Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Where do Arsenal go from here?

Once again, for the umpteenth year running Arsenal Football Club find themselves facing another trophy less season. The humiliation they suffered last week in the San Siro against AC Milan was repeated at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland on Saturday where they went crashing out of the FA Cup in an all too familiar show of disarray. The distinct lack of quality, aligned with a clear lack or purpose and leadership now means it is seven years since the club last won a trophy. For a club that consider themselves to be one of the top sides in Europe this is simply not good enough.

We all know that they of course lost two of their best three players last summer which would cause any side to enter somewhat of a transitional phase. However, the replacements that the current manager Arsene Wenger brought in before the season began are quite simply not good enough for a team with title aspirations. The season of course couldn’t have started any worse but did improve for a time; however, these recent results will no doubt be the end of their season and there is a distinct possibility that they could collapse again as they have done for the past two seasons.

It is not just the departures that have severely affected the club; the goings on behind the scenes appears to be approaching the farcical stage as reports emerging in recent days suggest serious financial mismanagement. Reports from the club suggest that the wage bill currently stands at £130 million a year which is hampering the club from signing new players because the club simply cannot afford to pay them. Two examples of this are Abou Diaby and Denilson who are both pocketing £60,000 a week; when you consider one is permanently injured and the other one has been sent to Brazil (in an attempt to sell him) this is truly staggering. It has also been revealed that the club employ 71 professionals who are all on the wage bill – 71! Something has gone seriously wrong at the club and a quick fix seems unlikely.

Another interesting and decidedly worrying fact is that the club only earn £14 million from their shirt sponsors. The modern day football world is primarily about making money and for a club of Arsenal’s stature I find this unbelievably incompetent; Liverpool, themselves in turmoil on the pitch, earn £40 million a year – and they don’t even play in the Champions League. How can these things be allowed to happen at a club who pride themselves on their financial prudence?

The problems on the pitch are there for everyone to see. They seriously lack the quality to remain in the top four this season and unless Chelsea and Liverpool’s malaise continues they will not finish in a Champions League place. The distinct lack of defensive quality is now beyond a joke and how they have managed to ignore this when it is clearly something that has hindered them for years must now be put down to ineptitude rather than anything else. The fans barrack Squillaci and others for their individual errors but collectively they stand and together they should all fall. The Belgian Thomas Vermaelen who was regarded as their stand out defender has looked hopeless recently and clearly didn’t deserve his £600,000 loyalty bonus last season (another shocking financial decision as he hardly played).

There is no doubt that Wenger was a fantastic football manager once upon a time but he is managing a sinking ship at the moment and failure against Spurs this weekend should signal the end of his tenure in my opinion. If he cannot galvanise his troops and instil more enthusiasm and effort they surely have to find someone new to develop a new team. However, with the astronomical wage bill and serious lack of quality who would want it?

We have all been lead to believe that Arsenal were going to be the example of how to run a football club off the field and this statement simply has no credibility at the moment. Unless something dramatic happens at the club in the coming months the on field problems could have a lasting effect on the club’s future. Everyone associated at the club called initially for patience but surely that is waring thin now, something has to change, and fast.

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