By Avenell Dave
There was a disheartening inevitability about Arsenal’s demise against Bolton on Sunday.
Hope is the worst thing a fan can endure, particularly when the players we obsess about seem not to show the fighting spirit that should come naturally when they’re wearing The Arsenal shirt.
If only every player took a leaf out of Jack Wilshere’s book: competing for every tackle, running as hard as his legs will carry him and still having the energy and respect to applaud the fans at the end of every single game.
When I met Arsene Wenger recently, (see earlier post) he said that the team lost their confidence after the disaster of the Carling Cup final. There are many who agree with those sentiments.
But I suspect we can look back to early February and letting a four goal lead slip at Newcastle for the moment when the doubts really set in.
We have made basic errors in defending, we have looked predictable going forward and with the exception of the Barcelona game at home, we have looked a shadow of the team that has won so many plaudits over the last few years.
We’ve all seen where the team needs strengthening and which players clearly aren’t good enough.
Some of the names bandied about may improve us, some may be over-hyped, but the time for squad dissection is in the summer, not now.
The squad we have now has a responsibility to ensure that we finish as high as possible and reminds us of what they are capable of.
Amongst all the blogs and comments I’ve read over the past couple of days, few have mentioned quite how poor Cesc Fabregas has been basically since the Barca game at home – and Samir Nasri comes into that category as well.
These are players we consider to be first choice on the teamsheet and yet they have not stepped up. Nasri’s one on one against Bolton could have kept us in the race but he totally fluffed it and while confidence has a part to play, a player of his class has to take chances like that.
Even Johann Djourou, who has had a good season, was off his game on Sunday but we must hope he learns from his errors and becomes a better player. Unlike some I could mention, I think his willingness to learn and cement a first team place can only be a benefit.
Now we can re-group, the pressure off somewhat even though we need to secure third place in the Premier League at the very least.
This is the time we need ALL the fans behind us, providing the backing the players need to find the confidence and the desire to finish the season off strongly.
So it makes me laugh, it really does, when I see how many idiotic fans are planning to protest against the club and against Arsene Wenger.
You know what? I pay a fortune for a season ticket I can barely afford and it’s a privilege. I have friends who were at Highbury and when things went fallow in the latter years of George Graham, they gave their tickets in and lamented as the side started to win again.
Yes, there needs to be change, yes the club must evolve, yes Wenger needs to somehow get rid of the dead wood and those players who continue to let us all down.
But get rid of the manager?? This is the man who has led us to the top four every single season – a feat we have only achieved in 23 of the 110 years before he arrived.
It may not be perfect, particularly given the rise in expectations caused by his initial success and the cost of tickets borne out of the new stadium, but seriously, having gone into the last month of the season competing for the title again and you want Wenger out?
On Twitter, @JamieDalton82 made the point eloquently on Sunday – we need the manager to change, not change the manager.
And the look on his face and even the words he has said suggest change is afoot. For years we have known that Wenger has been hindered by a lack of transfer funds due to the new stadium while the board proclaim he can spend what he likes. And he has been the whipping boy for not spending, knowing that he cannot contradict his employers.
Yes, Ivan Gazidis and his team need to decide whether announcing a pay hike in season ticket prices this summer really is a wise move when the expanding commercial team have made no discernible progress in bringing in new revenue streams to ensure we the fans do not bear the brunt of increased costs.
Yes, Wenger needs to bring in a new assistant, when Pat Rice retires, who challenges him and the team.
Yes, he needs to review Project youth which has failed.
But the Black Scarf brigade, who claim that AST, Red Action or any of the other fan groups do not represent them, are planning a protest ahead of the Aston Villa game which, while it seems measured on their press release, will encourage trouble makers and provoke sensational ‘Arsenal infighting as calls for board resignations amid Wenger protests’ headlines from the salivating media.
When a crisis hits – and in some respects this is a crisis even though 88 teams would rather be in our position – sticking together, battening the hatches and fighting against all those on the outside who love to see us in freefall is the ONLY way. It’s how The Arsenal have survived and thrived for decades.
To see the bickering and abuse from so-called Arsenal fans who seem unable to communicate a different point of view without resorting to aggression or vulgarity towards fellow Addicts is a sad state of affairs.
If it was up to me, I’d send them to Sh*te H*rt L*ne!