Is Talent Enough?

It is 1 year and 3 days since Arsenal beat Barcelona. I think it’s fair to say that since then, things have not exactly gone according to plan.

Readers of this website will be aware that I am one of the more negative of those that count themselves as Arsenal fans – hell, I even use the word ‘pessimistic’ in the subtitle of my blog – but this season I have found myself defending Arsene Wenger and the club on many different occasions and trying, desperately, to believe that things weren’t as bad as some might have it. Our incredible injury list (which has been lengthened, once again, this evening) along with the current financial climate in football at the top level have turned me into an Arsenal apologist.

I am sorry, dear readers, but I cannot hold out any longer.

Every team has bad weeks. But this week has exposed cracks that were papered over by strategically convenient victories earlier in the season. This team, as it is, is finished.

There is no doubt that every one of the players in the squad at the moment have the talent that is required to make it at the very top level of football. Some of them have already proved themselves and others are clearly destined for greatness, given some good luck and the right coaching. But for some reason, as a group, they haven’t got what it takes to succeed.

It takes more than mere talent to make a good footballer – and it takes more than 11 talented footballers to make a team. Sunderland’s players showed (as did Milan) that application, energy, belief and commitment can go a long way to make up for any deficiency in talent. In fact, it goes further than that – it’s more important than just talent.

Arsenal’s technically gifted squad have given up.

For once, I’m not going to mention particular players – it is not the fault of any one man. It is a collective failing for which everyone must take responsibility. Every time we lose the fans are fed platitudes by the playing and management staff (via the website and Twitter) which suggest that the spirit is willing – and yet it is not just unwilling, it doesn’t exist.

There will be many apocalyptic articles written tonight and in the weeks to come about how the end is nigh for Arsene Wenger and his master plan. Almost all of them will be heavily exaggerated works of nonsense. But one thing is clear – something needs to change at Arsenal.