I missed the first five minutes picking a friend up from the station. That’s the good news. I didn’t have to see, not in realtime at least, the thing we all knew was going to happen but hoped would at least take a little longer. I have precisely nothing to say about the rest of the game. Obviously there’s plenty that could be said, but you can just cut and paste a few paragraphs from posts about similarly spineless defeats and – bam! – Le Bob is your auntie’s live-in lover, a vintage moany Mouse match report.
But I won’t be writing a new one. I can’t face mounting a fresh inquest. The defeat confirms this as the worst start to a season since ‘94-‘95, when we eventually finished 12th. (Thanks @orbinho!) After the game I tweeted: Kroenke Out. Perhaps hotheadedly, but not really because I’ve felt this way for well over a year.
Obviously I don’t blame our American multibillionaire for the specifics of the performance today. Not for the predictability of the lineup, for instance, or the tactical inflexibility, or the lack of fight. What I blame him for is presiding over a club that is weakening, quite visibly, during his tenure and doing nothing about it.
This is happening on his watch. We have a squad that is thinning like my own barnet. People say sack the board. Who do the board answer to if not the majority shareholder? The man who owns Arsenal in all but name. My feeling has long been that Kroenke’s stewardship would have a further chilling effect on the already timid direction in which Arsenal has been steered. We exist now on a Möbius strip in which we fight for fourth, to qualify for the Champions League to ensure we still have enough to fight for fourth.
Meanwhile the stars that we have leave to be replaced by ever-dimmer lights, while the fans contort themselves into ever more awkward logical contortions to explain why what we’re doing makes sense and everyone else, including the players we once loved, must be mad. They aren’t. We are, for paying the highest football prices in the world, to fatten a calf that will one day make a very rich man even richer. Kroenke is an anchor on genuine ambition.
Yeah, yeah – it’s just business. No doubt I’m being naive. But my stomach still spins when folk are so loyal to the club that they’ll defend, with eyes bulging, a speculative investor’s right to take money from it without putting a dime in. If you have bought a single hot dog at the Emirates you have put more cash into the club than either of our billionaire shareholders. No dividends? No answer.
Here’s the question I always come back to: Doesn’t an institution like Arsenal deserve an owner for whom it is the number one priority?
But hey you know all this. We talk and talk and talk. Stocks and shares, sticks and stones. I bore myself with it, and you don’t have to log in to the comments to tell me I bore you too. (But feel free.) What point I have is this: Unless we use our resources to their fullest, the cycle will not be broken. I would rather try and fail than keep treading water.
From the outside I cannot say who is preventing that from happening – Stan, the board, Arsene – but they are the problem. They need to change tack or step aside. (Please note I am entirely aware of the unlikelihood that Stan will actually step aside from a licence to print money.)
There’s no point holding up Liverpool’s moronic spending as a cautionary tale. You don’t make policy based on statistical outliers, you do so on common sense. And that screams we aren’t good enough and haven’t been for some time. I write this blog as catharsis and because I love the club. I am not pro Usmanov or any nonsense like that. I am pro Arsenal.