I’m not going to pretend that last night’s catastrophe at Anfield wasn’t a catastrophe.
To travel to Anfield and not register a single shot on goal, even the Newcastle faithful would be scathing, yet it’s a case of same old story for Arsenal who have suffered countless embarrassing spankings at the hands of their rivals. Other teams lose games, but none seem to capitulate quite as emphatically as the Gunners, which leads fans and pundits to question why.
More often than not, the walking, talking lightning rod for criticism Arsene Wenger, shoulders that blame. Rightly so too, particularly in the instance of the latest calamity, because you don’t need to be Gary Neville to know where he went wrong with team selection, formation and tactics.
However, there are bigger problems at Arsenal and they are bigger Arsene Wenger.
Allow me to use an analogy to explain why:
Imagine you are a taxi driver. Not just any taxi driver, but one of the best in New York. It’s your passion, your love, your life. You get so good, they ask you to organise the taxi timetabling and wages as well. You love your job and have devoted yourself to it, so of course you say yes. However, now you are having to check emails between pickups so you do less trips, you are working later at night so you are tired and finding it harder to concentrate. Then they ask you to clean the taxis as well, and once again you say yes, but instead of doing one job really well, you are doing three that just pass the mark of acceptable.
There’s simply a case of not enough chefs in the kitchen at Arsenal, so the chicken is always undercooked. Arsene Wenger doesn’t need to prove he is a natural tactician with a football brain, he has the history and trophies to prove it, however, you can only focus so much on the on-field performances when you make all of the club’s sporting decisions.
Having publically knocked the idea of a ‘director of football’ role being introduced at the club, Wenger comes across as a kid that hogs all the toys in the sandpit. This is where Kroenke, Gazidis and the Arsenal Board of Directors need to realise that they are the teacher and have the power to share those toys around with other class members.
The debate needs to be better than Wenger In or Out.
This is a genuine opportunity to incorporate the potentially game-changing influence of a fresh perspective without losing the tactical nous and experience of their legendary figurehead that is quite clearly valued so much by the Gunners’ hierarchy. Plan a restructure whether Wenger wants it or not, give him the chance to focus just on the team and see what his footballing worth is then.
I could list many other options of ways to improve, such as Steve Bould actually teaching defenders how to defend, Stan Kroenke actually remembering he owns the club, or the players’ resilience actually being less fragile than Jack Wilshere’s ankles, but I think the point is that there are other places to point your fingers than just Le Professeur and maybe it’s time everyone sees this.