- From Idealism to Realism
He was THE revolutionary of English football but 18 years on, he is the one in dire need of some evolution. Even he acknowledges that teams have generally become more technical in their approach to games and the fact that we have always had one script for all our games have even made it easier against us. Sir Alex Ferguson used to say that he burnt sleepless nights figuring out how to play against Arsenal. That was many years ago now – Gary Monk, Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers, all apostles of the new age, sleep with two eyes closed and come away victorious. It is on Wenger to show that he is not stubborn and stiff, by waking up to the real world now, where change happens.
- Change the system
If the current Arsenal playing style worked for Wenger in the Invincible years and seems not to work now, it is because we do not have the same set of players and every plan requires on certain types of personnel to pan out successfully. Where you had Viera, there is now Flamini; where there was Pires, there is Cazorla; in Campbell’s shoes now are Monreal. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the mismatch and why someone would want to force fish to fatten on grass is beyond understanding. Wenger needs to take a good look at his current crop of players, stop the joke about him now having more attacking players than ever before and sew this team the right cloak to suit their confined capabilities.
- Listen more, Respond Less
There is no doubt in my mind that Paul Merson’s post-Anderlecht opinion of Wenger was bitter and a bit more of personal discontent due to some past relations. But they were absolutely true and like every decent man, Wenger could probably have done with letting it pass. So he responded in his usual arrogance, Swansea wins from a similar situation, and Merson is still right. Wenger’s never really had many friends in the English game (maybe Roy Hodgson and David Beckham’s sons) and he must know he’s staying so long while other natives get the boot as the weather changes drives a knife through some veins. He would do well to respond more with results from the pitch.
- Buy Big in January
Wenger spent the summer in the Brasil sunshine and though we thought he was modeling for underpants companies while Jose Mourinho went about silently strengthening his already strong squad in key areas, he went out and got Alexis, Chambers, Debuchy, Ospina and Danny Welbeck on deadline day. For sheer numbers, Wenger exceeded the mark this summer but did we really strengthen in key areas? Wenger refused to sign a quality supplement to the exiting Vermaelen and Saga (Chambers and Debuchy were mere replacements), while neglecting to realize that neither Arteta nor Flamini could be relied upon for a proper title challenge. Sure, we could be out of the race for the League by January as Chelsea already looks to have the thing all wrapped up, but there’ll still be the Round-of-16 to come in the Champions League and the FA Cup, trophies which we must still consider worth fighting for. We are not doing that with Monreal in defence and Flamini as our defensive midfield. “Alexis is useless if you’ve got Flamini”.
- Take a Bow in May
IF – and it’s an if of the greatest size – we make fourth place this season, it must not be seen as another seal of Wenger’s invincibility to the drop or an affirmation that he always comes good after the bumpy ride. It will be the klaxon that tells the board he is time to go. It is believable to think that Gazidis has been making contact with the Klopps and Simeones about how much they’ll fancy paying for a flat in London and what players they’ll like to have signed for them. Cos Wenger has not got better over the last 8 years and it is not going to get better. The FA Cup in May was good but even another FA Cup won’t really count for that much joy. A round of applause, standing ovation – but it’s over now. Go on, and take a bow.
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