There will be a lot of good matches to be played this weekend in leagues all around the world. There’s the Turin derby involving Juventus and Torino, Bayern versus Dortmund over in the Bundesliga, the Madrid derby between Real and Atletico and over in the Eredivisie, Ajax will be playing PSV. A lot of games to take in but I’m going to try my best to catch them all. However the focus for me will of course be on the Arsenal versus Swansea game as well as the do-or-die last group game battle between my Malaysia against Indonesia in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
There will also be a walk/march/protest/a bunch of people walking together to the stadium (delete as appropriate) prior to the Arsenal game. I don’t follow the Black Scarf Movement but I’m aware of their motives behind planning such an activity. Some of their points are valid. The club has been in a state of stagnation, if not in decline since the move to Emirates Stadium. The decisions that follows the stadium move was expected. Lesser money to spend on transfer and wages, all to pay off the stadium and secure the long term future for us, and elevate us towards the upper echelon of European football.
It has worked to an extent. We are now financially secured, with a ground that generates huge amounts of money. There are commercial deals in place and probably more in the works. All working towards making us a stronger force in the coming era of Financial Fair Play. During the course of which the manager was asked to take up the fast of keeping us within the hunt or at least within touching distance of being in the hunt of title/trophy challenges. Forced to rely more on younger/unproven players and making them world/European class. No need to remind ourselves of the players that have come through the door as nobody and leaving as one of the more coveted players in world football. The latter part necessitated by the pressure to maintain a certain value in the bank to cover for the increasing cost.
Weak initial commercial deals and the introduction of football as billionaires’ plaything meant that we have to keep evolving the team. Bringing in new players and selling those that have grown to in stature have been the game plan since the move. No one could have envisage the changes on the landscape of football in these few years. The club has to constantly evolve to cope with the new demands of the game. At one point, the decision must have been made to make at least one significant sale to balance the numbers on the books. Fair enough, I wouldn’t want my club to keep heaping on the debt, just to be successful in that one season and then suffers in the longer term due to debt. Everyone knows that to build a successful team that can win trophies season in, season out, we have to keep our big players and keep improving the squad. Chopping and changing every summer was never going to lead us to glory land.
That said, it’s not like Arsene Wenger wasn’t close to pulling off miracles throughout these lean 7 years. I still maintain that the team was good enough to win the Premier League in the 2007/08 season, had it not been for the horror tackle on Eduardo that derailed our campaign. The team then was also young and in the end, found it hard to cope with losing the team’s most in form striker to such brutality. Even though 2 seasons ago, we managed to stay in touch with the leaders going into March, it was always hard for a team to see it out against the experience of the other challenging team. Especially when our concentration were spread thin over 4 different competitions without adequate squad players to compete in various competitions in the same period. That said, the League Cup Final defeat was still one which we should have won.
The next question comes in after that. How long more can fans or the board members able to tolerate the current state of the team. I did not use club because as stated, I think we are progressing very well in that department. It is the playing side that has suffered as a consequence and efforts need to be channelled in that direction to once again make us a team that is able to compete. I’m not saying that the state of the team is in the worst of shapes but at the same time, it is hard to deny that the gap between us and the main title challengers in both Manchester clubs are widening. Especially since we increased the power of both sides by supplying them player(s).
There were suggestion that there were bad influences within our team but has been weeded out, especially with the sales of the last summer. In that case, from now on, the club has to stop the bleeding. The team cannot grow if we continue to sell our top players every summer. That’s not to say that we should stop looking around for players to add to the squad, nor am I saying that we should retain every single player that we have. In any side, there are players whose talents are limited, not realised or simply wrong purchases. No one’s buying records are perfect. However, tough decisions need to be made with regards to their standings within the squad. Retain the good and strong and let go of the bad and weak. It sounds cut-throat but sentiments has little value in top class football.
It is frustrating to be an Arsenal fan at the moment. Every single step forward that we make seemed to followed by 2 steps back. We all want the good times to come back to Arsenal, which perhaps is the best description of what is meant by “we want our Arsenal back“. To do that, hard decisions have to be made with regards to the bigger game plan. Not looking for us to go from where we are to become champions once those decisions are made. But just to push us back into challengers first and the good times will eventually come back.
And no, the hard decision doesn’t include a new manager. Not yet.