IN ARSÈNE WE TRUST
Arsène Wenger has been handed a new contract by Arsenal FC, but after 17 faithful years and just over 1000 games at the club, he is yet to put pen to paper. Many believe this is due to Arsenal’s lack of success in recent times in comparison to his early years and the club’s history leading him to become doubtful of his position at the club. This is understandable due to the outstanding pressure on him to get silverware both internally and externally. Therefore, it seems he will base his decision on the result of the F.A cup final and whether Arsenal gain a Champions League place this season. Despite this, many feel Wenger should not sign the contract and others are surprised he has not left already. But, the truth of the matter is, Arsène Wenger should not be allowed to leave any time soon.
Arsenal have failed to win a trophy over the last 9 years and have only reached 2 League Cup finals and 1 Champions League final in this period. This is simply not good enough for a club of Arsenal’s stature and has in turn attracted negative press and many critics. In conjunction with these statistics and Arsène Wenger being the manager, the answer on many lips is to fire him. We have seen this solution a lot in recent times with clubs going through 2/3 managers in a single season. Whether it is right or not is out of question, this is the brutal business of football. So it is no wonder why many feel Wenger should see the door.
Moreover, Wenger has had his faults, the most obvious being his activity (or lack of) in the transfer window. Arsenal fans are ridden with rumours over the summer and January periods of potential purchases by the club. It would be a surprise if one out of the several names eventually comes to the Emirates and don’t end up at rival club. Arsenal are based in London and never cease to reach European football so it should not be a problem to attract quality players. Apart from this, Arsène has been very late to act in the transfer window which has made him lose out to other clubs and has restricted his negotiation time. Plus, he has sold key assets to the club such as Robin Van Persie, Nasri, Fabregas and Song who have essentially helped opponents gain trophies. In particular, RVP’s contribution to Man United’s title race of 2012/13. Such activity is just unacceptable with a team you are competing against for the Premier League title. Due to this, Arsenal have not been able to really compete either due to experience, skill or depth in the squad over this range of time.
Although, one has to consider the fact that Wenger has done exceptionally well in the circumstances he has been in. In this 9 year drought, Arsenal built a £390,000,000 stadium putting them into debt which they have recovered from, developed talented youngsters into stars and have still remained in the Champions League displaying superb football beating teams such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Juventus and Dortmund without the expenditure of some clubs.
Hence, what many cease to understand is that Wenger has a long term project at the club. He knew the construction of the Emirates would plunge the club into financial difficulty, hence was inclined to sell his top players and could not be as influential in the transfer market. Although Wenger also knew that to be the best in the future, it would be fitting for Arsenal to have one of the best stadiums in Europe and this lead to this investment. In addition, he gradually grew a close knit of youth players in a period where everyone criticised the club for their lack of experience, but he knew that they would become Arsenal FC in the future and would go on to become legends. Examples include Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Gibbs and Walcott who have all come of age if injury does not become a regular hindrance. Hence, whereas some may be thinking short term and the lack of trophies, Wenger knows his goal for the club over the next few years. Now the young players have both experience and ability and the money is available for big summer signings therefore Arsène is simply waiting to see the return on his investment. If Arsenal were to let him go now, we could end up like Man United and plummet as a club as the job had not been completed.
Apart from Arsène Wenger, other contributing factors need to be taken into account such as the players playing on the pitch. Despite often brilliant on the ball, it seems the Arsenal players are vacant at time and expect the ball/goal to come to them eventually. There have not been many figures who are willing to contest for the ball whilst motivating the players around as Vieira once did for the squad. The team as a whole need to inspire themselves and provide the flare and desire portrayed by Rosický, Sagna and Flamini after his surprising return in the summer. Plus, apart from some supporters who do support the club, the Emirates can be a stale environment at times. In fact, many abuse the players as opposed to supporting them. I feel any club’s ground should provide a daunting atmosphere for the away team through thick and thin and I feel some (not all) Arsenal fans often forget to support the boys on the pitch. For Arsenal to reach their desired heights, each individual fan and player has to play their part whoever they may be.
From this we can deduce that it is vital for Wenger to finish his project and after his amazing time at the club, he should be allowed to end on a high and provide a solid foundation for a new manager.