What on earth is going on at Arsenal?
A great club with a proud history is hurtling towards crisis, and I fear things could get even worse before they get better.
A couple of games into the season, I berated a fan who called Six-0-Six to demand Arsene Wenger’s sacking and I threatened to cut off anyone else who rang up spouting ‘Wenger Out’ vitriol.
Although I’m almost ashamed to admit it, I fear nothing is going to change at the Emirates while he remains the manager.
And I hate myself for saying this, but I really think it has reached the point where Wenger has to go.
On what planet does it make good business sense to pass up a £60 million transfer fee for Alexis Sanchez on deadline day when he can leave next year for nothing?
On what planet did Arsenal think they could rush through a £90m deal for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar at the last minute as a replacement for Sanchez?
And on what planet can Arsenal, one of the richest clubs in the country, finish the transfer window with one of the lowest net spends in the Premier League?
If the Gunners drop points at home to Bournemouth next weekend, I fear the atmosphere is going to be poisonous.
Wenger must have the skin of a rhino and balls of steel if he is ready to go through all that again.
Every aspect of Sanchez’s performance and his body language will be under the microscope against Bournemouth, and if it all goes pear-shaped on the pitch, the vitriol among supporters could be on a different scale to any mutiny we’ve seen at the Emirates before.
Last Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing at Liverpool was bad enough. Arsenal looked rudderless and clueless on the pitch, while Wenger and his assistant Steve Bould just sat there on the bench like rabbits in headlights.
It was one of the worst Arsenal performances I have ever seen, but in the dugout they looked so shellshocked they could barely twitch.
As for the deadline day shambles… what a complete joke. I have to ask: Who actually runs the show?
There is no leadership or direction on the pitch, and there doesn’t appear to be anybody calling the shots in the boardroom in terms of player contracts or transfer policy.
Gunners legend Ian Wright got it spot-on when he tweeted: “Whoever comes or whoever leaves, Arsenal is still a great club. Unfortunately there’s a monkeys’ tea party going on upstairs.”
And I cannot agree with another forner Arsenal hero, Patrick Vieira, when he says the current team has more ability than the Invincibles side of 2004.
I’m not sure about the ability, but I know the Invincibles had big hearts and an unbelievable winning mentality. Never mind the trenches – you wouldn’t follow this Arsenal team to the bus stop.
Wenger should have gone out on a high note with the FA Cup triumph against Chelsea in May instead of signing a new contract.
I was under the impression that he only stayed after promising strategic changes – but the atrocious display at Anfield suggested he is only going to deliver more of the same.
At Anfield, he left the club’s record signing Alexandre Lacazette on the bench – why? Surely that’s not what the player signed up for.
And the defending was simply dreadful. Nacho Monreal looked terrified of Liverpool’s pace and movement, and Rob Holding looked like a £2m signing from Bolton – which is what it said on the tin.
Whatever happened to that British core Wenger was going to build Arsenal’s future around? That photo of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs is old hat already because two of them have left, another is out on loan and a fourth is into the last year of his contract.
I admit it: I was wrong when I threatened to cut off fans on the phone-in lines.
The whole club at Arsenal needs a shake-up – from the top – and the best thing now would be for Arsene Wenger to walk away.
If he won’t walk away from a mult-million pound job, is there anyone at the club bold enough to force the issue?
Either way, I suspect the fans will have the final say.