Saturday, August 17, 2013

Start of the EPL...open letter to Mr Wenger

So we have another start of the EPL, one with some serious changes. This will be the first time Ferguson will not be part of the league. He managed every Premiership season for Manchester United (SAF got to ManU in 1986...the EPL started in 1992). Clearly the biggest change in this season. Of course we welcome "The Special" one back to London as well. That should be highly entertaining! But one change we are not seeing is - any major changes with Arsenal's squad! Ugh. So rather than giving my predictions of who finish where, let us face it the winner will come from the following trio: Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea, here is my open letter to Monsieur Wenger.

The start of a great run...can we go back to those days?
Mon Cher Arsene,

Welcome to the 2013-2014 EPL season, your 18th at the helm of the Gunners. With the retirement of your nemesis - Alex Ferguson - you are now the most tenured manager in the EPL. What you did with Arsenal was nothing short of fabulous. When you took over the club it had hit a rough patch of a few seasons. You institute new training, new dieting and a new mentality. A new winning mentality. You brought doubles to the club, invincible seasons and even European finals (unfortunately neither the UEFA Cup nor the Champions League found their way back to North London).

You introduced us to players such as Anelka, Vieira, Berkhamp, Overmars, Henry, Cesc, Van Persie, Pires, Wiltord, Ljunberg, Toure and even stealing the likes of Campbell from hated rivals Tottenham. Many of these players were vital to our success. The battles between Vieira and Keene were the stuff of legends. For a few seasons Henry could lay claim to being the greatest striker in the world.

Many of these players brought us titles and glory. Yet we have not tasted glory since 2005, when Vieira was wearing the captain's arm band. He is now retired...we have not even sniffed an FA Cup final since that 2005 win against Manchester United, let alone come close to winning the EPL...we did get to a Carling Cup final in 2011. But we lost to Birmingham...ugh. Oh yes we consistently qualify for the Champions League. Because the current structure rewards not winning! Don't forget Arsene that back in the good old days of three European cups, only the CHAMPION of domestic leagues would go to the Champions League. We would have been playing for the UEFA Cup. But yes we go every season, get out of the group stage, maybe get to a 1/4 final, collect our money and then go home. Without a trophy. During this time we have suffered through watching our rivals Chelsea and Manchester United collect their own "big eared" trophies. If there was a trophy given for getting to the Champions League, we would need to expand our trophy case. Alas, all that comes with 4th place in the EPL and Champions League is money. Which you don't spend.

Speaking of spending. Arsene, your frugal and fiscally conservative ways would be wonderful for a corporation. But you are not managing a business. You are managing an entertainment entity. While I am not asking for you to spend like a drunken sailor. Spend something. Please. We moved from Highbury to a larger stadium so as to be competitive with other clubs. Arsenal has the commercial and financial clout to compete with the largest clubs in Europen, not just England. Recent reports even demonstrate that we should be able to compete for wages with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United. We are rumored to be signing a large kit deal with Puma, which will infuse our coffers with plenty more cash. Yet who have we purchased? Who have we even been in the running for?

You want to spend, or at least rumored to want to spend, on the likes of Suarez (no thanks). We were supposedly in the running for Higuain, who would have been a great signing. But it feels like every season for the past few seasons..."rumored" to be looking at a big name player. Only to see them go elsewhere. Meanwhile we let our stars walk - Cesc and Van Persie come to mind. This is what a mid-tier club does. Not one of the largest clubs in the world does.

So what to do? Mr Wenger please remember what made you successful. Spend some money on a few proven players. When I say proven, I mean go out and be aggressive and get a Higuain or Mario Gomez type. Don't worry if they are over 30 and sign them to a longer deal if need be. When you target a youngster - sign them, regardless if you think you are overspending. I realize that Hazard might not have come, but you had your eyes on the youngster early in his Lille career. Make it happen. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish.

What you need to buy. A striker. Giroud is nice, but having another legitimate goal scorer would be nicer. I am not expecting you to purchase Zlatan from PSG but go out and close Higuain when you could have. Get another creative player in the middle of the park. I realize we have lots of creativity but I feel we need some new blood, new ideas in the middle of the park. A world class goalkeeper would be nice. Ever since "safe hands" Seaman left we really have not had a steady world class keeper. Please don't mention Lehmann. Finally get another "hard man" in the midfield. Since we let the likes of Vieira, Silva, Edu, Flamini et al leave, we have not really had a player in the midfield who provides the muscle and intimidation needed.

I understand that your Alsacetian stubbornness is a major factor. But as the saying goes - insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. We have not won a trophy in forever. We used to win silverware, we used to contend for Premiership titles we used to be a legitimate threat for European titles. Now we are content for 4th place. Unacceptable.

Please go back to your early day ways. Otherwise I will see you in Paris in a season.

Yours truly
GFC

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