Wenger: "This year will be decisive"


Good day.

I can’t really say “good morning” anymore because, well, because I’ve been officially picked up by NewsNow and that means, starting today, more people from all over the world are going to be reading this blog. Kinda scary, kinda exciting, I better make it a good blog eh?

I do want to recognize my long suffering readers before the insanity of having a whole new audience sets in, you guys are the reason I do this. Your insights into the game, into Arsenal, into global finance, into the global nature of the game, and just into human nature in general are invaluable. When I write, I tend to speak with the voice of authority but really you all have taught me so much. Thank you and I hope you know that your comments will always stand out with me among the other voices that are about to join us. Now, on with the blog…

I was reading through the news feeds last night and came across a translation of an interview with le Boss on French Radio RMC via our friends at Gooner Talk. So, I did some digging of my own and found the original and ran it through my own translator (Google Translate!) and it looks like an important interview even if it is brief. I will rely on my French speakers to let me know if I missed something in translation.

The big bombshell that everyone is talking about, because it is transfer season, is that Wenger is actually looking at Chamakh as a replacement for Adebayor. Not going so far as to say that he wants to sell Ade, because that would be dumb, but he puts the ball in Ade’s court, saying:

If he does not want to stay, then we will start looking (for replacements) but I think he will be with Arsenal this season.

As I have said many times in the past, I like Adebayor. Owing to the fact that on my very few trips to see the matches in person I ended up being there when he scored his first ever home goal. Plus, for years, he wasn’t the best striker in England, but he worked his ass off and I appreciate hard work over lazy talent all day. So, I have been a staunch defender of Ade — until this year. Now that it seems the talent is there, the hard work has evaporated, leaving him as a guy who is basically disrupting Arsenal’s flow with his constant offsides and who occasionally puts in a world class, audacious goal.

So, I see Wenger’s point. If he WANTS it, he could be one of the top strikers in the world. In which case, let’s keep him. Conversely, if he just going to be a lazy loudmouth who disrupts what Arsenal are building, Wenger will find another tall fellow who can hold the ball up, stays onside, and works hard as the lone striker; Chamakh.

That’s the “bombshell” from the interview and what you’ll read about in all the papers but there’s some subtler things at work here that I think are equally important. Things like, what’s Arsene’s future at the club and what’s the long term plan for this team?

There is no doubt that Wenger had his head turned by Real Madrid this summer. Clearly they approached him and said “hey, we’ve got this plan to buy up all the world’s talent. How would you feel about coaching Ronaldo, Kaka, and Benzema?” His response is a bigger bomb than whether he wants to replace a wantaway Adebayor, in my mind:

Obviously, yes, because I’m at a point in my career where I must consider these things. I’ve been at Arsenal for twelve years and I do not want to become stagnant. But, I refused because I have built a young team and I wanted to finish what I started. There’s no doubt that this will be a decisive year. If this team is not challenging for a title, the club will rebuild everything.

In a lot of ways this isn’t anything new. Wenger has often maintained publicly that he is committed to the cause at Arsenal, that he started this youth project 5 years ago, and that he wants to see it through to fruition; a Champions League trophy. But what is new is the admission that this is it, either this team wins something this year or he’s blowing it up, “tout reconstruire” he says.

Complete reconstruction.

Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but that’s a bigger bombshell than whether we buy some replacement for Adebayor.

Complete reconstruction.

It makes sense too, with van Persie, Arshavin, and Cesc itching to add to their trophy cabinets I can’t see them being content with being out of the title race in November again. Which Arsene calls “ce qui a fait grincer les dents” it would feel like grinding your teeth.

So, maybe Wenger’s just being realistic and admitting that if we don’t get a trophy he’d need to let those three go and start over. Throw in Gallas’ contract situation (ending this year), Toure wanting away, and all the other experienced players who have been making smoke in the press and maybe this is an admission from Wenger that this is it, the last chance saloon. Win or go home.

What with Joan Laporta tapping up Cesc pretty much daily now and Arsene locking up the youth with all these long term contracts (Rambo and Wilshere) it looks like Arsenal are actually poised to blow the team up if needed.

That Wenger has admitted it publicly that’s the real bombshell to me.


  1. Absolutely correct Tim,

    This is a do or die season for Arsenal and Arsene as we know it. Failure to win either the CL or EPl will certainly result in a number of changes to players and/or staff.

    I think the interview reinforces that Arsene is aware of the situation and so his final squad will reflect which alternative he opts for in achieving success, youth or experience. Seems to me he is still on the youth kick with the players we have been linked to.

    Should be a very interesting season.

  2. I have a feeling that we should enjoy this rather uneventful offseason, which I’d still label uneventful if Ade left as everyone has expected going into this offseason. Win or lose this year, I think Cesc will be gone next year. As you alluded to, you don’t really get the sense that Arshavin wants to run out the clock here at the Emirates. Gallas and Toure, if not gone this offseason, could very likely be gone next. These prospects make Wenger’s youth project seem prescient, wise and quite necessary for the intermediate and long-term. As much as we hate to admit it, I think the club has been forced to exhibit financial restraint over the last few years as it reaffirms its solid financial footing. Unfortunately, this has also coincided with the Man City and Real Madrid cash orgies, and ManU, L’pool, Chelsea and Barca remaining very aggressive. Rebuilding, I feel, will be necessary regardless of how the squad fares this year. Generally, I think the rebuilding will thankfully be akin to redoing the top floor of a three story mansion built on solid foundation. Even with the likes of Ade, Cesc and AA departing possibly after this season, we’d still be in as good of shape, if not better than EPL teams without new stadiums and/or more desirable geographic locations (see Liverpool and Man U). Yes, we’ve not even played this season, but how we fare will be important in terms of how we’re able to ultimately replace those inevitably departing stars of ours. Now, onto this campaign. Thanks for the blog.

  3. I had the exact same reaction, Tim. When I read Arsene’s comments about THIS SEASON, and the ramifications of what happens if we don’t win a trophy, I was quite unsettled. If we’re reading it properly, it appears there’ll be a dismantling of the current squad and a total start over with his plan to build a winning youthful side. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m absolutely THRILLED at the prospect of seeing Gibbs, JET, Ramsey and Wilshere on the first team pitch. But, oh how it’s going to hurt if we deconstruct the core of our current side next summer and have to start all over.

    Trying to get inside Wenger’s head is a task not for the fainthearted or those not wholly committed to The Arsenal. Perhaps it’s Wengers feeling, should we not win anything, that the “plan” is still correct, but the current squad is not the one he needs to bring it to fruition. Maybe he sees those 4 players (along with Theo and Bendtner), especially, as the youngsters who’ve really grown together and therefore would be the better foundation from which to launch a winning side in the mold he envisions. Among the current squad, Cesc came through the academy, along with Theo, Bendtner and Djourou did as well…but RvP, Shava, Gallas, Toure, Song, Clichy, Nasri and Ade were all brought in as already first teamers from other clubs. Perhaps he’s envisioning a side wholly “Arsenal grown” as the only way to bring that vision to completion.

    When I read the entire interview, it left me feeling a little off. I know the translations are correct, but it seemed to me that it was an odd interview in several ways…very un-Wenger-like. Almost like a man who knows he has all the pieces and can see the foto on the box of what success looks like…but somehow no matter how hard he tries, his puzzle isn’t quite fitting all together properly.

  4. I wish wenger sell out some calamity playes like toure,gallas,Adebayor,sylvester,and made Eboue a starter player and walcot be coming in 4 Eboue in second half and he should go for good striker like Nene,kalou,ike Uche and two stronge,aged MF for the team to compete 4 trophy

  5. Tim, Good post!

    I’ve always beleived that Arsene is nobody’s fool contrary to what some fly-by-night, spoilt, Arsenal fans would want us to beleive. He has this habit of putting pressure on himself before anybody else does.

    Before Arsene, I remember the ‘boring old Arsenal’; and ‘1 – 0 to the Arsenal’ days. Then Arsene came and everything changed for ever. He basically spoilt us with the most titilating football that many have basically never seen before or had hitherto only dreamed of; with its attendant success in terms of silverware.

    Suddenly we have a bigger new stadium and a younger core to our team. Yet, expectations keep rising. Arsene knew all along that the “Project” would take its toll; that there would be a price to pay. But he set himself a realistic time period and stuck to it.

    Now is it! The time period elapses this new season. It is pay-up or pack-up time. He is basically telling himself, his staff (who have faithfully stood by him through it all) and most importantly, the players that it is time to pay the fans their dividends with either a QED or a AIW. In the case of the first, the base will be solidified. But in the case of the latter, the building shakes to its foundation; with a ‘time-for-reconstruction’ bell tolling. It will then be time for everyone to get a BFH.

    He is, therefore, basically laying down to the boys a ‘perform-now-or-we-have-wasted-our-time’ warning. More than the fans give him credit for, he knows what he is doing.

    Go Wenger! Give the boys a kick to the backside!!

    QED = Quite Excellently Done
    AIW = All Is Wasted
    BFH = Bus Fare Home

  6. Hi, first time poster here. I’m looking for a bit of a new home as I’m an occasional poster on Arsenal America (slightly different screen-name) and things seem to be (maybe) changing over there.

    Anyhow, Your blog is excellent and it’s great that it’s going “big-time.” (No David Bentley pun intended.) Although I only just found it, I’m already checking back during the morning for the latest post. I too am a west coaster, so the 7am–and sometimes 4:45(?!)–kickoff motif resonates well with me.

    Also, I have to say, that while it’s only been a few years of Goonerhood for me, I’m totally into it and a big reason is AW. IMO, when you look at the structure (or lack thereof) in club football at the highest level, what Arsenal and AW are attempting to do is one of the most daring and revolutionary projects imaginable. Trying to figure out the long-term prospects (economics and football wise) amidst the day to day decisions the club and manager face seem extraordinarily challenging given that football is such a passionate and fortune (luck) driven game.

    As for your above post and the season ahead, I think AW (and his scouting network) is out there but he would really prefer to stand pat. If experience is overrated (as it appears AW thinks) is team continuity also overrated? These are big questions and this season should provide some answers. Certainly the latest Galactico experiment will be interesting to follow, as will the big shake-ups at the selling teams (ManU and AC Milan). To think that we are attempting to compete with these clubs (and their larger strategies) is pretty wild, given the extremely contrary nature of our approach. Nonetheless, if we can keep our team intact, or replace like for like (perhaps with a slight upgrade, at least in attitude), I actually like our chances. This past season was a tough one, but I believe we have emerged with a deeper, more seasoned squad, ready to push on.

    So, keep up the good work….I’ll be reading.

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