Arsenal FC: 7 Delusions of the Brainwashed Gooner
"Where are the idiots who wanted Wenger out?"
"We told you so!"
"Arsene Knows...in Wenger we Trust!"
It is that time of the season again. Arsenal go on a decent run and the Wengerites come out all guns blazing. Conveniently, such good runs occur as a lead-up to a transfer window, providing the perfect excuse to keep Arsenal's cash in the bank.
It is almost laughable. The slightest indication of a recovery is celebrated in a manner more befitting a League or European triumph.
These two trophies are beyond Arsenal's reach but certainly not beyond a deluded fan's fantasy. Arsenal fans, especially Wengerites, have the ability to extrapolate a decent run of results in a manner that would embarrass even the pre-crash real estate investors.
These hardcore fans of the Wenger/Hill-Wood system perceive their delusion as proof of loyalty towards the club, and label the critical fans as traitors.
Arsenal fans who criticize the club during disasters (of which there have been plenty lately) are accused of providing "knee-jerk" reactions and are supposed to "get behind the club" during the difficult times.
Well, times are different now.
Arsenal have supposedly taken the Premier League by storm, and Wenger has supposedly answered his critics.
Let us have a look through the seven major delusions of a "brainwashed" Arsenal fan.
Delusion 1. No Replacement for Wenger
Ahh, the cult of Arsene Wenger!
A typical "brainwashed" gooner is more loyal to Wenger than to Arsenal. You know you are face to face with an AKB (Arsene Knows Best) when you hear nonsense like:
"Arsenal was nothing before Wenger"
(Yes, 10 First Division titles is "nothing")
"He has done so much for the club, he is unsackable"
(What about the last six years? Barcelona ruthlessly sacked Rijkaard and look where they are now)
"Stability is essential for a club to remain competitive"
And last but not the least—"If not Wenger, then who?"
( What to say about this one? I guess when Wenger retires, Arsenal should just shut up shop because no one but Wenger can manage this unique little snowflake that is Arsenal Football Club)
Delusion 2. Man City/Chelsea Will Go Bankrupt
"And then we will rule!" is what delusional Arsenal fans say. Others point to the Financial Fair Play rules—which is a more reasonable argument, but is still flawed.
Manchester City's Arab owner has already started finding loopholes around FFP by channeling his own money into the club via ''sponsorships" from friendly companies.
It is very likely that no action will be taken against such clubs, because we live in the real world and not a cotton candy version that is inhabited by desperate Arsenal fans who are looking for some light at the end of this very long tunnel.
When Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea in 2003, many proclaimed that he would soon get bored and leave the club in ruins.
That hasn't happened, Chelsea remain strong on the pitch and there is no indication of them flouting FFP rules either.
A cursory look at other major sporting leagues like the American NFL is enough to see that the future of football belongs to rich clubs with wealthy owners who invest in their teams to win, not to make profits.
Delusion 3. New Stadium Is a Viable Excuse
"Which other manager could have maintained success while transitioning into a new stadium?" is the last resort of an AKB.
Well, the answer is a very unpopular one. The man is Jose Mourinho.
FC Porto moved into a brand new stadium for the 2002-03 season. Even though it cost a mere 90 million Euros, that is still a big chunk of their small budget.
In that season, Porto won the UEFA Cup and followed it up by the Champions League triumph the very next year. So much for the stadium excuse.
Also, the stadium did not stop Arsenal from renewing the contracts of the Invincibles. The stadium did not force Wenger to spend millions on unproven youngsters while simultaneously letting go of the Invincibles, resulting in a team of talented but leaderless youngsters.
Delusion 4. Arsenal Can't Afford Big Wages
Arsenal's annual wage bill almost matches the one of Manchester United. Yet, Ivan Gazidis wants Gooners to believe that we cannot afford £200,000 per week wages.
Arsenal can afford big wages, but Wenger follows a wage structure that does not reward merit but instead tolerates poor performance.
It is ridiculous that Robin van Persie makes £70,000 per week—and that his new contract that is being rumored to be around £90,000 per week.
All this, while the likes of Abou Diaby and Nicklas Bendtner (before he was shipped out) are in the range of £50-60,000 per week.
Arsenal sold Samir Nasri for £25 million and Cesc Fabregas for £35 million. Their combined salaries were approaching £200,000 per week.
For this amount, Wesley Sneijder was easily available, but having a top-class player with loads of experience would have ruined Arsenal's dressing room—according to Wenger and AKBs.
Delusion 5. Owners Care About the Club
Arsenal are universally praised for being a model club and the owners are hailed as "worthy custodians" of the club, who respect traditions...similar nonsense.
The previous "custodians" made £234 million from their sale of shares to Stan Kroenke. In order to raise the value of their shares, the owners put Arsenal's interests second.
David Dein's suggestion of leasing Wembley was trashed. Presumably, a leased property would not have bumped up the valuations as much as a new stadium.
Alisher Usmanov, who was aware that on-pitch success would eventually depend on investment from the owners, was kept at bay and David Dein, the man who hired Arsene Wenger, was ruthlessly ousted.
Arsenal's activity in the transfer window seems odd, as they always seem to buy young attackers in excess even though they might be more expensive than experienced and much needed defenders.
Spending in excess of £15 million on the likes of the unproven attacking talent of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, instead of the much needed experience of Gary Cahill is one such example.
It does make sense however, if you look at it from the owner's point of view—buy young and cheap and sell the player to Barca/Man City to make huge profits.
Delusion 6. Arsenal Are 2-3 Players Away from Big Trophies
Every year, Arsenal are 2-3 players short of a trophy-winning team. At the end of every transfer window, Arsenal do buy or develop those 2-3 players, but an equal number leave for greener pastures as well.
Wenger has failed to keep any kind of continuity in the team over the years. His Utopian vision of players fitting into a "system" hasn't worked in reality.
Every title-winning side has had a bunch of experienced players who have passed the baton to the next generation.
The post-invincibles Arsenal sides have been full of orphans. Kids, with no one to guide them.
Manchester United still have Ryan Giggs, Ferdinand and now Wayne Rooney to guide the youngsters. Chelsea have Frank Lampard and Mr. Chelsea, John Terry.
There is no Mr. Arsenal though.
Jack Wilshere will fill that role one day, but that day is far away and the leadership vacuum will cost Arsenal dearly, no matter how many wonder kids they buy.
It is not possible to develop leadership overnight, but it can always be bought. In the desperate days after the 2-8 defeat, Wenger did buy experienced players, but unless Arsenal buy/develop leaders, they will always "fall just short."
Delusion 7. It's All Part of a Grand Plan
Wengerites thought that Arsenal could achieve success by an infinite re-application of the failed policy of the last six years.
These fans could not believe that the All-Knowing Professor could fail and rationalized the lack of success by assuming that all of this was part of a grand plan.
Lengthy articles were written explaining the various stages (or waves) of the "Master Plan" to make Arsenal a dominant force in Europe.
If there was such a plan, it failed spectacularly with the departure of Fabregas and Nasri. Emergency signings like Yossi Benayoun and Andre Santos confirmed that something had gone terribly wrong.
This is a crucial time for Arsenal.
Dropping out of the top four will trigger a vicious cycle and will end any hopes of competing commercially with the big clubs come 2014 (year for commercial contract renewals).
Ivan Gazidis has been quoted as saying that fourth place will not be a disaster for Arsenal. It is astonishing that such lack of ambition (football-wise) from the owners does not trigger a reaction from Arsenal fans.
Perhaps it will take another trophyless season, and the impending summer departure of Robin van Persie.