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Arsene Wenger – The Longest Goodbye to the Heavy Weight who has stayed too long in the ring

The longest goodbye

Plenty has been written about Arsene Wenger over the last two decades of his tenure at The Arsenal and I daresay more will be said over the decades that follow his departure, whenever that may be.

As most people are aware his successes on the field came within the first decade where he awoke a slumbering giant of English Football and went toe to toe over a decade with arguably English Footballs greatest club manager Alex Ferguson. At the time, I would (and often did) argue that Wenger was Ferguson’s equal and any title that ended up in Manchester was only on loan until the season after. But slowly over that period Fergie’s will to win and hunger for on-field success started to eclipse Wenger’s and the last time Wenger managed a KO of his foe was the FA Cup Final of 2005.

2 True Heavy weights and one who knew when to retire gracefully

I realise that The Arsenal had decided to go down the route of moving grounds and what financial implications that entailed but it should also be noted that during this self-imposed ‘Austerity period’ Wenger was the best-paid manager in British Football and also at times World Football.

He also had Tens of Millions at his disposal for transfers and a huge wage budget (approx. £1B over last ten years). A fact frequently overlooked by those quick to argue that Chelsea, United and now City overpower The Arsenal with their financial muscle. He also chose to spend huge sums on kids not old enough to vote from lower leagues despite the need for Premier League and Champions League ready centre halves, Goalkeepers, Full Backs etc.

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Wenger has, in the last decade somehow managed to convince a lot of fans and people in the media that The Arsenal are somehow a plucky little club punching above our weight against much bigger clubs. This despite the fact we moved Stadiums to enable us to push on and challenge European Superpowers like Bayern, Real, Barca and the Italian Teams.

At various points over the years The Arsenal have beaten those clubs on the field in CL encounters, but sadly not when it mattered over two legs or in our solitary CL final despite taking a goal lead. We are close but not close enough when it matters.I feel The Club are not that far off making the next step to becoming serious contenders for titles and worrying the latter stages of the Champions League but sadly that won’t be under our current manager.

Wenger has many qualities but one of his main ones has turned into his biggest weakness, his loyalty to his players. This trait is fine when it is defending the likes of Vieira for being sent off in successive games for he surely knew Vieira would come back and drag us through games we had no right to win. It is an entirely different matter when you are loyal to players like Ramsey / Giroud / Ozil for example who despite being selected week after week do not produce the goods regularly when it matters on the biggest stages.

Every week the debate rages on “will he, won’t he sign?” the contract supposedly on offer from the club for another 2 years. Will he stay will he go? Only one man knows, but I think it does a club of the size of The Arsenal no good at all not knowing who will be in charge come June. The inertia translates onto the pitch and the club just drifts on having the same season again and again, because it’s an easy option to stay with the safe pair of hands.  Rather like an unhappily married couple sticking with each other for the sake of the kids, neither willing to give up the security of the situation for the possibility of a happier life apart for all concerned. As in the majority of these relationships, resentment creeps in and does nobody any good in the long run.

The club have made progress off the pitch but at the expense of success on it, which is the very reason we were ambitious in moving in the first place! The last truly ambitious move the club made was to up sticks and move stadiums, to not embrace the opportunities the move afforded us now to move forward on the pitch would be a slap in the face of everyone in our History who strived for The Arsenal to be the best it could be.

To take a Boxing analogy The Arsenal need to employ a manager who’s willing to brawl toe to toe with other clubs again as under Wenger we will always look like contenders right up to the point we get in the ring and get a punch on the nose and we crumble once again. Muhammad Ali was the Greatest Boxer of All-Time but it did not stop him getting beatings toward the end of his career off people not fit to lace his gloves because he did not know when to stop for the day.

Beaten by lesser boxers when he should have retired

Wenger is still a good manager but he used to be great, and sadly just being good should not be good enough for The Arsenal.

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5 Responses to Arsene Wenger – The Longest Goodbye to the Heavy Weight who has stayed too long in the ring

  1. bwavre February 12, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

    Good points and good food for thought,but I believe you missed a few points.First the financial power at man u,mancity,Chelsea dwarfs that of Arsenal.You must appreciate that Chelsea only become what we know of it today from 2005,winning the league after several decades,same us man city.Arsenal could have chosen that model but it didn’t suit them so the board stuck with self sustainability model.Wenger chose the kids model because that is what he could afford but he was never and upto now Muorinho earns more despite the job longetivity.Football is about market and wages.Harzard and Mata slipped through Arsenals hands because of the same reason.There is an upturn in the last three years that is why Alexis,Ozil,Mustafi etc all quality players have come.Now let us sort the wage bracket then we can compete consistently,not Leicester type of success.The boards reasoning makes a lot of sense in truth Arsenal upto now in wages and transfer fee compared to Chelsea,Man u,Mancity is still punching above its weight thanks to Wenger

    • Jack. Chatterjee February 15, 2017 at 10:46 am #

      We bought MesutOzil in 2013, that was supposed to be the start of arsenal rebuilding it’s team and challenge for trophies we have since added Alexis and Mustafi as serious talent but we still end up in top four and qualify for Champions league. This can’t be right if we don’t win big trophies hungrier talent like Alexis will move away. We should take a serious look at the repetitive mistakes we keep making.

  2. Peter Benovsky February 12, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

    Walcott, Oxlade, Ramsey, Iwobi, Bellerin, Gabriel and Montreal – these are players from middle class and must be sold. Arsenal to offer 100 million for Suarez. To offer another 100 million for Grinzman and Diego Simeone. We need two strong defenders.Mustafi should play right instead Bellerin. In the middle we have Cazorla, Coquelin, Xhaka and Elneny. Ozil must also be sold, to return in Germany. Front must be Sanchez, Giroud, Welbeck and Suarez. The game should be conducted by Cazorla and Grinzman.

  3. Alex Field February 13, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    le twonk should have reired years ago the stale old goat

  4. Victor Thompson February 15, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    Alex, you make some very good points. I particularly like what you say in regard to The Emirates. It was frequently said ( before and after the move ) that the new stadium would raise us up to the level where we would join the A List clubs. We have now paid for it and we are free of the financial constraints needed to acquire the stadium, but we are currently in a slightly worse position that we have been for the last three years.

    We are now under severe pressure to maintain our top 4 place in the championship. Man City have jumped to second, Spurs are third on goal difference, but they have an easier run in than us and they are more consistent. That leaves us with Man utd. breathing down our necks and if we lose our game against us, we could be 5th. They are on an upward curve and have good reason to expect that they will beat us.

    The reason is that Wenger does not have the ability to address tactical weaknesses in the team and to coach them into a cohesive shape. We lost against Everton despite the fact that we did actually compete in the game and the reason is that we do not have any full backs. Bellerin is a first class attacking full back but he forgets that at least 50% of his game is to defend. Monreal is never in the full back position. He is either closer to the goal post or upfield acting as a winger. He makes the same mistakes as Bellerin by being caught out of position when other teams counter attack. It is common practice now for other sides to concentrate on feeding their wingers and supporting them with runners through the middle. Unfortunately Monreal does not have the speed to recover which Bellerin has and he is caught out most.

    The central pairing of Mustafi and Kos is stretched apart because they have to cover for the full backs and so there are gaps which invite attacks into the space which should be denied by closer cooperation between them. I forecast that they will tie Bayern`s Lewandowski up between them or they will leave their customary space and he will punish us. I also predict that Robben and Costa will be tasked to take on Bellerin and Monreal as they are the weak links in our set up.

    If that happens, our midfield will be in disarray and Ox and Xhaka will be fully occupied trying to block the holes in our defence when they should be supporting Sanchez, Ozil and Welbeck/Walcott.

    I believe that given our personnel, the answer would have been to play a back three of Mustafi, Kos and Holding with Gibbs and Bellerin given clear instructions to prioritise their defensive duties to curtail Robben and Costa. I understand that Holding lacks experience but he does show discipline and common sense when he does play and it would be easy for Mustafi and Kos to play with him than have two vacant spaces behind them because one or both of our backs are not there.

    Anyway, I know very well that Wenger will not do anything different except to take our offensive players off and pack midfield with defensive minded midfielders who simply get in each other`s way and do not produce a way out of defence. That also generates our pedantic sideways and backwards style of play which is tailor made for teams who concede possession and then attack with speed into the spaces described above.

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