Before I get started, I want to point out that there is absolutely no intention in this article to dismiss the arguments of those who are currently part of the “Wenger out” Arsenal fan base. I understand your argument, and you have an absolutely valid point. One of which I have been partial to.
However this article is meant to serve simply as a cease-fire between those who believe in such ideology and those who still believe in the manager.
It has been said time and time again that Wenger has been given the chance(s) to bring us silverware, and that his reign as Arsenal’s managerial mastermind has come to an imminent end. Once, he was a pioneer in his trade, but that ultimately, his ability to judge in the modern era and tactically discern the strategies of his opponents has faltered and continues to do so as we near a decade long drought chasing the Premier League title.
For those who are so adamant in chanting these dismissive words, I would like to make an argument based on a simple concept – patience. I do not mean to anger you but simply to calm you. If by the end of this article, you do not agree with me and still feel the anger and necessity of firing one of the worlds best managers of football, I would strongly suggest asking yourself of your devotion to the club as a whole.
Now I understand your frustration, as I am an avid Gunner and long for the days of the “Invincibles”, when goals and wins came not only in style but also, in abundance. However, while our clubs trophy winning habits may have changed, so has the game – entirely.
No longer does one or two teams compete for the top 4 in the most competitive league in the world. The Premier League has now been augmented by the introduction of oil barons and their need to dominate everything in their path. Teams like Chelsea and Man City, which are dictated primarily by the large pockets of Abramovich or Royalty from the Middle East, control large aspects of the marketed competition (Even if its buying a well sought after player to an American team, only to have that team loan the player back into the aforementioned league under the auspices of an entirely different management – Frank Lampard!).
No longer is there the same honor in self bred pedigree but rather a concentration on trading between clubs for the services of “world class” talent. Thank god I don’t root for a team in the Bundesliga or La Liga, because anytime there is tested talent in a team of either league, it is bought out by the likes of Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.
At one point, in not so distant history, it was similar with Arsenal and Manchester United and as frustrating as it may be; this is no longer how the Premier League works. Living with it is something all fans have to deal with. While we may not be remembered for finishing first in recent history, at least we have the pride of saying we have always been competing and are more often than not, putting teams to the blade.
There is no trophy to show for it, but everyone shuts up when you remind them we’ve been competing in the Champions League for 16 years straight. If you really need a comparison, look at Liverpool’s current situation having just joined the Champions League. While they may have been aided into such a position by the brilliance of Luis Suarez last year, it is clear to see they are currently weak in form due to their dependence on his goal scoring and subsequently are suffering because of his absence.
As for our boys, yes we have an obvious and glaring absence in our defensive department, and for that, I am strongly opinionated in Wenger’s decision making (and its not a positive opinion). With every defeat at the hands of weaker opponents due to our defensive ineffectiveness and under the guise of a sorry looking Wenger I have grown increasingly weary of our resolve. Because of this I don’t blame people for pointing their finger so strongly, especially when he’s taking up so much responsibility at the club. However, while we all may closely associate his face with the club, ultimately it his not solely his decision to purchase a player or not purchase a player. It is the frustration one may have towards the board that I understand more than anything.
My belief is that the board is more to blame than Wenger himself, for being football incompetent, investment-seeking tycoons. The solution of sacking Wenger wouldn’t solve our problem. It would just merely exacerbate it.
Do I agree with the ideals of Arsene Wenger in the argument that we shouldn’t cough up large sums to acquire the services of “world class” talent? Not really. However, Wenger is no simple-minded fool, as some may say and you’re just simply an idiot if you believe that he’s gotten as far as he is, and has worked his way into the position that he has because of corrupted bureaucratic decisions by the board. Does he have too much power at the club? Yes probably, but I think doubting his ability to navigate these undiscovered waters is both unnecessary and illogical. Furthermore, he has guided our team through years of devoted hard work, and while the might of clubs backed by large financial muscle may seem daunting at times, we now have a stadium that surpasses most in Europe. Think of the potential fan base and improved stability the Emirates will bring in the years to come, even if we do continue down this path of the top four.
Wenger’s most important role so far is safely bringing Arsenal into the future, and economically, he has succeeded thus far. I don’t know about you, but I want an Arsenal for my children as well. I want a team that exemplifies the importance of ethics, honor and sportsmanship. Not ever do I want to see anyone like the greasy bagged Mourinho captaining my Arsenal. Arsenal is more than a football club. It’s a style of football. It’s a mentality to be emulated by players across the world. Wenger is responsible for the club being synonymous with these traits, but in recent years, is easily cast aside in the minds of even the most fervent of supporters.
If you look at his history, Wenger has always had a plan, and has, for the better part, always stuck to it. His rightfully perceived “stubbornness” is, in many fans eyes (including myself), his Achilles heel. However, we are not managers, and judging him for minor character flaws is the probably the least productive way of supporting the club, and anyone dwelling on this one aspect of his managerial effectiveness is once again, a simple minded fool. Yes, IT IS extremely frustrating! But wasn’t it that same stubbornness that also gave us the trophies of previous seasons? Think about it! In those years, I bet his “stubborn” qualities were more generally perceived as “determined” and “thorough”.
Furthermore, something that a lot of Wenger doubters consistently forget, when they decide to jump to conclusions based on a primal passion, is his devotion to his message and how consistently he’s delivered. His ill-perceived “stubbornness”, if given the right amount of time, will stand as a testament to his legacy and as a trait for other managers to emulate.
I see the point of the angry fans, as we have developed the habit of going long periods of time without the purchases of top tier talent, only to resort to second rate players and their lesser price tag, but this is the bullet we had to bite when we made the move from Highbury. More importantly however, that tide is slowly changing. It may seem like its taking forever to many, but Wenger proved his financial strength by purchasing Ozil last season and then going in and purchasing Sanchez, Welbeck, Debuchy, Ospina, and Chambers at the beginning of this season. Yes, I’d say that only two of those purchases were “additions” and not “replacements” for others who had left, but regardless he made the necessary purchases while also adding reinforcements to our front line.
While all of this negativity is quite obvious, and a valid grounds for any argument from the Arsenal faithful, it also serves as a deterrent to the bigger picture. Yes, ticket prices have only risen over the years and yet he and the board fail to address necessary areas of the team but Wenger is fulfilling his promise under the economical constraints that were inevitable, while also raising those who he strongly believes in, to fit into the Arsenal squad. He is slowly building and those who he has put faith in, have for the better part rewarded us with creativity and success.
What we have in Wenger is far greater than what we would find in most managers and saying he must go is an ill conceived notion that serves no good for the club overall. It is a cancer, and it should be cut out.
Wenger’s ability to judge a player based on not only his individual talent but more importantly their potential to successfully integrate into our club is without question what makes him such a prolific and effective leader.
Has his hand been limited by the restriction of funds due to a large and BRAND NEW stadium? Yes. Is this a reason for doubting Arsenal’s ability to compete for the title in recent seasons? Yes, because in the modern game (whether we want to admit it or not), we have to buy players, not just train them. However, there is something to be said for his consistency as a manager and landing us in the top 4 for as long as he has.
While I respect that kind of passion from the fans, It is not constructive to the mentality of the club, especially when its going to the extreme of verbally assaulting a manager at a train station- who has given 18 years of his life to produce a brand of football recognisable by the world.
If you take a minute and think, it is not hard to understand what he is doing. He is still a visionary. It’s just that his vision is bigger than simply titles. He’s building an empire. Since paying off the better part of the Emirates, he has made large progress in buying “world class” talent from top clubs. However, he is trying to achieve more than an assembly of top rated players. He wants harmony and consistency between his players, and it is obvious through his lack of shelling out cash for a quick fix, that he knows what will serve best for his team.
Has he missed golden opportunities to buy players that were most definitely worth the price tag? YES! Morgan Schneiderlin in my opinion is the type of player (If not specifically the player himself), which we need in the midfield. Steely and quick, he would shield the back four like a Koscielny of the midfield, and his large frame would do well in instilling fear and apprehension into the opposition as he falls back to defend.
The point I would like to end with which is the reason for this entire article, is once again returning to the concept of patience. If we are to effectively compete in the modern age of football, wouldn’t we want the experience of a manager that has seen so much? Even if it meant giving him up until the end of his contract?
Isn’t it the least we could do? I understand this feeling of urgency, but would following through with it really be as rewarding as we’d like to think? And more importantly, who would replace him? Who in the world knows the players that Wenger himself have brought up and those that he has added as well as he does? And who would effectively follow him. Its pretty obvious that all of the Arsenal players are happy with their French manager.
Finally, I honestly believe that Wenger is near to giving this squad it’s final touches and that all we need to really do is be patient with him. Be as patient as he has been throughout this whole process and it’s planning. I’m sure it’s been a rough ten years for him as well. As already stated, I think its pretty obvious that he has always had a plan, and forsaking it in these final years of his contract may serve to be the most backwards decision available (plus, we cant really do anything about it, can we?)
Instead, allowing him to potentially finish constructing his long sought after dream in the next 3 years with players he has developed on his own and the welcomed additions he has so carefully chosen may see the return of a manger whose once known genius has in recent history seemed more like delusion.
You must think, has it really been delusion? Or has it all been generally “part of the plan”? Maybe we, the fans, suffer from the delusions. Maybe we have deluded ourselves with the thought that this transition would be easy and that our team would sustain trophies at the same rate as during the era of ‘The Invincibles’. Maybe we thought, that this whole time, while Wenger made managing a team with lesser known names and smaller price tags look easy, he was simply waiting for that beautiful moment when he could go out and spend cash smartly and with intent.
Maybe we need to step back and honestly ask ourselves, has Wenger really done us over? Or is he in the process of yet again building a master team to leave for us even once he has retired (not to mention an almost impeccable business model to be used for generations to come.).
When he does leave and someone is given the huge responsibility to fill his shoes after him, It will make it a far easier time thinking about the next era of Gunners without having to dish out £250million.
There is no question that he is aware of the defensive frailties our club has and I’m sure he will address them as soon as possible.
Don’t you want to be there when he makes his masterstroke in this January transfer window or the following summer transfer window and things suddenly flip on their head? And wouldn’t you want to be in support of him when it does?
I know 10 years is a long time, but patience my friends. I really truly believe that Wenger’s masterstroke is soon approaching and that our long brewing frustrations will soon be relieved.