What is Arsene Wenger’s Mandate?

I have now heard it consistently said for 18 months to 2 years that Arsenal need a spine, they need a leader, a dominate centre half who can organise and a vocal aggressor in the midfield.

A growing section of Arsenal fans are now getting increasingly frustrated with Arsene Wenger, I have heard an unprecedented amount of them calling for Wenger’s head on radio phone-in’s, dating back as far as the defeat to Barcelona.

For me, I find it hard to judge as I don’t really know what is expected of Wenger from the Gunner’s board. I don’t know what they regard as success or under what (if any) guidelines or restrictions Wenger is working. Basically, what is regarded as progress or achievement at the Emirates?

Is Wenger being asked to develop players and try and build a team from youth because there is very little money to spend? Is he in fact overachieving by consistently finishing in the top 4 without spending any money?

Or is there a pot of money available to Arsene that he feels he doesn’t need to spend because he thinks his team are already good enough and he wants to continue on his own personal project?

In short, if Wenger is being asked to do a job on a budget, then it has to be said that he does an exceptional job. If he isn’t and he has a budget he chooses not to spend because he feels that he doesn’t need too, then after 6 years without a trophy, I’d have to say he is probably now failing.

Without really knowing the answers to these questions, I find it hard to judge Wenger. But it would be crazy to get rid of him, the reality of the situation is that Arsenal aren’t too far away from being a top side.

Wenger won’t stop Jack Wilshere playing for England

I was very impressed with Arsene Wenger’s measured response to Jack Wilshere’s inclusion in Stuart Pearce’s provisional 40-man squad for June’s European Championship finals in Denmark.

This story has been hyped up by the media into some sort of major showdown between Pearce and Wenger. Given the increasing irrational way – which is generally out of character for him – Wenger has been behaving over the past few weeks while watching his team chuck away their title chance, I kind of fell into the trap of believing that Wenger might blow his top again over this.

It’s a difficult one and I can’t totally make my mind up over it, I don’t think there is a right or wrong call here, it’s just one of those ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situations.

If Wilshere is a fully fledged member of the senior squad, then I agree with Wenger, there is no way he should be playing for the under 21’s.

I know he has played in the last couple of England games and if he stays fit and in form I expect him to stay in the squad for the foreseeable future, but can we really say that he is a regular member of the senior squad just yet?

At the same time if England were naming a senior squad for a major finals this summer, would Wilshere be in it? He probably would.

The same can’t be said of Andy Carroll, as he definately isn’t a full member of the senior squad, I’d regard him more as a prospect that Capello is having a look at. Again, if England were naming a squad for a major finals this summer, would Carroll get in it? I don’t think he would.

I can fully understand where Wenger is coming from over this issue and I do have sympathy with him. I suppose if pushed for my view, I would take Wilshere to the tournament and play him against Switzerland in the qualifier, he is only young and he looks strong enough to handle it all.

But if he is named in the first full England squad of next season, then that’s him finished with the under 21’s unless he suffers a loss in form and gets dropped, then it’s fair game to recall him to the under 21’s in a similar way to that of Micah Richards. But both squads would be a total no go.

Nothing for Arsene again

Just like 12 months ago, Arsenal’s season ended in the north west. Wigan last year, Bolton this – it’s not exactly having Man City or Man United finishing you off, is it.

Again set pieces did for Arsenal, they had something like 9 corners and not once did I ever expect to see them score, Bolton have a corner at the death and Arsenal can’t defend it to save their season, it was basic defending and yet again Arsenal weren’t up to it.

I thought the Gunners worked hard, they certainly put in a shift and scored a great goal, but you need more than that sometimes and yet again, Arsenal didn’t have it.

I was glad to see no petulance from Wenger at full time this week, with Robin van Persie decideding to fill in him and act like a spolit baby instead.

Yet again RVP got involved in a needless dispute, this time with Matty Taylor at full time, carrying on in a mature manner from an incident about 10 minutes from the end.

RVP should be examining his own contribution, he may well have scored the equaliser, but like on so many other occasions he failed to get Arsenal over the line when it really mattered – the story of his Arsenal career really.

It was the kind of mature behaviour I have come to expect from RVP, like the stupid dispute he got involved in at the Nou Camp earlier in the season, resulting in his first booking, before ultimately getting himself sent off.

Over the years, Europe’s elite have regularly come raiding Arsenal for their star men, Petit, Overmars, Viera and Henry. Not too many, if any, have come in pursuit of Van Persie – I’d say there is a very good reason for that.

Arsene Wenger loses the plot again

Why did Arsene Wenger have to gesticulate his displeasure towards Kenny Dalglish over the award of the late penalty today?

It was another blatent example of Wenger’s increasing petulance and bad sportsmanship. In my opinion it was also disrespectful and it makes Wenger look like a total fool.

Wenger has brought so much to the English game with his nurturing of young talent and his ‘pleasing on the eye’ brand of football. For all that he has done and achieved, I feel I should like him, but because of the manner he sometimes behaves in I find it hard to warm too him.

Today’s latest embarrassment comes only a few weeks after his stupid outburst in Barcelona.

There is a question of the timing of the penalty award, but the original free kick that led to the penalty was awarded in the 9th minute of injury time, the referee added a minimum of 8 – a penalty was scored by Arsenal during that 8 minutes so the referee must have added on time for that. So what has he done wrong?

Wenger’s claim on Sky Sports that time was over is stupid, as was his view that it wasn’t a penalty. If he thinks a game is over before the referee blows the final whistle, then he is a bigger fool than he looks.

The facts of today’s match are that Wenger’s team just weren’t good enough. It was a penalty, Eboue’s attempted tackle was ridiculous, what the hell was he trying to do?

Instead of blaming Dalglish or the referee, Wenger needs to take a good look in the mirror if he wants to find the real culprit for Arsenal not winning the title.

Alex Ferguson has done him again, he has made Wenger look stupid which is quite an achievement considering Wenger does it brilliantly for himself.

Wenger Under Fire

Not only has Arsene got a charge from UEFA over Tuesday nights antics at the Camp Nou. He is also coming under fire from a lot of Arsenal fans after his teams dismal showing during their football lesson from Barcelona.

I listened to Talksport on Wednesday and was surprised to hear the amount of fans getting in touch criticising Wenger, not just for his tactics, but his transfer policy.

It came as no surprise to hear certain presenters slagging him off. Adrian Durham said he should announce he is leaving at the end of the season, and I heard Andy Jacobs say Stoke would have given Barca a better game.

I know where Jacobs is coming from, while I was watching the game I couldn’t help think that a team such as Manchester City would have a great chance of beating Barca.

They would have plenty of muscle in midfield and plenty of height and strength at set pieces, all areas that Barcelona aren’t too clever in.

It was amazing though, that Barcelona could outplay Arsenal for over 150 of the 180 minutes and still almost be knocked out, like they should have been had Bendtner scored with his chance in the last couple of minutes.

Can you imagine how you would have felt if your team had dominated a tie like that scoring 4 goals and still getting knocked out by a sucker punch? It’s another Barca weakness that could be exploited by the better teams later in this tournament.

Going back to Arsenal, and I have watched a lot of Spanish football this season and have to say that a lot of the worse sides in La Liga have given Barca a better game than the Gunners did last night.

Their back four again let them down again, they have no idea how to hold a defensive line. It cost them the goal at the Emirates and another last night.

Van Persie and Fabregas didn’t look fit, you can’t take on Barcelona with only 9 fit players, thats suicide. The fact that they played in their respective conditions just shows that Arsenal don’t have the depth of quality in their squad. Another failing of Wenger.

Also, there was no conspiracy from the referee. Barcelona could have easily had a penalty in the 1st half after Diaby brought Messi down, they could have had another when Pedro was tripped but stayed on his feet.

If the referee was hell bent on making sure Arsenal lost, then he would have awarded the penalty in the 1st half. That is just a smokescreen and a myth.

And finally, Robin Van Perise. He could easily have been sent off long before he got his red. He got away with scraping his studs down (think it was) Messi’s leg before he got his 1st yellow.

His 1st yellow was stupid, anyone could see it coming. He was just itching to do something after a scuffle a couple of minutes earlier. It was typical petulance and he got a deserved booking. Totally the fault of Van Persie himself.

His second yellow I didn’t agree with. I’m not convinced he didn’t know what he was doing, as if he thought he was on side I think he would have cut in onto his left foot. Nevertheless, surely there was enough doubt in the refs mind to give him the benefit of the doubt?

It was a ridiculous red card, a quite word in his ear telling him ‘one more and you’re off’ would have been more than enough. But Arsene, it wasn’t the reason you lost.

Sunday Newspaper Football Gossip

Every Sunday sees a story that makes you think ‘absolutely no chance’ and this week is no different.

It’s the turn of Paul Hetherington in the Daily Star this week, with their exclusive that Arsenal could be prepared to pay £20 Million for Liverpool’s want away (according to Daily Star) keeper Pepe Reina.

Not only are they considering the £20M transfer fee, they are also considering paying him the £110,000 a week that his agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon is believed to be asking Liverpool for in his new contract.

Any believers out there?

I have to say that I’m not one. In the past Arsene Wenger has stood by keepers of the (lack of) quality of Manuel Almunia when Shay Given was available for a lot less. So why now would he dump the up and coming Wojciech Szczesny – who looks far better than Almunia – and break his recent transfer policy for a keeper, who I would go as far as to say isn’t the best out there? Absolutely no chance for me.

If proof Reina isn’t the best was ever needed, as I’m writing this I’ve just watched Carlton Cole back pass a shot past him at his near post. It must be the first time in months that Rob Green hasn’t felt the biggest goal keeping clown on the pitch.

The People have an interesting story claiming that Manchester United made a £19 Million bid for Ashley Young during the January transfer window, they claim that Alex Ferguson will be back with another bid in the summer.

It’s obvious that United need some creativity in midfield with Giggs and Scholes nearing the end of their careers, and due to the fact that Ashley Young has so far refused to so sign a new contract at Villa, it has become a fairly well regarded view that he wants out. All this gives the story some credence.

I don’t think that Young necessarily wants out because he’s had enough of Villa or sees it as a sinking ship, I think it is more down to the fact that he has had his head turned to bigger and better things with recent speculation linking him with Spurs and Liverpool, and who could blame him.

I think it is a far more likely story than Arsene Wenger spending £20M on Pepe Reina.

‘I didn’t see it’ says Arsene Wenger

Thats usually, sorry, always Arsene Wenger’s excuse.

After Arsene’s, Arsenal team threw away a 4 goal lead against Newcastle on Saturday, I wonder if at last he has seen it? Because I certainly did.

Arsenal clearly have no experienced know how in the team to kill off a game they have won. They have no spine in the team, no organisers.

This wouldn’t have happened to Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea or even Liverpool, ok maybe Spurs could have done it. Darren Fletcher, Gareth Barry, Michael Essien, Steven Gerrard etc, would have ensured it couldn’t happen.

It also wouldn’t have happened to an Arsenal side that had players like Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Manu Petit, Patrick Viera, Dennis Bergkamp etc, in it.

Wenger’s policy is admirable and I do amire him for it and hope that it works. But to win, you sometimes have to be ugly.

Fabregas is a leader with what he does with the ball, but I don’t see him as a great organiser. Apart from Van Persie, I don’t really see any other real leaders in this team. Just plenty of good footballers.

Aresnal fans must be so frustrated with this. They are so close to being a great team and premier league champions, just a few million quid could have bought some defensive know how during the Janary transfer window. The sort of know how that wins the league.

It’s not as if Wenger has never bought one, remember Gilles Grimandi? He was a Wenger signing, and just the sort of bloke who would have come off the bench last Saturday and killed off that Newcastle come back.

Wenger dilemma

The news that apparently Cesc Fabregas has told Arsene Wenger that he wishes to return to his boyhood club Barcelona, should really come as no surprise to anyone.

It is though, a right slap in the face for Wenger and his plan to build a title winning team around Fabregas, and it could also be said that it is a vote of no confidence in Wenger from Cesc.

For Wenger now, the years of building for the future without investing in the team are coming home too roost, not even an FA Cup or League Cup to show for all his efforts.

I am not in anyway saying that Wenger’s policy is wrong, it is admirable, and it’s a shame a few others don’t follow his lead. It clearly isn’t enough for Fabregas though.

It goes without saying that Fabregas would one day want to return to Barcelona, if Arsenal where regularly competing for top honours would it be this soon though?

In order to now save face, Arsene Wenger will need to dictate terms to Barcelona, he would have to demand silly money or an up and coming player plus cash, otherwise Arsenal are going to start to look like Barca’s feeding club.

A Barca reject and a few million isn’t enough. Wenger needs to play hardball with Cesc, and make it clear he’s not leaving on the cheap.

He has to also send the same message to Barcelona. Arsenal can’t be seen to being bullied by Fabregas and Barca into letting the player go cheap.

If Barcelona really want him, they should offer £30-40 Million, not £15 and reject Yaya Toure.

Wenger no fan of La Liga

Arsene Wenger’s veiled threat to Cesc Fabregas that going to Barcelona would be a backwards step, will surely not be too well recieved in Catalunya.

Wenger said that the Spanish league isn’t competitive as the the 3rd place team is 24 points behind (the leaders). Although he did go on to admit that they “have two good teams”, which was big of him, considering one of those “good teams” recently made his side look very average.

Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of La Liga, it looks like it has it’s appeal to Cesc Fabregas. After all Barcelona is his home City and his former team so why wouldn’t he want to play for them, and who could blame him.

Fabregas is still only a young man (22), and Barcelona have a young side who look set to dominate world football for a long time to come, imagine the success he could have with them.

Couple that with the lack of success at the Emirates Stadium and it’s not hard to see why Wenger is clearly rattled. For Wenger to make such remarks says to me that he is worried that Fabregas wants a move back home.

Could this be the catalyst to make Wenger at last invest in his team? Who knows. It is admirable the way he gives youth a chance and promotes players from within. But at the same time the professional footballer is a selfish beast and Fabregas will know that he can’t go on waiting forever for Wenger’s youth policy to deliver a title.

To insult La Liga might not endear him to Fabregas much either, it looks the kind of style of football that would suit him.

It is arguable that the technical side of football in Spain is far superior to England. As it also said that the Premier League is far more exciting and competitive.

Whatever the truth of those arguments, if Wenger wants to keep Fabregas I would imagine he will need to prove it to him this summer in the transfer market.

Wenger moans at the pitch this time

First the equalizer was offside (nothing to do with Almunia), then the tackling was a bit tough from Birmingham. Now apparently we have got to the real source of the problem, it was the fault of the pitch.

Not content with blaming opposing players, or on other occasions the referee, this time the pitch is to blame!

I’m surprised he hasn’t had a go at The FA for not banning the groundsman, or maybe he might suggest that they impound his lawnmover, forcing Birmingham City to buy some new and better pitch grooming equipment.

The pitch clearly wasn’t good enough for Arsenal, how insulting is that!

The clearly frustrated Wenger let rip in the aftermatch press conference after he got a question he didn’t like, saying,

“How is Fabregas? I don’t know. We will have to assess him tomorrow. But it was a bad tackle, one more. He got tackled at the knee, kicked just under the knee. We tried to take him off but he said he was all right.”

“Am I suggesting there were a lot of bad tackles? Leave me alone with that, for fuck’s sake.”

“You are always looking for controversy, you do not need me to tell you what happened on the pitch. I can give you my opinion about our game but you always create this controversy.”

In fairness to him, he did also say that Arsenal “had enough chances to have scored a second goal,” and in failing to finish Birmingham off, they left the door open.

After backing Almunia in January by not buying a new goalkeeper, when everyone involved in, or who watches football, could cleary see he needed one. Wenger has to accept his proportion of the blame as well. Arsenal can now no longer afford any slip ups at all.

This could have been the mistake that cost Arsenal the title.