Sunday, December 4, 2022

Time for Kroenke to make things better

Good morning to you, a quick Saturday round-up after what has been a turbulent week.

It’d be nice if we could get away from the RVP/Usmanov stuff but that’s rather fanciful, to be honest. There have been some whispers that Robin is somewhat taken aback by the reaction to the statement, as if there was no expectation of a backlash, but I’m not sure how much I believe that. It would take the most massive of climbdowns for him to be able to stay at this point and I’m not sure any footballer has the humility to do that.

It would also mean that the two hundred and something thousand reasons he had for issuing it in the first place were no longer as important and I’m not sure I buy that either. So, what do we do? What should Arsenal as a club do in this situation. If it were me, I’d set a reasonable price for a near 29 year old with one year left of his contract, and I’d be in touch with all the big clubs across Europe.

For sale: One extremely talented striker, two careful owners, prone to breakdowns but if you can keep him fit he’ll get you goals, goals, goals. No timewasters.

And, when the interest was received, I would tell Robin, “Ok, you’ve made it clear you want to go. Here are your options. You’ll notice that Man City is not one of them. It will not be one of them, it makes no difference how much money they offer us, take it, or leave it.”

I really, truly hope the club have the balls to do that. I know the realities of football are that money talks, and I know some fans don’t care where he goes once he goes, but selling another player we don’t want to sell to Man City makes their jibes about us being their feeder club ring true. And, you know, fuck them and the way they nick everything from players to other teams’ celebrations without so much as a conscious thought about how it makes them look. Of course they don’t care, they’re just about champions and have more money than Scrooge McDuck, but still.

Yesterday, I spoke about how we need to see a response from Stan Kroenke in the wake of the Usmanov letter. And doesn’t this provide the perfect chance to show some leadership, to show that we, as a club, won’t be taken for the soft touch they obviously think we are? Robin’s ambition is to ‘win trophies’, right? It’s not to ‘win trophies at Man City’. So our stance should be simple. We’ll give him the option of new clubs to choose from but we will not countenance a bid from Man City. To me, that would be at least a start.

It won’t convince everyone but if we meekly allow another captain to dictate the terms of his departure then it will become impossible for us to cope with this situation again, and not just with captains, with any player who has their head turned or wants out. The Fabregas situation last summer was different, the circumstances of him going back to his hometown club and the best team in the world are not in play here. And Cesc did not receive a massive payrise either. But this is a chance for Stan Kroenke, a man who is under fire (whether he really cares or not we’ll find out soon enough, I guess), to be decisive and to show that under his stewardship Arsenal will do what’s right for Arsenal and not cow to the demands of a player who has sadly and deliberately tainted his legacy to force a move.

The perception is that we’re drifting, content to simply exist, and in this morning’s Guardian Amy Lawrence suggests that as long as the two main shareholders are at loggerheads that will continue. She also makes an excellent point about how this affects the manager and the team:

There are currently two clearly defined, opposing camps – something reflected in arguments among supporters. Few teams win without people pulling in roughly the same direction. This unhealthy situation only increases the pressure on Arsène Wenger and the players to perform well. The minute they don’t, the daggers will be drawn.

It is impossible to argue with that. Disenchantment with the way the club is being run is transfered to the way the team performs, the lack of silverware in recent seasons and the manager’s decision making (whether or not that has been impacted by the business model) mean that even when the team is performing well there’s an uneasiness to everything, as if we’re a tightrope walker stumbling along, just managing to make the next step. There’s always the sense that one wrong move and we’re in freefall again.

It’s been interesting to hear fans discuss this over the last couple of days but if that time frame has shown us anything it’s how quickly things can change. On Wednesday lunchtime I think most people were pretty pleased with how things were going. Yes, there was the concern regarding van Persie’s situation but the signings of Giroud and Podolski were, perhaps, an indication that we meant business this summer and were learning from the mistakes of last. One statement and one well timed letter later and the club is in the midst of a ‘crisis’ like no other in recent times.

I mentioned yesterday that the ball was well and truly in Kroenke’s court now and he must respond. It is within his power as the owner of the club to make things better. Whatever side of the fence you’re on and whatever you think about the way the two shareholders are operating, the reality is that Kroenke has control of Arsenal. We don’t have any choice in the matter, there’s no election, and that’s what we have to deal with.

I get that he’s a ‘hands off’ owner who lets those with greater knowledge and experience call the shots but he cannot be blind to what’s happening and how he’s being viewed right now. Surely his people will make him aware of that and what he can do to change that opinion – assuming that’s what he wants. And all he has to do is make decisions which are in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club.

Don’t give in to van Persie and Man City, make the squad better, and come August 18th when the season kicks off make sure you’re the owner of a football club which is primed and ready to compete for the league title. I have always said I can live without trophies once I know that Arsenal has done everything it can to be competitive. There are a few stumbling blocks along the way, no doubt, but who said running one of the biggest football clubs in England would be easy.

This is the challenge to Stan Kroenke and it’s one he has to deal with head on through actions and decisions, not silence and the occasional bit of spin.

Till tomorrow.

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