This season’s misfortunes continue in an ever predictable manner. The sight of yet another humiliation must be near breaking point for all loyal Arsenal fans. We have to support each other, because outside of our community the vultures of gloom are circling. Let’s understand one thing from the outset. The players do care, they are trying, yet they are wearing shackles that need not have been there. These shackles were imposed at the beginning of the season by Arsene Wenger’s refusal to strengthen the squad any further for reasons best known to himself. Arsene Wenger’s philosophy will soon be his undoing, because even the most loyal of Wenger supporters are struggling to defend the consequences of his policy which was laid bare for all to see upon the most open stage in football. I said at the start of the season that it was most unlike Arsene Wenger to gamble. Now we can all see that he is not very good at this dark art. He had hoped that certain young players would step up and deliver beyond their years. He had hoped that there would be a level playing field upon which to show their undoubted gifted ability and talents. He gambled and refused to buy another striker or an experienced goalkeeper… last night he lost that gamble in a humiliating manner.
The over reliance on our young players may now be at a cost to themselves, as they have to try to deliver under intense pressure a performance which will satisfy their many critics. This is unfair in my mind, and I refuse to castigate Fabianski today. he is young and talented and must learn from his mistakes. The reality is that he had the misfortune to commit those errors in a very public domain. I have long argued that this young squad needed world class experienced players included within it from whom the young players could learn. Unless this is done it will be the blind leading the blind. Fabianski is a very good goalkeeper, yet under intense pressure the mistakes of youth are more frequent. He will learn from the two “Schoolboy errors” so accurately described by our Captain Cesc Fabregas last night in his interview. I fear that if we go out of the Champions League, this match will have contributed to any decision of Fabregas to leave our Club in the future. He was described by internal sources as “in tears” about the manner of our defeat. I do not blame Sol Campbell either as the original touch on the ball was clearly not deliberate and the rule 12 sub paragraph 3, under fouls which governs the award of an indirect free kick due to a pass back to the keeper which says:
Fouls punishable by an indirect free kick are:
When a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area:
- takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession
- touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and has not touched any other player
- touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate
- touches the ball with his hands after he has received it directly from a throw-in by a team-mate
Note that I have not blamed the easy target of the Referee. He was wrong to award the free kick, It was at his discretion to allow Porto to take the kick quickly. There is no law that demands the right of team to build a defensive wall. Indeed Arsenal have benefited upon more than one occasion from the quick taking of a free kick. The referee however did not raise his hand for an indirect kick until after the Porto attacker had kicked the ball. Meanwhile experienced players were returning too slowly to their defensive positions oblivious of the catastrophe about to unfold. The Referee Martin Hansson will not do this again, but we are, like the Republic of Ireland’s world cup squad before us, the victims of his poor skills. Had we scored during the time of our possession, this incident would have been just another talking point. I am not withdrawing my loyal support from Arsene Wenger who must remain manager of our great club, but I do feel that I have the right to criticise him where I see areas of weakness in our team.
There are much more important and pressing targets to discuss such as the reason for our spate of injuries during training, the lack of an experienced goalkeeper, the lack of a potent striker, the lack of a decent defensive coach, the lack of a specialist dead ball kicker, the absence of the motivation and concentration to deliver results. These factors are only all to obvious to the worldwide faithful. However now we risk damaging the very persons this refusal to strengthen was designed to protect. With every additional humiliation and defeat, the young players will lose morale and self belief. The highs from victories are rapidly being extinguished by the lows of defeats directly attributable to our easily correctable weaknesses. Next season must be a time for change. I don’t care from where, with who or by whom.
Enough is enough and Arsenal Football Club deserve better. Many millions have been made by very rich individuals in and around this club. The Board have a responsibility to enable the manager Arsene Wenger to have the environment and funds to push this club forward. Currently the only way open to the club to raise more cash is to sell players. No one can argue that we have gone forward this season. If anything, our advances have been due to the faults of our rivals. We have not been consistent in defensive areas. We have failed in simple tasks at set pieces. There is a stubbornness of the board to cling to a bankrupt philosophy that reinforces Wenger’s view that transfers can only be made if they are better than the players we have. The Board benefits HUGELY by not having to put in money, and it hides behind Arsene Wenger in a thoroughly cowardly manner, unwilling to take the action necessary to improve the profitability of the club, by extended marketing of the Club or putting in hard cash to reduce the outstanding loans.
I have no doubt that we will beat Porto in a fortnight, but our prospects of winning the Champions league are slim at best, because we lack the tools to do the job. I am angry and frustrated because the consequences of last night’s defeat will run far deeper than the immediate fear of exiting the Champions League. I repeat that I do not blame the players themselves last night as they can only deliver what their potential dictates. If they are not good enough, then surely we should take steps to put that right. What is wrong at the moment is the division inside and outside the club. For that I hold to people at the head of our club responsible. So whilst I have much sympathy for the plight of Lukanz Fabianski, today, I have no sympathy for the Arsenal Board or Wenger! Just put it right next season, for the love of God..!