Arsenal FC legend Dennis Bergkamp was interviewed by another Highbury legend Alan Smith and gave a damning indictment of the state of the current Arsenal squad.
Both Bergkamp and Smith gave a lot to the Arsenal cause and both are unforgivably underrated—one perhaps more than the other.
However, both won things with Arsenal under two different types of manager: Smith under the hard-nosed defensive style of George Graham and the other, Bergkamp, under the slick attacking style of Arsene Wenger.
Both are in a good position to pass judgement on the current Arsenal crop. They both ended their careers in the red and white jersey and are still huge fans.
Bergkamp has always been a loyal servant of Wenger so it is even more poignant to hear that he shares the same views of many old-school fans and ex-players alike—players like Paul Merson, Ian Wright, Lee Dixon and Tony Adams. True legends. Berkgamp said (as reported by the Daily Telegraph):
"I feel there are a lot of similar players there at the moment," he reasons." It needs to be more diverse.
"You need a few strong characters who can get the team going, in training as well as matches.
"You also need a few players who can make a difference in terms of scoring goals. I don’t feel there are enough of them.
“You look at the midfield and compare it with ours.
"We had Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Ray Parlour – when it wasn’t working for one of the big names, one of these could step up.
"You can’t only depend on one or two players. When they’re having an off day, you need someone else."
It's obvious to everyone but Wenger and his followers. Wenger has sold or let go of too many players too early that had experience and or devotion to the club. If anything these players could have at least passed down the knowledge of old—how to win.
I'm talking about Jens Lehman, Ashley Cole, Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Edu, Gilberto Silva, Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb, Sol Campbell (original departure), Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.
Some will point at excessive contract demands but essentially, you get what you pay for. Would you rather what was the world's best left-back for an extra £50,000 a week or having that money spent on the likes of Manuel Almunia or Denilson? It's very simple really.
Wenger turns to players who owe him so he has a degree of control. He dislikes being challenged and never listens to suggestions. In the end, the players grow tired and leave anyway.
He purposely goes for the opposite option. When the majority cries out for Christopher Samba or Gary Cahill he goes for Per Mertesacker. When fans are asking for the likes of Scott Parker to help the midfield he ends up losing Cesc Fabregas and Samri Nasri to then replace them with Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun.
He has lost touch—a law unto himself. He and his followers are burying all the hard work he has done.
“Sometimes you need more of a winning mentality than a passing mentality.
“I’m not sure Arsenal have enough of that in their players, when the attitude becomes more important than the ability just to pass the ball.
"I don’t know if the English mentality is missing a little bit.
"We had it with the back four, of course, who had the mentality of thinking, ‘OK, this game is ours now.’
“Sometimes I see their games and it’s always the same way of playing, a bit too predictable.
"They are all fantastic players, that must be said, but sometimes you need a bit more of the other side.
Bergkamp says what the majority of clear-thinking football supporters of Arsenal believe.
Too many fans are interested in the financial side of Arsenal rather than what is happening on the pitch. Strange when Arsenal take the biggest profit figures in the league.