The arrogance of Arsenal management is unparalleled. Arsenal’s status as a perpetual fourth place contender is the hallmark of a high level of consistency, true, but it is also the hallmark of a club ready to take the next step and push for a title.
Arsenal’s performance in Europe over the last few seasons says the same, in that it shows a club waiting for a manager to lead them to European success.
This is to say that clubs are evolutionary entities. At certain points, a particular manager or management group reaches the peak of its powers and needs to be relieved so that another group can add something different and build upon previous successes.
This hasn’t happened at Arsenal. Rather, the manner in which the club seems to brag about being in Champions League contention for so many seasons consecutively is akin to a Premier League club bragging about avoiding relegation.
It’s like they are just happy to be there, as if this is all they’ve ever wanted.
Where is the ambition? I’d challenge you to find a time in recent memory where club leadership has stated their desire to take a step forward and compete with the best in the world.
Certainly their players notice this. Ask Alexis Sanchez why he won’t be at Arsenal next season.
From there I would ask: What kind of atmosphere has this football club cultivated if the best players believe they can’t win trophies there?
There is a lot to be said for consistency, but consistency is nothing if it possesses no tangible goal.
The question genuinely needs to be asked of Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis and Arsenal Football Club: What is the long-term goal? Is it to compete for and win trophies? Is it to remain relatively competitive in the Premier League and to qualify for Champions League? Is it to make money?
Of course, Arsenal is a private entity, they are entitled to seek a profit, but the issue that needs to be addressed is much more ethical than that. Is it ethical that a club continually misleads their supporters into thinking that they are trying their best when they clearly aren’t?
I’d say no. Absolutely not. Period.
To me, Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis and everyone in the management group that enables them, are actively conspiring against not just the supporters or the club’s success on the pitch, but the sport itself.
This goes beyond any argument that suggests respectful treatment of Arsene Wenger, a club legend, has spiralled out of control, placing a single man above the wellbeing of an entire football club. This is about how senior management at the football club has repeatedly ignored fans, pussyfooted their way around doubts over transfer policy, and spin-doctored their way through questions over their title ambitions – lest we forget that fourth place is a trophy.
This is about how a sport truly capable of fostering unity in our communities, built through accessibility and grassroots connections, is being repeatedly stabbed in the back by scaly individuals.
Arsenal needs to be honest with its supporters because it no longer exists as a beacon of footballing ambition, nor joy; rather, it is a vessel of misleading mediocrity desperately in need of a change in personnel and philosophy.
So, as Arsenal Football Club lose out on yet another star player to a more ambitious club, and perhaps in the most humiliating fashion yet, consider whether or not this club truly cares about football and the community it attracts at all.
Image courtesy of Ronnie Macdonald