An open letter to my former hero, Arsene Wenger

Dear Arsene,

There was a running joke in our Arsenal-mad family that when you used to appear on TV, one of us would always say: “Quiet! God’s talking.” And the room would fall silent as we’d listen to your pearls of wisdom, hanging on every word.

I remember one press conference in particular when a reporter tried to draw you into a slanging match with Alex Ferguson. Fergie had claimed that van Nistelrooy was the best striker in the Premiership and the reporter asked if you thought Henry was better. You thought for a moment and said with a humorous grin: “Everybody thinks he has the prettiest wife at home.”

Journalists chuckled and I marveled at your wit. You were my hero.

But that was a long time ago and I don’t drop everything to listen to your interviews anymore. Instead — and I don’t remember when this started — I began questioning your decisions. As one trophy-less season blurred into the next and you kept allowing our best players to leave, I eventually started to think the unthinkable — are you the right man for the job anymore?

To an outsider it’s a ludicrous question. Non-Arsenal fans say to me: “The man’s kept you in the top four on a shoestring budget for years while making money for the club, paying off your stadium and playing superb football.”

Yes that is true and I want to thank you for that. You were indeed a genius in the transfer market, picking up rough diamonds like Fabregas, van Persie and Song, polishing them into exciting, wonderful players. You took the sensible route of spending very little to create a young team before selling them on for a profit. Financing the Emirates move wouldn’t have been possible without you at the helm and you will be remembered for your part in it.

But almost two years ago Gazidis said: “The debt that we’re left with is what I would call ‘healthy debt’ — it’s long term, low rates, very affordable for the Club.” It’s an affordable debt now — fantastic! At last, I thought, our patience has been rewarded and Wenger will take this club forward to where it should be — challenging for trophies.

So I’m baffled as to why you are still selling our best players every summer and refusing to buy adequate replacements. Where is the sense in weakening the squad year after year if we no longer have to?

I’m not saying go out and spend recklessly like Chelsea or Man City, but surely we could’ve spent just a bit more each year? The Manchester clubs and Chelsea haven’t been miles ahead of us on the pitch (until this season) so it is very frustrating to think that with just a bit more investment we could’ve afforded our repayments and challenged for the title in the last few seasons. After all, we’ve got £100m in cash reserves so we’d hardly be on the verge of adminstration.

But it seems to me you’re no longer focused on winning titles anyway, or any trophy for that matter. Instead, Champions League qualification is your sole objective. You refuse to spend a penny more than you have to in order to finish 4th.

Many of your supporters think this is because your hands are tied by the board. If so, please say so and shame them because I’d hate to lay all this blame at your door if you’re just toeing the party line. But what else can I do given the lack of information coming out of the club?

You insist money is there to be spent, but don’t spend it. You insist Fabregas and Nasri will stay, but they leave anyway. You frequently allow star players to enter the final year of their contract. You claim that 4th place is a trophy when you know full well that most fans would trade our annual last 16 Champions League exit for some real silverware.

You buy the players, you pick the team, you choose the tactics, you make the substitutions, you take the coaching, you are responsible for motivating the players and you don’t have a plan B when things aren’t working.

How can I ignore all of this and just blame the board?

And anyway, if you really are being hung out to dry by Kroenke and greedy shareholders, why the hell are you standing for it? Any manager with a modicum of self respect would’ve walked away by now. I know you are a loyal and principled man, but I can’t believe you would bend over while the board shafts you as your legacy crumbles through no fault of your own.

No, there is something more to it. I believe you are equally as responsible for the poor running of the club as the board and concur with the misguided direction it is headed, otherwise you wouldn’t accept such shoddy treatment.

To compound matters, your once flawless judgement seems to have slipped in the last few years. Some of your recent buys just haven’t been good enough — Gervinho, Park, Santos, Chamakh, Squillaci to name but a few. And your inability to admit you were wrong is also costing us. For example, why is Fabianski still in the squad? We haven’t signed a decent goalkeeper since Lehmann and you put us in the position of having to play Mannone, whose errors cost us points, because you refuse to address our goalkeeping situation. You are not stupid, you must know Szczesny is our only reliable keeper, so why has nothing been done about it?

Diaby is another example. He may well have become the next Vieira were it not for that horrific tackle at Sunderland all those years ago, but why have you persisted with such an injury prone player? Your loyalty to him is touching, but he is taking up a valuable squad place and considerable wages.

Speaking of which, what’s the deal with the wage structure? You experienced a system in Japan whereby every player is paid roughly the same so there is no jealousy and a harmony exists within the squad. So you tried it at Arsenal, putting dross like Denilson, Almunia and Squillaci on high wages not commensurate with their abilities and paying world class players like Fabregas, Nasri and van Persie less than the going rate, thus causing resentment.

You furthered this resentment by refusing to buy established players to play with them, instead stubbornly pursuing your youth policy even when there was no need for such frugality anymore. We are not cash strapped Wigan who must make money from player sales to survive — we are the fourth richest club in the world for goodness sake! So we steadily accumulated over £100m in cash reserves while our best players grew tired of playing for 4th place every year with people like Bendtner and Eboue and left in pursuit of trophies and glory.

I don’t blame them for one second — I blame you.

How could you let that happen? Did you really think they were going to give the best years of their careers to an unambitious club focused more on profit than silverware? Only now are you buying more experienced players, but it’s too late — Nasri, Fabregas, van Persie, Clichy and Song grew tired of waiting and are winning trophies elsewhere.

The blinkered fans you’ve managed to brainwash with your spin say: “Na$ri and van Per$i€ moved for the money” totally ignoring the fact that star players at other clubs don’t move on. Man City offered John Terry lots more than he was on at Chelsea but he turned them down. Then they tried to unsettle Wayne Rooney, but he eventually signed a new contract for less money than he could get at the Etihad. You couldn’t persuade those players to stay not because of the extra money on offer elsewhere, but because they no longer believed in you.

And you didn’t even try to keep Song, who was tied to a long term contract. You and the board bit Barcelona’s hand off when they offered £15m and to hell with buying a replacement, Arteta can play there.

Which brings us to the present day and that woeful performance at Bradford. I wasn’t even angry when we lost — I just sighed when Vermaelen hit the post. You and the board have driven me to the point where I don’t really care anymore whether we win or lose because I’m so disillusioned.

I don’t want to resent you anymore Arsene — you are a club legend and I don’t like seeing you squirm as a cocky reporter from Sky asks you humiliating questions. It saddens me to watch you ranting and raving on the touchline, moaning to the fourth official as your clueless, poorly motivated bunch of bottlers lose to a League Two side. I don’t like that you are looking gaunt, unwell and stressed all the time.

Don’t tarnish your reputation by staying too long like Brian Clough did at Forest. I want to tell my grandchildren about the 2004 Invincibles and how they were assembled by the greatest manager in Arsenal’s history — an innovative, intelligent man who transformed the game for the better in this country. I don’t want to have to add that you stayed past your sell by date and made increasingly bizarre decisions like playing clumsy wingers up front, or praising our spirit and mental strength after every game when it’s perfectly clear we have been severely lacking in both for some time now.

So please, enough’s enough. The game has moved on. Resign and let somebody with fresh ideas take over because this just isn’t working anymore. We haven’t won a trophy in seven years, the players don’t seem to be playing for you and we don’t even play exciting football like we used to.

Do the decent thing for everybody — especially yourself — and go while your legendary status is still intact.

Kind regards


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  1. Maroon

    Excellent piece, well written. Every AKB should read this

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 45 Thumb down 3

  2. Elli

    i agree.
    Arene should go for 2 main reasons:
    1. i happen to agree with his philosophy of not spending. But this attitude requires keeping the best players when their tallent shows up. You failed in signing them on long term contracts early enough. To name your failures: Flamini, Nasri, Clichy, Song, RVP, Song. Im not including Henry, Cesc, Viera, who had to go, but the other could have stayed had you signed them early enough. THe reason you need to go was because of the straw that broke my back – Theo. That contract should have been signed ages ago and not let it wait till now.
    2. with the squad that you do have now, Ferguson would have done better. They are not playing to their potential. Bring on someone else and see how he achieves better with these players. We are playing slowly, predictable and bad.

    i also adored you, but i adored Berkamp and his time passed. Time to leave.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 37 Thumb down 4

  3. jogon kitty

    I hope he reads it !

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 31 Thumb down 3

  4. doogmeister

    What a well written letter. I wholeheartedly agree with all you’ve said which summarises the facts perfectly. I too was an AW superfan but have become so bored with the coninuous same old same old. Groundhog day has ruled at Arsenal for some years now and a change must be made.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

  5. Steve.


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  6. Markus

    Well written. Suffering silently for so long. I like the one about `looking gaunt`. Enough is enough.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 28 Thumb down 3

  7. skins

    My word, I think you have expressed the views of Many Arsenal fans, certainly mine. The club are intent on making money, coming fourth or above to achieve this. I would give the champs league up for the league cup any day. We need silverware not money. This is a football club, or though I feel the board are in it for the money.
    Someone is responsible for these trophy less seasons.
    1) Do the board give money to Wenger and he refuses to use it? If so Wenger is to blame.
    2) Do the board pay Wenger money to keep his mouth shut re their financial situation. If so Wenger should walk and the board are at fault.
    3) The board offer Wenger no finances, sack the board.
    I agree that money does not always buy success but it certainly helps. Look at Blackburn, Chelsea and Man City.
    At times we can all see vulnerable positions such as the keepers, but nothing ever seems to be done. We pay the highest ticket prices to watch what is now ticky tacky boring football.
    Mr Wenger if you only buy one player, buy a world class one and build on it.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  8. Gooner-Siggi

    I agree with most of what your saying. But who would replace him? with the situation as it is, who would be able to turn it around?

    As things are right now, i am almoast hoping that he does NOT make 4th place, i hope that after this season they can no longer boast of playing in the champions league every year, even the europa league…

    I almoast hope they crash and burn completely. Think how much money they will lose by not playing in the CL. Heads will have to roll, or so i hope.

    If they manage 4th place this year, think what they will say at the end… It will be their proudest moment. When we all doomed them to fail, they still managed to earn qualification to the CL, after the horrible start.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

  9. AdamVj23

    Once again the best Arsenal blog on the web gets it absolutely spot on.

    I had the unfortune displeasure of witnessing Wenger’s lowest ebb first hand on Tuesday night. As I sat in the stands, cold and disgruntled, staring down at Arsene wearing his ridiculous coat, which I’ve aptly christened ‘le duvet’, I felt nothing for the man I’ve always admired. The Bradford fans mocked and jeered my former hero; but I didn’t care. In fact, I agreed with their scathing jibes.

    They were stunned to see the team Wenger selected; they were even more surprised to see how poor our defence, midfield and attack really is.

    The defenders barely won a header all night. Our midfielders couldn’t find even the most simplest of passes. And our ‘striker’ missed an open goal.

    A hapless winger played up front, a clinical finisher and a central midfielder were forced to play wide. Tactics were non-existent. Substitutions were incomprehensible. Our captain, shambolic.

    We were, and are, completely devoid of spirit, desire and quality in key areas. The style, flair and cutting edge of the past teams has gone. Wenger’s keen eye, wit and magic has also deserted us.

    Even after the humliation of that night, Wenger was unmoved. He knew we were awful. He must have known? And yet he has the audacity to defend his pitiful players and blatantly lie to every Arsenal fan who attended and watched the game on TV by saying the players ‘gave everything’. That was the final straw that broke this fan’s back. Wenger, it’s time to step down.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  10. Larry

    Brilliant ,if wengers misbuys could play like you can write there would be no problems!!!!!!!!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  11. SA Gunner

    Excellent work, well written and the truth. Where are we heading? What happens if we do not make CL, even Europa league. Besides losing to Bradford, we were totally outplayed bby Swansea on our homeground. No urgency in our players, they play the ball backwards more often and every player is in two minds when he has the ball…..where mut he pass, shoud he shoot, or go back to the keeper, by then opposition gets hold of the ball. We are pathetic on ONE ON ONE situations. Even the gret Cazorla is fading, running out of ideas now as players around him keep messing up. Ramsay, Gervinho(who I was a great fan of), are guilty of giving the ball away too often. Gervinho battles to score open goals, poor decision maker but he has the class, talent to out perform most players…not doing that…too insonsistent. In South Africa, there are many Arsenal fans, majority are Man u and Liverpool but the Arsenal Support grew since those trophy winning years when Wenger came, mpre ppl wearing Arsenal T shirts. Ppl praised the type of football played. However recently we are finding more Chelsea fans, even Spurs has good support and their football is great, improved. Honestly, I love to see Wenger stay but he needs to bring the INVINCIBLES back with his team. Here every Arsenal game is televised, like Man U games so we are lucky but I fear this will fall away as the football Arsenal is now playing is predictable and boring, we re not dominating the game , especially in the oppositions half.Buy other premiership players, get rid of the deadwood….get the old style of dominating football back……thing is all that we express on these sites, is it only the fans that read them….how do we get the message across to Arsenal and their greedy board.

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  12. dudu

    It is the time to support our team and support our manager. so many people are hating on Wenger right now and it’s unbelievable. For this reason i am going to support Wenger will all my strength.he is our manager let us stand by him,through thick and thin. They want him sacked right away so that our season ends in tatters and they will all be laughing at us at the end of the many teams have not won anything for 7 years,surely it’s not just us.our time will come.

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  13. Northbanksey

    Agree that Wenger should retire gracefully. It’s very painful to see what’s happening to AFC. The atmosphere at the Emirates has been wretched sometimes this season. It’s difficult to get behind a team (players & management) when we are being served up such a lack of quality on the pitch & fed a load of hot air from
    the management & Board. Something is fundamentally broken within the club & has been for some time. AW is is not capable of fixing it because he is partly responsible for the damage. We may have 11 good players on the pitch, but they are not playing like a team either mentally (for each other) or tactically.This is fundamental for success & until someone sorts it out it’s going to be grim.
    Sadly AW has been left behind & far less experienced managers are extracting far more from less tallented squads on way smaller budgets.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  14. daredavil84

    at last something sensibly written! quite a few points missing though us (fans) targeting our so called board which virtually dont exist but we are paying them quite highly, imagine what would happen if Gazidis challenge him and bombarded with question after carling cup defeat or 8-2 humiliation against ManU! that did not happen cause our board doesnt know how to act they are just puppets. same player making the same mistake over and over again, our defense costing us season after season but no rectification!!!! its not up to the board or fans to fix it, it has to come from the manager. team is not motivated! why on earth players dont want to play for thier manager? it can not be all down to the players. criticizing players and board is so easy cause both of them are incompetent but he bought those players and the board run as he wish them to. imagine if we ddnt loose out on players like Melo or Cahill? Shwartzer (not sure about the spelling) or Given on our goal post and imagine Szezneys development under their supervision! Say no more can go on and on….. one last thing HE PLAYED CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOR 13 TIMES, I STILL CAN NOT THINK OF A MANGER WHO WAS IN CHARGE OF A TOP TEAM AND COMPETED SO MANY TIMES BUT NEVER WON THAT TROPHY….. BY THE UNTILL 2009/10 ONLY 4 TEAMS USED 2 FIGHT FOR TOP 4 AND WE CAME 3RD OR 4TH IN EVERY SEASON GOD KNOWS HOW MUCH CREDIT HE DESERVE FOR THAT…….

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  15. GoonerDave

    Excellent article, thank you.
    Cant say I agree totally though. If the simplest answer is usually the right one and no money is being spent, there is none. We spent plenty before, why not now? If we are selling our best players every year, we probably have to. Without player sales, we would make a loss every year. Crap I know, but the truth. Our debt is costing us a top player every season.
    The new sponsorship deal will allow us to keep our players each season. That will help, but wont be enough I fear. It wont give us much muscle in the transfer market, but we wont have to endure the pain of players leaving much more.
    If it turned out that Wenger has simply refused to spend money that was made available, then I want him out too. I happen to believe his hands are tied. Its the only scenario which fits all the clues. Unless he is actually insane of course!
    Does it not seem obvious to you? A man who loves the game, has nurtured young talent, then has to watch them leave one by one. You think he really wants to sell them? Why? So he stays in a big job? He would have made far more at Real, had he signed for them, any of the several times they asked. But the man bleeds Arsenal, just like everyone here. He has been far more loyal than most of our players.
    Why doesnt Arsene come out and say it? Or, why dont the board admit that we are not that rosy financially? Its bloody obvious – can you imagine the media frenzy? The endless stories linking even more of our players with all and sundry? The unrest and uncertainty in the squad? It would be suicidal. How many businesses low on funds announce it to the world?
    Lets find out who and what is truly to blame before we go throwing away a manager who would die for the club.

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  16. Anonymous

    Kudos for d interesting pieces of information you have all shared. But mine is just a piece of advice to Arsene the board and the shareholders that they should understand that football has changed almost completely these days. So much so that to win a trophy u have to spend considerable amount of money to buy proven players and keeping them tide to d club by offering them wages that will entice them to remain with d club. Although the situation is phenomenon,but it is impossible for a single club to fix it. It is a problem that can be addressed by d football governing bodies(i.e FIFA and UEFA ). Thus, unless the football regulatory bodies intervene and solve d predicaments currently destroying global foot especially in europe,to be successful, arsenal must be loyal to d unfortunate situation;otherwise silverware and ability to keep their best players will continue to elude them.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. h4rj

    Its easier to ride the highs than the lows but we seem to have an element of fairweather support at our club. So sad. I remember the sack Ferguson brigade, they were wrong and I think its a repeat here. Wenger will come good and the open letter will have to be closed and forgotten. He isn’t getting sacked so just support the man as he does his best, which is considerable under the circumstances.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  18. Graham

    Yep agree with just about every point made. What a shame it has come to this.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. gonner4life

    well written letter. however, i’ve been asking myself all the same questions. i’ve got to tell you, there really has to be more to this than we know. something else is going on in the shadows that only very few arsenal executives know about. hence the public statements by usmanov. unless kroenke is just the typical cheapskate, arsenal owes some characters some serious money. call it conspiratorial in nature, i’m not sure. but, i’m really starting to believe that. especially if we lose more than we gain yet again. the stadium cost a boat load. but, considering the location and the nature of interests affected, there truly could be far more to this than anyone has or is willing to publicly reveal. that said, it doesn’t solve our current dilemma. all i can hope for, if this is true, is that the light at the end of the tunnel will indeed be coming.

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  20. kaius

    Kudos to you for a restrained(just!) earnest and heartfelt appraisal of this waking nightmare that so many of our fanbase are living through. The key for me is despite everything that’s gone down since 2005 Arsene Wenger’s legend IS still intact.

    You and your commenters have articulated Wenger’s achievements. We needed someone to transform the club and he did that. Other clubs are envious of our stadium and structure and history, but not so much the squad. We all know that if a team envies one of our guys enough and writes a cheque, we take pity on them and allow them to sprinkle a little Arsenal stardust on their own squads. Hey, where’s our own stardust?

    Do we still need a club-transformer? Do the players? Surely what fans AND players want is a coach, a manager; a boss they fear and respect and will run through the proverbial wall for.

    That thing he wears, “Le Duvet”… is becoming an emblem. What does it say to our opposition? Does it say “fear me and my team”? No.

    It says, “it’s a bit chilly in ‘ere, could you turn up the undersoil heating please… now where’s me gloves and me snood?”

    Much as we all love Arsenal and can only imagine the superhuman effort it takes to really succeed at the very highest level of the game (and moving house from Highbury to the Grove was an immense move) fans have a right to continue to demand success and not tolerate failure. As for those who counter the “should he go” question with the inane and myopic query of “BUT who will replace him”, I don’t even know how to start on that one. Jogi Low, Klopp, Maradona, Guardiola, Henry, Pele… whatever. As if moneybags Arsenal couldn’t afford to pay even the Pope to come and manage us.

    Did you all know that no French manager has ever coached a team to the Champion’s League OR the old European Cup trophy? I loved Arsene, but he’s not going to break that bogey is he? And certainly not while wearing Le Duvet.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  21. Donald

    i’ve given up on the possibility ‘Wenger knows’ sinse he persists on Gervinho a clumsy winger playing as a striker, Podolski our best finisher on the wing and Ramsay a utility central midfielder playing as a right forward. And meanwhile refuses to play Walcott in his favoured position upfront despite being our top scorer, so he can continue watching Gervinho miscontrol everyhting and hit the corner flag. Either due to running the ball out of play because he never looks up or his shots are so poor the linesman will be tested more than the keeper!
    Wenger needs to resign, Cazorla must cry himself to sleep at night that he’s wasting his beautiful passes on Chamakh, Ramsay Giroud and Gervinho.
    People say we are on a shoe string budget…we have a 140million pound payroll! Imagine what David Moyes could do with that payroll. We’ve had two of the best players in the world playing in the same team in Fab and Rvp 2 years ago…are you telling me we couldn’t win one trophy in 7years? Not one?! We couldnt because we never built around those two players, we found horrible players like Squillaci, Denilson Chamakh and Park and gave them the same wages as RVP and now we lost RVP becuse we couldn’t give him top wages and trophies and cant get rid of the horrible players because they are on quadruple the wages their worth!
    And now Wenger fobs us off with 4th place is a trophy! He would never have said
    that 10years ago…ever. And then he contradicts himself with this carling cup team…a few years ago it was this is a competition for the younger players” this year he sends out his strongest team and still loses! And he’s still trying to pretend everythings ok. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome. And Wenger’s been trotting out the same 4-3-3 that doesnt work for years now.

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  22. gooner

    Wenger has been the problem the last 7 years.With calls for him to buy new players,don’t forget tactically he has lost it.His one dimensional style is easy to counter.Even with the wc players,assuming he buys them,the gunners will still be playing the sog ie same old game 99% possession and passing laterally ,back,etc and reluctance to shoot long range.
    Another fear of mine is he will go for chaep and ANc players as well as wc promising kids. We need an immediate injection of quality and most vital of all experienced players who can give the seniors alift now repeat now not in 2014.
    He has Jan to show wht he can do. If he cant secure cl qualifiction,he shd go to save his legacy otherwise he could suffer the stigma of being axed.

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  23. Gooner Steve

    Lots of valid points in the comments, wish I had time to respond to them all.

    What I find interesting is how well this article has been received. It seems to have struck a chord with many fellow fans whereas if I’d written it just three months ago I’d have been savaged and told to sod off and support Spurs.

    People are finally coming round to the sad and depressing realisation that Wenger has lost his magic touch. Irrespective of whether you believe his hands are being tied financially, he isn’t getting enough out of his squad and the players aren’t playing for him anymore — the exodus shows no sign of slowing (Walcott and Sagna will be next).

    Wenger is given too much leeway because of his past glories, but his mistakes are piling up and I can’t see the club progressing until he goes.

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    • Shanzuman

      A brilliant letter, well written, factual and constructive. I agree with AdamVj23 and Larry above, it is by far the best Arsenal blog on the web and you are to be commended for being so passionate with your views and concerns. You are a true Arsenal fan for putting pen to paper and highlighting from the heart the crisis that is behind the scenes at the club. I see that the media is beginning to write in the same vein and I believe that our concerns will gather pace by which time the Board will have to listen and will have to take the appropriate corrective action. Keep it going untill such time as we all see a positive change at our beloved AFC.

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  24. DanS

    I just don’t understand the stubbornness sometimes. Why not give Walcott a try or three up front? What could it really hurt. He tried Gervinho up front. Why not try Theo? Its just baffling to me.

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