Season Review Pt. II – Opinion

Top Three Factors That Contributed To Our Failure This Season

o Togo’s poor return – after a 30-goal performance and an improved contract, we expected more. I would not sell him though. A proven goal scorer deserves another year to sort himself out.
o The Gallas Witch Hunt – some feel that there was no witch hunt. There was. From criticism of almost every word the man spoke to edited photos of him ‘smoking’ an unlit cigarette, the climate was made difficult, at best.
o Defensive mistakes – key moments that defined our season were not in the offensive but the defensive third of the pitch.

The State of Our Club – Ownership and Direction

Unlike other bloggers, I do not claim to know more than I actually do. My sources are not mysterious individuals with close ties to the club. I read most of what the rest of the world read and make my own judgments on that basis.

Beyond players the club has changed dramatically from 36, 24, and even 12 months ago – Usmanov lurks as Kroenke ascends, Lady Nina, and Messers Fiszman and Edelman are either out or no longer hold the same positions of influence at the club, the debt on Emirates Stadium remains, and speculation about Board unrest and being less than forthright about club finances is common.

Those factors have largely reshaped the face of our club. That much I do know. Oh, and a special thank you very much to Tony Adams for adding to the speculation. Give me positive proof and I’ll be happy to rethink my position on certain issues. Speculation is useless to me. I need to see proof that the Board has been holding back the truth. I need to see more than just words spouted in anger by people with nothing but theories and opinions.

The specter of Uzbek billionaire Usmanov makes some fans very uncomfortable. Foreign ownership is generally unwanted. The fact that it could be in the form of the terribly unpopular Alisher Usmanov makes it all the worse. Yet there are those who wouldn’t mind if he took over the club and pumped it full of money – no matter how that money was procured.

Others feel if we’re going to be taken over at all, let it be by the more palatable American Stan Kroenke who has a proven pedigree with ownership of multiple franchises in the sports arena, save the recent double booking of pro wrestling and basketball playoffs on the same night. Interestingly however, the addition of Ivan Gazidis could make a bigger strategic difference than either mega-share holder does.

I am a proponent of the Wenger model. It might need some fine tuning but I am convinced that it is a sound approach. Gazidis seems competent and savvy enough to help massively in that department. With the stadium debt at a manageable level, the club is stable and can become more profitable and remain self-sustaining. That, my friends is what it’s all about – self-sustainability. If we can win things along the way it would be optimal.

What gives you hope going forward

I am dismayed at times by the impatience of Arsenal fans. It is one thing to prefer a different approach to the Wenger model. It is another thing entirely to deny that the young players are gaining invaluable experience. Tomorrow they will become those players that Wenger is criticized for not buying today.

I relish the fact that Kieran Gibbs is good enough to have been given such a level of responsibility that his mistake vs. United made so big a difference. He’ll be better for it. I look forward to the fruits of L’il Jack’s phased nurturing. Having had a taste of what’s ahead, he’ll be eager to get his chance at the top level. Alex Song has been the revelation we (at eighteen86) believed he’d be. Song has proven his quality and versatility. I firmly believe that there’s much more to come from him. Samir Nasri is a much better player than he’s shown this season. We have not seen him at his most effective.

It is always tricky to try predicting which young player will become a good pro. Having won the Youth League and the Youth Cup Final, this current crop provides Wenger with a healthy lot to choose from.

Andrey Arshavin will have a full pre-season and will be fully settled by September. That will make a major difference in how he performs next season. I can hardly wait to see him play with an in form Cesc and a fully fit Eduardo.

Eduardo will be ready for action next term. He makes a huge difference when healthy.

I believe that we have not been far away from winning something in either of the four years that are the source of Wenger’s bane. Talk of the current four-year drought is like the lyrics to that very popular but extremely annoying song that stays in my head for days.

Add two to three key players to a healthy squad and we will deliver. I am convinced of that.

What Keeps Me Up At Night

The recurrence of injuries to key players is always a source of worry for me. Injuries happen. They are part of the game. It just seems that they happen more often to our best payers than can be explained logically. The following have been out for extended and/or key periods in the past few seasons: Cesc, Eduardo, RvP, Gallas, Rosicky, Clichy, Sagna, Diaby, Theo, and Togo. Are we just unlucky? Are we targets? Are we doing something in training that makes us vulnerable in battle?

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