Memoirs of a North Bank Sage: Pointing The Finger
He’s been watching from the North Bank for more than 50 years; like the Bundesliga, the North Bank Sage has recently returned from a winter break. Not the most relaxing one either given our recent run of results! Read the latest memoirs of a North Bank sage on wearethenorthbank.com.
On the defeat at Swansea…
It was just like the Blackburn game and the Fulham game. You dream about an early goal in a game like that. We took the lead in all three of those games but we just looked so vulnerable that you don’t have any faith that we’ll see it out.
People talk about how well Swansea played and they did, but they only created a handful of chances. Their best opportunities were gifted to them by us. Yet again the game was there for the taking and we couldn’t do it.
It was never a penalty though and that did disrupt things. When the ref gives that the whole atmosphere changes.
On the defence…
You look at the goals we’ve given away this season and it’s easy to blame individuals but I think we are suffering because players are injured or playing out of position. Any team would struggle with four full backs out. Playing people out of position disrupts organisation as much as anything else.
Look at Miquel for example. I think he’s going to be a good player but he’s not a left back. He played OK but he did things wrong because he’s forced to play out of position. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault specifically. There is no way Wenger would have ever assessed his squad and though that he’d need to play a rookie centre half out there. We have four full backs and Vermaelen out. That’s unprecedented – even by our recent standards!
The loss of Vermalen is a big deal. He’s our leader back there. He drives us on. When he was fit and playing we went on a good run. Now he’s out, along with all the others, we’re struggling again. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
On the injury situation…
I’ve never seen anything like it and I can’t work it out. Years ago you had a squad of about 15 and they got you through a season. Whether players were fit or not they had to play. They’d be injected or whatever necessary and they’d go out and play. That doesn’t happen so much now and obviously players careers last longer as a result.
Players are thoroughbreds now. A knock or muscle tweak didn’t mean a lot in the 70’s but now players can be so finely tuned that anything can injure them. If you’re not fit to play you will be found out in the Premier League.
On the squad…
I have no doubt that our squad, when everyone is fit, is good enough for the top four. People talk about a lack of strength but, like I said with the defence, all your planning and organisation goes when you have so many players out. Our back four, Sagna – Gibbs – Vermaelen – Koscielny, is good but if you take three players out then you’re bound to struggle. Especially when the deputies have to change each week. You can’t build an understanding or any organisation in those circumstances.
I know it’s beyond us now but we just didn’t have the players to win the league. We have a decent bunch of defenders and midfielders but the next lot, Rosicky, Arshavin, Benayoun, Squillaci etc, don’t put enough pressure on the first choice players to create competition for places. They invariably play by default, due to injuries – not because they’re banging the door down.
On the Strikers…
I think the defence and midfield are decent if the main men are fit but it’s up front where we need help. At the moment, Robin aside, if Gervinho or Walcott aren’t doing it you can’t really trust anyone else to come in and change things. Walcott’s forms dipped again but we can’t pull him out and replace him because no one else is either in form or proven. Arshavin gets his fair share of assists but he doesn’t grab the game by the scruff of the neck as he did during his first six months at the club. We haven’t got enough players who can do that.
I don’t really blame anyone specifically for the lack of depth in the squad. I don’t think anyone knows with any certainty what happens at board level so it’s hard to say what’s going on there. The people I do blame are the likes of Nasri and Adebayor. It may sound simple but Wenger gave them their break and wanted to build a team to challenge for years. Both of them basically threw it back in his face and that disrupted his plan.
Wenger looks demoralised to me and I think it’s hard to blame him when he’s been so badly let down by some of his players, past and present. I’d like to think one day someone will look at what Wenger has done for the club and for scores of players and realise that they owe him. Of course we don’t pay what City do but surely being happy at a club and rewarding the manager who gave you your chance should count for something?
I can understand that it’s hard to get a full back. We have four good full backs so we don’t really need another one permanently. Obviously, any player who can come in at the quality we need isn’t going to be available on loan so it’s not an easy deal to do.
We do need a striker but the time to do that was in the summer. Park looks like a funny signing and Chamakh is out of form. I feel for both of them to an extent because they aren’t going to improve without games but we can’t trust them to play.
We need a striker but it’s impossible to get a good one now. If Wenger really wants someone he may have to wait until the summer. There would be no point buying someone for the sake of it now when you wouldn’t ideally want them in the summer long term. Again, any striker worth having isn’t going to be available on loan.
I think we can do it but it’s going to be tough. I think Chelsea are erratic which means if we get some consistency back then we can definitely catch them. As for Tottenham, I think they are playing at the limit at the moment. I can’t see it lasting. They have a lot of tough games in the next couple of months so we’ll see where they are after that.
The most annoying thing about them is that we aren’t competing on a level playing field. They are being rewarded for failing last season as they don’t have the Champions League to worry about this time and basically forfeited the Europa League. They gets time off each week which we don’t have the luxury of.
The final piece of their jigsaw was Adebayor. They couldn’t afford him or his wages but he’s been gifted to them by City. City know he can score goals against everyone except them, it’s not right really, the loan system is a joke.