A closed letter
I’m writing to you because open letters seem to be the flavour of the day, but everyone’s writing to Stan and I don’t want you to feel left out.
I was going to cut out letters from newspaper headlines and stick them together to make a kind of sinister ransom note kinda thing but then I remembered this is the Internet and it wouldn’t really work that well. ‘Look, Arsene, somebody’s sent you a laptop but they’ve bollixed up the screen’, they might tell you when the post arrives at London Colney.
‘Why would somebody buy something then completely knacker it?’, you might think to yourself. And you’d have good reason, but my laptop, your Squillaci, your Arshavin, you know how it goes. And at least my laptop worked when I bought it, I didn’t fall for the old ‘Look at these awesome speakers I have in the back of this van’ scam. You plugged in Sylvester and the sound quality was shite, wasn’t it?
Anyway, that’s by the by. The real reason I’m writing is because, well, things aren’t going very well on the football pitch and people are getting a bit frustrated. Another year without a trophy, another year when you’ve made a choice to seemingly prioritise Europe over the FA Cup, taking a bit of a gamble with team selection that just didn’t come off. Everyone says ‘Never play poker with Arsene Wenger’, but I’d fancy my chances. As a great man once said, “You’ve gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”
I realise you’re probably more of a Jacques Brel man but you must know that one. Far be it for me to advocate the hiring of Kenny Rogers, but it’s obvious the boardroom needs a bit of a shake-up. He may not have the footballing background of the Bayern board but he’s got a nice beard and that goes a long way in this day and age. I’d suggest he’d be a better negotiator than Mr Law too. Or maybe I’m mixing him up with that other beardy country singer. We really should change our Dick to a Willie. Have a word with Ivan.
What about the coaching staff? You brought in Bould and Banfield to replace Pat Rice last summer and according to some not-at-all bitter ex-Arsenal players you don’t give them anything to do. Bouldie stands around with his hands in his pockets and you ‘Shhhhh’ him every time he speaks. As for poor old Neil, wouldn’t it be more economically prudent to hire an intern from a government job scheme to go get the coffees?
Then there’s the players. They look like they lack confidence and belief, they start game slowly, they concede silly goals and they just don’t convince anyone that they’re capable of winning the trophies everyone desires. Have you considered hypnotism? Would it hurt to put Giroud under and convince him he’s Jean Pierre Papin? Turn Podolski into Gerd Müller and Thomas Vermaelen into somebody slightly better than Thomas Vermaelen?
There’s also this thing called the transfer market which you can use to bring in players who are better than the ones you already have. It’s got some simple rules, such as:
1 – Find a player you like and then give the club he pays for enough money so they sell him to you
2 – It is not mandatory to wait until another player is injured before buying another one
3 – You do not have to get your arse handed to you by a major rival to spark some activity
4 – You may buy players from any club, not simply ones who are struggling financially
5 – Value for money is great when you’re a lone parent trying to feed three kids on a meagre budget; not so much when you have millions sitting in the bank and a team which needs to be improved
We know you have an economics degree but come on. I have a qualification in sound engineering but it’s many years since I spliced together quarter-inch tape having just done a recording on a reel to reel machine. It’s great to try and make the most of the resources you have, but not using them at all doesn’t make much sense either.
And then there’s the whole wages thing. Guys earning a fortune because of this ‘socialist’ thing you have going on. History should have told you it wouldn’t work. The books will show that Richard was a far more effective Marx than Karl. The fact is some people are better than others and some people deserve to earn more. Lots more. Lots and lots more. Otherwise you get Bogarded, dude. Squillaci and Arshavin turned down loan moves to Brighton and Reading. It wouldn’t have cost them a penny, they’d have had a bit of a kick-around on a Saturday but they preferred to stay put because it’s probably nicer at Arsenal. None of that having to work for a living stuff.
So in the future, how about this: pay the most important players the most, pay players for their standing, not their potential. If they want to earn more, they have to improve. They’ll see that, for example, Jack Wilshere earns a lot because he’s really good. And while you can’t polish a Chamakh shaped turd into a Jack Wilshere, that doesn’t mean players with lesser ability can’t become important. Ray Parlour was no Pires or Bergkamp, he wasn’t an Henry or a Vieira, but he was a vital part of your best teams, so you know where I’m coming from here.
I don’t doubt you work hard, that you want to win, that you give 100% to this football club. That’s in your nature. But it’s hard working alone. Everyone needs some help. Look at Bon Jovi, huge success as a band that worked together, but now everything’s gone a bit Richie Sambora solo album. Come on Arsene, ain’t nobody got time for that.
There’s no shame in accepting you need a hand. Did Jekyll not need Hyde? Where would Stan (not that one) have been without Ollie? Bert without Ernie? Arnold Fererro without Trevor Rocher? There are people you can trust, to whom you can delegate and, from time to time, listen to because they might just have a better idea than you do.
I write this in the knowledge that you retain the full support of the Arsenal board and that you have a contract until 2014. You’re a frustrating man, Arsene, but it would be a right shame if you left this club under the kind of cloud that’s currently hovering overhead. It’s painful to hear people call you the kind of names that I would reserve for the very worst people in football, but you’ve got to sit down with Stan and Ivan and Lord Pluckingham of Milton Keynes, and change your ways.
There’s lovely new sponsorship money coming in, there’s cash in the bank, you’re not a single mum and we’re not three loveable, streetwise urchins you have to feed. We can do better than shopping at Aldi, for all that entails, and while your dinners are self-sustainable, they lack a little bit the delicious.
Anyhow, I’ve rambled on enough. I know you’re probably busy, with any luck you’re planning on taking Gervinho out into the woods and driving off. Cruel to be kind, and all that.
I hope you can sort this lot out because we’ve got a big job on our hands to finish in the top four. I don’t think we can bank on that lot up the road collapsing like they did last time around. Or the time before that. Or the time before that. Or the time … well, maybe, but it’d be better if we got ourselves going again.
ps – Rabbits and dogs and the passing time … you know yourself.