I have been silent for some time as far as articles go, but frankly, there has been very little to inspire me that hasn`t been covered by the excellent Gunners Town crew. I have confined myself to commenting fairly detailed replies on many of these articles.
In recent times though, there is one consistent topic that still comes up and that is “Will he or won`t he go?”, “Who can we get who would be a ready made replacement, given the previous success of previous teams” Where are we going to get a man who is basically Arsenal. He helped design the stadium, he controls the Academy etc ( today on Sky discussion ). In many ways, other comments from the media are that we are not being coached properly, our team has no visible plan. We play slowly, sideways and backwards and we have no backbone.
Despite all of the above, there is still a proportion of Wenger disciples who believe that turning up for matches and supporting the team, rates as a fan`s first and foremost obligation. To them it is inconceivable that a man with the character of Arsene Wenger, and with the list of achievements on his CV should be hounded out of the club. I agree with the latter part of that belief, but I disagree that he is being hounded out. There is no denying that there is indeed a sizeable proportion of people who would enjoy nothing better than to see him booted out. Some of them would gladly offer their services to do so.
On Thursday night, we saw the effect of the more moderate “Outers” when we saw the ranks of empty seats for the Stoke game. Those seats are mostly season ticket holders who used a civilised way of registering their frustration with Kroenke and the board by still refusing to take the action required to improve the performance of the team.
My view is that, not only have they failed to make Wenger accountable for 14 years of almost barren achievement, but they have actually rewarded him by substantially increasing his salary. We are all outraged when Bank Executives who almost brought the country to its knees are subsequently awarded huge salary increases. In other words, they are unaccountable for failure. Wenger obviously falls into that category. I have heard from people `who know people` that whether or not we win the Euro Championship this season, Wenger will serve out the final year of his contract. Even though we have slipped from 4th to 6th in the premiership and show no visible sign of improving and in fact we are not even mentioned in the same breath as Spurs and Liverpool who have now overtaken us, as well as Chelsea, Man Utd. and Man City who are almost bomb proof. Chelsea have suffered a hiccup, but they will be in contention again next year. Where will we be?
So what exactly are Wenger`s failings? The answer is in his lack of up to date coaching skills. He will not accept that he cannot coach a defence or pick the right balance in the team. He cannot assess a player`s true position based upon his ability, physique and skill. On top of his weaknesses, he possesses an immovable ego which demands that Arsene knows best, so he curtails the responsibility of people like Steve Bould . All of these traits result in young players failing to reach their potential. Joel Campbell and Perez were never given a proper run in the team and for reasons which only Wenger knows they never gained his respect. Iwobi came through the Academy and burst into the first team with apparently a golden future ahead of him. He has not progressed. Young Nelson, Adelaide and Maitland MIles have all made an immediate impact, but although they all have natural talent, they don`t seem to have advanced.
Lacazette arrived here after two years of pursuing him and he too seems to have fallen out of favour. How many full games has Wenger played him? In the Stoke game there were signs that there could be a burgeoning partnership with Aubameyang but we shall have to wait to see if he gets time to build on it.
If you are still not convinced then look no further than Oxlade – Chamberlain. When he was sold to LIverpool, I was really annoyed as he had played well for England and had shown plenty of promise for Arsenal. he played without complaint in any position he was asked to, but he was never given a settled role in the team. I said at the time that he would be a different player under Klopp and look how he played against Man City. On Sky today, there was a debate as to why he had improved so much and the consensus was that firstly, the Liverpool squad is much fitter than Arsenal`s. They play a pressing game high up on the pitch and they don`t play backwards and sideways. They are direct. Even Guardiola said that before the match. That suits Ox and he drives forward from midfield and immediately runs back if he loses the ball. That is the modern game but Wenger prefers a more technical passing game which although results in dominance of possession, results in less requirement for stamina and poor defence. He made mistakes with his ball control, but that was because of raw enthusiasm. He could have been coached for that. Chamberlain`s statistics with Liverpool are as follows:
1. Played 18
2. Goals 5
3. Assists 6
4. Opportunities created 26
5. Pass accuracy 81.6%
We have to face the fact that sooner or later we will have to face the future without Wenger. Anno Domini will see to that, but it would have been better had it happened when he had won a major trophy and we had a good team which a new manager could have built upon. It would also have been easier to find such a manager. As it is now, we shall expect to sign a top level coach to clean up the mess he has left and to build a side with an unbalanced squad and one which has insipid football in it`s genes. The longer Wenger remains, the harder it will get, for the club and for his replacement! Where is that man? Who amongst those who are `resting` as actors say, between jobs would want to take it? Of course, there`s always the money……… That is the caliber of person we will get and if the Board does not support his transfer policies then ala Conte, he will be on his way. That is what Wenger`s obduracy has brought us!