Monday 7 April 2014

Nil satis nisi quartum

I don't usually use Latin much, due to the fact that I was always rubbish at it! It's a good job the ancient Romans are no longer part of the fabric of British society, as I would struggle if I could only conjugate the verb 'amo', which means 'I love'. It's also a good job my Latin teacher started us on such a positive note, as it was all downhill from that point onwards. Oops! That's a long-winded way of looking at the Everton debacle, but I couldn't help but notice their Latin motto, which translates into: 'nothing but the best is good enough'. Perhaps it sounds a little empty to Everton fans with the Toffees only competing for fourth spot (hence me changing the 'optimum' part of their motto to the nominative of 'quartus', which is 'quartum' unless I'm very much mistaken).
That lengthy preamble is the only way I can look at a result that made even 4th spot look a bridge too far for this team. I'm not going to pick on our players. Yes, they were outclassed, but was it their fault? I'd say not really: the blame for this defeat lies with the manager.
While it's true we didn't get the rub of the green - on another day Sanogo's 'offside' goal would have stood and the Ox would have won a penalty - that does not excuse the time it took Wenger to react to what was happening. Half-time subs were needed, yet Wenger waited until as close to his traditional 70th minute as he could. Instead of the Beastie Boys' LP 'No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn', The Wenger Boys' album would be 'No Subs 'Til 70'. Maybe that can be applied to his retirement too! It's hard to imagine him leaving Arsenal, but if he does who will replace the great man? Martinez? He'd probably be my first choice right now.
Our team has survived over the years and even thrived without tactics, it seems, during Wenger's reign. Why? he bought wisely, managed to keep the team spirit at the optimum level and introduced some sports science (eg creatine and vitamin injections) into a league that had lacked the foresight to adopt such policies previously.
However, many of those 'secrets' that kept Wenger's Arsenal at or near the top have now been adopted by all and sundry. Our competitive advantage from innovation no longer exists.
Meanwhile, we've signed a different calibre of player in recent years. When did we last sign someone good enough to be an 'invincible'? While I think the current crop are good enough to win trophies, I don't think they can if the tactical advice continues to be minimalist. Add to that the lack of intervention from the bench to change things when they're clearly not working, then you have a recipe for underperformance. My spell checker wanted to change that last word to 'underpants'. That's what we might end up with if we don't move Wenger upstairs or elsewhere at the end of the season.

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