Greetings Positivistas! Whether we like it or not our football holiday is almost over. The Arsenal troops are reassembling, there is the smell of gunpowder, canons are being cleaned, occasional explosions are being heard; a clear signal that the competitive battle in the EPL is about to resume.
OK my metaphors may be overblown but today’s game with RC Lens is the definitive sign that the 2016-17 season is almost upon us. Hard to believe that in four weeks 8-9 months of annual football warfare will resume.
While some of us may have been somnolent during this holiday winter, the outside world has been awash with dramatic events which in my opinion will eventually have some impact on our footballing lives. Chief among them was the BREXIT, a subject which was very precious to many of us on this blog. Despite the temptation, unlike President Obama, I decided against offering an opinion since I am not a Briton and won’t have to live with the consequences.
But the thing that struck me most during and after the referendum is how similar it was to the annual WEXIT we Arsenal fans have had to live through, at least for the past five years. The evidence is abundant.
By 2011, six years had passed since the club had last won a meaningful trophy. After the shock defeat in the League Cup final to Birmingham City, of all the clubs, the unimaginable became apparent. After years of disparaging other club supporters for being fickle and reactive to short term results our fans begun to publicly question the future of their most successful manager. This was reflected in the mainstream media when CNN’s Ben Wyatt wrote a piece published April 25, 2011 under the headline: Has Time Run Out For Arsene Wenger
“There will be calls for the Wenger tenure to end, for the man who delivered so much to be deposed now his Midas touch has seemingly vanished.”
Later that October, one Mirti Murunj writing for a publication Run Of Play opined that:
“No philosophy, not even the most transformative, should go on forever”
The shit was really to hit the fan at the beginning of the 2011-12 season when Barcelona finally completed its 2-year seduction of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri’s half season goal explosion the previous season was to see him succumb to Sheik Mansour ad Manchester City poking big bills in his garter belt. As Wenger himself was forced to admit, Arsenal could no longer count itself as a big club when it was losing its best players to bigger clubs. Arguably the nadir of the season, exposing how much the club was weakened, was the 8-2 shellacking by Manchester United. The Arsenal Action blog pulled no punches and declared “Wenger Out”. Sounds familiar?
Unlike the BREXIT, despite five years of incessant campaigning by a noisy, whiny, self entitled minority of Arsenal fans who are enabled by the mainstream media, the annual WEXIT has been unsuccessful. Last Spring when I made my first ever trip to the Emirates, I witnessed the last desperate and eventually futile attempt to conduct an in-stadium referendum. As we all know, Wenger was the clear winner forcing even that noisy anti-Arsene celebrity phone hacker, Piers Morgan to concede defeat.
Despite never falling out of the top-four in his twenty years at the club (unlike United, Chelsea, City and Liverpool) and his prudence in running the club despite an era of the greatest ever financial excesses, exemplified by United’s willingness to pay over £100 million to buy-back a player they released on a free only four years earlier, the upcoming season will see more desperate attempts to unseat Arsene. The Daily Cannon’s Helen Trantum on Jube 24, 2016 did not express whether she was for Leave or Remain but the headline of her blog was very telling:
“Can we have a referendum on Arsene?”
But the sage of Dublin is taking no chances. He has been stirring up his massive following with portents of doom simply because Ivan Gazidis had the temerity to make an empirical observation in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC:
“The big clubs can’t financially bully the smaller clubs in the way they used to, so I think a lot of the differentiators between clubs become more subtle now,”
“It’s how well you can identify talent. It’s how well you can develop talent. It’s how strong your club philosophy is. It’s how together you are as a football club, what your support services are like in the medical field, fitness, analytics, psychology. All of these things become differentiators.”
As said in the past, the sage usually speaks out of two sides of his mouth and today’s blog was no different. While in the past attacking other clubs spending massive amounts of money on mediocre players and praising Leicester City for defying conventional wisdom by proving you can win the League without spending massive amounts of money, he proceeds to deliver the following howler:
“Look, I’m all for a bit of common sense in a world gone mad, but isn’t the message we get from Gazidis indicative of what frustrates people about this club? We have an absolute fortune at our disposal to use to buy players to make the team better and more competitive – yet the Chief Executive is focusing on clubs who can spend more, and citing a once-off fluke season from a team who will never win the league again as a model for success.”
But inevitably the target had to be Wenger, all others are collateral damage:
It’s not about what other clubs do with their cash, it’s about what we do with ours, but we know that Arsene Wenger is a man obsessed with value.
WTF you may ask? Isn’t the interview with Ivan Gazidis? Isn’t he the boss, the chief executive? Clearly not, if you go by the sage of Dublin.
Strap yourselves in boys and girls, the fun has just begun.