Wednesday 13 December 2017

Bergkamp's breakdown of Arsenal ailments points to squad's lack of belief in boss

DUTCH people have a view of the world which often jars with the status quo simply because they speak plainly while others skirt around harsh realities.

Yesterday, Dennis Bergkamp told Arsene Wenger exactly what was wrong with his team and cut through the veil of fog the Gunners boss has cloaked himself in.

To paraphrase, Bergkamp believes that this version of Arsenal is without several key components which made the older model so successful; English grit, a decent midfield and a decent defence.

Uniquely placed to offer a judgement, Bergkamp's assessment was damning and as AC Milan proved last night, chillingly accurate.

Using Bergkamp's words as a measure, Arsenal are missing more than just a few components and certainly one he didn't mention: lack of belief in the manager.

That's something which was unthinkable up until a few years ago but the process of reputational erosion has been under way for some time and the result and performance against Milan took out another big chunk of Wenger's legacy.

This time of the year has been very, very unkind to Wenger in the past five seasons.

Every February, like clockwork, Arsenal endure a trauma of defeat and in a few short weeks, wave goodbye to ambitions they were able to fulfil not so long ago.

Wenger won't last many more months. He will probably walk himself this summer if Arsenal don't make the top four and leave scratching his head, still unable to understand how it all went so badly wrong.

He need look no further than Bergkamp for an explanation.

"Sometimes you need more of a winning mentality than a passing mentality," said the assistant manager of Ajax. "I'm not sure Arsenal have enough of that in their players, when the attitude becomes more important than the ability just to pass the ball."

Bergkamp's boss at Ajax, Frank de Boer, has also been demonstrating Dutch common sense. "Sometimes he does stupid things," said Frank -- and he was talking about Luis Suarez.

De Boer cashed in on Suarez a year ago, shortly after the Uruguayan was binned for seven games for trying to bite PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal.


"Luis is a winner," said De Boer. "Outside the pitch he's a fantastic player and person. In the game he does everything to win but sometimes he does some stupid things.

"I don't really know the details of what happened in that (Saturday's) game so I can't comment. But I don't think it was very smart that he didn't shake (Patrice) Evra's hand because it puts more attention on everything."

Carlos Tevez is another footballer who does stupid things but he doesn't limit himself to a football field.

It would be interesting to hear what another Dutchman, Manchester City captain and inspiration Vincent Kompany would have to say about his prodigal team-mate if he was free to speak his mind.

When Tevez wakes up in the morning and looks in the mirror, it's hard to know what he sees. A righteous man high on his own principles, or a moody, petulant, lost child?

He does remarkably stupid things.


On his way back to try to fight for a place in Roberto Mancini's squad, he throws a gallon of butane on his fiery feud with the City boss, a man who has shown remarkable patience throughout this extraordinary episode.

Tevez seems intent on trying to unsettle Mancini and, by extension, Manchester City and his decision to come back to Eastlands is mildly ludicrous. Maybe he's feeling the pinch after losing a reported £10m in wages, bonuses and endorsements over the past six months.

Or maybe he's just being vindictive; a loose cannon unwilling to follow the manager's discipline and ready to cause as much mischief as he can.

Mancini should have only one answer for him when they eventually meet up after City return from Porto. Send him to train with the kids until he can be shipped out next summer or better still, lock him out.

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