The loyalty the manager shows to certain of his players is at times astounding, and ultimately hampers the club from being able to replace them with greater quality by combining the wages being paid to the deadwood with the pile of cash sitting in the bank.
It’s possible to have great players at the club who excite the fans yet have very little chance of actually winning anything. Liam Brady won a solitary FA Cup in his time at Arsenal and is revered as a legend. One suspects history will view Fabregas and Van Persie in a similar light. The signs are that Jack Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain might turn into the big stars at the club over the next two or three campaigns, but unless there is a change of approach in the retention of players and the recruitment of better ones, the fear is that these players will see what has gone before and wish to move on somewhere that their potential can be turned into winners’ medals. Fabregas has already won trophies at Barcelona, as Brady did in Italy.
So the ups and downs thing extends from results to the playing staff. Obvious and exciting talent, with commitment in spades, cast amidst a mixture of the mediocre and the unmotivated. And at times, on the pitch, the result is a disorganised rabble. It’s real light and shade stuff which ends up feeling very frustrating for supporters who pay significant sums to witness it in the flesh.
The result is the gradual decline witnessed in recent seasons and the expectation that 2011-12 will peter out like the rest, although without a top four place at its conclusion. That being the case,
I would already suggest that this season’s lap of appreciation after the final home match might be called off, for everybody’s sake. Either that or just let Robin van Persie go round on his own and say goodbye. Yes, Arsenal can make the top four, but it is difficult to see how they will manage it without regaining the consistency they displayed in the autumn. And much as I want to believe they can do that, I just can’t see where it will come from. Enjoy the return leg of the Milan game as something of a one-off exhibition match against top class European opposition. It could be the last time we see that for a while...