The Hipsters Pod editor & chief Kris Carpenter shares his thoughts on his beloved Arsenal.
When I began to write this piece I have to be honest I wasn’t sure why, was it to get my deepest frustrations out? Maybe a chance to actually read back the inner workings of my mind? Or simply the platform to make some sense of everything going on within the walls of the club I love, The Arsenal.
At the time of writing this we are four days removed from a final day 3-1 home victory over Everton, the day after Manchester Utd lifted the Europa League trophy, the same trophy we will be competing for next season after twenty straight years of Champions League qualification & most importantly, we are just two short days from an FA Cup Final with Chelsea at Wembley. With that in mind you would think the supporters would be together as one, discussing the excitement of the day upcoming, the chance of lifting more silver wear in the sun, OK, maybe we are being a bit optimistic about the sun! But still, it’s a Cup Final, yet the talk amongst fans, podcasts, blogs & social media seems heavily preoccupied with what is seemingly taking place behind the scenes at the club instead. The power struggle between Stan Kroenke & Alisher Usmanov, Manager Arsene Wenger’s hints at unrest & the ongoing mystery over whether or not the clubs two biggest names, Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil are to remain with the club or not this summer.
I have to say this season like no other has left me jaded, jaded at the constant speculation, fan dissent & regular unconvincing performances on the pitch. I have to say at this point as an Arsenal fan of over twenty years I have never & will never demand success, nor will I ever feel a sense of entitlement when following the club, but that aside I do feel we have massively under achieved this term & looking back over the recent history I am starting to really understand those who say we have a club who sound somewhat like a broken record in the past few years, the same old failings, the same old justifications, the same old promises of improvements only to be met by groundhog day the following season.
The Manager’s future has been a constant topic for discussion & division this season, that much is clear to everyone, whilst I sit in the camp that feels Arsene deservers the utmost respect for the work he has done & continues to try his best to do, I also feel the time is right for change, a long overdue change in truth, Arsene himself stepping down from his position as manager is one way forwards, of course I understand that, but does it solve the issues at our club? I am not so sure, I would like nothing more than him changing his stubbornness & accepting the support of others where offered, this includes a shakeup of those loyal to him, backroom staff, coaches, allies even, some may even argue members of the playing staff are long overdue the dreaded chop! If this is to happen, it simply has to happen this summer, no more waiting to see if one more season can change the failings. If you believe what you read Wenger’s future is settled, he will remain for another contract, for how long, that’s anyone’s guess, the likelihood of a two year deal, some say a one year extension with a view to a further year depending on results, but I can’t help but wonder in light of recent comments, actions & hints, I feel there is a real chance a man loyal to this club for over twenty years might just walk away this summer…
So what happens if Arsene Wenger does go, I don’t mean in general as even his most loyal supporters accept he will go one day, but I ask what if he goes this summer, amid the turmoil at board room level, what happens if this already wounded animal has another leg crippled beneath it, the answer for me is simple, crisis. The word crisis may sound a little strong, but for me leaving the decision making on appointing a new manager to this board, helmed of course by an absent owner intent on using Arsenal Football Club PLC as a money making vessel only & of course a silenced CEO who seems intent on doing nothing but accepting what the Manager wishes, worries me far more than any future under Arsene Wenger as the man sending the players out on the pitch every week! Many people talk of names such as Allegri, Simeone, Tuchel, Enrique coming in to take over the Manager’s hot seat, something I understand given all’s recent success or style of play, but it is my belief that any Manager of their standing or reputations would be frankly crazy to take this job whatever plush salary they were to be offered, would it be an honor to manage Arsenal, of course, we remain one of the biggest names in world Football in a city that provides a huge incentive to live in, but working for a man like Stan Kroenke who, for me, shows no desire, passion or love for the Football club that funds his business interests is career suicide.
When looking from the outside, as a fan, we look at our club & see the juggernaut, but when we remove our red tinted glasses we must also accept we are a club managed from top to bottom by one man, a man who has dedicated his life essentially to making everything in his image, to his standards, which, whilst I personally salute him for that commitment & everything he has helped build, from The Emirates Stadium plans to London Colney, to even the cutlery within The Diamond Club I would politely ask him to cease this obsession & with immediate effect. Now is the time to begin making plans for the future of this club, put building blocks in place to support the future. Every new Manager at any club comes in with their own plans, ideas, tactics, style, but I would argue no club in Europe’s elite right now has such a rigid structure in place that for the most part would need rebuilding before any real progress can be made. It is my belief Arsene would have to step aside from the club all together as well as the current board room be completely changed or shaken up for this to take place. I take no happiness from this statement nor do I think that my opinion is gospel or cast in stone as correct, but I do think the majority of fans would probably agree.
This coming summer will represent another period of time for us, the fans as a time we watch other teams around us & in Europe strengthen their squads, shuffle their back room staff, cast aside those players who have under performed or those not used as much as would’ve been expected, but what of our club? Will we see the huge changes made that so many including me feel are needed? Could we Arsene change his stance & accept the Director of Football role put in place to help secure the players we so desperately require to inject the necessary quality to compete for trophies next season & beyond? & could we see a takeover attempt from someone of Usmanov’s wealth or similar? These are the questions both myself & many thousands of other Arsenal fan’s ask, but will we get the answers we want, that’s the biggest question of all.
Many people reading this will no doubt ask, OK Kris, you’ve given your views on the things many already know but what do you want, which side of the fence do you sit on? Well, I will say this much, in my lifetime Arsene Wenger has brought me unbelievable memories, some of the best Football I have ever seen & taken a club that in 1995 was almost on its knees to being back where it belongs, at Europe’s top table, but I, like so many cannot ignore the facts that this season has been a further decent into mediocrity, both on & off the pitch, which of course culminated last weekend with the drop into The Europa League, whether Manchester Utd fans or ours want to admit it or not, it is now Europe’s second tier competition. I wish nothing more than for Arsene to come out fighting this close season, invest in some big talents, shuffle the team of coaches he has to work with & open his mind to accepting the help he so desperately needs to allow him to do the job that in my view he is still more than capable of doing, above all else my wish is for Arsene to part ways with the club he loves in the right way, at the top of his game & afforded the respect he so richly deserves.
Until that day comes, whether it be sooner or later let’s make it another mid-May afternoon in the sun on Saturday to remember & lift that FA Cup. Whatever your mood, your views or your feelings right now, let’s get behind the boys & the Manager! UTA!
Kris Carpenter (@AFCfreddie8)