'You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain-‘Harvey Dent.
Now although I’m almost certain Harvey Dent was not talking about Arsene Wenger when he said those powerful words, you can certainly apply them to the current managerial state at Arsenal.
In the years of 1996-2005, he was untouchable, certainly a hero; now, I feel his time may be up. I’m not even saying this due to a lack of trophies; I’m saying it due to the gradual decline of the team since we lost the Champions League final in 2006.
We’ve sold some bloody amazing players and replaced them with decent ones (sometimes not at all) and we’ve sold decent players and replaced them with mediocre players. Now before you bang on to me about not having the spending power of City, Chelsea etc. you’re right. We don’t. But the wages we do have been used badly, on the wrong players.
Get rid of Chamakh, Fabianski, Squillaci, Djourou, Santos, Gervinho and Diaby (good player but never will be fit for 10 games in a row) and how much in wages do we free up? Roughly 300 grand? That’s more than enough in wages for two or three world class signings, far more useful than these bits of dead wood that will never be good enough (bar Diaby). So really, we can’t complain about City’s spending (ok, we can a bit; what they do is ridiculous, but at least a lot of the players their paying are top players) Just imagine if we take out the previous seven players, and use the money there to buy Falcao, Holtby and Lloris. Dream land.
Thing is, we’ve paid mediocre players too much money, so that prevents us buying the top players; just think, Chamakh and Squillaci may well be the ones who stop us putting a decent bid in for someone like Huntelaar or Llorente. It’s terrible, and don’t get me wrong I have massive respect for Arsene Wenger, for what he’s done over the years, but he’s replaced Clichy with Santos, Nasri with Benayoun (for a season (!)) and Van Persie with Giroud (good player, but not in Robin’s class). Surely this tells us he’s lost his way?
It’s not just transfers though; tactically he’s been very naïve in recent seasons, particularly since the Fabregas departure. We play the Fabregas formation without Fabregas; how about we play with two strikers!?!? So often this season Giroud will hold the ball up or flick it on, and he’ll have no support. Play Walcott or Podolski up with him, with Santi on the right, the Ox on the left with Arteta and Wilshere in the middle. Perfect.
It’s with great sadness I write this, because I’ll always love Arsene for the fantastic football we’ve played, the amazing players we’ve seen but most notably that incredible team that didn’t lose a game through the whole 2003-2004 season. But, even the most passionate Wenger fan cannot deny he’s lost his way over the past few years, and despite the world’s most incompetent board behind him, he’s not the same manager who did things like turn Kolo Toure from a decent wide midfielder into a world class centre back, be the first manager in a while to go toe to toe with Man United and sign players like Sol Campbell, Freddie Ljungberg and Thierry Henry for a combined total of 10 million pounds.
Arsene’s contract goes in 2014, and that’s when I think he should leave; he’s been amazing for us, and I hope we win a cup by then to end on a high note, with the Capital One Cup this year being as good a chance as we’ll get in a while. I don’t yet think Arsene is Harvey Dent’s villain, but if we don’t finish in the top four, he’ll be remembered for the wrong reasons. You’ve been amazing Arsene, but time to step aside. Au Revoir.