I am appalled. I am appalled at the travesty of a performance that we witnessed yesterday. In Championship Manager they used to have a saying which involved describing you team as ‘running out of superlatives to describe’. What is the exact opposite of that? What is the antithesis of running out of nice things to say? I don’t think my personal vocabulary can muster enough negative descriptors to describe the capitulation we endured in Munich.
Listless. Passionateless. Abject. Tired. Boring. Predictable. Weak. Lethargic. Static. Out of ideas. Careless. Unstructured. Unstable. Unbalanced. Devoid. Classless. Lazy. Uncontrolling. Unwilling. Uninterested. That’s just but a few.
Bayern are a good team. They get the best players in Germany and win the league every season. They’re a better team than us. They play better football, at times football like we used to play under Wenger, but that was a distant memory now, because it must have been at least 14 years ago that we saw anything like that. We’ve been treading water for the last ten years, that’s for sure. But Bayern outplayed us to a man. And do you know what made it more painful? You could tell they weren’t as razor sharp as they had been in times past. In that first half they let us in behind a couple of times, and with a team who had any kind of recognisable philosophy, perhaps there could have been some hope.
But now there is none. Arsenal needed to just stay in the tie. They didn’t even have to win it. Just stay in it and make the return leg interesting. But as we are now all already aware, this team is incapable of delivering what is required in any way, shape or form. There is no structure to the team and when one player gets injured who is a lynchpin to the side, the rest of the side fold like a house of cards.
In today’s game, with the squads that are required, how inconceivable is it that a team losing one player to injury can suddenly implode so dramatically? It’s farcical.
Most of the top teams in Europe – and I remind you that some people put us in the top 15 (laughable) – just do not ship goals like we do. Yes, we can all point to the capitulation that was Barca away on Tuesday, but the fact that it sent shockwaves across Europe shows that it just never happens. And I tell you what, I bet we don’t see Barcelona have a performance like that for another ten years. But with Arsenal it’s an annual recurrence. Either domestically or in Europe. It LITERALLY IS an annual occurrence when you think that Bayern did the same to us last season. We are the only team that never learn.
I’m sure there will be a heart-to-heart with the players between now and Sutton away. But what does it matter? You can have all the team meetings in the world, but it won’t change a thing guys, because mentally and tactically you are a busted flush. You are nothing more than a cobbled together ramshackle of players operating in a system that you don’t care about or believe in. And the one guy who is supposed to bring you together to deliver is more clueless than the rest of you.
For a 30 second window in time, I felt sorry for Arsène yesterday, because he looked broken when he faced the press. He had no answers. He fulfilled his media duty and then got the hell out of there. I felt sorry for him. But then I remembered:
- They are all his players – he has brought them all
- He is responsible for training them
- He is responsible for motivating them
- He is responsible for setting the team up tactically
That was enough for the sympathy to melt away. And now I just feel despair. Despair that unless he fastens the noose himself, we’ll sleepwalk our way to another two seasons of this. The board won’t pull the trigger, so we’re relying on the dignity of the man and the self respect of him, to outweigh the blind faith he has in his own ability to lead this team to glory.
He can’t. He doesn’t have it in him any more. He’s running on empty. It feels like he’s assembled a philharmonic orchestra of fabulous talented individuals; brass, percussion, wind, etc. He’s the conductor and yet he’s standing in front of them and telling them to ‘just play’. And the noise coming out of this Arsenal team is pure garbage. Unstructured chaos.
Ospina aside, not one Arsenal player can wake up this morning and say that they performed to one tenth of their ability. Gabriel and Mustafi were a car crash at the back. Gibbs was poor. Bellerin made the odd run forward but he looked lost. Xhaka looked more interested in roughing up a few Bayern players than anything else. Coquelin…well…he was horrific. How he can maintain a place in this side is beyond me at the moment. But then again, everyone else around him is bottling it too, so what difference does it make? Özil was again anonymous, as was Alexis, good recovery on the penalty aside. On that subject, he’s a terrible penalty taker, isn’t he? Can we go back to the days when our full backs used to take them and always seemed to score?
The Ox did a little more chasing than others, but he was still poor too, whilst Iwobi looked anonymous again. He’s a talented young player who should have a good career at Arsenal. But he needs to be taken out of the team now. We needed a player who could support Gibbs against Robben and Lahm yesterday evening and I watched a couple of times as he stood jogging back as both Bayern players took turns on overlapping Gibbs. How is that complete lack of attention being allowed to continue in the same match?
Because nobody probably spoke to him on the sidelines. There was no shout I’ll bet. Nobody saying “you’re getting hooked unless you’re doing your defensive duty”, because there is no fear of failure at Arsenal, because the manager has cultivated a safe environment for pampered stars for years to come. In the second half The Management asked me “what’s going wrong with the team?”. I preferred to tell her that it was a motivational issue, but also that the team wasn’t set up right with the players the manager had chosen. Arsène needed to change it. “Not until the 75th minute he won’t” came the response. That’s from somebody who doesn’t really watch Arsenal, but even she is aware of the predictability of the manager!
Last night showed us that Arsène is done at this level. And some of the players he has shielded should probably be done too. This season has proved that we simply aren’t good enough. It’s a carbon copy of last season and I’m fed up of it. I had a barrage of messages last night from people saying they’ve already put their tickets on ticket exchange. There will be some who just don’t understand why that is. That isn’t because they don’t support the team. That isn’t because they are fair weather fans. It’s because they’re bored. And tired. Of the same sh*t, different season, and when it’s been happening for ten years, how can you blame the players completely? Gibbs is probably the only player who was at the club ten years ago!
The constant is the manager. The malaise at the club is his doing. We are spiralling out of control whilst he holds the reins.
Change has to come. We can’t keep doing this. Succession planning starts now. We’ve all known that Arsène won’t go on forever, but it has gone from being a sad thought he might one day leave, to an imperative that he does.
It’s time for change.