Things at Arsenal, at least on the pitch, have not - to be charitable - gone as well as we'd like this year. Or last year. Or the year before. And those last three years, at least for me, have reluctantly gotten me on the "Please leave gracefully, soon, Arsene" bandwagon - not as catchy as #WENGEROUT, but also not as histrionic and anger-based.
Anyway, there are many people on that more anger-based bandwagon, and a number of them have decided that this weekend's essentially dead rubber against Norwich is the perfect time to vent said frustrations:
TIME FOR CHANGE. Have your say against Norwich this weekend. https://t.co/DssBNNWMuJ— Highbury Harry (@BlackScarfAFC) April 26, 2016
Now. I have absolutely no issue with people being angry; it's reasonable, after years of comfortable stasis, to want Arsenal to push forward a bit and be a championship-contending team in April every season and not just in October. I get that.
Our majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, showing he's purely motivated by cash when he went on record to say he doesn't care if Arsenal are not challenging for honours.
Except he didn't say that. What he actually said was:
"If you want to win championships then you would never get involved. I think the best owners in sports are the guys that sort of watch both sides a bit. If you don't have a good business then you can't really afford to go out and get the best players unless you just want to rely on other sources of income."
If you read the entire quote, he doesn't say "I didn't buy a sports team to win a championship". No, seriously, he didn't - read it again. He was basically saying that if the only reason you buy a sports team is to win championships, that's a bad business plan, and that you have to have both sides of that particular house in order if you want to actually win things and also have a successful business. That is vastly different than saying "I just bought this to make money".
A complacent Board with absolutely no football experience, focusing purely on Arsenal as a profit-generating entity, not a football club.
What do they mean by "football experience"? Do they mean ex-footballers? Because the Arsenal board is full of football experience - Ivan Gazidis was the deputy director of MLS and helped found the league, Ken Friar has held pretty much every job at Arsenal except concession stand worker in his 60 years at the club, and the rest of the board has been around since at least 2005. So it's false to say they have no football experience - they have tons.
Also, I haven't done a survey of other club boards, but I'm not sure you'd find a ton of "football experience" on them either - Arsenal, the Manchesters, Chelsea, and the like are highly complex businesses that actually need savvy business people to run the business side of things, not ex-players who have a very limited understanding of how global businesses actually function.
A Board happy with Kroenke milking millions of pounds out of the club every year, and refusing to give valid details of what the payments relate to.
I would take this more seriously if it were a significant sum. Would I like it to not happen? Sure. Would it be nice to know what it's for? Yeah, I guess. But I can't get worked up about a guy taking £3M a year out of essentially the petty cash drawer of his own business - £3M is a trivial sum in this day and age, and wouldn't even buy a single entry-level player, so....shrug.
The remaining bullet points in the Black Scarf release are all basically aimed at Wenger, and not at the board; I can't really refute them with much passion, because there are parts of all of them that I agree with. I do think Arsenal have gone stale; I do think Arsenal need to be a bit more active in the transfer market. I don't, however, believe the board needs to be replaced top to bottom; I think a lot of the stasis at Arsenal is, sadly, down to Arsene.
Whether it's the manager, whether Stan Kroenke has to go and whether the Board needs shaking up and reminding that we're a FOOTBALL club, change is needed at Arsenal.
Pretty sure nobody forgets Arsenal are a football club. I mean, it's right there in the name. Also, again, what does "reminding that we're a FOOTBALL club" actually mean? What are they supposed to do - show up to board meetings in replica kit? Kick each other bagels at those meetings instead of handing them around? Trip the coffee delivery person and then hold their hands up like they did nothing wrong?
Again - I'm not arguing nothing needs to change. Arsenal definitely need a bit of a shakeup. But what I'm saying is, direct your anger where it should be directed - not at the board, who have repeatedly said that Arsene can spend what he wants and have otherwise pretty much stayed out of the way, which to me is pretty ideal behavior for a board of directors.
Look - if you're angry at Arsenal right now, that makes perfect sense. They're not playing well, they haven't really reached what we all think is their potential, and overall, I think we all agree things at Arsenal could be better. But blame should go where it's deserved, and if the board has any culpability here, for me, it's that they haven't said "Arsene, you've done amazing things, but if you don't do things differently this summer, let's find you a new role at the club".
I know it's not that easy, and it won't happen overnight, but that, to me, is this board's biggest failing - a failing to see that Arsenal are bigger than any one person, and to subsequently figure out how to get the club where they want it to be in the absence of that person.
If the board truly wants Arsenal to move forward, they need to find a way to transition the club to a post-Arsene world. That's the job of a good board of directors, and that's the job they need to focus all their attention on in the coming months.