Arsenal ‘Crisis’ – Is It Really All Arsene Wenger’s Fault?
A look at how Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal career has derailed in recent seasons and whether he deserves more time to try and turn things around at the Emirates.
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How the mighty have fallen. That may be the best phrase to describe the unbelievable slump of Arsene Wenger’s managerial career at Arsenal.
This is a man who has garnered a remarkable 11 trophies for the London club in 15+ years at the helm. But what has led to fans calling for his head? The fact that Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League for 8 years and without any trophy since 2005.
As they say, every good thing comes to an end. It seems to be getting to that time for the Frenchman, who is affectionately called Le Professeur (the Professor) by pundits and the media. Despite the plethora of achievements he has managed since 1996, many ardent, loyal and passionate fans of the club are calling for a change.
Life is cruel. That is the bitter truth. It seems a distant past now that Arsene led the Gunners to a staggering 49 match unbeaten run which brought about their 3rd Premier League title and 13th English top flight winners’ medal. That season they were captioned as the ‘INVINCIBLES’. Now the same man who brought them so much joy, success, fame, and glory is now under increasing pressure.
Some might say the fans are ungrateful, but in truth, they have been really supportive of their manager through thick and thin. It hasn’t been easy watching other teams claim trophies year in, year out. Perhaps what angered them most was the way in which the London giants fell to Birmingham City in the 2011 Carling Cup final. A game that represented the chance to end a 6 year trophyless drought.
This aside, they have also watched Spurs become the team to reckon with in London. That hurts, considering the fact that the Lilywhites have until now been in Arsenal’s shadow under Wenger’s tenure. This season has been a different story entirely as Harry Redknapp has turned his boys into title challengers and along the way, have played some of the best football in Europe.
Patience they say is a virtue, but even the most virtuous Arsenal supporter has lost it because of another dismal season that can only get worse. In the space of 3 days, their only 2 remaining chances of claiming some form of silverware went up in flames at the Giuseppe Meazza and the Stadium of Light. Maxi Allegri’s AC Milan left no stone unturned in their annihilation of Wenger’s wards. The 4-0 demolition was followed by another disappointing ouster from the FA Cup at the hands of Martin O’Neil’s Sunderland.
The fans have seen and witnessed just about enough. The only thing they look forward to now is 4th place which has become a major priority in the last 5 or 6 years. Prior to 2006, Arsene Wenger had never finished outside the top 2 since he assumed managerial duties at the club.
It is in adversity that you can easily point out a good, capable and efficient manager. It is when the going gets tough, that a great man steps up and attempts to turn things around in his favour. Despite the near misses and numerous set backs, Wenger has still managed to qualify for the stages of the Champions League in all of his 15 seasons at the club. That is a phenomenal achievement. But the fans are tired of feeding from crumbs. They want the whole meal and they have every right to demand for it. The million dollar question now is;
Should Wenger throw in the towel? Is this actually his fault?
We could lay the blame at his feet because he is the team leader. It is quite normal because when a ship capsizes, the captain is held solely responsible and rightly so. But this goes well beyond the Frenchman.
Name a manger today who has been successful without being backed by adequate funds to purchase quality players to complement the ones at his disposal. It could be argued that between 2005 and 2012, Arsene has had fantastic players and also bought decent ones. But it can also be pointed out that he hasn’t been given enough money to secure the services of world beaters who can propel the team to domestic and continental dominance. His most expensive buy (I stand corrected) is Andrei Arshavin who came for about £15 million. You can’t work miracles when you don’t have the capacity to. For a great club like Arsenal, much more is expected. That is not saying purchasing the playing rights of a quality player automatically makes a club successful (like in the case of Fernando Torres), but it does promote your ambition to compete with the very best in the business.
This season, Wenger brought in experienced hands like Yossi Benayoun, Mikel Arteta, & Per Mertesacker. Seasoned professionals who have paid their dues in every respect. He also lured the prodigiously talented Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain from Southampton to join forces with the North Londoners. He also lost his captain, Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and his best player last season-Samir Nasri to Manchester City. Losing a captain a few days before the commencement of a new season will unsettle anyone. Despite the setbacks and a disgraceful start to the current season, he is still fighting with Chelsea and Liverpool for 4th spot, with both clubs having spent at least 150 million pounds between them in the off-season.
I am not exonerating Arsene of any of the fans’ accusations. All I’m saying is that he should be given a chance to turn things around. It is common knowledge that he is the most successful manager in Arsenal’s history. That alone should buy him some time and earn him the respect he deserves.
The OX has come to the fore in recent games, playing probably the best football of his career to date. That is a good sign. RVP has also been the best striker in the league this season with 22 goals and a handful of assists, the result of a world class showing in the last year or so. His contributions have been astonishing. Players are finally returning from injury and we’re getting our squad back.
The team will have to give their all to the fans and their manager on Sunday when the Gunners host fierce rivals and high flying Spurs at the Emirates, in an attempt to get their season back on track. This is truly going to be a season-defining game.
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