Questionable Tactics & Transfer Dealings – Time For Arsene Wenger To Finally Go?

By on May 6, 2013

As Arsenal battle to finish in the top-four this season and close in on their eight year without a trophy, Arsenal fan Emmanuel Lee looks at whether it’s time to replace Arsene Wenger.

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I was sitting in my local pub a few weeks back, equipped with a pint of lager, a packet of Nobby’s Nuts and an unusual optimism that we might actually pull out a result against Spurs. Alas, it was a short-lived daze of contentment as the nightmarish start from Arsenal quickly brought me back to reality.

But this was nothing less than what we Arsenal fans have come to expect in recent years, what was really grinding my gears was the gent next to me who spent the entire match trying to complete a level of angry birds on his Ipad, looking up every 5 minutes, only to hurl abuse and provide his opinion in a try-hard cockney accent that Arsenal needed a new manager.

My usual reaction to this kind of behaviour would probably involve some sort of rant exclaiming that fans should have at least half a brain cell or else the cannon tattooed onto their testicles to be worthy of an opinion. On this occasion however, I came to a sad realisation that it was simply a reflection of the uninspiring state our football club had been left in after eight long trophy-less years. Even more poignant, was the realisation that this was perhaps my own turning point and to some extent I actually shared the opinion of the gent (who never did manage to dismantle the garrison of evil pigs).

With each lacklustre performance that this Arsenal team continues to demonstrate, for every bead of sweat that trickles down Wenger’s wrinkled forehead, the devout support of one more Wenger-loyalist is tested. In the last few days there has been increasing speculation over Wenger’s future at Arsenal and whilst there are many hotly debated topics amongst Arsenal fans, there are none which split opinion quite so passionately as this.

The Transfer Market

The transfer market is a good place to start in view of this debate because it is here in which Wenger displays his most prominent strengths and weaknesses.

To begin with, Wenger has failed to snap up some of the top players which at some point were rumoured to have been headed for the Emirates… Cristiano Ronaldo, Juan Mata, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard, Petr Cech, Nuri Sahin - the list is endless depending on how willing you are to delve into the obscure world of the internet’s transfer gossip. But whilst this shortcoming has been tolerated to an extent, something that Arsenal supporters find far harder to excuse is the fact that Wenger has consistently failed to hold on to the club’s best players over the past few seasons.

When the news of  Robin Van Persie’s transfer broke during the summer, it would be safe to assume that for many Wengerites this was the last straw. It should be a minimum requirement that a club concentrates all its efforts and resources into keeping its best players, and when this fails at least try to avoid selling them to your biggest rivals.

Nonetheless, a key problem with this argument is where to distribute the blame. Yes, Wenger is stubborn and his attitude has been far from cutthroat when it comes to buying and keeping the best players, but his negotiating tools have been considerably blunted by a dispassionate, money-driven board who are satisfied by keeping the accounts tidy with little regard for the fans or what happens on the pitch. So credit must also be given where it is due. With fewer funds available than the other top clubs and with a carefully scrutinised and restricted wage bill, Wenger has still discovered and nurtured some of the finest talent to grace the Premier League.

Wenger has his pros and cons when it comes to the transfer market and although a different manager could perhaps bring a new, sharper set of negotiating tools, we can’t ignore that fact that there is a bigger problem facing Arsenal FC. Change needs to occur at the very top if the club wants to start once again start challenging for silverware, whether or not it is Wenger at the helm.

Tactics

If responsibility is hard to identify when it comes to the club’s failures in the transfer market, one thing we can be sure of is that Wenger has full responsibility when it comes to what happens on the pitch. It would be somewhat bold to suggest that someone who has managed a top-flight football team for over 15 years, acquired 11 trophies and guided a team through a whole season unbeaten, did so with no regard for tactics. For one thing, Wenger has a reputation for being a football uber-nerd who spends hours on end watching footage and obsessing over statistics. But that said, there is evidence to suggest that when it comes to in-game tactics, Wenger adopts more of a general philosophy rather than a strictly scientific approach which involves meticulous analysis of the opposition.Last year, in the pre-match press conference of Barcelona’s Champions League tie against Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas said,

“I’ve learnt a lot especially tactically… I know my position on the pitch much more … before at Arsenal I was free to do whatever on the pitch and tactically I was not good … here I have to work much more for the team, individually, and think about the team tactically”. (source: Daily Mail)

French journalist, Phillippe Auclair also wrote in his biography of Thierry Henry that Wenger,

‘will devote surprisingly little time to future opponents’ and that ‘a couple of days before the Champions League final Wenger casually let drop in a conversation that that he and his staff would have a good look at Barcelona’s shape on the eve of the game’ (pg 157 of Thierry Henry: Lonely at the Top).

Implying that this was a menial task which could be done at the last minute. And finally, in the pre-match press conference before the Tottenham game this year, the man himself explained that,

“We don’t plan for anybody. It is always the same – focus on our strengths and forget about your opponent … there is nobody special that you least like to face … all players have different qualities”. (source: Guardian)

During the glory days something clicked, unmatchable talent combined with Wenger’s philosophy produced a team which could strike fear in the hearts of every opponent. But as the years have worn on the seasons have been characterised by inconsistency, erratic score-lines and a distinct lack of silverware.

Wenger has also been known for his tendency to make unconventional substitutions at crucial times during matches. A few seasons ago most fans would simply operate the mantra ‘in Wenger we trust’, accepting that these seemingly odd tactics were down to genius which was beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. These days however, fans are less forgiving as it feels more and more as if Wenger is running out of ideas of how to lift the team out of this eight-year long purgatory.

It is here in which I feel a new manager, one who heavily emphasises tactical prudence, could make a meaningful difference at the club. In a League that is becoming increasingly more competitive, tactical aptitude is one of the last remaining weapons which can be used against the money monsters that have invaded from overseas.

Of course, this begs the question of whether there is a manager out there who is worthy of the position at Arsenal which itself brings forward a whole new debate. But the current situation at Arsenal is stale, even if we do manage to get a place in the top 4, it will be a bittersweet end to the season which sees the club edge closer to its longest run in history without a trophy.

Any true Arsenal fan would agree that Wenger deserves the greatest respect for all that he has done for our club. He has unarguably been one of the greatest ever managers in the Premier League, but with immense caution I feel that the time may have finally come for an emotional farewell.

What are your feelings about Arsene Wenger? Should he stay or is it time for a new manager?

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18 Comments

  1. pistolpete

    May 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I think it would be better for You to go not Arsene, Spud’s are looking for some fan’s, Goodbyeeeeeeee.

  2. Mak

    May 6, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Why did you mention the guy next to you, who was angry at the manager and shoutted, he must go? I think you are that person and you wanted the readers to believe you as the most dedicated arsene’s fan. Do you want to see a football game which is too tactical? Do you want to enjoy a football match which is not as near as arsenal’s way? If you want then you can support a stock or any side that only can play a rugby like football. Btw do you know anything about football and tactics? You have to be a better analysis if you want to become a good football writer other than mentioning someone and some comments to press your matter.

  3. bourne

    May 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Let’s keep the faith and let see what will happen next season…..gonners till I die

  4. Tom

    May 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Experienced premiership manager are you? Know how to prepare a team do you? Can you spot potential in young players that can become stars? Its easy to criticise after the event so until you can do better keep your doubts to yourself.
    AW is great. Next year we will challenge, unless you become manager, lol

    • weedonald

      May 7, 2013 at 1:41 am

      Great comment Tom….all these FIFA Fantasizing football managers who know sooooo much more than a man who is EUFA Manager of the decade, has performed miracles since he came to the Club 18 years ago AND all on a shoestring budget!

  5. king jo

    May 6, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I stand wit al my fellow fans & i support.. Our club mangager Aresen wenger must be change & bring another coach to bring back the lost glory of our lovely club ARSENAL…

    • weedonald

      May 7, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Grow up king jo…..if you support the Arsenal, don’t waste your time reading Mr.Lee’s crap…its all anti-Wenger BS!

  6. Arsenal fan

    May 6, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I agree that the time for an emotional farewell is fast approaching.I don’t know but it seems to me the gunners don’t want to shoot and score.The speed and suddeness of shooting aint there.
    When you see how other teams shoot you wonder why the gunners make it so tough for themselves.This pattern has been going on for years and teams know how the gunners play.
    If the gunners fail to get cl,the fm has to pay the price for tactical incompetence.

  7. Archimedes

    May 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Arsenal owner tuned down ambitions to 4th, expect another half cooked season under Kroenke/AW. The social wage structure is doomed for expensive mediocracy.

    • weedonald

      May 7, 2013 at 1:38 am

      Archimedes….you do a disservice to your name-sake the great mathematician and scientist…your comment is unsupported and illogical!
      You are not expensive but you are definitely mediocre!

  8. weedonald

    May 7, 2013 at 1:30 am

    Mr.Lee……..I have never read such rubbish and self-indulgent BS in any of the worst anti-Arsenal posts I have had the misfortune to visit recently, and here is why:

    1)Who gives a damn what the guy next to you was doing?…my question is: are you or are you NOT a true supporter of the Arsenal? If you are then stop excreting this yellow journalistic and media hyperbole that fills your article like a deficient septic system.
    2)If 8 years without a trophy gets you depressed and revs up your anti-Wenger and anti-Arsenal motor (it certainly gets the media enthralled) then try supporting the 18 Clubs that have not won anything since the EPL began. I know you are a ¨spend,buy,win at all cost¨ plastic fanboy, whose loyalty is only as deep as his latte cup so support the oilers or mancs or even the Spuds if you need occasional silverware.
    3) Why distribute blame? The real question for a true supporter is: How can we help support our Club in the best and worst of times since blaming is a zero sum game and a waste of everybody’s time. Try LeGrove’s website if you want to target anyone and everyopne at the Arsenal…they are masters at the negative.
    4)The BOD or the owner is money-driven? You really mean they are prudent and frugal with our limited financial resources and prefer to build on sound investments like our youth academy and reserves, with the supplement of experienced but affordable players like Cazorla and Arteta, etc. your claim is another lazy,incompetent and unverified rumour that the shite media have fed you and you’ve swallowed lock,stock and barrel, once again.
    5)Eight year purgatory?…….such hyperbole. 90% of the teams under us would gladly accept that purgatory rather than their relegation hell or mid-table mediocrity and Spuds are bursting at the seams with the prospect that they might actually make the top 4 at our expense. Maybe you’ve been in purgatory,writing shite like this article but most of us real supporters have been steadily and faithfully supporting the Arsenal….try it, you might get to enjoy it again!
    6)Wenger is FAR from a spent force, as he has proven over the last 8 seasons, keeping us in the top 4 despite horribly consistent, long-term injuries to some of his key players, the regular defection of some key ¨stars¨, very limited resources for any number of reasons(Stadium and Highbury Square debt, poaching and tapping up of his best players, a hyper-critical press,very questionable treatment by some of the officials,endless resources of his other top 4 opponents, having to change the chemistry and harmony of the Club each season, through no fault of his own and finally fools like you who perpetuate media myths and half-truths because they don’t have the wits and energy to do their research properly, preferring to digest and vomit out the same old media-inspired crap.

    Next time, put some effort into being original and innovative…..if that is within your limited skill-set as an author.

  9. Zgooner

    May 7, 2013 at 1:40 am

    Wenger is the best; fix the board!

  10. Dog

    May 7, 2013 at 2:36 am

    Don’t get the knee jerk reaction from AKB’s, he hasn’t done his job right for 8 years and you still want to give him one more year!?!

    Unbelievable, Wenger and Kroenke need to go.

  11. Stayne

    May 7, 2013 at 3:35 am

    In Wenger We Trust!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Ogejohns

    May 7, 2013 at 4:26 am

    It’s time to say emotional farewell. There are good players out there at cheap, wenger lacks the foresight to spot them. Arsenal no longer plays the beautiful football that they are known for.

  13. Olumaro

    May 7, 2013 at 6:51 am

    As 4me wenger has cost me so much pains in so many ways the man is free to go even now.

  14. Opp

    May 7, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Arsenw Wenger has become arrogant and disrespectful to the fans. I remember one game he substituted Oxlade-chaiberlaine and then blasted the journalist who asked him why he had taken off Ox-man when he was doing so well. He ended up saying soemthing like “everybody is an expert, but I am the coach, so I do what I want”. As a die hard Gooner, I often wonder if the best thing for us is to lose so dismally that the management see fit to change their current tactics, or should we win, that means that things remain the same. All in all, Wenger must leave while his he has a shred of dignity left in him, and a morsel of respect from the fans and players.

  15. Mr Bond

    May 7, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Its unfortunate we have to deal with the likes of you day in day out. Tell me which manager who identifies talents, nurtures them to stardom and then be forced to sell, only to start again, forced to work on shoe string budget, goes a season unbeaten, play delightful football and have won trophies when the playing fields were even, before the advent of the millionaires spoilt all the fun, and don’t forget moving us to a new stadium, has suddenly lost his Mojo. Give the man the credit that is his due, and don’t forget he has a very aged and uninspiring greedy board to contend with. If ur tired of supporting our darling club, Pls feel free to go. We want loyal supporters, not guys like u who hide behind people back to air their warped views. I hope to see ur face when we start lifting trophies next season.

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