Arsene Wenger is Not the Solution For Arsenal
Wednesday night, I stood in Arsenal’s clock end with freezing hands, red cheeks and a shamefully familiar expression of anger and frustration etched across my face. I had just witnessed perhaps Arsenal’s most abject, lifeless, characterless and lethargic performance of the season so far, and I was not happy.
As fans queued for the exits, and the players headed for the tunnel, I had personal confirmation of a fact that I have known for quite some time; Arsene Wenger is no longer the solution for Arsenal.
For seventeen years, Arsene Wenger has managed to secure Champions League qualification for his Arsenal side, withstanding severe financial pressure from rival clubs, and helping to nurture young talent into superstars along the way.
Whilst the statistic is mightily impressive, it becomes somewhat redundant when you consider the fact that not once has Wenger been able to conquer the mountain and actually win the competition. True, it is a mightily difficult trophy to get your hands on, but with seventeen years, countless world class players and even an invincible squad at your disposal, failing to do so can still be considered poor management.
There was a strange atmosphere at full-time on Wednesday evening. I was expecting a chorus of boos, and too an extent there was, but I also detected a flickering of acceptance. I noticed fans leaving the stadium with facial expressions that told me that they are used to such failure.
That isn’t the kind of mentality I want to see at Arsenal football club. Not at all.
As a kid I’d watch the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry grace pitches with their elegance and quality. I remember, also, watching Patrick Vieira marshal his teammates and taking responsibility of a game like no other. It was his leadership and winning attitude that set him above and beyond almost any midfielder of his generation.
Since his departure, Arsenal have lacked steel and physicality in the middle of the park. Arsene Wenger has consistently failed to replace key players in key positions over the years, and it has cost the team dearly.
Wenger’s team selection against Monaco was a strange one, to say the least. I’ve never understood playing Welbeck on the right way in favour of Walcott, and while I confess to being a huge fan of Giroud, I was thoroughly disappointed with his contribution too. Too many times were also caught on the break by Monaco, and our side were punished accordingly.
Arsenal’s problems do not strictly relate to the Champions League either. If there is one major point I’d like the reader to consider in this piece, it is this; Arsene Wenger is the worst big-game manager at the top level in football. You don’t agree? How can you not? Results don’t lie, not this season or in any other.
Being trounced by Chelsea, Manchester City or by Monaco certainly backs up my point. Failing to win at Old Trafford since 2006 or being seemingly incapable of progressing beyond the Champions League’s second round doesn’t seem to disprove my statement either.
In a couple of weeks time, Arsenal face Manchester United in the FA Cup in what will prove to be a huge test of our last, realistic hope of winning silverware this season. Whilst United’s current squad are their weakest in years, Arsene Wenger’s losing jinx at Old Trafford could haunt us all once more as we hope to make it to Wembley.
It’s sad that we, as Arsenal fans, pay extortionate prices to watch a team and a manager systematically under-achieve year in, year out, and it quite simply isn’t good enough. An FA Cup is a pleasant addition to the trophy cabinet, don’t get me wrong, but we should be aiming and capable of achieving higher.
Since David Dein parted ways with the club just over seven years ago, Arsenal’s hierarchy have been left intimidated by the power that Wenger exudes, and seem afraid to question or put pressure upon his management. How many other big clubs does this happen at?
Ask yourselves, Arsenal fans. If you are satisfied with consistently settling for fourth place and the occasional domestic cup, then I understand your unwavering support for Arsene Wenger, but for those of us who have ambition, I say this to you.
Let your voice be heard... in the stadium, both home and away. Let the club, and more importantly Arsene, know why you demand change. Cheer and support the players playing in red everywhere you go, certainly, but be weary of this fact:
A good team with good players will go absolutely nowhere if lead by an incompetent, frankly average manager.
Monaco absolutely deserved their victory on Wednesday night, and Arsenal fans (barring any miracles) are faced with yet another season of European disappointment. This trend will not end under Arsene Wenger, as has been proven by seventeen years of abject failure in football’s most prestigious tournament at club level.
Chris Hudson of Arsenal fan TV phrased it splendidly not too long ago. He asked a simple, but provocative question of his fellow Arsenal fans, and one that I am yet to answer.
“I can’t deny what that man [Wenger] has done for this club. But what is Arsene Wenger doing for Arsenal football club now?”
And that’s just the point. What IS Arsene Wenger doing for Arsenal football club in 2015? I am uncertain of the answer, but if there is something I am certain of, it’s that in May, there is nothing I want more than Arsene’s resignation. It’s for the good of the club, and whether you want to admit it or not, you know it to be true.
Thank you for reading. Let me know if you agree by leaving a comment or tweeting me @OliverNorgrove.