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I’ll start where I left off in the previous issue, one that went on sale at the home match against Newcastle. I wrote, “It will be a big ask to catch Chelsea, but if the team are switched on and cut out the kind of errors they should not be making at this level, there will be no complaints here if they fall short. You can forgive a lot if you are getting commitment and attitude.” Since I penned those words, we’ve since seen both sides of the coin where Wenger’s Arsenal are concerned. Away wins at Wolves, Everton and Villa, coupled with defeats in Donetsk and Braga, but more worryingly at home to Newcastle and Spurs. What has been most striking is the inconsistency of the performances, sometimes in the same 90 minutes. It’s particularly frustrating that this group of players have shown that they are good enough to win any individual match if they are switched on and focussed. However, alarming lapses in concentration, or just plain stupidity (such as Fabregas’ handball to give Spurs a penalty), have cost the team points. I am not sure if the other main contenders dropping cheap points of their own makes the situation better or worse. Incredibly, in spite of four defeats with the season not even halfway over, Arsenal are only two points off the lead. The table looks very encouraging, it’s just the evidence on the field that has many wondering if the club are better served remaining with the current manager. Ivan Gazidis, within a few months of taking up his position as CEO, promised an examination of the staff in all departments of the club from top to bottom, and in many areas there has been a shake up. But I was left pondering recently that there cannot be any other major companies where the three key employees in the management of the business’s core area remain unchanged. Wenger, Pat Rice and Boro Primorac have been in situ since 1996. And there are suspicions that things have gone a bit stale as a result, hence the lack of trophies. It certainly seems unlikely that Gazidis would have examined this area and genuinely believed that changes were not in the best interest of the club. However, Arsène Wenger is very much king of his own castle, a de facto director who attends every board meeting. He will not contemplate challenges to his way, and chooses to be surrounded by sympathetic voices. And he is pretty much unsackable. The result, I feel, in spite of the manager’s words about giving every drop of his blood to make the club successful, can be seen in what I have referred to as the culture of complacency at Arsenal. It is a culture that is being addressed by Gazidis in all the areas he can influence, but the manager’s domain – the most important – is one he cannot. Remember that Wenger was the one who rejected Paul Donavon for the CEO job, so an employee is picking his own boss. I actually believe that the group of players Wenger has assembled are good enough to win


trophies. He is a pretty decent spotter of talent, although it should be remembered that for every Marouane Chamakh there is an Amaury Bischoff, a player who was given a first team squad number and made a total of four substitute appearances, all of them meaningless with the games concerned safely in the bag. Strange one that, and not without precedent (Mendez, Malz, etc). But to return to the point, the reason that these players do not produce the consistent results their talents indicate they are capable of is due to the lack of appropriate coaching, and to Wenger’s inability to coach on his feet. The man doesn’t do tactics, which generally help win football matches. What he really needs to do is acknowledge the areas where he has fallen short and get help, but he is too proud, too set in his ways. So it is left to the players to work it out for themselves. Okay if you have experience. It was George Graham’s centre backs that sorted out the Vieira–Petit midfield to get them to provide better cover and go on to win the Double in 1998. The side that won five trophies in four seasons between 2002 and 2005 was stuffed with experience of having won trophies both at Arsenal and elsewhere. However, let’s face facts here. The current club captain is a 23 year old who is no Tony Adams, no Frank McLintock. Yes, he is a world class player, but this group needs more than a young man leading by example. Someone actually needs to grab a few of these players by