Perhaps that should be, 2012 HAS to be different. More than some recent poor results, last night’s 0-0 with Bolton felt like it signalled the death knell for our season.
I say this because for once we can’t hide behind conceding fluke goals or wonder goals. I say this because despite keeping a clean sheet for the first time in what feels like eternity, we could not score at a ground where the likes of United and Chelsea scored five. I say this because this latest result sees us drop not to 5th, not to 6th, but to 7th (!) place. I say this because it came just after the closing of the transfer window, where once again the club decided to remain inactive.
There had even been news earlier that day that Jack Wilshere could miss the rest of the season. Although the club moved to deny the rumours, they weren’t exactly full of optimism themselves, saying that Jack wouldn’t necessarily miss the rest of the season. One of our big hopes, one of Wenger’s “like a new signing” players looks set to be out for a long time, and the news came just after the club elected not to sign anyone, relying on the returns of players like Wilshere, not to mention Gibbs, Santos and Jenkinson, or the continued fitness of injury-prone players like Rosicky, van Persie and Vermaelen.
It’s a real smack in the face, but perhaps a timely one for a manager and a board who are no longer fit to run this club. Perhaps this immediate punishment for being so unambitious in the transfer market will be particularly resonant. One can only hope.
As for the rest of this dire season, well, we’re quite clearly not going to finish in the top four, with Chelsea, Liverpool and now Newcastle to compete with. New signings can’t save us now, so this is what we’re stuck with. Our once laughing stock neighbours Spurs are a massive 12 points ahead of us and are no longer the team we need to be thinking about catching. More likely is that we should look over our shoulders at the likes of Sunderland, Stoke and Everton.
This club has been going backwards for years, continuing to sell its best players and sign cheap replacements, either too young or over the hill. As long as others around us didn’t improve sufficiently we got away with it and could mask our failings the continued ‘achievement’ of Champions League football, but Wenger and the board have gone too far and this season we will finally be punished.
Will this be the much-needed wake up call the club need? Will there be major changes? A new manager? New coaching staff? New players? New methods?
If there is any positive to take from this, it’s that it surely can’t go on. The club will have no excuses for this disasterous season. Everyone saw it coming except them. Fans were fed up enough last season when the team somehow managed to finish 4th in a two-horse race for the title and the club raised ticket prices. They won’t put up with much more of this.
2012 could be different. It has to be.