It’s Good To Talk But Arsenal Send Mixed Messages
When is a vote of confidence not a vote of confidence? When it is delivered by Ivan Gazidis. Earlier in the week, Arsenal’s CEO gave Wenger the board – and by extension, the owner’s – full backing. It was a PR move that is being interpreted entirely differently by the media, who seem unable to grasp the concept that Wenger is not going to be sacked despite Arsenal’s poor start to the season.
It seems that they feel that Wenger was irate because of Gazidis’ words whilst not being able to contemplate that his ire might actually have been reserved for the questioner. After all, if you were asked the same day in, day out with no originality, you too would find the whole thing tiresome. Perhaps Arsène can get around this by holding up scores at his press conferences, giving marks for originality in the question and not answering anything less than a ‘6’. Which would make the ‘pressers’ very short indeed.
When former managers and players are adding fuel to the fire, it is hardly surprising that Wenger is not at his most communicative publicly. No doubt there will be criticism of the manager this morning for the cancellation of the Q&A session with shareholders. It is known that the club monitor online sites, including social media, and will have picked up on the intensity of feeling. Having been left defenceless by the board at events previously, Wenger will see no need to do so again. Indeed when previous events have seen name-calling over players, it is hardly surprising. No matter how small and pitiful the ‘joke’ over Silvestre being old was, if the club cannot trust people to behave and act intelligently, there will be a drop in communication which leaves supporters as the losers.
There have been some observations about the club that beggar belief at times, the usual suspects of Merson and co feed their paymasters at Sky with turgid soundbites that form a million opinions. Tony Woodcock took matters a notch lower, more intelligently and eloquently, but lower nonetheless,
This togetherness, this determination, if you haven’t got it to pick a trophy up then how’s it going to be to get away from the relegation zone? I hope I’m not right. But I don’t want to be sitting here in three or four weeks and they’ve let some more goals in and they haven’t picked up any points. We’ve gone six years without winning anything and are now in this tricky situation.
Come now, Tone, a tad over-reactive isn’t it. Previously he had commented that there was always an unexpected team drawn into the relegation battle. Except the identity of that club is not normally known until February / March time in a season. Surely there is not a serious belief that Arsenal will be in a relegation dogfight all season? Seemingly so.
Woodcock was much more accurate elsewhere,
I’m hoping it’s going to be a bit of a kick up the backside for everyone
Indeed, talking of pride in clean sheets is not for the launderers but more for defenders. There is a need for this to surface and something that the goalkeeping coaches, Pat Rice and Steve Bould must be able to instil in the squad. But defending is not just for the back four, it starts at the forwards and ekes back through the team.
It is a message that they have already got across it seems. Kieran Gibbs observed post-Shrewsbury,
You do take it personally. As a defender, you always want to keep a clean sheet. When your team concedes goals, every defender will tell you it’s not what they want.
The full back indicated that a siege mentality is needed. George Graham fostered one following the points deduction at Old Trafford, the seeds for which were caught on camera for the season review video. Wenger has done so in the past, both managers benefitting by creating a strength out of the negatives. Gibbs highlighted the players role in all of this succinctly,
We just have to stand up and not hide away now if the results don’t go our way – we need to do the opposite and make sure we stand up and be counted. We will see a change. It’s not been the easiest of months , not just weeks. I can assure everyone that the team is together. You can see from the stats of the games that what we are doing is right, but on some occasions we just aren’t getting the results.
We are looking to turn that around as soon as possible, so we can lift the club. We know what we want to do and what we want to achieve. We will ignore everything and get on with what we want to do.
Fine words but all too often in the past the players have been eloquent. It is a time for delivery. Gibbs is right in that certain aspects of recent performances have been improving but the failings are neutering any progress. Of more concern to me is the element of self-pity that has seemingly crept in,
You see other teams do it but then they don’t concede from it and it gets overlooked. But at the minute we make one (mistake) and it’s a goal. It’s unbelievable how much it is affecting us, but we will overcome it
It is tricky to interpret his words but the opening phrase suggests that the squad feel somewhat hard done by with critics observation. Unfortunately that is part and parcel of being an Arsenal player; expectations are high because of the club’s history, the squad’s talent and the manager’s abilities. Matching those expectations is what will mark out the players as exceptional. A tall order given the start to the season. A trophy would be one hell of a response.