This time last week we were 4th, in the Champions League and the FA Cup. Today we are 4th. Both cups have gone down the pan after two of the most abject and pathetic performances I've seen for some time. You'd think that professional footballers would perform better than that by mistake.
I've tried so hard to stay positive. The incessant moaning amongst fans has made watching The Arsenal unpleasant. I'll remember last season's Carling Cup Final for the abuse that was flung about between Gooners rather than the result. I've seen Arsenal fans fist fighting over the manager. I've witnessed 'You don't know what you're doing' sung at the man who has transformed the club. The abuse some of our own players receive is unacceptable. Yet as the weeks go by I'm more understanding to the reactions. Quite simply, we are not getting any better and this squad is not good enough. The systematic erosion of the world class to the good or mediocre takes its toll. Yes we have had awful luck with injuries but this just exposes the limitations of the playing staff more. It's a difficult balance to have quality squad players who might not play however at Arsenal you will play. The last few years showed that, for whatever reason, we will be drenched in injuries and the back ups will have to perform. How then have we ended up with Squillaci......? (Silvestre, Cygan, Stepanovs) Ah it's not a new thing, it's a policy and it's meant we've 'won nothing for 7 years*'
The most interesting thing about this week is that criticism seems to be aimed at the board rather than the manager. Of course Arsene is still getting it as that's part of the job but the absent owner is now getting the heat too. Who upstairs cares about these results & cup exits. Absent owner won't be storming anywhere or kicking down any doors as he's not here. What's his motivation? Arsenal are financially well run. Miles from administration. Putting money in his pocket. FA Cup? Sure Stan doesn't give a shit.
I don't really know where I'm going with this muddled ramble. I know I feel tired of finding new ways to say the same things. We all know the structure of the club has changed for the worse. Why won't the manager spend on a clearly poor squad? Is he restricted? Is he stubborn? Whatever the reason it's just not good enough and I don't say that as an arrogant Arsenal fan who demands success. I say it as someone who gives the club near on 4 grand for 3 season tickets. I say it as a fan who is charged the highest prices in the country. I say it as someone who believes you get what you pay for. We are being short changed and that's what's not good enough. There will be many fans who went to the Milan and Sunderland cup games and that wasn't good enough. You can't demand victory but you can, at the very least, expect the team to look prepared, to show some desire, to give the paying fans some hope. Those two performances were hopeless. Not one player played well and we are left with fighting for 4th. For my money that's not good enough.
The second leg against Milan is the embodiment of our mediocrity and how we are being short changed. It's a game made pointless by our pathetic show out there yet I'm expected to turn up and cheer on my team who have no chance. I'm sure many fans around the country do this week in week out but aren't charged quite what we are. By using our 3 season ticket's cup vouchers that night out will cost me about £150. If the owners had an ounce of decency that game would be made optional and Carling cup prices would be charged. There may be some UEFA rule stopping this and if there is then the club should subsidise the prices. Stop paying shit players too much and give a bit back to the people who make the club.
I'm a Gooner for life and we must take the rough with the smooth but the fundamental problems are now into the years. We look miles away from winning anything but I'm not sure the club care. The club's definition of success differs so vastly from what the fans think. It feels like they won't move so unless we accept this second rate 'success' we have to lump it. We have a wonderful stadium, excellent financial stability, good community links and even amazing club shops but without a squad to match it means very little.
I was passing the time chatting to my mother-in-law while SonOfFeverpitch was doing football training with the Arsenal Soccer School (Community Links!) and she asked me what was wrong with The Arsenal. She then said something quite telling. "Where have all the great players gone? Henry, Pires, Campbell, Ljumgberg, Parlour..... The list went on and on. She named over 15 players without flinching. "From the team now I can only name Van Persie and Walcott!" She said nobody at work talks about the players anymore apart from complaining and she stops listening. I told her she'd answered her own question.
We are in a muddle and we need changes from the top down. But for now we need this to stop quickly and only the manager and players can do this. Show some heart. Show some desire. Thank Dennis the next game isn't a big one ....oh
*to quote every media source every 30 seconds.