The Telegraph’s Matt Law has a bizarre piece on the site now, which begins with this saucy paragraph:
Arsenal players believe that manager Arsène Wenger’s refusal to work on the opposition has cost them a shot at the Premier League title this season.
The defeat at Everton last weekend meant that Arsenal have lost away from home against all their immediate rivals, conceding 20 goals.
This alleged difference of opinion between players and manager is reiterated throughout, except there isn’t even a “sources say,” just a vague reference to “a section of Wenger’s squad” (does this include any members of the first team?).
Far more interesting is the example of football’s wider echo chamber resonating (we presume) within the club walls. First articulated by Gary Neville in his Sky Sports 1 commentary, and generally agreed upon in the journalistic Twittersphere, it seems Spring of 2014 was the moment when the world agreed: Wenger’s problem isn’t his nose for players or his ability to motivate—rather, it’s his failure to adjust tactics based on the quality of the opposition.
This isn’t an implausible explanation for Arsenal’s faults this season, either. However, there is some argumentative ballast provided in the fact that if Arsenal had drawn or lost against all of their top flight competitors this season but, at the same time, picked up all three points against lesser competition, they’d be in first place.
Even so, Wenger is not a man usually associated with tactical versatility (the “passing it into the net” jibe still applies now as it did ten years ago). Many of the best sides in the world weren’t either, and maybe that’s the bigger problem. If Wenger isn’t going to pay for a World Beater, he shouldn’t drive his Corolla as if it’s a Ferrari.