Arsene needs to have a long, hard think
I HAVE stated many times that I believe in many ways this has been a good season.
We’ve seen real progress. We’ve mounted a genuine title challenge and reached the Champions League quarter-finals in spite of a horrific injury list (you can’t blame the phsyios for three broken legs and a broken metatarsal).
We have a squad far less reliant on youth. Arsene Wenger has proved he can sign a central defender. Many players have improved markedly.
And at times we’ve shown real character to grind out wins.
I have every reason to expect more of the same next year. I expect we’ll make new signings. Probably quite good players if they’re anything like the ones who have arrived in recent years.
I have thoroughly enjoyed going to the Emirates and so too I think have the majority of the 58,000 odd crowd who still turn up every week, irrespective of the opposition.
And yet for the first time I harbour genuine doubts about where the winner in Wenger has gone. Where is his killer instinct?
How on earth can a team of his lack “focus” and “discipline” (his words, not mine) when on the verge of going three points behind two very shaky United and Chelsea sides with just three games to go?
In the aftermath of last Wednesday, where was the man who used to insist “we fight on” irrespective of how bleak the outlook?
Instead we had resignation when Chelsea’s losses at Goodison, Villa Park and the City of Manchester told us just how likely they were to drop points at White Hart Lane and let us right back into it.
And we took to the field at the JJB as if we still didn’t believe. A not up to it keeper who was at least in a tiny bit of form swapped for a not up to it keeper who hadn’t played for months.
And a walk in the park attitude so far removed from the fight for points at Stoke, Hull and even Birmingham. And a manager seemingly powerless to do anything about it.
Grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory and not for the first time in recent years.
Irrespective of the fact these may not be the best United and Chelsea sides, it’s been an achievement to get so close to them with the injuries we’ve had.
I can handle losing to a good Spurs side with half our team out.
But to see our title dream die because we lacked the “focus” and “discipline” to put a woeful Wigan to bed when 2-0 up just beggars belief.
I’m not for a second waving a white flag to the “told you so” merchants who (by and large) fall into one of two camps: either regarding not winning the league or Champions League as failure or every single year wrongly predicting the season Liverpool have just had for us.
But I do think the time has come for Arsene to ask himself if he can still motivate and drive this team. If the killer instinct that made him such a winner is still there.
I hope he can but I need convincing.