Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Shareholder Meeting

‘The idea Arsene Wenger is some stubborn guy who is not open to having his ideas challenged, and there is nobody there who can say, “Listen, we need someone with experience in the middle of the park or at the back”, just isn’t true."

-Ivan Gazidis, lying through his tiger-like teeth

Apparently, there were a lot of prickly moments at the shareholders' meeting. A lot of gooners were upset about the season, and a lot of them asked a lot of uncomfortable questions. Wenger danced, and ducked, and hit back when someone called Silvestre a "geriatric". He looked tetchy and defensive, and didn't want to be there. Despite what Gazidis says, his behaviour was the behaviour of a stubborn guy.

I say apparently, because I haven't seen or read any first-hand accounts of the meeting. It would've been interesting viewing, but the good folks over at ArsenalTV were a bit over-zealous with regards to the editing. From a 1 hour meeting, they released a 35-minute video. Go figure, right? Still, there's a good commentary provided by Vic Crescit of the Arsenal Insider. And a number of quotes supplied by the Times and the Daily Mail. You know you're scratching when you're sourcing from the Daily Mail, but still, one must make do with what one has.

The quotes below are taken from the Times. Bear in mind that these quotes are taken out of context from the Times article, which was taken out of context from the shareholder meeting. I'm not a primary source. I'm not even a secondary source. In schoolyard terms, I'm the final guy in a long chain of Chinese whispers.

Still, what's the use of a blog if you can't use it to express your ill-informed opinion?

“I believe what the team has achieved in the last six months is amazing but at the moment . . . it’s all one big tribunal. I can take that, I don’t care too much about that. For me it’s one of the best seasons for a long time considering where we were in November."

It IS remarkable to have acheived 4th spot and the semis of the FA Cup and the Champions League. Back in January, we were outplayed by Everton and seriously looking at 6th. But if you look at it from January 2008, we've slid quite far. The Arsenal of 07-08 needed maybe two or three players to win the league. The Arsenal of 08-09 need at least three players to challenge for the league. That's a pretty big step down.

“Is it good enough for the club or not? That is not for me to assess. I personally believe that we have to keep a little bit of common sense. Our average age in midfield is 22 — normally you play not to go down in the Premier League with a team like that. It’s as simple as that.”

With the above quote, we get to see the heart of the problem. Wenger defends the season by saying how youthful the midfield is. He forgets to mention the reason it's so youthful - he allowed Flamini, Hleb, Diarra and Gilberto to leave within six months of each other, and replaced them with kids. To get his kids up to 4th place is a remarkable achievement. To take a team that was challenging for the Premier League back down to 4th place, however, is nothing less than a failure.

“We lose against Man United, who have ten times more resources. It’s not a [reason to feel] shame, they are the best in the world."

Wenger forgets to mention that we've the 3rd highest payroll in the Premier League, and the 6th highest turnover in world football. Or something like that. My Internet connection's on the blink and I can't be bothered scanning for statistics, but you get the drift. In terms of resources, we've got almost as much as Man Utd, just just structure it differently.

We have the resources to pay for an expensive squad, we have the turnover of a global club. We're structured in a way that we pay our young players more than other top clubs pay their young players, and hence, we don't pay our top players as much. This is the reason we lose our more experienced players year in, year out (Adebayor this year, Flamini and Hleb last year, Henry the year before that).

“It has become ridiculous. You sit here, you are in the last four in Europe, and every day, you feel you have killed someone. It is unbelievable. If you do not take a distance with it, you think, what kind of world do we live in?"

Well, we live in a world where Arsenal are a big European club that cannot challenge for the Premier League, that pays its young players too much and its older players too little, that will not recruit experienced players to top up the squad, that doesn't practice defensive setups, that fields disinterested, unmotivated players...

In shot, we live in a world where the Arsenal frustrates the hell out of us.

The worrying thing is that Arsene Wenger comes off as a guy who still likes to bury his head in the sand and believe that his way is the only way of doing things. And if he keeps on with this track in the transfer season, we'll be back where we started from next season, with a friable defense and a overly thin squad. And the tragedy is that it doesn't have to be like this at all. Just a couple of signings in the right places, and maybe recruit Keown as a defensive coach, and we'll be right as rain.


Anonymous said...

Hope things are OK in Perth.
The Pandas are cute

Your brother

Connolly's agent said...

oh yeah, they're alright.