Look, I know that this is not a popular view (besides, maybe, 50% percent of Arsenal fans) because most of us turn our noses up at the thought of Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal because ‘he’s been there so long he should choose when to leave’. Believe me, even I’ve said that before, we all have! But here’s my two cents on this: the simple fact of the case is that Arsenal have shown him incredible amounts of loyalty and, while most people focus on how they should repay him for what he’s done, I believe that HE should repay THEM for the loyalty they’ve shown him, even at times when maybe they shouldn’t have.
The Good Bits
Don’t get me wrong, the longevity that Arsene has shown is incredible and he will rightly go down into the annals of history for what he’s done and accomplished. He’s been great for Arsenal. But the point is that the only reason he has been able to last this long is due to him having friends in the board room who are essentially yes men because he won them titles 13 years ago. Yes, he also dragged them kicking and screaming through their stadium move, something that is currently killing off the likes of London rivals Spurs and West Ham. And, again, for this he should be commended like say, for example, when he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006 after taking Arsenal to a Champions League Final that, had things gone their way they might have won.
The Not-So-Good Bits
But, however, that stadium move was well over 10 years ago now and Arsenal have yet to come out of this dour spell they’ve seemed to have been in ever since. Sure, they’ve won 3 FA Cups in the last 4 years but, at what cost? Their league form has suffered horribly (Let’s forget the 2nd place in what was a write-off season for anybody who wasn’t Leicester) and now they’re competing in the Europa League. This is something Arsenal have not done for the last 17 years. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. 17 YEARS. And that was only because they fell at the group stage, it was another 2 years previous that they hadn’t actually qualified for the Champions League. So if Arsenal, with the added bonus of having the ‘Europa League effect’, don’t qualify for the Champions again then there may be actual, real, serious questions asked of Arsene, even by his buddies in high places.
Now, don’t think I’m being harsh on Arsene or that I may even have it in for him. Alex Ferguson, after completing his treble might I add, had what we could call a ‘barren spell’ for him during the mid-noughties. This was during what was arguably Arsenal golden period as they completed the invincibles season and reached that final I mentioned earlier. Now, during this time, there were even rumours that Fergie may even get the sack as the higher-ups at United were starting to become a little tired and weary of the man with the hairdryer. The crucial difference between Ferguson and Wenger during these tough periods though is that Ferguson had undoubtedly the fans love and support, something which is seriously waning among the support at the Emirates. Plus, Fergie only went 4 years without a title rather than 13 which, if the start to this season is anything to go by, could soon be 14. There are constant protests, banners and planes going around the stadium as the fans pull their hair out in fits of rage – I’m led to believe that this guy had hair about 2 years ago:
So as you can see, the vital difference between these two situations is that, when Fergie came close to being sacked, he had the backing of the fans which probably ultimately kept him in his job. Arsene, on the other hand, does not have their backing but has a crude financial strategy that pleases the power brokers, which basically keeps him in the hot seat.
One final thing I will say about this, is that Arsenal now also lack the star quality within their ranks that they once did, even despite this new TV deal coming in where a team like Everton can even spend £140 million. If you look at Arsenal’s squad and think “which players would you really put in that ‘World Class’ bracket?” you can really only point to Alexis Sanchez, while Lacazette borders it. Petr Cech was once but his powers are not starting to fail, or will soon, and he does not have the back 4 in front of him that is filled with league winning stars (Rob Holding? Is he a title-winning defender? Seems like a modern day Pascal Cygan to me….), while the rest of the team also lacks the supreme quality that Arsenal fans are dying to see every week.
So that’s it. I know its a tough sell for many people who want to get teary-eyed about how we sack too many managers these days but my point is this – give someone else a chance, someone who’s hungry for success, and let Wenger enjoy his retirement while it’s still only 50% of the crowd that want him gone rather than more.
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