I’ve always thought and hoped that if it ever got that bad, he would walk, with enough self-respect to say “hold my hands up, this isn’t working, it’s time to try somebody new”.
Of course that will also need to be a whole other structural change in the management set up too, but that’s a whole other blog, so I’ll not go into the details of who needs ousting aside from Arsène.
But like I’ve said, my opinion has always been that he’s self aware enough to call time if needed. He’s said so himself. He’s said that if the club isn’t moving forward, if it fails to challenge and if they appear to be going backward, he would decide that he could no longer be manager. Well boys and girls, it is now that bad, isn’t it? We are now on the worst losing streak since Arsène took on the club. We sit in sixth. We have an extremely difficult run of games between now and the end of the season. We’ve been humiliated in the Champions League. We’re 19 points adrift of the soon-to-be champions. There is literally nothing about this season so far that has been an improvement on previous seasons.
So this is it now, isn’t it? Arsène knows what is happening. He sees it closer than we do on the touch line. He knows these players aren’t doing it for him any more. He knows that his words are either not being delivered through incompetence or indifference. Either way it is he that has assembled and motivated these players, so either way he is responsible for this mess. Which means he cannot stay. His position has become untenable and if he were to sign a new contract now, the protests would get better attended, the anger and vitriol online would increase in volume and the divisions amongst Arsenal fans would get bigger. Arsène has been the lightning rod – sometimes wrongly, sometimes rightly – for so long. So why aren’t we removing the rod?
It’s time for change. Everybody sees this. But where I have previously thought the only man who can enact it – Arsène – could and would do so at the end of the season, now I’m really not so sure, which makes me even more bored of another two seasons of the same stories.
Let’s hope not.