I recently had a conversation with a group of friends, a group in which I am tagged as a ‘Wenger Boy,’ and one of these friends, asked my view on what I personally think the problems plaguing The Arsenal are. This seemingly simple question sent me into deep thought, and for a while I could not say a thing, not because I could not tell which problems have plagued us for years and continue to do so, but because it would be foolhardy of me to give a simple answer.
Some people may quickly jump on the bandwagon and place the blame squarely at the feet of Arsene Wenger, and to an extent, they may be right. But such a question demands a lot of circumspect, as what plagues Arsenal lies not solely at the feet of the Gaffer, but at that of everyone involved at the club; from the head of the Board, to the fan sitting in the comfort of his home posting vitriolic messages online. In coming weeks, I will humbly attempt to answer my friend’s question and point out where in my humble view I feel the problems plaguing this behemoth of a Grand Old football club stem from. This week, I will talk about the most likely target, the one whose shadow looms largest over The Emirates Stadium, Arsene Wenger.
Early on, I mentioned that I have been tagged as ‘Wenger Boy’ or as my friends like to say sometimes, ‘Wengerist,’ because according to them I do not want to see the cause of our recent ‘failures’ sent packing out of the Emirates Stadium, back to that in a moment. Le Professeur as he is fondly known came to England from Japan, almost two decades ago and led a revolution of English football, he is one reason the worst team in the Premier League next season looks to amass about a HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS. He brought to England football beautiful to watch backed by a mean defence led by the Great Tony Adams.
In recent times though, he has failed to flatter. He has made questionable decisions which have come back to bite us in the ‘you know where’ leaving us as the laughing stock of fans of other football clubs. His decision to not purchase an outfield player of high quality, scratch that, an outfield player of any class at all during the summer transfer market has proven terribly temerarious. I was among the army of fans who thought the sole addition of genuine World Class ability in Cech, would carry us over the finish line this season, ahead of the rest, and to the fans who saw from the inception that would not happen and that we would have the normal 3rd, 4th place finish, kudos to you for your prescience. (I hope you can use this gift to tell us the transfer targets needed this summer?)
Wenger over the years has been known for his stubbornness but all the Greats have that about them, and let us not kid ourselves no matter what you think about him he will finish as one of the Greats, and this stubbornness has helped him and the club out of certain sticky situations, most notably the Emirates stadium debt repayment phase, but now that stubbornness is negatively affecting the club. In a few games we have seen him tactically tweak formation and personnel to suit the opposition, but we have read from certain ex-players how he prefers to focus on the team’s strength rather than his opponent’s weakness before a game, thus making us easy prey for opponents who have spent hours working to nullify our strengths.
One word making the rounds in recent days has been ‘loyalty,’ with Szczesny preferring Leicester City to Arsenal winning the league crown, (we’ll talk about the bitter Pole in another column) and one man who is filled with loyalty is Arsene Wenger, a great trait to have, but one which can be abused also. Sometimes players perform badly and it is up to the gaffer to stick by them and help them out of the bad slump, Arsene does this perfectly sometimes, and in some situations, with players such as Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud, this loyalty has been stretched thin. Wenger has belief that biding time in these players amongst a host of others taking fat paychecks whilst on the Arsenal bench will eventually see them come good. Pffft! We’ve tarried in this cesspit of mediocrity for way too long now, and we need ruthlessness, we need the ‘Bill Belichick’ mentality, we need to get players who are not at the top of their game out, as soon as possible and replace them with younger, hungrier, models who want to win titles.
A section of Arsenal fans clamor all the time for Arsene Wenger to be sacked from The Arsenal. That is where we differ, that is where the line is drawn, and that is the main reason why I am seen as a Wenger Apologist, because even though now I feel he has given his all and we need new ideas and energy from a new manager, I simply am of the stance that, Arsene Wenger will not be sacked or run out of Arsenal. Get that out of your minds. He is one of the main reasons the club has attained global acclaim, and despite the trophyless seasons continues to do so. He will leave Arsenal on his own terms and whether you think it is wrong or right, that is how the man who turned down the likes of Real Madrid to stay during his peak will exit The Emirates Stadium.
The next column will cover the guys in charge of keeping Arsene Wenger on his toes, in charge of ensuring we have a genuine title winning squad by providing funds and through their decision making, those who truly wield the power to replace Arsene, The Board. Look forward to that.