This is the first in a four part series on Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager in 2012-13. I am going to discuss the rash – firing Le Boss, the climate in football – compared to the three teams in England above Arsenal, the third segment will be a discussion on the tactics that Arsenal should start using today to get themselves back in to the running, and we will end with the issues in the squad – squad size, personnel, and development.
At no point will I suggest that Arsene Wenger be sacked as manager of Arsenal Football Club.
Ok, so I already let the cat out of the bag, I do not feel that Wenger should be fired. Before I get into the specifics, I want you to understand one rationale about the fans. First, I think as supporters we need to quit with the doom and gloom. Fans are also making the argument that these results and level of play are the reality we have to accept with the current squad. I cannot listen to those phrases because they breed depression, I am a firm believer that when things go wrong in my life I adapt and improve. I see an opportunity within Arsenal for things to get markedly better, in the same way for me to improve my station. I do not need to swap out my brain to do it; I just need to make subtle changes to achieve success. Arsenal can do exactly that by taking the same approach I do.
We must avoid sacking Wenger. At times it seems appropriate as it will provide a spark in the club and get the players on their toes. Cracking the whip isn’t such a bad thing is it? Well it’s an incredibly short-term fix. How many times in Wenger’s tenure have we seen one of his peers removed, then the results improve, but then points slip away a short while later? Lots of times! Sometimes, things even get worse!
What are the options for Arsenal as a whole (supporters, board, etc.)? Fire Arsene Wenger. That’s a simple idea. Now, whom do you replace him with? Do you just expect Pep Guardiola to show up? Is Pep actually a better manager than Wenger? He had a pretty solid squad to work with at Barcelona, a lot of people would have done well with that group. Do Arsenal fans want Mourinho his arrogance and, at times, overspending? If you want to fire Wenger, you MUST tell me who you would hire and why you would hire them (caveat, they have to want to come and believe in the Arsenal mantra that the club is a family). I would love to see some comments with explanations. For me there is only person in whom I have a real interest, Jurgen Klopp. He’s not available right now, but when he is, I hope we get him (provided Wenger has decided to leave). It appears that firing Arsene is not an option; good, I’m glad we have that out of our system. In the absence of a suitable replacement, Arsene should continue the lead the club.
No manager is perfect; there is not a single manager who addresses everything from youth development, to shrewd player acquisition and sales, to expert tactician, and everything in between. Every manager has their individual flaws; some are more greatly flawed than others. Some managers get every ounce from their players and some find a new and better way to utilize one of the players. Some managers communicate well with their players, while other managers are good at delegating workload to a skilled coaching staff.
Arsene Wenger recognizes talent and value purchases. He has a knack for transforming players from one position into another position. He takes raw talent and polishes it into something valuable and exciting. His decisions make the club money, a lot of money. The profits he has generated have been reinvested into a new training ground and a new stadium. Arsenal’s spending on infrastructure is staggering compared to their English peers. During that period of heavy financial investing he’s managed to keep the club fourth or better in the Premier League, the world’s toughest league. Being fourth is viewed as not good enough, we want wins; Being fourth in England is to be amongst the top 6 or 8 in the world! We so quickly forget how good Arsenal is and how good the football in England is when we weigh in on Arsene’s lack of silverware success in recent years.
Part of the crux is that Arsenal fans got used to winning. Two doubles and an unbeaten league season with Wenger, amongst his other successes have maybe given an entitlement where they feel they should win every year; it’s part of the reason why so many of the English fans dislike Arsenal or put Arsenal amongst a varied list of teams they do not like. This means that fans have a hard time recognizing that Arsenal are still part of Europe’s elite, just not at the top of it. When I talk to friends who support Everton and Aston Villa, I have to hold my tongue, because they would kill to have the problems an Arsenal fan has. Arsenal fans have taken financial surety, excellent connectivity with the club, and best in class service and claimed they are negative in our pursuit of winning a trophy. We also forget that in Wenger’s time with Arsenal they have competed more and more against the best clubs in Europe, so it was bound to get tougher.
There is something Arsene and Arsenal can do to make a positive change. Stay tuned for part two.