Time to adjust your expectations

Yesterday Arsenal announced a new two year deal for Arsene Wenger and I have to admit that at first I was pretty angry. My reasoning for anger goes like this: would any other club that has ambitions to win the Premier League and Champions League actually re-hire a coach who just finished 5th in the League after spending £110m on players? Man U didn’t. Man City wouldn’t. Chelsea fired a coach after he won the Champions League, so I’m certain that they wouldn’t. And any of the other big clubs in Europe? Imagine what would happen at Barcelona if they finished fifth or let’s say third and got beat 10-2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich. And imagine the shockwaves at Bayern Munich if they had the season Arsenal had: everyone would be fired.

But on the other side of this anger and frustration is the joy that Tottenham and Liverpool have this season. For Spurs fans, this is the greatest moment in the last 20 years. They have finally finished above Arsenal for once! And for Liverpool, they are jubilant about their club finally making it back into the Champions League! This is similar to last year with Leicester, whose fans will probably be sustained by their title win for the next 40 years.

The problem then is very simple. The problem is the root of all anger: unmet expectations.

And it’s true. I expect this club, the fourth richest club in the world, to compete for the Premier League and the Champions League. I expect this club to buy the best players. I expect this manager to get the best out of his players. And I expect the players to give everything for 50+ games a season.

My expectations are way out of line with reality and I blame the club for this. They are the ones who keep telling me that they are here to win the League. They are the ones who tell me that they are only out to buy “top top quality” players who will “improve the team”. And they are the ones who tell me that the manager and players work tirelessly to improve their game so that they can reach their ultimate goal of winning all the major trophies.

After re-signing Wenger, they all reiterated these points. For CEO Ivan Gazidis “All of this [spending on and off the pitch] is driven towards the ambition of winning the Premier League”. Majority Shareholder Stan Kroenke echoed Gazidis saying, “Our ambition is to win the Premier League and other major trophies in Europe.” And Wenger issued a similar, albeit softer, set of goals “We’re committed to mounting a sustained league challenge and that will be our focus this summer and next season” and added “We can move up to the next level, I’m convinced of that.”

It is Premier League or bust for Arsene Wenger.

But hasn’t that been the ambition all along? Didn’t they want to win the Premier League title in 2015/16 when Leicester took the League by surprise? Wasn’t that the point of getting into the Champions League every season for the last twenty years? So that they could have the money and prestige to recruit the players that would allow them to compete for the League title?

Of course that has been their line. These are not new statements from these men. They have been telling us this same story now since 2004. The ambition has always been to win the League and we were told that the new stadium would bring the new money to buy the shiny new players, and it has.

So, it’s their fault. They inculcated in me a belief that Arsenal were a team who could win the Premier League. First through the project youth program where we were told we don’t buy talent we make it. Then into the big-player buying days where we could afford players like Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez. And now in the free-spending days where every season Arsenal have £200m or more to spend on new players.

But objectively this is not a team who can win the Premier League. Every season that we got a whiff of a title challenge we collapsed. Every season for the last ten years we have been eviscerated by bigger clubs in the Champions League.

The evidence suggests that this is a manager and club who can’t realistically mount a title challenge. So I am adjusting my expectations and I think you should too.

First, the expectation should be that we finish somewhere above 10th place. Top half of the table. That’s where clubs like Arsenal belong. We are too big to be a bottom-half of the table club but it’s unrealistic of us to expect that this club finish in the top four every season. Totally unrealistic, since we finished fifth and all of the other teams who have won the League have finished as low as 7th in the last few years.

Second, since Arsenal are now in the Europa League, that means more games and more matches in far away lands. It also means matches on Thursdays which will be followed by lots of Sunday and Monday Premier League games. This is going to be a gruelling schedule for the club, the players, and the fans.

Add in that Arsenal are one of the most injury-prone teams in the world and I just can’t see us having the depth needed to sustain a challenge on all of these fronts. For example, Arsenal’s best center back revealed last month that he has a chronic Achilles problem which requires daily treatment. If he plays more than 20 games next season I’ll be shocked.

I’m going to be using injury and lack of cover as an excuse for why Arsenal can’t realistically finish above 5th place next season. Heck, a repeat of 5th place would almost be a trophy. I would also not be surprised if Arsenal get kicked out of Europa League some time in February. I’m certainly not expecting us to win that trophy, because if I start expecting that I might get frustrated when we get dumped out early.

As for player recruitment. Well, this is a team that struggles with player recruitment at the best of times. Top young players are refusing to join Arsenal and have been for five or six years. Players like Aubameyang, Mahrez, and Vardy openly laugh at the prospect of joining Arsenal. And Arsenal flat out refuse to pay the agents, to grease the wheels, to get the top players in. Plus agents, teams, and players all know how much money Arsenal have to throw around. Arsenal spent a fortune on Mustafi last season, a defender who is often called “a decent defender”, there will be more fortunes required for more players like Mustafi.

Added to that toxic stew, now that Arsenal are in the Europa League and they have lost the prestige of being a Champions League club they will find recruitment is actually costlier and more difficult than before. Wenger is notorious for his “valuations” of players and now that players are going to immediately require larger wages to join a Europa League team, I’m not expecting recruitment to go easily at all. We may get a free agent in but the idea of luring a top name player like Griezmann is more fanciful than the most fanciful edition of Cat Fancy.

I also keep getting told by Arsenal supporters that despite the over £100m in the bank and the new TV contracts kicking in, Arsenal just can’t compete with City and Chelsea when it comes to player recruitment. I used to think this is a defeatist attitude but I’ve realized the error of my ways: they are right. Arsenal can’t compete. Arsenal cannot compete in terms of recruitment for top top quality players and by extension they can’t compete for trophies, unless we get lucky and pull a Leicester.

I’m not even expecting Arsenal to retain Alexis and Özil this summer. As far as I’m concerned they are both gone. Alexis is already being recruited by Vidal at Bayern Munich and Özil is upset because the fans don’t love or appreciate him as much as he thinks we should. If you think I’m going to get my hopes up that we will keep either of them, pfff, you’re wrong.

After signing Wenger, all of the management and ownership of Arsenal urged the fans to “get behind the team” and “support the manager” and I’m going to do exactly that. I will support them by expecting nothing.

I expect nothing in terms of recruitment this summer, other than that Arsenal will have to pay way too much for Mustafi-level talent and may get in a free agent. I do not expect Arsenal to get too far in the Europa League. I do not expect Arsenal’s current best players to re-sign for the club. I will expect key injuries to shake Arsenal’s depth. And I expect that Arsenal will finish somewhere above 10th place in the Premier League. Fifth place would be glorious! That’s exactly where Wenger finished this season and got a new contract. So that must be the expectation of the board, manager, and owner.

Qq

164 Comments on Time to adjust your expectations

  1. Exactly. By the standards/goals that they themselves (the senior executives and Wenger) have set, Wenger has failed… consistently over long period. I think he was wise this time to talk about a sustained challenge rather than the league title, because from where we survey things, that is Mission Improbable. By that he likely means he intends to manage things better, so that we don’t have our annual fainting spells over Winter. I’d say this even if we managed to keep Alexis and Ozil, which is unlikely. Perez is good as gone too. So the challenge is attracting quality forwards from a Europa position.

    I wanted Wenger out, but I’m not angry he’s staying. I’m resigned to it. Even ardent Wenger-outers like me retain a smudge of affection for the old man, and we’re not going to storm the barricades (or fly banners from airplanes) over this.

    I just don’t expect us to win the title or qualify for the Champions League (unless we win Europa). Three FA Cups in 4 is tremendous achievement on its own, and we have a good chance in that and Europa, I reckon.

  2. In other words:

    “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”?

    “Same as it ever was”

    It’s hard not to disagree and I appreciate the rhetorical jab:
    “But hasn’t that been the ambition all along?”

    Similar words and sentiments repeated year after year after year and nothing really changes.

    Except this year the manager had the club over a barrel. Had he not signed we would have been worse off than 5th next year, I’d bet my house on it, because there is no one currently available that can push this club to where we all desire it to be and we likely have no succession plan in place.

    I’m glad I have the FA Cup to watching again over the summer to stave off the ennui because if I base it on the tried and hackneyed comments from Wenger, Gazidis and Kroenke I fear it’s going to be a thoroughly boring summer and largely more of the same.

  3. I agree with the sentiment, though I think it may have gotten a bit defeatist.

    Of course, all of this is hugely dependent on what we do in the summer, but personally I think our expectation for next season is to challenge for the top four.

    I think Manchester City and Manchester Utd will certainly be above us. But the other three competitors may have challenges that they didn’t have this year:

    Spurs will lost a lot of their home field advantage because they’ll be at Wembley, which may cost them quite a few points.

    Liverpool will have to manage the Champions League this year, and they aren’t too deep.

    Chelsea will also have Champions League this year, and may have the champion’s hangover.

    So, will we be challenging for the title? No chance. Are we favorites to get into the top four? Probably not. But do we have a decent shot at it? Sure.

  4. Tim will you be less angry if we had the season Tottenham had? Competing till the very end and still falling short? Personally it doesn’t make a difference if you fall short by 1 point or by 20. At the end of the day it is failure. But I always remind myself there are now 6-7 clubs that have genuine quality to compete for the league so only 1 will go home happy and the rest will have failed – and with these 6-7 teams coming ever closer in quality and resources I dare say the winner needs a tremendous amount of luck to win it. Stars have to align since the game is now defined by small margins. Just remember that only one team wins the league, makes being a supporter a bit easier. You shouldn’t lower expectations but rather try putting things in perspective. It will help supporting our club that much easier.

  5. I am a fan of arsenal …win lose or draw. I am disappointed we didn’t make top four and very happy we won the F A cup. I now look forward to do better next season

  6. You know there is also an option of living in hope and dealing with disappointment as and when, or if, it comes. It’s a lot more enjoyable and after all, isn’t that the point of all this?

    On another note, one of these days I would like you to do a by the numbers of Arsenal’s financials. We’re rich, we’re getting money from TV, we have large cash reserves, but I don’t think we’re swimming in it Scrooge McDuck style as you seem to imply. (Although Kroenke would make a good Scrooge McDuck. Top hat, monocle et al)

    Yes, this club is risk averse more than other clubs. But regardless of one season, we’re better off as a club than Spurs or Liverpool are. As for City and Chelsea, you seem to think FFP stops them from spending more than us. The way I see it, not only have they had a head start, they also have their owners to mount a rescue operation (and other black ops) as and when they want, because they aren’t interested in running it as a business primarily. Oh and how did we climb up 3 places in the ‘richest rankings’ this week? Gazidis must be a magician.

    • I do live in hope you silly goat. My hope is currently that the Arsenal will finish top 10 next year. Yours is that we will win the League. If they don’t finish top ten I will be disappointed and deal with that disappointment by lowering my expects even lower. If they don’t mount a title chase outside of the November what will your new hope be?

      I’m not as good at the financial articles as Swiss Ramble. Doing an article like that would take me all summer. I will produce such a piece for the cool price of $1000.

      Anyway, it’s irrelevant what Arsenal CAN spend because they WON’T spend it. They will do the thing where they are looking for top top top top top top totttptptp tpot pt quality and when they can’t get it, Welbeck will be the striker. That’s my expects anyway. If they do sign Griezmann I will be stoked, just like how when Arsenal were going to sign Cech and I was all “THIS ISN’T HAPPENING” and it happened and I was happy. But I don’t sit around hoping that Arsenal will sign anyone anymore.

      • Great..One of the tenets of Buddhism.

        A very practical, earthly religion.

        Also practical is you bringing up money for your articles that your readers might request for a discussion, or indeed if they criticise the great content you provide for free. I would like to send you some money, but practically, at this point, I can’t. Sorry.

        Let’s hope Zen Tim lasts throughout the season and beyond.

  7. I agree with much of what you say, Tim. Particularly salient is the point about the club setting expectations about winning the league (and European trophies!) all the while sending out the opposite message in rehiring a manager who has shown over the last decade that he is incapable of maintaining a title challenge past December, nor progress beyond the R16 of the Champions League.

    And look, this isn’t a problem for you if you’re fine with fourth or thereabouts every season, and enjoying a bit of group stage vacationing in Europe’s elite competition. But it is a problem — or perhaps ‘frustration’ is the better word — when the club tells you that it will compete with Bayern Munich and win the Premier League. Ridiculous and the vast majority of Arsenal fans know it.

    One thing I would disagree with here, though, is that we should recalibrate our expectations for a top ten finish. I mean, if we’re going with history to make our inferences here, i.e., the last decade and more, Wenger has shown he can get his teams to a finish of fourth or thereabouts every single season. I think if we keep him, we keep that record going. I’d be surprised to see us finish worse than 5th or 6th as long as Wenger is at the helm.

    The interesting anomaly this coming season is the Europa League. As you rightly point out, our involvement in this competition could scupper Wenger’s aforementioned track record and see us finish 6th or 7th (or worse). But I have no grid for predicting how this will play out. I worry, though, and to be honest, I kind of hope we field second-string / fringe players for this competition. It would have been perfect for a player like Lucas Perez, though he’s now gone. On the upside, using fringe or younger players gives them match fitness / game time for when they’re needed in PL games to cover our inevitable injuries.

    I just don’t know how seriously Wenger’s going to take the Europa League. If he treats it like the CL in terms of using our starting eleven for both the CL, PL, and to some extent the FA Cup, then yes, I do worry we’ll drop further down the table.

    Finally, about Ozil and Alexis. I’m cautiously optimistic Ozil will sign a new contract. Alexis? He’s off.

    • I see you’re looking at 7th and that travels to (Inserti)stan might help push our results down. Welcome to my world. Just calibrate a little lower and I guarantee you a cracking season where we finish 8th and can all talk about how awesome it is be OUT OF EUROPE AND WE CAN MAKE OUR REAL TITLE PUSH!

      Your last sentence though, now that’s depressing. Re-sign Özil but not Alexis? Ugh. 29 year old Özil fannying about for two more seasons is the stuff of nightmares.

    • Man Utd will not finish below us again, not if they go and spend another 150-200m this summer.

      Everton has a deep pocket owner now with a very good manager. They will be breathing down our necks very soon.

      We will be lucky not to slide to 7th regardless of Europa Cup games. And Wenger will play the A team for that competition, he’ll be well aware that the only way back into the Champions League is the backdoor qualification. That may open the door to a Newcastle even overtaking us in the league.

      I expect LESS emphasis on the Premier League, not more. FA Cup and Europa will be priorities.

  8. arsenal have been in the top 4 for 20 of the last 21 years. so based on that you’d expect them to be in the top 4 next year. some of spurs players are being coveted and if one or two of the starting 11 depart it messes with the continuity of what was a tight squad. Liverpool are Liverpool. they could finish 7th next season.

    but i agree with you – i think arsenal could re-sign ozil and sanchez and bring in a couple surprising players and mount a tile challenge on top of a europa league win 🙂

  9. @jack action. This is follow up from your comment from the previous post. One win and everyone has forgotten about the bad times you say ? Its the FA cup !
    I dont want to judge you, but its hard not to. We all remember the season and how shitty it was, wenger out and all that but. Its the FA cup !

    • It’s the FA Cup and a great victory. I don’t dispute that. Go out on a high Mr. Wenger. You just set a club and manager record for FA Cup wins. Your team overcame injury and set-back to beat the Premier League Champions and a fierce rival. Go out on a high Mr. Wenger.

    • The FA Cup win, great as it was, has simply papered over the cracks. The patterns will be repeated next season. I doubt Mr Wenger will change.

  10. I have zero optimism for next season. Or the one after.

    What just happened?

    I know a lot of blogs are hard on Gazidis and the board, but I’m almost thinking they are sympathetic characters here being outflanked by Wenger.

    Clearly some on the board recognized that at the very least a succession plan needed to be in place for post-Wenger. A Director of Football would be a first step in that direction. They offer his a contract extension back in the winter, but Wenger considers a Director and succession planning an insult. There is sniping in public, one can only imagine what was said behind closed doors.

    Wenger decides to delay his decision until the end of the season. The board is powerless to force a decision because the owner is absent.

    But our first pre-season game is July 15. There is no conceivable way the club could find a new manager and do all its necessary recruitment in 4 weeks before training camp re-opens. Wenger has the club over a barrel.

    Kroenke isn’t stupid, knows this, plus he genuinely likes Wenger and has shown through his past ownership of other sports teams that he is only marginally ambitious for club success.

    He and Wenger talk, the word comes down from the mountain that Wenger is re-signing for 2 years and here we are, back where we were at the end of 2015 – when we’d just won the FA Cup, we were supposed to “push on” for the title and Wenger signed just one player – Cech. Now it’s the same noise – we’re “close”, we’re just “one or two players away”.

    So… Wenger again. No Director of Football and hence no succession plan. A helluva lot of work to do in the next 5 weeks. Sanchez, Ozil, Perez, Wilshere, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gabriel, Jenkinson, Ospina, Sczesny and Debuchey all very strong candidates for leaving and who knows if there’s any surprise departures.

    This is Wenger’s fault. He’s engineered this, taking advantage of a weak club and a weak owner. A stronger club would impose a club hierarchy on Wenger and not allow one individual to basically run it from the inside. Wenger has now become the villain in my eyes. His legacy is tainted.

  11. Buying is either
    replace a loss
    upgrade
    backup
    youth + potential

    Replacements:
    If Ozil leaves we look for Turan or Mahrez, both downgrades
    If Sanchez leaves Lacazette is probably a moderate downgrade

    Sadly, even though we’ll be downgrading we’ll be doing it from a position of weakness and probably spend more than we get.

    Depending on how much we have left to spend, the only players who we should be looking to upgrade are Welbz and possibly Ramsey. Of the two, I’d spend on Welbz, Spanish papers saying Bale could be available because Isco has taken his spot. He’s 27. He could pair w Rambo. It would drive Spuds crazy. I’d spend 80MM on him and call it a day.

    While I’d love to upgrade on Rambo with a ball carrying creative midfielder who played good defense and makes occasional runs into the box aka Cazorla 2.0 or midfield destroyer with offensive abilities aka Viera 2.0. But I don’t think there are any clear semi-available candidates. Realistically, he’s going to be backed up by Ox, +/- Cazorla, +/- Wilshire

    After Bale, we should focus on young high upside players like Onyekuru to fill out our Europa league squad so that 80% of the A team can rest all week. In fact, hire Wenger’s replacement and give him the B team.

      • I should add further to Tim’s comments about us not paying agents – Gareth Bale’s agent took 14 million in commissions when Spurs sold him to Real Madrid… who for a single second believes Wenger will sanction that kind of pay-off for any agent?

    • Bale? If we manage that (the old north London enemy + no champions league), I’m going to Hollywood to make a play for Scarlett Johansson.

      Another thing. Cazorla 2.0 was not a “runs into the box midfielder.” He and Ramsey have completely different games.

      Glad you mentioned Jack, though. When Ozil leaves, he won’t have anyone eyeing up his No. 10 shirt. And that’s his position. Serious question, though, about whether Jack is done. it’s a hard road back for him.

      • I gather that he wasn’t exactly pulling up trees at Bournemouth, and his injury record isn’t getting any better. Feel bad for the kid, and always wanted him to do well, but I think we should sell him. Does Wenger think that? I doubt it.

        • He wasn’t bad at Bournemouth. I watched him quite a bit, whenever I could.

          “Wasn’t exactly pulling up trees” is one of those tricky sayings: it conveys “he wasn’t doing that well,” but if you deny that, and say, “no, that’s wrong,” it sounds like you’re saying he WAS pulling up trees (metaphorically, not literally of course). The truth is somewhere in the middle: no, he wasn’t pulling up trees (i.e. doing exceptionally well), but he was actually playing quite well, and I think he’s good enough to still have a future with us. Whether he does depends on a lot of things falling into place, however, and my suspicion is that he’ll be too impatient to stay and fight for his place (as he was last year), and request a transfer, and Wenger will let him go.

          • Yes, he did well, but nothing mind blowing, and in this context what is meant is that he did nothing to show he had made progress on fulfilling the potential we all believe he has or had.

          • It was his first largely injury free season in, like, forever. I’m not saying we should definitely keep him, I just think the standard you seem to be employing–“starting pulling up trees right away, or else you’ve done nothing to show us you’re about to become a superstar”–isn’t the right one if we’re trying to gauge whether he has a legitimate chance to be an Arsenal calibre player who would significantly contribute to our squad, or not. I think he still has that chance, but time will tell.

          • Except he wasn’t dropped but for a couple of games (if at all–it’s hard to say what counts as being “dropped”, e.g. if you miss a game through minor injury and the team wins without you so you don’t automatically get your place back, does that mean you were “dropped”?). And that was because they needed to tighten up defensively, not because he had been terrible. And then he was brought back into the lineup. Then he had a season ending injury. And he wasn’t “awful”. And Bournemouth weren’t “awful” (what’s your definition of ‘awful’, exactly?). They finished 9th. I watched quite a few of their games, and a number of times I had the distinct impression that he was the best player in their team (for what it’s worth (not much!) the TV commentators on those games also often were praising him for his quality on the ball).

            Obviously, this is one guys opinion, and maybe I’m wrong, or don’t have the whole truth (I didn’t watch all their games). But why do you so often post these dogmatic, unqualified statements as if your view of events is absolute fact?

          • If memory serves, he lost his place because of injury, his replacement came in and did well, they had good results and he couldn’t get back in the First XI. Or we was dropped. I can’t remember precisely.

            If he couldnt get into the Bournemouth side — which was the case at a critical part of the season — then that was not a loan that could be said to be going well. Bournemouth also quite noticeably cooled their interest in signing him. Two assists, zero goals and 3 yellow cards for an offensive player in a mid-table team is a very poor return.

            If he stays free of injury, he may just become a cut-price Ozil if (as I fear) the German leaves this summer.

          • Yes, that’s right, except
            1. He did get his place back after a few games, before getting injured for the season.
            2. It wasn’t just a matter of his replacement doing well but a change of formation too.

    • Bale is valued at €90m by transfermakt and if Arsenal were to buy him( assuming at about that price) , Wenger would admit to making a €75m mistake by not getting him from Southampton when the Spurs did for €15m.

      How likely do you think that’s going to happen?

      • I don’t know kow likely we are to get Bale. Probably not very. But I do ‘know’ that this sort of thinking would have nothing to do with it.

        If Wenger really cared about how his transfers are perceived, he would sign more ‘in demand’ players and wouldn’t talk about how we missed out in the first place.

        • Thanks for putting a smile on my face Shard.
          If you truly believe Wenger doesn’t care how his transfers, or to be more precise, his ability to find hidden gems are perceived, than you haven’t been paying attention I’m afraid.
          Every key player he’s ever missed out on was do to “special” circumstances out of his control.

          Even when one can disprove his statements with a two minute research, Wenger’s official story on Yaya Toure still is ” the passport issue”

          Name one transfer we missed out on when Wenger admitted bad judgment or acting slow that effected the outcome.
          Take your time 🙂

          • It doesn’t have to be bad judgment. Look at the likely new NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors. They managed to sign a 4th superstar, Kevin Durant. Partly do to the cap going up but also because they got 3 superstars in the draft, of which because of injury problems with Steph Curry, they kept him on a lower contract. Now, so many other NBA teams could have drafted Curry. Or indeed other stars like Kawhi Leonard or Isiah Thomas. Sure, some messed up. But for a lot of teams it just wasn’t the right move at the time. Which is what the Bale thing was with us. He was a LB and had talent, but at that moment we didn’t need a young LB.

            I doubt Wenger thinks of these as ‘mistakes’. They were either out of his hands, or he made a decision which was based on the situation then.

            As for acting slow, he recently said that maybe we need to act faster on transfers, like with Kante. (Can’t remember the actual quote)

            Nah man. There’s legitimate criticisms of Arsene Wenger and there’s some counterpoints to those. But if you think he won’t sign a player who would help the team (in his opinion) because it would somehow show up a 10 year old decision, then I just have to say you are plain wrong.

            (PS. What is the actual Yaya Toure story?)

  12. Sadly, have to agree entirely with your analysis and assessment, Tim. We’ve heard the same rhetoric. The challenges are now greater than ever to reverse this vicious circle of unambition we have been in while being told the Emirates stadium and the high ST prices and the Puma deals are to allow us to compete in Europe with the Bayerns and so forth. Wenger has had 4-5 years of enhanced resources to build a winning team. But the crazy thing is that it seems that AW really believes it and thinks he can achieve this, whereas Gazidis is just a corporate stooge.

    I can understand that MU, City and Chelsea throw more resources into football than we do. What is disturbing is that we seem to have the same sort of season with the same failings and frailties. I would, for one, much prefer finishing top 4 by dropping some points to mid-table teams but winning big matches and being relevant in the mini-league–at least you remember and enjoy those victories. If we could have overachieved one or two seasons in a dramatic way during the last 13 that would also have been something great. And I would accept finishing 5 or 6 every once in a while too during that stretch. The variation and the possibility of winning would be redeeming as a supporter.

  13. I am resetting my expectations to a bear minimum. As long as I observe us trying to compete the games I watch live I will be happy. Just the actually desire to really try for the entire 90 mins at home will be acceptable.

    I assuming the ‘catalyst of change’ is just to move away from tepid sideways / backwards passing that means we get more than 2/3 shots on target before the last 10 mins when we often start to go for it.

  14. Tim, you’re sneaky. Publish a positive article and the comments will mostly be positive. Publish negative stuff and everyone seems to concur.

    Personally I’m looking forward to next season and whatever it will bring.

    No one is forcing anyone to follow the Arsenal. That’s the beautiful thing. I chose this path and I will walk it.

    And on it I will be positive about next season.

  15. Show me Wenger. Show me Gazidis. Show me Kroenke. The rhetoric at the end of the season has been the same now for so many season that we know it by heart. The mind numbing rhetoric does not say to the fans we hear you and this is how we are going to change it around.
    Wenger always says “Judge me at the end of the season” and the FA cup aside, Arsenal and Wenger have been poor for several end of the season reviews.
    Now comes an alleged report that Özil and Sanchez won’t sign until the club makes signings which show ambition:
    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/alexis-sanchez-and-mesut-ozil-want-to-know-arsenal-transfer-targets-before-committing-a3554391.html. Shades of RVP.
    This kind of article means less than nothing because it is so absurd. Maybe they learn a thing or two by being sold by clubs that went onto bigger and better when they were replaced.
    Wenger is a good manager Tony (and certainly better than you will ever be) but my problem with him is that his reaction time to make change when we were going down the toilet was too slow.

  16. This is all making me very sad. The version of “realism” here is more like a dystopian future where everything will be worse than it already was. Why are people so intent on forecasting the worst possible outcomes? Don’t try to tell me it’s rational. A rational mind doesn’t fall for gambler’s fallacy and puts appropriate weight on all possible outcomes. That’s not what’s happening here. I think it’s an angry backlash pre-empting a fear of disappointment which is seen as inevitable based on historic precedent. And that’s messed up when you think about it. You’re already pre-emptively angry about something that hasn’t happened yet just because you’re afraid you’ll get your feelings hurt. And you’re predetermining how this year will go based on historic precedent. Imagine approaching anything else in life that way.

    Also imagine being a footballer or prospective footballer at Arsenal. We, the fans, have a lot to do with creating the type of environment where players want to play. After letting everyone else in and around the club hear it about only winning the FA cup this year and finishing (Gasp!) 5th, I think it’s only fair that WE take our share of responsibility for this too. We’re the only fanbase capable of waging debates via airborne banners, for the love of Dennis. WE have harangued players and managers after games. WE have spouted the most uninformed, unedifying trash on Arsenal “Fan” TV. WE are known as a fanbase that can’t create a good home atmosphere, and that didn’t start at the Emirates. Is any of that helpful to anyone? We “The fans” are the only ones immune from responsibility when it comes to Arsenal Football club in our own eyes, it seems. And when you think about it, that’s messed up too. They, the ones over there, they have to meet our expectations. We? We just show up. Or not. But damn it, we are angry if they don’t do what we want or if things don’t work out how we want!

    I don’t have it in me to fight this battle all summer long so if this is how it’s going to be from now ’til August, I’m dunzo and see ya’ll when the football starts.

    • I’m not angry at all doc. And I’m certainly not afraid of my feelings getting hurt, please don’t project that nonsense on me.

      What you perceive as anger is simple resignation. “This is how things are now.” I’m kind of like a middle-aged man who has been married to the same woman for 20 years and I’ve finally just said “well she’s not changing, so what do I do? I guess I just accept her!” I’m not going to get a divorce. I love Arsenal. So, i just accept the things I can’t change and move on.

      It’s fucking liberating. This is the best I’ve felt about Arsenal in 3 years. I realize I’ve been depressed about Arsenal all this time but this adjustment of my expectations is fantastic. I don’t have to get upset when they finish 7th! I don’t have to be down about the fact that we take forever to sign players and that we scrape around in bargain bins! I might even try this whole new approach out on a game by game basis. That way when we play West Brom or some other “winable game” I’m not upset when we fail. In fact it will be funny.

      What I’m saying here, Doc, and I’m being serious, is that I’ve actually expanded my expectations. This is what the club has told me to do for years. The club and manager and all the positive fans have told me that I expect too much. Only one team can win the league. 19 other teams lost the League to Leicester. We can’t spend like the other teams. We can’t compete with Man City, Chelsea, Man U, PSG, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Monaco, or Borussia Dortmund. Buying a player isn’t like buying a loaf of bread. The referees are corrupt. The League doesn’t want Wenger to win. UEFA hates Arsenal. On and on. I’ve been told for so long that I need to manage my expectations and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

      By the way, I just read that Arsenal made an offer for Mbappe. That’s the kind of news that beats my middling expectations all to pieces. If we sign him I will be so happy. But I don’t expect that we will sign him and if we do still won’t expect to win the League or the Europa League. I’ll still be shooting for 10th in the League or better. It’s going to be a great season.

      • I appreciate the response, but it makes me wonder about your expectations beforehand. Did you really think Arsenal were going to win the league over Chelsea and City and United while keeping net transfer spending zero between 2005 and 2013? We almost did you know, and that would’ve been incredible. Wenger’s teams have played every round of golf on or just below (meaning better than) par during that time and that’s an achievement in and of itself. All it got though was increasingly derisive commentary about a lack of ambition. We are just STARTING to orbit in the same stratosphere as the real big boys financially. When has Arsenal football club every spent 100 million pound on on transfers? Never! Until last summer. Why does nobody talk about that? Why does nobody mention that despite that, we had shambles in midfield for 1/3 of the season because Cazorla was injured and his replacements were lacking? Our record in the first 8 and last 8 games of the season (when we had a good midfield) was W14 D2 L2, and one of those Ls was that crazy Liverpool game when we had to start Chambers and Holding at CB and paired Coquelin with El-Neny in midfield. And that middle 3rd of the season? Maybe we didn’t lose those games because Wenger is crap but because the midfield was crap. Maybe Wenger would be a better manager with, wait for it… Better players, or just if his first choice XI stayed fit! Because all managers are better with better players and with their best players available. We have the core of a title winning squad, if only they can stay healthy and play together. And here you and a bunch of other people are talking like the coming season is hopeless. I cannot accept that.

        Yes, managing expectations is something we all should do, particularly in a low scoring and therefore volatile sport like soccer where the outcomes of big matches hinge on little moments. Expectations should depend on spending power, on players already at the club and on the strength of the competition ahead. By all those measures, Arsenal football club absolutely can expect to compete for a league title for the first time in the best part of a decade. So now according to some I’m supposed to accept as truth that they won’t because of Wenger’s fictional glass ceiling?

        • This is exactly it. I think people just want to focus on the one constant all these years.

          Because the outcome hasn’t matched expectations, it is easier to blame the constant than try to worry about all the variables at the club and outside that have contributed to our standings. No thought that the constant may actually be the stabilising factor, and in any case, a high variance outcome is preferable because it is different.

          Wenger only buys kids
          Wenger never spends money (we’ll ignore that this has constantly grown since the club moved past the long term sponsorship deals)
          Wenger will never win a trophy
          (in addition, Wenger doesn’t do tactics, and Wenger has lost the dressing room)

          All established glass ceilings or limitations for Arsenal in the past decade. All broken. But this time it isn’t just a glass ceiling. Apparently the floor has given way and the pit bottoms out at 10th. Maybe we should get rid of Wenger and appoint Tony Pulis or Mark Hughes. They’ll be more organised and we can then better accept our new reality.

          • Why are you standing in the field screaming at the straw man you just built?

            Suggesting Arsenal should appoint Tony Pulis is the new “Arsenal should just buy Messi.”

            I’ve never said Wenger only buys kids, never spends money (I actually wrote an article year ago that proved he spent the 2nd MOST money), never said he wouldn’t win a trophy, and have argued vociferously against the notion that he doesn’t do tactics or training.

            You’re so full of your own virtue.

        • 1. YES. I really believed we were going to win the League at some point between 2006-2013, I’ve even gone back and re-watched the season DVDs from those years and the sense of optimism in 2007 and again in early 2009 was profound. Dude, I was one of the original “positive bloggers”. I also believed we would win the Champions League — we were SOOO close against Barcelona. I laid out all of the arguments that most of them still talk about today. Most of the stuff they say was lifted directly from the articles I wrote between 2008 and 2012.

          2. “Why does nobody talk about that? Why does nobody mention that despite that, we had shambles in midfield for 1/3 of the season because Cazorla was injured and his replacements were lacking?” I TALK ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME.

          3. The rest of your questions are actually missing the point: Wenger is in charge of player recruitment. Would Wenger be better with better players? I’ve been saying this for years also, YES. BUT HE’S IN CHARGE OF BUYING THE PLAYERS. WENGER DIDN’T BUY ANYONE TWO YEARS AGO. HE BOUGHT PETR CECH AND SAID “DONE”.

          But there’s more here and more reasons why we should lower our expectations: Wenger is damaged goods, I’m convinced of that now. Players are openly rejecting a chance to move to Arsenal. We even had one player pick Wolfsburg over Arsenal. I suspect this is a combination of agents and our reputation. There is something going on here and I think it’s about Wenger.

          • I’m not going to belabor the issues because I don’t want to antagonize you or anyone else further. We can agree to disagree. Cheers and thanks for your hard work on the blog.

          • Why did you think that was about you? Only because of the finishing 10th part? Obviously Tony Pulis or Marky Mark Spark plug was a joke. An exasperated exaggeration. At some point, all the individual points get lost in a whole nebula of negativity.

            Are you talking about Luis Gustavo? He joined Wolfsburg from Bayern and although it may not be the only factor, but he would qualify for German citizenship if he stayed there. We also had players reject us, ironically, because they thought they weren’t good enough to earn a regular starting spot at Arsenal. (Vertonghen and Mirallas I think have said this in the past)

            Not saying you are wrong. But I don’t know if you are right about this being about Wenger. Other than the fact that he strikes me as a guy who doesn’t do shady deals. (Again, about which I could be wrong) What would it be? A refusal to pay legal, justifiable and affordable agents fees? I don’t see why that would be, but if so, I would back calls for his sacking because for all the spotlight the managers get, it is players who win you titles really. Not that my opinion means anything.

            (On the only buying Cech thing. Clear mistake. But personally for me, not enough to justify his sacking)

      • Yeah, I just read that Mbappe thing, too. I imagine we *could* spend the money on the transfer, but his wages would have to be in silly territory for him to trade Champions League football for Europa League football next season. I just don’t see it. Would love it, but just don’t see it. I imagine he’ll go to a team already in the Champions League, or a team willing to pay massive, massive wages. Or he’ll stay at Monaco.

  17. The doom and gloom on this site is reaching new levels. Look I’m not very optimistic about our prospects next season either but let’s take our 5th place finish into perspective. We had our worst season under Wenger by a mile but still only missed out on a CL spot by one point. We still finished with 75 points and this was the first time in history that a team with that many points didn’t grab a CL spot. We could have even finished 3rd on the last day of the season (unlikely but still a mathematical possibility). Are we going to be that poor again? I don’t think so. The mid-field is getting better and I think we will add more quality. This group will get better at playing with a back 3 so I expect our overall play to improve. Worst case scenario is if we lose Alexis. Then we will have to buy two good finishers – but let’s cross that bridge when it comes. I don’t care too much about losing Ozil. I sincerely doubt his absence will change things too much. To be frank, as much as I love Ozil I wouldn’t be terribly sad to see him leave. He is replaceable and we might even get someone with a little bit more steel.

    I also think that while Wenger has shown that he is unable to build a title winning team, he is very capable of building a team that finishes top 4. I don’t think we should downplay that. There is enough history there to think that he can do that again. Other people have mentioned Liverpool being inconsistent and Tottenham fading a bit due to their move. All of that is possible. A lot depends on what we do in the transfer market. I realize that’s not exactly confidence inspiring but we HAVE bought players like Alexis, Ozil, Cech and Xhaka in the last 4 summer transfer windows. We could yet do the same.

    So I’m not exactly ready to join this downward spiral yet. Maybe I’m being naïve, but I do expect us to finish fourth next season.

    • Yeah, a top four finish would be fantastic but I’m ok with anything between 10th and 1st.

  18. We have our differences on the state of things, but one side’s realism — from its perspective — shouldn’t be seen as defeatism or negativism. On game day, we’ll all be cheering ourselves hoarse for the team. That’s different from making a frank appraisal of its chances, or the state of things.

    I agree with those like nycgunner who say we have a shot at Top4. We do. As Meatloaf didn’t say, 20 out of 21 ain’t bad. But qualifying for a competition that we show little ability to win is not why I support Arsenal FC, a club with a certain pedigree. Like Thierry Henry, I expect us to be competing for the title. And (I disagree with Thierry here), we just re-appointed the guy who, even with his deck stacked, doesn’t seem to have the managerial ability to lead us there anymore.

    Respectfully, some truths are hard ones. This isn’t Pravda.

    • To add, though…

      Even the minimum expectation of qualifying for Top 4 is harder from fifth. Who will stay and who we’ll attract are both MUCH tougher propositions. It’s one place, but it’s a gulf.

      We had a much better squad than Liverpool, and arguably better squads than City and Spurs, in my opinion. Arsene underachieved with that group. Subtract the two stars and possibly Ox, and it doesn’t get easier.

    • The problem is claude, we (by which I mean all Arsenal fans) precisely DON’T cheer on the team come game day. You know the derisory terrace chant of you only sing when you’re winning. Arsenal fans barely even manage that. And it has a lot to do with the negative spectrum of the truth being constantly aired as, by this point, the self evident truth.

      Despite the changes in circumstances, albeit not the league positioning (which if you really want to be fair, is more to Arsene’s credit than discredit) goalposts keep getting shifted in how to keep up this cynical negativity to the point where any and all other options seem more palatable. Whether a new owner, new manager, hell even new, objectively worse, reality where we do an impression of Liverpool over the past decade.

      It affects the team now, and the usual reaction of the same fans who claim they are important is that they have no responsibility in this.

      • Shard, with respect, you should leave India for London for a couple of weeks attend some games. You would probably come to a different conclusion about fan support. Some of the singing DOES take place in a losing cause. Particularly away. What the fans appreciate above all is effort. I don’t agree with how some reacted to Bellerin in that now infamous incident with the ball going out of play, but the team (at the players’ direction) used that for some deep introspection. And the raised their game. We started to see something we’d never seen before from Wenger teams (something that I have commented on a lot in the past)… players throwing themselves into blocks. Even Kieran Gibbs, a notably poor defender (but decent going forward) has been blocking shots. That is direct feedback from the fans. More effort. More fight. In large measure, because the fans demanded it. I can tell you for sure that if we fight hard and lose, the fans appreciate the effort.

        In an earlier comment Doc spoke disparagingly of the guys from Arsenal Fan TV — guys who attend EVERY SINGLE Arsenal game, home and away, and yes, who cheer the team, win or lose.

        What you Doc do, probably unintentionally, is present yourselves as a breed of thinking fans who alone get the project. There is more than one way to appreciate the club. And (no disrespect to you) I would far more readily listen to the guys who expend enormous time and treasure. Everyone can’t go to he Emirates (and I myself am not going to create a divide between those who can and can’t), but I wish you’d give them more credit than you do. They’re as smart and thoughtful as you are. A lot of smart, thoughtful fans are deeply critical of the Wenger project and wanted him gone.

        You seem to think that the fans create the c**p. I happen to think that they respond to it. And their response is completely rational. That said, I would agree with you that there’s an ugly core that boo and abuse players and the manager, and I hate that. In the stadium, your business is to cheer the team, according the Arsene. I agree with him. And most do. Look, once the game is underway, most get on the case of the opposition when they wrong one of ours, and on the case of the ref if they think he’s showing bias. They sing for Holding (he’s better than Cannavaro, apparently), Grroud, Alexis, Ozil…

        Some frustration boiled over. It got vocal, sometimes appropriately so, sometimes inappropriately so. But quite understandably.

        • I have been to London (though not this season) and been at games. I’ve been to games with fantastic atmosphere, including when we weren’t winning, and with less great atmosphere.

          More than that I’ve interacted with a lot of people in the pubs around the Ems, locals and tourists. Maybe you think going to every game and spending money makes them better fans or more in touch. Not always (not by a long way), but often I find it makes them take that privilege and joy for granted and also feel more self important. Both of which are prime grounds for seeing the worst in the club and their efforts. Almost as a personal affront. (It only takes a relative few to create a bad atmosphere because we’re hardly a rabid fanbase in general)

          Sorry but I’ve seen this argument that abusing players makes them better and I’m not buying it. Yes negative reactions can be a trigger to do something positive. But more often than not it leads to worse performances. Especially when it is kept up almost incessantly.

          Plus, I think part of the reason we seem to fall prey to these displays lacking confidence is because in today’s world, the players can’t always block out the more abusive fans. Whether online or even sometimes in the real world.

          Look I’m not saying it is all on the fans. Obviously the club, the manager and the players need to do better. But the atmosphere kept up around the club is both disproportionate and unhelpful. Whether they create it or respond, it is counter-productive.

          See the statements from the No New Contract group. Do you think they are in this for the good of the club or just to feel/stay important? (Arsenal FanTV does the same ‘celebrity’ thing) And that sort of thing spreads. It forces people to pick sides. It makes the sideshow into the main event, often relegating the football to the background.

          PS. If fans appreciated effort above all else, two of our most disparaged guys in Ramsey and Giroud would be adored (and yes I am aware Giroud’s song rings out every so often)

          • “Sorry but I’ve seen this argument that abusing players makes them better…”

            Ive expressly said I’m opposed to abusing players, and that is not ^^ an argument that I made. The point about having a meeting after the incident is a nuanced one, but I forgot you don’t do nuance.

            The point about those guys going to every game is yes, they are more connected to the club and players than you, their opinions carry weight and yes, I am more inclined to listen to them than you. They don’t speak the Queen’s English, but I find them to be far more astute observers of the state of things at our club, particularly Claude, who clearly loves Wenger and is torn by what’s going on. You can come across as a bit blase and dismissive, with all due respect.

            Lastly, you answered the question you posed in the last line. 😀 Exactly.

          • Not even all the stadium going fans agree on things. And people’s opinions are a lot more amorphous than the boxes they are put in anyway.(Even simply the act of asking a question can also do this)

            Ok, you think their opinion carries more weight than mine because they go to games. Obviously I don’t agree. Guess that’s the end of an argument right there because how do you bridge that gap?

      • Man, you must have missed all of Les’ articles about the terraces during the 80s.

        The fact is that fans grow grumpy. Even Leicester fans were grumpy at games this year. You want the fans to be less grumpy? Play some great football.

  19. Doom-mongering is now being sold as “truth.” If that’s your truth, keep it to yourself. I’m a scientist and I know speculation when I see it. Truth is difficult to come by and nothing wise was ever said in absolutes.

    Apparently hoping for top 4 is now being optimistic. Right, because every good player will leave, no good players will sign, Wenger will make the team worse by his sheer presence, and everyone around us will be so much better than us. Have I summed it up all right? And lest ye forget, this version of possible events is nothing less than god’s honest, simple unadulterated TRUTH. Oh, sweet sanity.

    • I don’t understand why you need to straw man all the time. I don’t know which blog you’re transposing this argument about Truth from but it’s not here. Not from me, anyway.

      But more to the point, how is it doom to finish 10th? I don’t see any doom in that at all. Doom is relegation. And even then? Meh. I’m still going to be an Arsenal supporter. Thinking about it now, I guess.. I have rid myself of doom. I have no doom now. It’s great.

      I think it’s because we hit what was my doomsday scenario and I realized “huh, this doesn’t feel too doomy” that I’m able to embrace even lower standards. I’m pretty sure there is not even a bottom for me. You know? Like where would Arsenal have to finish before it would be a doom scenario?

      I think morally there is a bottom. If Arsenal were to come out as racist or sexist I would have a problem. And I am repulsed by the owner giving money to Trump. But that’s just a function of capitalism. He’s rich. That’s what rich people do. I’m maybe shifting a bit here. I am thinking that maybe the corportization of the sport, turning it into a multinational capitalist corporation does bother me, a lot. And I have decided not to give them money in terms of merch or going to games live. But I guess I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m ready to stop watching Arsenal yet even though I know that they make more money off me watching than they do off me going to games.

      But the results? The on-field stuff? That’s just supposed to be fun. And there’s really not much difference between 10th and 2nd except maybe we’d play some games in Europe. Maybe we get a few better players if we finish in the top four, I’m still not entirely convinced that has been the case with Arsenal. I suppose we wouldn’t have been able to recruit Özil and Alexis. Or maybe we just would have paid more for them. I don’t know. We don’t know. And there is literally nothing I can do.

      Or come to think of it, there’s really nothing I care to do. I’m really not too bothered. It’s not doom herr Doktor, just the opposite. Remember what the esteemed Elie Wiesel once said: the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

      I’m in the “not bothered” camp. Not quite “indifference” but getting there.

      • I’ll make a revelation, Tim. I don’t really read any other blogs besides yours and Arseblog. Yours was the best I ever had (fnar). So if I say something that sounds straw man-ish to you (strawman-ing?) it hasn’t come from anywhere but the ideas I’ve read here, whether from you or from another poster. Clearly, I don’t see it as strawman-ing or I wouldn’t say it. It may sound that way to you because of our ideological differences.

        This particular post was a direct reference to claudeivan’s above, and indirect reference to earlier posts (including yours) which I felt were overly negative. Did I overstate myself? That’s a matter of opinion. Saying we’ll finish 10th and lose both our best players without replacing either with an equal caliber sounds pretty “doomy” to me.

        Fundamentally though, we agree: it’s supposed to be fun! And it has to be because there is nothing we can do to change it if we don’t like it. I’ve gotten so much chrap for saying that, so it’s a relief to see you agree, even if I detect a lacing of bitterness in that particular piece of your post.

  20. “I’m a scientist and I know speculation when I see it.”

    That makes two of us with science degrees 🙂 I’m sure we’re not alone here.

    As I said, this ain’t Pravda.

    • The point was not to compare resumes. If you really know something about science then I shouldn’t have to explain “truth” to you. The core tenet of scientific theory is that a hypothesis can only be disproved, not proved, and I think we learned that in 5th grade.

    • Well, I detected a whiff of condescention in that unnecessary revelation. I think you’ve proved, time and again, you’re no better equipped than anyone else here to process a set of facts.

      What Tim, me and others you disagree with are doing is taking a set of facts, and processing them into a conclusion. You may disagree with the conclusions (and I wish they comported with yours), but you don’t have a monopoly on the ability to process.

      • What in the world? So a) you didn’t know I was a scientist because… ? I think my handle gives it away! b) You touting your conclusion as TRUTH was what got this started and got my hackles up! Are you recanting on that? I hope so!

        • There are other kinds of doctors…

          Anyway, who is claiming truth here? We’re making predictions, sharing our thoughts, talking about likelihoods and probabilities, often based on past patterns, etc. Maybe your involvement in the sciences has made you prone to see all language as a truth claim whenever it doesn’t have a massive caveat. You should rename yourself THE HEDGE. I’m sorry, but I think most of us here assume hedging. If we don’t do it all the time (explicitly), perhaps it’s because it can become tedious.

          Your comment about fifth grade sums up your ethos here. The need for your handle to tell us that you are a doctor, followed by countless complaints about the way people talk, followed by the disbelief that people can’t see you’re a doctor, followed by condescending remarks about how anybody who has an elementary school education should understand just how right you are.

          Actually, your new handle should be, “PRIG.”

          Why do you act this way, Doc? Tell us about your childhood.

          • I had a wonderful childhood, if you want to know. I wonder about yours though. What is it that makes you try to deconstruct me in particular while ignoring the (valid) points that I’m trying to make, while giving others a pass? This is not the first time. You know full well I don’t come here to do the things you accuse. Perhaps I come out harder than I should sometimes because I feel outnumbered. Quite frankly though, I say what I say out of genuine desperation and disbelief of the views I’m reading. You think I come across a certain way, that’s fine. Can we leave the amateur psychology and name calling behind us though? My point about the meaning of truth had an edge to it for a reason, and it’s not any of the ones you cite. I think you’re fully aware of that.

          • Doc, you come across as insecure. You talk down to people and feel some need to tell people you’ve never met that you’re well educated. This is hardly amateur psychology. This is just plain obvious from your behavior here.

          • Oh, and I didn’t ignore your point. I quite clearly addressed your assumption that people who disagree with you assume certitude about the truth. See “HEDGE.”

          • “Maybe your involvement in the sciences has made you prone to see all language as a truth claim whenever it doesn’t have a massive caveat.”

            Or maybe my involvement in the sciences has taught me to sneer and ridicule at conjecture when presented as fact? I confess my contempt for that kind of thing is hard for me to hide. That’s what this debate is about, isn’t it? Except you’re trying to make it about me personally. I don’t appreciate that. Play the ball, bunburyist. That’s what I did.

            As for addressing my point, are you saying I should call the hedge comment intelligent discourse, especially when it’s followed by ad hominem attacks? I mean, you could make the case that I was being a dck earlier, and that’s fine, I an adult and I can speak in the heat of the moment and take responsibility for it. But who are you to police the thread and decide who is out of bounds and needs a good dressing down? That’s one of the first things I remember about you… I criticised something Tim wrote and you stepped up as his adorable little bodyguard and began berating me instead of trying to have a conversation. You’ve tried to keep that side of you under wraps but every so often you come unglued and decide to have a go. I’m sorry I bring the worst out in you. Who is insecure again?

        • Perhaps I misused the word “truths.” After all, making it a self evident truth that all men were created equal doesn’t necessarily make it so.

          So, I rephrase, Doctor… some conclusions can be hard to accept, despite the evidence in support.

          • Yes, you did “misuse” the word. Thanks for rephrasing. What’s hard to accept are not conclusions, but conclusions of others that are being foisted upon others as truth. Now that’s Pravda!

        • Wow, first time poster, long time passive reader, just came here to note what a condescending prick you are. Whining constantly about how everyone is less rational while acting like zealot.

          – signed someone with a PhD

          • Hi Emob,

            Thanks to you and your PHD for coming out of the shadows just to have a go at me. Top chap, you are. Maybe I would care about what you have to say if you bothered to interact in a normal way before now. At least claude and bunburyist have been around long enough to have developed some level of understanding with me, even if right now we’re at odds. You? You’re just a faceless troll.

            -signed, someone who could care less about you or your opinion.

          • Hell of a substitutes appearance off the bench Emob. Welcome to 7amkickoff!

            We’re all friends here I promise!

          • Ok, so for what it’s worth, I think you’re all acting a little bit, shall I say, out of order…(says the guy with two degrees, including a PhD, from Oxford and two degrees from Yale–how’s that for bragging about one’s resume!).

            I think Doc is maybe too quick to lecture everyone else about their negativity, but for what it’s worth, I largely agree with him in this instance: I think people come across as acting like their negativity is somehow more sophisticated than any positivity, which is kinda annoying. Surely the truth is usually in the middle, and those of us that think that MAYBE next year won’t be terrible (could even be considerably better than this one) are not necessarily deluded or hopelessly naive. I also think that, even if no one is coming out explicitly to say that they have a monopoly on “the truth”, the forceful, uncompromising ways that people on both sides (but perhaps especially on the “negativity” side) express their views (Tim sets the tone on this, I believe, but hey, it’s his blog so he can write what he pleases) do come across as lacking in intellectual humility, at least to me. (But, someone will say, “who are you to lecture us on intellectual humility!” And that someone may be right.)

            In closing, I would just like to say that the name calling and vindictive personal attacking is my least favorite thing about this blog, which I otherwise like very much. Can’t we all just get along???

  21. Look, many will argue that there’s never a time for “doom and gloom” (though I disagree that some the of the relatively downbeat comments are close to that).

    Blogs are for celebrating as we should do after a brilliant cup win as they are for venting and whinging and whining as we have every right to do after hearing the same old song dance from the Big Three.

    I’ve never subscribed to the “rah rah” notion of supporting a club regardless of circumstances, though I personally would draw a line at booing or disparaging the team at a game regardless of whatever ticket price I paid.

    Come mid-August I’ll be right there supporting whichever squad is wearing red and white and blue and yellow. But less of the platitudes and more of the action that brought Özil and Sánchez would go a long way in the next few weeks.

    • We’re almost at the stage where you could apply a kind of horseshoe theory to Arsenal fan sentiment. On one side the radical sky pilots and performance artist protesters, on the other side the loyalists who take any dissent towards Wenger as a personal affront and think their demands for quiet obedience are a sign of greater maturity.

      As this post outlines, the root cause is Arsenal’s messaging. I thought it was incredible that neither Gazidis, Wenger or Kroenke made any particular mention of the Champions League in their videos/statements. A competition that’s been so vital to our financial health and prestige didn’t even merit a sentence or two? So many of us expect a radical overhaul but Wenger has already broken out his usual “we just need one or two”. People even talk as if it’s crazy that anyone expected a title in the first decade after the Emirates move. Even after Leicester torpedoed every one of our excuses last year.

      • Leicester’s chance of being crowned champions before a ball was kicked was <1%. They were the only team other than Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Blackburn (once, in 1995) since the premier league was created to have won a title. It took a meltdown from pretty much every one of those clubs in order to give them a chance. And they did it with simultaneously the most lucky offensive (first half) and defensive (second half) performances the league had ever seen. They were an aberration. A fun one, but nothing more, the proverbial lightning from clear skies. It was an incredible achievement, but to use it to discredit other clubs who didn't achieve what they did? That doesn't pass the smell test.

      • A 5000-1 shot like Leicester disproves all ‘excuses’? I really don’t understand how people can say stuff like this. All Leicester showed is that is CAN be done. Once in a freaking generation. Not that it should or will.

        I also don’t understand how people who claim to love the club are so easily embarrassed by it. A terrible result is just that. Why does it have to be an embarrassment? Let alone coming second in the league to a huge underdog story and it is more humiliating for Arsenal than any of the other clubs in the league.

        You may be right that it is about messaging. The club’s PR has not been very effective for a while. A lot of that is down to them. Much of it is simply down to being overwhelmed by not just a hostile mainstream narrative, but sections of their own fanbase who have made a name for themselves peddling it.

        • Some of you guys get way too cerebral about football. It’s a tribal sport, fueled by rivalries. A result is “just a result” when you play a team the first couple of times. After that a rivalry starts to develop. Why am I explaining this stuff?

          Saying you don’t understand how people who claim to love the club can be so easily embarrassed by it is like like I saying you don’t understand why people who love football get so passionate about it. A fan is by definition a fanatic.

          Many things I’m happy to debate but the significance of Leicester’s title win is not of them. They were well-drilled, with an exquisitely balanced midfield and a tactical set up that was hard to crack. We might have gotten away with the insanity of signing no outfield players if Wenger could organise a midfield without Cazorla. A season after buying Xhaka we still don’t know who his best midfield partner is (hint: it’s not Ramsey).

          The unfortunate thing narratives and Wenger is that he’s been around so long that eventually some of them have been proved correct. After we got knocked out by United in 2008 I said we’d never mount another Champions League run under him. Around the same time pundits who most agree have terrible football opinions said Wenger wouldn’t win another title.

          The truth is uncomfortable. But as the Cup Final showed, when those victories do come, they taste even sweeter.

          • Being cerebral about Arsenal is my chief way of interacting, mainly on this here website. Maybe that leads me to think differently than a lot of other fans. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Arsenal is becoming globalized and soon enough they will have far more fans in Indonesia than they ever had in Islington. I also think football and sports in general are moving to a more cerebral, data driven approach. Baseball has been there for years, basketball has caught on in the last 5 years or so and more and more data is being used in football circles too, whether American or British. The tribalism and raw emotion still matters but in my opinion that shouldn’t be at all what informs how a club makes its plans. It should be cool and calculating, taking risks where the rewards are high enough and being ruthless when they have to be. It may not be popular, but that’s how a winning organization is run. An organization that gives in to what the fans want every season and fires everyone as soon as things take a downward turn looks like the NY Jets. Nobody doubts that fans want the best for their club but they are terrible at making decisions that will actually lead to success. You only have to watch Fan TV or turn on any sports talk show to realize that. Is that condescending of me to say? I don’t mean to say that I think I know better than anyone, not at all. But I do think it’s difficult to argue that a rational, data driven approach is not the best way to make difficult decisions and that quite simply is not how most fans think. I need to be more tolerant of that but it’s hard for me.

          • I’m in full agreement that those who run actual football clubs should be cool and calculated and employ rational methods that weigh up information that fans simply aren’t privy to. No-one will ever convince my that clubs should chastise or reprimand fans for not being rational enough about failure. It’s not our inability to win a title or Champions League trophy that aggravates the fan-club relationship; it’s the failure to mount sustained challenges and enduring repetitive defeats *under the same manager*.

            Roma’s outgoing coach Luciano Spalletti was asked what he thought about fans booing or whistling him in certain games and he said “the fans were making me pay for my mistakes”. We need more of that bullish attitude at this club. Premier League games are a very sanitised environment to play football in compared to what you get in Italy, Spain, Turkey or even France with those nutcases in Corsica who got a Bastia vs Lyon game postponed.

            As someone else said earlier, blaming Fan TV is becoming a weird obsession. The same Arsenal Fan TV had great interviews with people like John Bercow (the Speaker of the House of Commons who disinvited Trump from visiting) who for about 15 minutes spoke very eloquently in defence of Wenger. The problem is people’s tendency to focus only on the elements of Fan TV that they disagree with, and discard the whole enterprise as somehow detrimental to Arsenal’s chances of success.

          • You this this here…. >> The tribalism and raw emotion still matters but in my opinion that shouldn’t be at all what informs how a club makes its plans. It should be cool and calculating, taking risks where the rewards are high enough and being ruthless when they have to be. ”

            Is my problem with Doc’s argumentations. The irony in believing that HE is the one who brings the cool rationality to the table, while most others are being emotional! Doc is teh most emotional, with an argument that can be distilled as “why are you all being so mean to Arsene.”

            In terms on conclusion based on evidence offered in support, Doc’s interjections are anything but cerebral. Troopz from Arsenal Fan TV, in my opinion, is a more cogent, if less wordy commentator on the state of affairs at Arsenal than Dr. Gooner.

            My favourtite argument of my dear fellow poster here is at once comparing our support of Arsenal to shopping at Walmart, while demonstrating every day he brings anything but that level of detachment.

            This isn’t cerebral stuff at all. Having Dr. in your name doesn’t make it so. Drill down (I take pleasure in doing so) and you’ll see the arguments for what they are.

            Doc is as passionate and tribal as Troopz. Probably less rational. Certainly better spoken. He just hates it when people knock Wenger.

          • Apols for previous post typos. That’s from posting on the quick. Want to add, in response to the quote I pulled.

            A club that was “cool and calculating” would have fired Arsene’s a** a long time ago.

          • This whole post borders on defamation/character assassination. I’m not going to keep going around in circles with you. The more I try to reason with you, the worse it gets. If what you wrote here is the sum total of what you got out of my comments then clearly we’re not even speaking the same language. You can go about your way and I’ll go about mine and it’ll be better for both of us.

  22. Oh, and for those of you who haven’t heard Ian Wright’s 2nd guest appearance on the Arseblog today are in for a treat. To say he is a right proper fan is putting it mildly and to have a club legend like Wrighty go the way he does about The Arsenal is absolutely brilliant.

  23. The way I see it with Wenger’s new contract is like, the Arsenal board and Wenger giving the fans the middle finger. It’s saying, we are happy just making money, and there’s nothing the fans can do about it. Wenger is the 4th highest paid Manager in the world. And 3rd in the Premiership. Why are the club paying him all that money for mediocrity? He’s getting paid more than Conte, he’s getting paid more than Pochettinho. As big a club as Arsenal are, they should finish top 6 regardless of who the Manager is. It will be very interesting to see who we can keep, and who we can attract over the Summer. Losing Alexis will be like losing two players, he’s that good.

  24. In terms of expectations, my only hope for any positives lay in the domestic cups. In the league cup I thought we half assed it imo but in the FA cup we played brilliantly when it mattered most.

    After the 15/16 season embarassment of finishing 2nd to Leicester my view/estimation of Arsenal’s ability to win the league was drastically lowered going into this season. Once I saw our opening fixture and how under prepared we were I knew we wouldnt make top 4.

    In Europe Champs League we are pretty dismal in my view and have been for years. Over the years we’ve struggled to beat the Bragas, Besiktas’, Dynamo Zabrebs etc so I wasnt surprised we finally got smashed 10:2 by Bayern. In the Europa we will struggle, with our luck of drawing tricky teams I doubt we would make it out of a group of death scenario.

    So I guess this season I wasnt dissapointed much tbh. And next season I would be happy with top 6, a league cup and charity shield double with a Europa deep cup run.

  25. Ok I’m aware this would be akin to a red rag to a bull, but Bunburyist talking about others talking down to people made me laugh.

    • Meh. Doc pulls out silliness like ‘every fifth grader should know’ and ‘don’t you know I’m a doctor!’ and I call it for what it is. It’s childish, and arrives quite laughably from someone who thinks they’re above all the riffraff.

      • You call it out for what you see it as. Just like you do with Arsenal. That doesn’t mean you’re right in either case or that anyone else sees it that way.

        You don’t really deserve for me to continue to speak to you with respect, but I won’t let you drag me into the muck with you. I do think it’s funny that you’re so offended by those things that you’re still going on about it like it’s some sort of scandal. Does it pass for blatant flaunting of intellectualism to say that the scientific theory is taught in 5th grade? Am I a conceited ass for describing part of my job in my arguments? Is it possible you’re being a little too sensitive?

  26. I also have to say, that this yaay Mbappe while at the same time decrying a possible purchase of Onyekuru, a guy who has achieved more than Mbappe did at the start of last season when Wenger actually did try to sign him is weird. A few months of football later he’s worth 100m and shows ambition while the Nigerian kid doesn’t. Oh but we shouldn’t miss out on people like Kante.

    Also I don’t get the need to run down our players. Mustafi is a good defender who has shown himself up for a fight, has some ability on the ball and shows some personality as well. He is still young and will be learning from Per and Kos as well as from his first year in the league. Who would we rather have had for that price and age range? Otamendi? Bailly? The earlier much vaunted Mangala or Sakho?

    It’s like we need to prove that our club is terrible at everything. Knows nothing about football, about succession planning, about scouting and buying players. It’s entirely accidental that they are the ‘seventh richest..or is it fourth richest’ club in football, and just won their 3rd FA Cup in 4 years. We’re terrible I tellz ya.

  27. A degree doesn’t make you a scientist. Publications and grants do.

    For the record, I’m a poop doctor. If you don’t believe me smell my finger.

    Why not Bale? I think he’d be great. He may be available. Sure Wenger doesnt like paying off agents, but there’s a big difference between an under the table payoff, like what happened w Pogba and a straight forward 15% fee.

    If I’m Madrid Arsenal is the ideal place to sell him. We have a pre-existing relationship. We’ve got money, not as much as they do, but enough. Most importantly, there is zero chance they’ll see him next year, let alone be embarrassed by him in the CL.

  28. *smell my magic finger.

    Also, I find most people are inclined to suspect people of what they themselves are capable of.

  29. i want to apologize up front for not reading the posts on the previous two thread but would like to talk about them both.

    for the past three month’s, i’ve declared that arsenal need to make alexis the highest paid player in the league. he deserves it because he’s the best player. as for alexis being a center forward, simply put, he is not. arsenal were desperate with injuries and he did a great job deputizing but he’s better suited as a striker than a center forward. i think it’s important to mention when he was playing well at center forward was when santi cazorla was fit. as soon as cazorla went down, arsenal struggled to control the midfield and alexis felt the need to drop deep to help out the midfield. when he did that, arsenal had no penetration and stopped creating chances. the decision to bring giroud back into the team was very sound. the player that lost out was iwobi.

    arsenal need a new center forward. it needs to be a player that alexis and ozil enjoy playing with. first, i’d like to rule out the likes of mbappe, griezmann, and others. those guys are strikers and do not lead the line as lone center forwards. arsenal need someone who can play up front on his own the way rvp, adebayor, and henry did. my obvious preference has always been morata but he’s unlikely to leave madrid to play for a team that’s not even in the champions league. lacazette may be capable but i don’t think he’ll find big success; too much like darius vassel or loic remy. lowering the bar slightly but still capable of winning, i’m thinking ihenacho from man city or modeste from köln fc. i think arsenal could get both of those players and it would provide that giroud/welbeck hybrid that everyone seems to crave. it would come down to scouts determine who’s the better fit. the obvious downside is the afcon. we’ll see.

    • when i mention that giroud/welbeck hybrid, i mean verticality, good hold-up play, and a clinical finish. both modest and ihenacho provide that. i prefer modeste but, like i said, it would depend on the scouts determining who’s the better fit with ozil and sanchez.

      • I like Modeste. But somehow I don’t see him as a real upgrade. More a lateral move. Someone to replace Perez maybe.

    • Down 2, Juventus are starting to get frustrated and in the end they were overwhelm by the superior team.
      Ronaldo continues to prove what a great player he is.
      You cannot say enough about the Real Madrid midfield trio of Modric, Isco and Kroos and how in the second half, they just put the hammer down on Juve.
      I don’t like Ramos but he does play with that win at all cost attitude that we lack at Arsenal and for that you can admire him.
      One could look at Real Madrid and ask what must Arsenal do to get to that level and is Wenger still the man to get us there. I think the gulf is too wide in terms of players, mentality and coaching. I don’t think we can close that gulf in 2 years time either. Oh, my bad, we’re in the UEFA League next season, whew what a relief that is not having to be a Champions League pretender.

      • Sorry this was originally suppose to be a comment about Morata and when I got back to it I forgot that and commented about the excellence of Madrid and how we are never going to be in their zip code.
        Morata and his agent are playing kissy face with my other mid-table team AC Milan. AC Milan see him as their no. 1 target now that they have Chinese backing and think 60 mil and incentives can get the job done. The rumor-mongerers like to throw in that his wife is Italian and that will see the deal thru.

  30. as far as expectations, i expect arsenal to compete for the championship. with that, i mean to actually plan and prepare to win the championship. what arsenal have done in recent years is pretend to try and win the league. they called it “competing for the championship”. what they need to do is to actually try and win the championship. if they do that, everything else takes care of itself. if you fall slightly short of your championship quest, you’re still going to play in the champions league, you’ll be more respected by the big teams in europe, and the fans will remain behind the team.

    in recent seasons, arsenal has endeavored to put a positive spin on their failure to win championships by changing the narrative, i.e. fourth place is like a trophy. there’s been this very smooth transition over the years from a team that deserves to be in the champions league to a team that’s “good enough” to be in the champions league. the champions league is for champions or teams competing to be champions. arsenal didn’t compete to be champions so they don’t deserve to be in the champions league.

    i don’t care much about the domestic cups as that’s not a true gauge of how good your team is. you can have one bad day and that’s the end of your cup run. in a championship run, the best team is the team that’s most consistent. i expect arsenal to be their best, meaning to actually compete for the championship.

  31. Here’s the next season’s prediction for Arsenal from probably the least educated poster on this forum:

    Arsenal will not finish seventh or lower, that’s just silly.
    No matter who stays or goes, there’s enough talent in the squad for another top four finish next season and that’s what Wenger is all about. That’s all he knows where league is concerned.

    Arsenal will not win the Europa League because that’s too many cup games against difficult opponents.
    Wenger does well in the FA cup because he only has to win against two or three top clubs within six ties.
    This season it was City and Chelsea( with some lucky officiating). The seasons past it was Liverpool, United and Spurs.
    That’s his ceiling,
    His style of management doesn’t burn the players out mentally , not even for long periods of time. But it’s not conducive to keeping them focused enough for a consistent title run.

    The next season will be more or less just like this season and the one before it.

    The only surprise I got from Tim’s article ,is how late in the game he’s come to realize that he needed to lower his expectations for this club.
    I did it after last season and I thought that was pretty late.

    • We just spent 90 million in net transfer fees last summer and will no doubt add to the squad again this year. This is the time to adjust expectations UP!

      • In an interview on the Arsecast, David Ornstein said that the club has budgeted £150 mil for this summer’s transfer window. Arseblog also reported this morning that we had a €100 mil bid rejected by Monaco for Mbappe. All signs are pointing to a massive summer for Arsenal in the transfer market. How much of our targeted quality we can bring and how we replace the likes of Sanchez and Ozil is stil up in the air but it looks like we are going for it.

          • I read a piece in the Guardian yesterday that mentioned not only have we offered massive wages to Alexis and Mesut but have shown them a list of our transfer targets in order to convince them that we are serious about challenging for the title next season. Obviously the issue is more than money. I think the bid for Mbappe was meant to be a statement of intent. The problem is I doubt we will be able to attract that level of talent without assurance from the club that those two players are staying. You see the dilemma there? So we are going to have to pay silly money for the caliber of players that might force our two stars to re-think their intention of leaving Arsenal. It’s going to be very difficult for us to come out of this hole we find ourselves in. Given our loss of reputation in the past few season and now coupled with our loss of CL football, it’s hard to see how we get our business done quickly. I think the club is trying but they have their work cut out for them.

          • Spot on, nycgunner. One reason why I never understood those in the last few months who claimed that CL qualification wasn’t a big deal and even acted like missing out would be refreshing for a change, or something. I think the club are probably working super hard behind the scenes to get ourselves out of this hole, but my have we dug ourselves deep!

            It’s a cliche, but the whole “standing still is going backwards,” thing really applies to Wenger’s last few years, and it’s the thing that most frustrates me about his choices: he seemed to assume that if he could tweak the squad here and there (e.g. when Cech was our only signing), or maybe one massive upgrade a summer (e.g. Alexis and Ozil), we’d eventually get back on top where we belong, and in the meantime we’d always at least have the top 4 and CL qualification as that was virtually assured. But after the influx of so much money into the league and a lot of young managerial talent, suddenly the pace at which Wenger has wanted to improve his team/squad/club (a snail’s pace, basically) has meant we now seem to be falling behind.

            Yes, we have the money (but not like Man City or Chelsea did when they could just buy the league, obviously), but our years of falling short have meant we’ve lost almost all of our prestige (I mean in comparison to the truly “big clubs”). The last thing that was keeping us kinda/sorta at the top table in terms of attracting talent was the CL, and now that’s gone too. I hope with aggression and cleverness and lots and lots of money, we can rectify all that this summer. But I’m a bit afraid…

          • Good points, folks. Wenger’s trust in his squad is one of his greatest strengths but has lately been arguably a greater hindrance to progress than benefit to existing stability. I do think he needs to be pushed by someone to make purchases and that someone hasn’t been there at Arsenal for a long time now. It wasn’t really an issue when we weren’t actually spending, but now that we can spend we are finding it difficult to do. It sounds like Ivan is trying to be that advocate now, but he’s not really a football guy and (PURE CONJECTURE ALERT) I suspect Wenger doesn’t want Ivan putting pressure on him. However I’d be shocked if the old fox doesn’t see the need for new recruits. I suspect he wants to win a title so badly it’s killing him. It would be the perfect riposte to his growing army of critics.

            This is a big summer. The club can send a big message in either direction. Sign a marquee player, retain Alexis and Ozil, and the whole atmosphere will be different come fall. Flounder about, let big players go without replacing them and the malaise will deepen. A new “name” signing would be more about a statement of intent than the true impact on the pitch that a single player provides. Still, if it lifts the mood of everyone without and within, it will have been worth it.

  32. Question for those with some higher expectations than Tim. If we, by some miracle, sign Mbappe, and also add Turan, but lose Alexis (abroad), will this be considered a good exchange?

    • would it be a good exchange? only time could tell. i certainly don’t rate mbappe over alexis. we have to remember mbappe’s value is tied up in his potential.

      also, you have to consider that arsenal need to be built as a team. it’s not good enough to simply throw talented yet random players together and believe you’ll get a positive result. they have to function as a team with good chemistry.

      lastly, regardless of who comes or goes, arsenal still need a center forward. signing a potentially new player is like going to the parts store to get a new water pump and they offer you an upgrade on your tires. sure, to go from pirellis to continentals is nice but how significant is that upgrade if you water pump is still malfunctioning?

      • Yes I understand all that. But all the caveats aside, if Alexis is off, and we replace him with Mbappe and Arda Turan, is that a good trade?

        I ask because I am seeing a lot links with AMs and the only way I see it make sense is either Alexis at CF, or Alexis leaving. And I don’t know anything about Arda Turan. The Mbappe bit is likely fantasy but just wondering how people will feel about losing the star man and replacing him with a young potential world star (and an established professional).

        • I don’t think that Mbappe is ready to come in and replace Alexis’ production this year, but he would play in the same position and fulfill basically the same role. If the midfield is good, he will score goals. It would be pretty great to pair him with Alexis and Ozil though! But as others have said, that’s not what he was doing for Monaco, he was playing off of Falcao.

        • I’d probably prefer Alexis stayed but if he is going and Arsenal got those two players I think that would be pretty exciting.

    • It wouldn’t be a good exchange in my books. Simply because not only is Alexis genuinely a nightmare of a footballer to play against, but his experience isn’t something you can easily replace with a 18 year old no matter how talented the young man is. Turan has experience but he is a completely different type of player. His game has a good balance between attack and defense but hardly a player that will light up the opposition. I think we could somewhat offset the loss of Alexis with a 25-30 goals a season center forward but would need to supplement the wide position with another world class player as well.

      • I don’t think Mbappe needs to play off someone else. He’s not huge, but he’s not tiny, he’s got fantastic pace, and he looks to me like he makes center forward runs (albeit in addition to peeling off to the left, Henry style). I think if we buy him (not likely, but we clearly want to), Arsene would play him up top as a CF, especially if Alexis is playing as well, since he can offer support. He would be the “world class center forward” we’ve wanted for years (assuming he looks as good for us as he looked for Monaco).
        I wouldn’t trade Alexis for him and Turan, because I don’t really rate Turan (and he’s 30!). But there are other attackers whose games are roughly similar to Alexis’s, who are younger than Turan, and who might make the proposed deal seem a bit sweeter.

  33. A club that was “cool and calculating” would have fired Arsene’s a** a long time ago.

    By what metric exactly?

    Look, fans know nothing about running a club. I think the criticisms around Arsenal stem from us being different. We don’t fire managers at the first sign of trouble. We don’t spend as much on transfer fees as others, even in our situation would likely have. We don’t comment on internal matters publicly too much (often allowing speculation to take hold)

    Whatever else you can come up with. Maybe Arsenal are wrong in a few things, or even a lot of things. But on the other side, they built a freaking stadium in the middle of London off of their own backs, on time. They sold players and still managed to stay at the top end of the table. They’ve managed to scout and procure some great talent. They’ve become among the biggest sports brands in the world.

    How does any of this point to a club that is not well run?

    • Shard, do you ever question your own sanity when you read some of the posts on here? I haven’t, yet, but the warped view of reality being presented by most as fact is making me seriously wonder: what the hell is going on? The other people who watch the same club as I do and apparently care about it as I do; how can they see the world so differently? And why do they get angry when I tell them they may be wrong about some things? Isn’t it normal to doubt one’s own judgment and ability to synthesize complex information? Isn’t it normal to accept that we don’t know what happens behind the scenes? Isn’t sport essentially a mishmash of thousands of variables coming together throughout the course of the season rather than a predestined course of events? And when someone’s views are different from your own, isn’t it normal to take on the facts as such that they present rather than assuming it’s bogus?

      I guess what I’m really saying is: why can’t we at least accept that we could, in fact, be wrong about all of this?

      • Gaah. I don’t know. I’m ready to accept I’m wrong, but what are we supposed to be wrong about exactly? Arsene Wenger? Sure. It’s only a question of weighing the facts rather than the facts themselves. So we could be. Fat lot of good it’ll do to join the chorus though. Arsenal are still going to perform like they are going to perform (or maybe worse if we can put enough pressure on them) and we’re going to enjoy the ride a lot less.

        I’m fine with being wrong. I’m not fine with always being angry with the thing I claim to love.

        • The “we” was not just for you and I. It was the “we” of everyone on here. A simple “I could be wrong, but” would be a nice preface for some of these strong statements and indictments that are flying around.

          • Well.. I assumed the sanity bit was meant for me because I’m certainly questioning it. I don’t know and dare not presume to speak for why some others on here behave the way they do.

            Partly I guess it can feel like others on here are being more intransigent than they actually are because they speak from a position of conventionally accepted (on this site)’truths’ and as such feel no need to tone down the rhetoric. So maybe we (you and I) need to take a step back and think about how we (again you and I) can say what we’re trying to say without getting their hackles up, or without getting concussion from seemingly banging our heads on a brick wall.

        • Who’s angry Shard?
          No one on this forum it would seem to me.

          You and doc get to do some sparring with people of different opinions on basic Arsenal issues, like Wenger’s tenure for example.
          You should be thankful Tim provides you with the forum to do that since looking for a bit of argument might suit you both sometimes.

          Unlike some other sites where dissent isn’t welcome,something I know very well about since I was disinvited from posting from two of such sites.

          So when you complain about some of the comments going unchallenged on here, as you did once, I wonder who’s stopping you from challenging them.

          No one , is the answer of course but seems you and doc like to complain about other posters a bit too much for my taste.

          Maybe if you just posted on “PositivelyArsenal”,
          you wouldn’t be exposed to such “angry mob” that resides here 🙂

          • Thank you for caring (I guess?) but I’m obviously not here looking for an echo chamber. Are you justifying the treatment I got today for speaking my mind with free speech? Should I simply be saying: “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

            I come here because I enjoy the interaction, mostly. I bite my tongue more than you might think! Sometimes I post too impulsively and that gets me in trouble with some overly sensitive types. I don’t hold back as much on here (as I suspect is the case for the others as well) as I do in real life because it’s the internet and I don’t intend to meet any of you face to face.

            Should it be taboo to complain about the other posters? They sure don’t hold back on Arsenal, but then they sure get prickly when their views are challenged. Doesn’t that seem like a double standard? How can you criticize so freely and then get all defensive when you yourself are criticized? Why is it completely OK to say whatever you want about Arsenal and not expect to have your views challenged, especially on this here site that is here for “discussing Arsenal in a calm and rational fashion”? It’s been anything but calm and rational lately.

          • Yeah, there’s a reason I don’t post just there. (Should I be worried that you’re stalking me all over the internet?)

          • Sometimes I post too impulsively and that gets me in trouble with some overly sensitive types.

            ===

            Like the people whose first post in the comments section is to express wild disbelief at how others are talking…

            You’re impulsive because….wait for it…you’re overly sensitive.

          • “Yeah, there’s a reason I don’t post just there. (Should I be worried that you’re stalking me all over the internet?)”

            You should be.
            I have my best investigators on your case and I can’t believe what they are finding out 🙂 ( Trump/ Obama birtherism)

            In all seriousness though, I used to read “positively Arsenal “for a different perspective ,until they kicked me out for stating some basic and well known facts regarding transfers, which directly contradicted one of their writer’s views.

            So imagine my surprise when I saw you complain about things going unchallenged around here , when , if I remember correctly, Pires’ goatee once told Tim to go and fu$&k himself , which he then promptly published.

            So yea, sorry but I find ironic in the extreme that someone would complain about this site’s ideas going unchallenged, while themselves posting on other sites that trully prohibit exchange of different views.

  34. >>”Look, fans know nothing about running a club.”

    Ooooh. Not true. Not true at all. The number is small/tiny, but it’s not true. Are you, perchance, the exception? Should we discount your opinions on the matter, or have you sat on Arsenal’s board? The corollary is saying that voters know nothing about running a governnment, and therefore are not in a position to criticise/comment/offer suggestions. It fundamentally misunderstands fan support of a club. No sir, we are not going to sit down, shut up, and accept everything our board does, because we “know nothing about running a club.” What elitist claptrap.

    >>”I think the criticisms around Arsenal stem from us being different.”
    You clearly haven’t been paying attention.

    >>”We don’t fire managers at the first sign of trouble.”
    The first sign? The first sign? Get outta here.

    • Great man. Way to take offense at something which was meant differently. (The offensive bit is below)

      When did I say I know how a club is supposed to be run? When did I ever exclude myself from that or from any of the other generalised criticisms/observations?

      I pointed to evidence of how we are different to other clubs, and what we have achieved despite whatever problems there are (we are not perfect, just like any other club) My feeling is that we are being judged so harshly because we are judged by the only other metric available. Other clubs and how they operate. Is that in any way controversial or insulting? How the eff is that elitist?

      • Well, you engage in long arguments about how the board should proceed and how the club should be run, and then you say in the next breath that fans know nothing about how a club is run. If you can’t see the contradiction there, well…

        Look man, this is a public forum, and I’m going to frisk your arguments, which, from where I look at things, are often not well made. They (and Doc’s) also carry an air which I find grating (but I should probably walk away from). Everyone else is overly emotional and irrational.

        You’re right…. “elitist’ is not the word that fits. That’d be “patronising.”
        ______________

        Doc, my rephrasing of a word that set you off (above) was intended as a peace offering. It’s a shame that it has not had the intended effect. Do some introspection on your response (I am a scientist) as well. Not for the first time on this forum, you’ve struck posters here as being condescending.

        Goonerdom is a mix of opinions. Long may it remain that way.

        • It did have the intended effect. Then you posted all sorts of rubbish about me, personally, later on. What’s your excuse for that? I’ve never done that to you.

          • That post was not a personal attack, but I can see why you’d perceive it that way. Therefore, I apologise.

        • I can differentiate between my opinions and absolute fact. I have opinions on how the board should run (based on limited information, leave alone experience) I don’t expect my opinion to not be challenged (in fact the reason I posted those here was to have a discussion about it), and I especially don’t presume to tell the board they have no idea what they are doing. If you do this, I feel I am justified in challenging you too because it ignores certain evidence to the contrary.

          And here’s some conjecture. You seem to see it as a fight between the fans and the board, so anyone who speaks even a little on their behalf must be talking down to you and being patronising. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for how you can view this as first elitist and then patronising.

          • Sorry, not going to let you deflect and tangentialise.

            To repeat. It probably doesn’t help your argument to, in one breath hold forth at length on how the board is doing/should/shouldn’t to its business, then disparage the opinion of fans as not knowing how a club is run. Still can’t see the disconnect?

            That is, centrally, what I took issue with.

            Look, you and Doc have spoken a lot about having opinions respected. That is reciprocal.

            Go in peace, and serve humanity. Hereendeth my lesson.

          • You’re not going to let me do something I wasn’t doing anyway? There is no disconnect between expressing your opinion on a subject while knowing that it is not an expert or even terribly informed opinion. Jeez.

  35. Oh and on these personal attacks. It very much goes against what I’ve known of this site. It’s coming to a point where anybody who disagrees and tries to make a point without backing down is fair game. Not their arguments. But their characters and motivations. And oddly enough it is a few regulars who do this.

    How often have people told me or Dr Gooner that our aim is to defend Wenger rather than focus on the argument defending Wenger (if indeed that’s really what it is – Apparently I don’t get nuance though) But you say that the media influences us all or that the fans aren’t completely innocent in the atmosphere around the club and you’re accused of being a snob, a pseudo intellectual, out of touch, or a new favourite word. Prig.

    No doubt this would be seen as a sanctimonious or whiny complaint too. But whatever. I don’t like what is happening and even against my judgement, I’m still going to say it.

    • Funny.

      Doc’s posts to this forum routinely express his opinion that the rest of the posters here are deluded and irrational. Check out his first two posts here today. And you’re surprised when people like me respond in kind? Who, exactly, is bringing this kind of behavior to this forum?

      Doc: You people are irrational and deluded!

      Response: That’s condescending.

      Doc: You people are the problem! Why the ad hominem? You’re overssseeestive!!!

      Maybe if you start with the ad hominem (i.e., you’re all deluded), you should expect the kinds of responses you get? Just a thought. You whinge about the lack of civility even while you jump into the conversation with incivility.

      • Actually, I think you are oversensitive. Or rather too quick to take offense. When he’s saying or implying you all are being irrational, he’s saying he can’t understand the rationale behind it. He is not personally attacking your intellect or cognitive ability. If he thought that little of this blog and its members, and didn’t care about considering an alternate view, he would not be here. This part is not explicitly stated but is implicit.

        It takes a lot of restraint and thought to try to get an alternative point across without annoying people (and would you deny that even the prevalent thought goes too overboard at times with no one else challenging it?). I know this too of course. And even when I think I’ve succeeded like with the idea that fans are not experts, apparently I haven’t and am being elitist or patronising. So even if he’s disrespecting the prevalent view here, to go and attack him personally, name calling, psychological mumbo jumbo etc is for me a bit too far. And it’s unfortunate that you do this, along with your way of talking like oversssseeesstive.. This isn’t South Park..or the spongebob meme… You’re obviously intelligent and well read. You’re at your least clever when you basically behave like a bully.

        Doc’s not out to disrespect you or anyone here. He’s not a troll. Try to look beyond your immediate anger and scorn and figure out what he’s saying.

        And…ulp…the same applies to this message.

        • You know how Joey Barton puts an opposition player in a headlock and then acts all indignant and self-righteous when that player reacts?

          Doc is the Joey Barton of 7amkickoff. You’re not much better.

  36. Fascinating….

    Coming from a illustration graduate, ha, I find the sensitivity bizarre. Sign of the times I guess.
    I’m also quite surprised at the timing of the lowered expectation and sympathise greatly.
    It’s as if every inch of this club hasn’t been analysed by a plethora of bloggers/journalists for the last ten years+.
    The only thing that would surprise me at this point is Alexis staying.

    Also i think its fair to say, most if not all governments have failed since they began. I don’t need to be a politician to know that.

    Wisdom Trumps intelligence.

  37. Just a quick point: “going to games = better fan/more implortant opinion” = elitest bllshit. Geography and economics should not determine these things.

    Too many people in the world seem get into debates (read arguments) just to convince other people that they are right. Debates should expand you knowledge of a topic by challenging your opinions…

    “It is rarely black or white, but rather some dirty shade a grey.”

  38. So the not so tiny tots have been punching well above their weight for the last two years.

    They’ve won a TFT! Lol?

  39. jeez, you kids go to your rooms and let the grow-ups talk, for crying out loud. this used to be a place for men to talk about arsenal football not 14 year old girls to talk about their feelings. f*ck your feelings!

    i know i’ve been accused of being sexist (whatever that means) but give me a break. 140+ posts of people whining and moaning? are you f*cking kidding me? if i were drunk right now, reading this nonsense would kill my buzz. step back into your manhood, gentlemen.

  40. jeez, you kids go to your rooms and let the grow-ups talk, for crying out loud. this used to be a place for men to talk about arsenal football not 14 year old girls to talk about their feelings. f–k your feelings!

    i know i’ve been accused of being sexist (whatever that means) but give me a break. 140+ posts of people whining and moaning? are you freaking kidding me? if i were drunk right now, reading this nonsense would kill my buzz. step back into your manhood, gentlemen.

  41. Commentary on this site has really gone down hill.

    There’s a big difference between being *generally* condescending and engaging in personal ad hominem attacks.

    The response to dissenting ideas seems to be to engage in personal attacks. The targets are always the same Shard and Dr Gooner. It’s like the frustration at our results is being taken out on them. The only thing that keeps the comment section from descending into a flame war is their restraint.

    The two worst offenders are Bunburyist and Claudelvan, which is a shame because they’re typically witty and erudite. I find it really poisons the atmosphere of the comments section of this site, which is my favorite Arsenal community.

    I fail to see why it’s necessary to personally insult someone instead of saying “I disagree because…”

    • My comments indeed use that very language. Read my first post. “I agree…” followed by “I disagree…” I can disagree with Tim’s post without calling him irrational.

      But if someone comes here and says that he’s the repository of rationality in the midst of a bunch of lunatics, I don’t mind telling him exactly what kind of behavior that is. Priggish. Look that word up and read his first posts yesterday.

      So I agree completely. It’s not necessary to personally insult people’s intelligence in order to say “I disagree.”

    • Not sure that fair, Duh. Do elbows get thrown here sometimes. Sure. Do the two gents you cast as innocent victims engage in it? You betcha, as S. Palin, Shard’s second favourite politician of all time after Trump used used to say (I jest). A plague on everyone’s houses.

      Actually, I’ve done something here that neither man has (indeed they seem more inclined to pour oil on fire) — defuse the tensions by re-phrasing something that set the good doctor off, and apologising on two separate occasions.

      Things that I (and others including someone who came out of the shadows just to make his point) have taken issue with include (1) the condescending “I am a scientist” chest beating, the latest insert in a general disparagement of critical opinions, and (2) fans know nothing about running a business, the implication being the same (3) the fans only cheer the team when they’re winning (false).

      That said, I shouldn’t have allowed my irritation to show when Dr. Gooner spoke of the guys on Arsenal Fan TV as if they were a bunch of imbeciles. That post got too personal, and I apologised for it.

      Yes, I’m going to say it. Shard’s arguments — often characterised deflection, straw man erection and wilful misunderstanding sprinkled with sneery condescension towards those who can’t/won’t appreciate the Emperor’s fine ermine — are, to put it politely, eminently contestable. I frisk him vigorously, and it sometimes gets heated. But, you know, on stuff like transfer speculation we agree more often than not.

      I disagree with people here all the time, and, like Bunburyist, do explicitly say so and make a counter-argument. PFo is someone I’ve locked horns with (he and nycgunner think I plan to go down the aisle with Ramsey some day — haven’t ruled it out, chaps). But even when we disagree, he strikes me as someone who isn’t intellectually rigid, and isn’t going to deflect the argument to death. He’s also, refreshingly, willing to change tack when presented with contrary evidence, or stand his ground when he’s not. Have elbows been thrown? Sure. Shard? Well, I’ve said it already. Sorry, Duh, I’m gonna frisk his very contestable arguments. My mom did warn me that my relentless streak will get me into trouble.

      Yes, there’s probably more than dollop of self-interest here, but that’s my side. I am aware always (and I said so in trying to defuse another row with Shard by making a peace offering) that Tim is our host and we have an obligation to behave in his house.

  42. Finaly. You understand what Arsenal really were and are – Midtable team. Until Arsene arrived. They always will be a midtable team until another genius comes along.
    Don’t blame the manager for giving you guys 22 years of hope. He is just that good.

  43. One of the reasons this became my favourite Arsenal blog is because, despite differences of opinion, people were treating each other with respect and as fellow Arsenal fans.

  44. Someone mentioned making a move for Bale earlier. Just as unlikely, but it strikes me watching the CL final that the ex-Spud we really need is Modric. Looks to be playing the Santi role from the back of midfield better than Santi.

    Yeah, I know. He’s an undroppable for Zidane, he’d not take the step down…. and Spurs.

    Shades of looking at Vardy when we needed Kante.

  45. Best goal in the CL this season. Ball played between 4 Juve players without touching the ground and then a great finish. Divine!

  46. For a team that’s been relegated to division 2 and also built a stadium recently,I was wondering what people think is behind Juventus’ rise to prominence recently. It seems like the new stadium should have required a few steps backwards but they’ve gone from strength to strength. How have they managed not just to overcome their Italian competitors but to become one of the best teams in Europe without spending crazy money on big name players?

  47. Juve were not relegated to Serie B. They got caught cheating and were punished (very lightly if you ask me) by being demoted.

    Rightfully a lot of big names left, Fabio Capello left for Real Madrid. Cannavaro followed him. Ibra and Patrick Vieira departed for Inter, Emerson moved to Milan (?)
    Adrian Mutu joined Fiorentina, and Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram decamped to Barcelona.

    Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi
    Buffon, Pavel Nedvěd, David Trezeguet and Mauro Camoranesi remained loyal Luckily these were more than enough to bounce back, a core of five or six stars combined with various squad players won Serie B over Napoli.

    Juve are the best supported team in Italy so money was never a problem nor player recruitment.

    The stadium cost only €155m with only€60m being loaned to them so it was easy to pay off.

    Honestly what Juve have done is really not that special in my opinion. If anything the demotion only set them back for one season. Once they got back to Serie A they able to sign big names as before.

  48. I think I’ve been pretty consistent with my expectations for Arsenal. They are that we win the league every year, and that we win every single match, no matter who we play against. I am disappointed 41.1% of the time. Somehow I get over myself and tune in again to enjoy / loathe the next game.

    My point being that football fans have to live with disappointment, and as such we are all masochists to some degree. Even so, reading this thread was the most masochistic thing I’ve done in a long time.

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