Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Everton 3-0 Arsenal [Hanoi]

Note - due to the crappy internet in Vietnam I'm struggling to upload photos. You can check out my Flickr Page soon (link to the right) which should contain some snaps once I find a better connection. GOTR

Good Morning Vietnam! Hello rest of world. OK, first things first, before talking about this stunning country, I need to clear something up.

I've found it very difficult to write about anything Arsenal-related over the past few weeks. Put simply the team has depressed me to the point where I've given up hope and (temporarily) lost most of my passion for the club. Arsenal FC is, right now, an embarrassment to its fans and its stakeholders. If it were possible to discontinue interest in the club, I would attempt to do it. But, it's a love affair that can't be broken, so we must soldier on with this constant pain until the people that are 
paid to make decisions, actually make decisions. Until that happens, I'm afraid to say Arsenal is a sinking ship and, as usual, it's the fans that bear the brunt of it.

Yesterday I watched Chelsea systematically break apart a resilient PSG team. Now this is really hard for me to say, but you'd be a numskull if you couldn't tell by the emotions of the players and the fans, let alone that trollop Mourinho, that there is some real fighting team spirit in that club. It is something that Arsenal completely lack, and it simply has to be down to management. I think it is utterly disgraceful, unprofessional even, for a manager to constantly blame his players for shortcomings. I have always stood up for Arsene Wenger, but even I have to start realistically thinking about the consequences of him staying at the helm, especially when he comes out with nonsense like that.

There are a few scenarios over the next few weeks that will surely confirm how the board views the club and the 'importance' of silverware. If we win the FA Cup and fail to qualify for the Champions League, realistically the board will relieve Wenger of his duties because it is those eighteen consecutive years in Europe's top competition that have lined the shareholders' pockets with millions. On the other hand, if we fail to win the FA Cup but secure fourth place, Wenger will likely stay, because the club is raking in the wonga, which we all know is the most important thing to the club, unfortunately. Finally, if we fail on both accounts [the FA Cup and UCL spot], there surely can only be one outcome. And I think we all know what that will be.

I really want Wenger to continue his reign at Arsenal but I simply wouldn't be a true Gooner if I wanted it at the expense of silverware. The perfect scenario for me would be for him to win the FA Cup and bow out with dignity. He deserves a lot of respect for what he's managed to do with the club over the past eighteen years (including successive UCL qualifications with restricted resources) and I think more fans need to show that respect, but at the same time I will view this like any other CEO of a business would – if you fail to deliver results as a manager of a team (any team, be it sales, marketing, finance, project management) then you will be clearing your desk to make way for somebody who wants to succeed.

Another thing we need to consider is that this is only the first season where we have splashed some big cash on players, and the arrival of Özil, at least for the first few months of the season, had really injected some vigour into our football. It has been made crystal clear that there is a large transfer kitty available, so perhaps we need to make judgement after the next summer transfer window has come and gone – if we haven't made any efforts to strengthen our squad and spread our risk [squad depth] then we are in a sad, sad situation indeed.

Anyway, rant over. I've been in Vietnam for almost two weeks now, and I have to say it's probably the most exhilarating country I've visited on the trip. I've learned to appreciate the beauty of the place but also the history – this country has been through a hell of a lot and yet it still finds a way to smile as a nation. The scenery is stunningly beautiful, the people are very friendly and the food is fantastic and even reasonably healthy (I haven't seen a single fat Vietnamese person).

The Vietnamese Arsenal fans have been very welcoming and I've had the pleasure of staying with some great Gooners here, none more so than Vu Xuan Tien or, for those that know him by his alter ego, the Running Man! Tien, as he likes to be called, prepared a typical Vietnamese meal for me to enjoy with him, his girlfriend and his uncle before I headed off to Ha Long Bay to take in the sights of Vietnam's most breathtaking views. I've also had some other very memorable times in Vietnam, but to find out more about my experiences you'll have to buy and read my book, which I'll be making an official announcement about soon!

I head back to Hong Kong on the 14th, where I will be spending some time winding down before flying back home to the UK on 1st May, just in time to catch West Brom, the last home game of the season.

Before that, there is an important cup match to watch of course. So until then...


COYG



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