Here we are, a couple days after another dispiriting performance by Arsenal, in which they left the job of earning a point against the 19th-placed team in the league very, very, very late. That job, needless to say, is not enough. That’s not even “bare minimum” level work. That’s the work of a squad that has given up, a squad that doesn’t know what they’re doing or why they do it, and it’s infuriating to watch.
I’m not going to sit here and wrap my frustrations about current Arsenal in the gauzy, over-egged remembrance of days gone past. I don’t care all that much about “Arsenal DNA”, and I don’t care how great Arsenal were in the late 1990’s and early 00’s. I care about how bad they are right now, and I care about how (on current evidence, I guess I should say whether or not) that gets fixed.
Another group who cares about fixing Arsenal is #WeCareDoYou. Back in July, they put out a statement signed by a bunch of blogs (we were not asked to be a signatory) in which they laid out their expectations and hopes for Stan and the ownership/management group. To be charitable, Stan...didn’t take those suggestions on board. WCDY has released yet another statement after the Southampton game, the full text of which is below:
In July we issued a statement from a number of key Arsenal groups, outlining our concerns at the direction of our football club. A supporting petition was signed by over 100,000 individual Arsenal fans who not only felt disconnected from the club but also had grave concerns about our future.
Since then we have been told to ‘get excited’ and to support the team. As Arsenal supporters we have done both.
There exist many issues raised in our first statement, that remain unaddressed by the club. While these matters have not gone away, it is the overall alarming and desperate state of things, on and off the pitch, that need urgent action and take precedent amongst our concerns. Until the club and especially the senior management structure, is running efficiently, effectively and ambitiously, then few other issues can, or will, be satisfactorily resolved.
The early optimism of summer, around what appeared to be good business and positive signings, has given way to renewed concerns about our overall direction and the leadership of our owner. It feels like the club is rudderless and floating aimlessly, unsure of its destination.
It appears that reported unrest in the dressing room is affecting our performances on the pitch and the board’s clearly stated target of a top four finish at season end, looks in serious danger with barely a quarter of the season played.
We spoke about never feeling less valued and this has continued with an astounding lack of communication from the club. We understand it is The Arsenal way to deal with issues internally but the current communication vehicle – the drip feed and leaks to certain journalists – is unacceptable and unsatisfactory.
Communications on the whole have been dealt with poorly, and the tactics used only add to the confusion, uncertainty and unrest among the fanbase – which in turn is motivating our opponents, who can clearly see we’re in trouble.
As documented in our initial statement, Stan Kroenke made his ambitions for the club clear: “KSE’s ambitions for the club are to see it competing consistently to win the Premier League and the Champions League”. We still see no evidence of this, and current form would suggest that we are moving ever further from these goals.
We raised previously the need for new and dynamic appointments at board level; people with Arsenal DNA are needed at this time more than ever. Sadly, the club’s reaction to this recommendation has been an unresponsive dismissal of it. Can we assume you are still satisfied that the right people are in the right positions, as Vinai suggested they were at July’s end of season supporters’ event? Again, the evidence so far this season implies an intrinsic lack of understanding, ambition, appetite and ability to take us forward.
Following our statement in the summer, Josh Kroenke made an announcement implying that an ambitious KSE had arrived to save the day and secure the club’s future. The fact is that KSE acquired a controlling share of Arsenal in 2011 and had significant influence prior to that.
The last decade, notwithstanding the FA Cup wins, can legitimately be seen as lost years, both on and off the field, when the team has not only stagnated, but actually regressed. To date, that is the legacy of the ‘Kroenke years’.
While our away support continues to be magnificent, our home crowds are starting to deplete and this situation will be further compounded by what will soon become a toxic atmosphere, if the current turmoil and lack of true leadership at the club continues to translate into poor performances on the pitch.
We want commitment that the board recognises the issues faced by the club, and how severe these are for the future of The Arsenal. As supporters we want actual communication and measurable assurances from the board, that actions are in place to address this seemingly inexorable slide.
As many great managers and players have said over the years, everyone involved with The Arsenal must “Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent”.
I don’t take too much issue with this statement, but I will say one thing about this line:
While our away support continues to be magnificent, our home crowds are starting to deplete
I would argue that this - not a bunch of long, impassioned, easily ignored letters from a fanbase - is the only thing that will drive change at Arsenal. To put it bluntly: if you’re in a position to go to games, don’t. If you are pondering spending money on a ticket to see Arsenal, don’t. If you’re thinking about stopping by the club shop or website to do some holiday shopping, don’t. The only language the ultra-rich understand is economic, so speak their language - deny them their money.
Yes, if you’re in London and go to games, that carries a cost to you. It means you can’t support the players you like that play on the team you like. And it carries a cost to the players, because the stadium will be quiet(er) and empty(-ier). But that’s a short-term cost in service of a bigger goal - forcing change. That change won’t come from letters, and it won’t come from any other sort of fan venting, as cathartic as said venting is. It will only come when someone’s wallet feels the anger.
By all means, continue the statement writing, public complaining, and all that stuff - I’m not saying that doing things like that is a waste of time. It’s a necessary pressure-release valve for our collective anger and frustration. But it’s also not nearly substantive enough. Starve them of capital and they’ll listen; everything else is superfluous.