The inquest is truly on at Arsenal.
There are no excuses, no arguments and no reasons that Arsenal should have found themselves leaving their Capital One Cup tie against Bradford City in defeat. It was an inept performance by a passionless squad (save one or two players) and it highlighted all of the errors that have led to the Gunners' failings over the seven trophy-less seasons.
Arsene Wenger fielded a squad worthy of the Premier League and it showed intent to go out and win the game. However, the players simply didn't have the quality to secure victory and a spot in the semifinals.
It's a hard truth that many fans have to face, but it remains true nonetheless. Arsenal simply aren't talented or inspired enough to be considered a top club or compete with them.
There are far too many players that are far too comfortable taking a paycheck from the club while contributing very little to it on the pitch, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
There are too many board members and executives (see Gazidis, Ivan) who spout platitudes to fans, all the while putting the club's profits into the bank as the status of the club slips further and further down the drain.
For years, it has been obvious that Wenger has had limited resources to work with, and it's hard to imagine any other scenario to explain why the club operates the way it does in the transfer market. Yes, Wenger is a very smart businessman, and he prides himself on running the club in a financially sound way.
However, one thing Wenger is not, is stupid.
There is no way that he would sell his best players off year after year unless it was absolutely necessary in order to meet the demands of the board, who love to thump their chests over the health of the balance sheet.
Tossing players like Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie out the door, only to exchange them for cut-rate replacements, is something that smacks of having to make ends meet, something Wenger has hinted at in the past.
The board has said over and over again that there is money to spend, but some studies of the club's finances have shown that without player sales, Arsenal aren't on such solid footing. When you put two and two together, it becomes clear that Wenger is taking the fall for the board, and has far too much class to throw them under the bus.
Meanwhile, players like Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott move closer and closer to the exit door, while Wenger looks like the bad guy for pinching pennies when it comes to keeping his players. It's not about playing centrally or about age, it's about satisfying a money-hungry board who live in a fantasy land where the name of Arsenal is more valuable than it actually is.
Changes are needed, and Wenger has made it clear that he would like to buy two players in the January window in addition to bringing Thierry Henry back on loan from New York Red Bulls. It's a move that would allow Arsenal to make a charge for the Champions League places and make a statement to other players that the club is serious about contending.
The era of complacency that needs to end, however, is that the board is probably too busy patting themselves on the back as they count their money, and owner Stan Kroenke is too aloof to care.
Meanwhile, Wenger will continue to grit his teeth and bear it as he takes the fall for all of Arsenal's issues.
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