Arsenal stuck in the same old cycle and need Stan Kroenke to start caring
You wonder if Arsene Wenger does introspection. He's clearly a very intelligent, erudite, experienced man, so it would be difficult to envisage him not despairing over the state of the football club he's managed since 1996.
A generous person might say that the Frenchman's desire to stay last summer was, in some ways, him doing the club a service given the lack of a plan to replace him and the seeming lack of direction from the boardroom.
Wenger will know that Arsenal's singularly unambitious owner, Stan Kroenke, remains more concerned with his U.S. sporting franchises than what happens in London and that chief executive Ivan Gazidis will pick up his basic salary of £1.7 million (and £919,000 bonus), preside over stagnant commercial growth and a stadium that has swathes of empty seats for each game, and remain out of the firing line when things go bad on the pitch -- as they are currently.
Even if the performance level of the team is falling -- a 2-1 defeat to Watford this weekend adding to an already slow start to the season -- the value of Kroenke's investment continues to rise. When he took control of the club in 2011, he paid £11,750 per share. The most recent share traded was for £27,500, and with TV and broadcast revenues expected to increase yet again when the latest rights are sold, he's sitting on a relative goldmine.
It's little wonder he rebuffed the advances of Alisher Usmanov and recently made an offer to buy the Russian's 30 percent, a move (on top of the 67 percent he already owns) which would give him total control of the club in every aspect.
But while the value of Arsenal may rise, the club have not made progress since the move to the Emirates in 2006 -- a project that was designed specifically to make them more competitive. Not just in the Premier League, but in the Champions League.
The three FA Cup wins in recent years have been fantastic, and ought not to be overlooked -- you cannot demand a club be successful and then dismiss the winning of actual silverware -- but recent seasons have shown that Wenger to be a man desperately trying to find some of the old magic that made him such a wonderful manager in the past.
This season Arsenal are playing Europa League football, and although we're only eight games into the Premier League campaign, they do not look like a side that can challenge for the title. Given their record on the road has seen them lose three times already, they may well struggle to regain a place in the top four -- something that the club have always insisted was the minimum requirement.
All the while fans are sitting watching their team play out the same scenarios over and over again: Lose badly to a big side away from home; fail to take their chances and lose to a team they are expected to beat; turn over some of the smaller, mid-table teams at home to restore some respectability, until the next cycle begins. Rinse and repeat.
None of this is a surprise. When you keep doing the same things, you'll see the same results. Same manager, same coaching staff, same comfortable board, same old Arsenal.
Wenger won't walk away, he's too proud. Even if his head must be telling him that despite all his hard work things are not improving, his heart won't let him quit. He's an optimist, he'll try and turn it around.
Gazidis can't do anything, he has no power to make any kind of decision. So that means that Arsenal need the most uninterested owner in the Premier League to start caring -- even just a little bit.
Chances are though, they'll keep going the way they're going, nothing much will change, and they'll do just enough to offer a glimmer of hope that things will improve.
Until the next time they play someone like Watford away, and do the same thing again.
Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.