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  1. The guy who ruined our club can put it right?, Yeah, right! We will win all our matches We will have 105 points at the end of the season. I am very confident that will be our final figure - if we win all our matches between now and the end of the season! That will, of course, be enough to win the Premier league. Even if we throw in a few draws or another defeat or two we will probably be able to win the league judging by previous seasons. Manchester United won with 75 in 1996-97 and that would allow us 10 more defeats. So why are we all saying Arteta out? So much is still possible for our season, including winning the league. We could be like a boxer who gets knocked down in the first round, to the collective groan of all his supporters, but claws his way back into the fight and wins. Look at Tyson Fury, effectively knocked out in his first fight with Deontay Wilder, still regarded as the hardest hitter in boxing. Fury’s eyes rolled around in his head, but somehow he got up, scrambled a draw and then learnt from that to win well the return and become champion of the world. We don’t believe that, though, of Arteta and Arsenal. Why? Tyson Fury got up from an impossible position Oh no we won’t Because they have been a shambles, and Saturday’s game against Man City was, I feel, the worst Arsenal performance ever. Bruce Rioch never presided over an embarrassment like that and he is generally regarded as the worst manager in my Arsenal supporting lifetime. We have been thrashed many times, even under our best, Arsene Wenger, but we were always playing, always trying, always dangerous. The only way we were dangerous on Saturday was when Granit Xhaka launched his foolhardy lunge to get himself sent off. To give an example, Man Utd and 8-2, which is the worst score I can remember offhand, we scored 2 and kept attacking all the time, leaving spaces for the Man Utd players to exploit. Truly, we didn’t play all that badly. Watch it again if you don’t believe me. But City on Saturday was almost entirely shameful. No shots, no marking, no organisation, no rhythm, no flair, we were like a hungover Sunday team flailing about playing a team several divisions above us in a friendly. It is very hard to see how to turn that around. But Norwich and Burnley are next. In theory 2 wins and confidence restored for the next biggie, the Spuds. It depends on whether confidence is the problem or bad coaching. Truly, it is starting to look like bad coaching or something wrong behind the scenes. However Liverpool, last season, went through a very bad run and a Liverpool friend was saying similar, that something is wrong. At one point Champions league looked very unlikely, but Klopp turned things around, they went on a late run and got top four. Can we do the same? The problem is that Arteta is not Klopp, he hasn’t got the credibility or the trophies to work on the players. Soon to be the last time we see such pictures? He has to trade in wins Those who have read my previous “Where can we finish” blogs will note that I have consistently said Arteta has only one currency he can trade in now, wins. He did finish last season pretty strongly but that is all undone now. The fact that the Kroenkes have backed him in the transfer market though limits their room for manoeuvre. Sack him now and a new manager has a team that he didn’t choose, made up of potential but maybe not suiting his vision. Another potential problem is the big stars attitude, I believe Aubamayang is a toxic influence, constantly pushing the boundaries of behaviour. I never liked players who go on strike for a move as he did to get to Arsenal. It seems he also doesn’t like having to accept the schedules of lesser players. Granit Xhaka is another toxic influence, I feel. Constantly screaming at players, but ignoring his own ability to get red-carded at vital times. Leaving us without the most vital midfielder – the defensive one, in a game against the best in England. A few weeks ago, he said his team-mates weren’t good enough to win trophies and now he is back as captain? I am sorry but Arteta is allowing unacceptable things to happen. The young players are watching these bullshit role models and learning bad habits. Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger never allowed players to be bigger than the club. Both players mentioned have top ability and, I believe, have genuine affection for Arsenal, but a good manager has to be in charge, and he is responsible for ensuring that he gets the best from his squad. That, I reckon, is now beyond Arteta. Realistically, what can we do? So, let’s look at the season. We have 16 matches to halfway and at the start of the season we would have been expecting a minimum of 9 points from our first 5 and hoping for above that if we were going to push for top four. Now we have a maximum of 6. But 48 for halfway if we win all. Last season we had 24. But in the second half we had 37. The latter has to be our target now. That means dropping no more than 11 points including playing against several teams who finished above us last term. Hands up any fan who thinks we can get 37? If we did, though, we are on target for 74 and last year’s second place. It truly is hard to see Arteta doing it now. He went big for his first job and it looks like he has got it wrong. Most managers learn their trade at lower clubs and then tackle the big ones but there are exceptions. Guardiola, his mentor, was one. He coached the Barcelona B team before landing the big prize of the senior team and he has enjoyed nonstop success since then. Antonio Conte would be my choice A top guy flies in? So could someone do a Tuchel? Come in and transform the results? Antonio Conte, maybe? It is very possible as I believe the players are Champions League quality with the right manager. We have lots of players that cost in excess of 40M. Lots of internationals who have played big tournaments and lots of eye catching youngsters. Probably that youth means a big prize is beyond us this year but next year? Why not? One possible ray of hope is the League Cup. Depending on the draw, it is very winnable and at least we are still in that and surely can beat Wimbledon to progress? I doubt if anyone believes we are still in the hunt for the Premier League but if we beat all in September, including the Spuds, all will be transformed. It is possible, I suppose. And puts it right? So what is my conclusion? We will continue to struggle. Kroenke will bite the bullet and sack Arteta at some point. The right decision? It looks like it at the moment. He doesn’t seem to be able to handle the big names and I suspect that is where our pitch problems lie. Leicester get where they are by the team playing in harmony and for each other, rarely having bad games collectively and without the large transfers that our fans think will solve our problems. I believe that a top manager can take our group of players to Champions league status even without buying. Arteta’s only hope now is to start trading in wins, and keep on trading in them until we are pushing for Champions league. He needs a fairytale, anyone out there believe in them?
  2. The Super League? It is very difficult to get a handle on this news. I have decided to start on the positive because everything seems negative. Can I see any positives? I sat down and drew a mindmap to see what I came up with. The only way I could see positives was through the mindset of the owners. What will they get if they succeed? Stability, profits and, crucially, control. They will make the rules. If necessary, they can ditch Uefa, Fifa and all country associations. New league, new rules, and a stable way to plan the future. Let’s take my club, Arsenal, and extrapolate from them my arguments. They have been weakened in recent years and have dropped down the table. Similar has happened to Liverpool and Manchester United in recent years. A.C Milan and Inter as well. Probably only Athletico of the Spanish teams truly fear this but Juventus have had to comeback from demotion and pesky control from above. Now, with one bound, Arsenal are back on top, competing with the best. Leicester and Everton can whistle Dixie if they like. Let’s face it, this is no surprise. This song keeps coming back, staying in our head as a permanent earworm. The big clubs, boosted by the incredible appeal of the Premier League (6 clubs, baby) and the Champions League, don’t want to lose that massive TV money. And they don’t want any more newcomers like Leicester spoiling their profits. Arsenal v Manchester United is a big game, Fulham v Burnley is, neh! 20 teams involved. Seems to indicate that there have been soundings and quiet agreements. Bayern, Dortmund, Ajax, Porto and PSG spring to mind. A couple of French as well? Red Bull? Seems like a good move for them. The German clubs have to hold fire as their ownership is different. But it is a symbiotic relationship, based on them being at the top table. So, who has the power? Whenever I see a struggle, I ask myself who has the power? Let’s take my previous paragraph as correct and the rest of the top teams want to come on board. They probably have the power, at least to wreck the powerbase of FiFa/Uefa. The associations have the most to lose as they are not popular among football fans. They have been corrupt and inept so often that few feel they act in the best interests of football. So they will want to survive this challenge to keep their powerbase and their gravy train going. Alexander Ceferin Are we really relying on him to fight this battle? And that, my friends, means a compromise. There is a huge amount of room between what we have at the moment and this new breakaway. Plenty of scope for both sides to claim victory. It is also possible that we have seen a enormous amount of sabre rattling and a rough agreement has already been sorted, and after a fake fight, the real new deal will be unveiled. That, if true, in some ways will be good, as a lot of things will stay the same. However, the balance of power will have shifted to the clubs. Fifa/Uefa will survive but weaker. One thing that won’t change or be compromised is that the big clubs can’t drop out. They need that or this whole power grab won’t work out. So they may allow some form of promotion and relegation but only those who get promoted will be relegated. Say 5 teams come in the first year, after that the lowest 2-3 of the promoted clubs get relegated. Still keeps the American dream ideal that a team can come from nowhere and eat at the big table. Bye bye Fifa/Uefa? I cannot see any way that Fifa/Uefa can come out of this stronger. The big clubs could potentially make the total breakaway work. These clubs fanbases, particularly if the other big clubs come on board, are, I guess, far bigger than all the rest of the world’s teams combined. They seem, to my mind, to have the marginally stronger hand, certainly than the world bodies. Do they have a stronger hand than the fans? Gianni Infantino. Or this guy to be our hero? It is hard to say. I have seen many changes in my time. Most, like this, are for the benefit of the powerful. A smaller premier league, bigger tv money for the big clubs, rejigging the Champions League and Europa league so top teams stay involved near the end. Manchester United are in the semifinal of the Europa League long after being dumped out of the Champions league. Allowing owners to leverage the assets of clubs to take over, meaning the clubs have huge debts. Billionaire owners distorting all rules of fair competition to the detriment of small clubs. The fans keep going along with everything. Is there a parting position? Where they say no way? So far, I haven’t seen it. The only sure thing I can say for certain is that the European Super League clubs chose now, before the season ended to make their move. On the surface that looks crazy. But is it? Can Uefa really stop all affected championships, cups and the European trophies now without looking bad? And the Euros for the summer? How will that play out for them? Will they end up looking as inept as they always do? The big clubs have put a gun to their head. Have Uefa the cojones to stand up to them? And do they believe they have the support of the footballing community if they do so? And even if they do believe so, do they really? Can we really take power back? I guess you want my conclusion with the limited knowledge we have at the moment? I suspect it is a done deal. After a phony war, a compromise will be reached that keeps many things the same, except that the big clubs have far more power. If you want to know what I would like to see happen, I will oblige. It is that the footballing community take them on and win. I hate the idea of relying on Uefa/Fifa to fight our battles and don’t trust them. Both of the sides need to be taken on and defeated and a new controlling body set up. All these billionaire owners be thrown on the street. Only fan organisations can own clubs and the ideal of true, fair, sporting competition be brought back. We love our clubs, but slowly, we have come to hate many aspects of them. Only fans can achieve those ideals. It can be done. Let’s make it happen. I don't trust what's behind those glasses
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