It is natural to point blame to your manager when the team isn’t doing well. And when Arsenal were humbled at home 2-1 by their long-term rivals Manchester United, there were arms up in unison against Arsene Wenger. Some of them were angry with the inept performance; most of them are critical of the squad. But, all of them agreed on one thing – that Wenger is depriving the fans of the real Arsenal.
17 years at the helm for Arsenal; a pedigree of achieving titles; experience of managing all facets of the club – these probably do not do justice to the monumental presence of Wenger at Arsenal. With a long standing record of achieving Champions League qualification, people may keep saying he is successful. But, is it really the true picture? Let’s look at some harsh realities which may add fuel to the comments of Usmanov.
Reality #1: Wenger’s trophy is fourth place. Anything above is a bonus!
People look at the success of reaching Champions League but conveniently forget that Arsenal have some dubious records. Qualifying 16 times for Champions League is successful but Arsenal are the most successful side never to win the competition. Having won 71 games out of 153 played but with no Champions League trophy, they have an unwanted record.
And the league success isn’t any guarantee either. The last time Arsenal won the league was back in 2003-04. There was the long draught of nine years which was satiated by FA Cup last year. But, the lack of desire shown is a concern. What better way to inject new life than have a vibrant manager?
Reality #2: Wenger lets top players slip off
Talk of Robin van Persie or Cesc Fabregas. They left the club to win trophies and they did; with their new clubs. When they left, Wenger didn’t see the need to strengthen his squad. In fact, as David Beckham put it on Twitter shortly after the loan deal of Falcao, ‘”United have found the replacement of van Persie before Arsenal found theirs”
Letting a chance to resign Fabregas go away or being reluctant to sign a striker last year when everyone knew it was vital, signing Nacho Monreal when he had other options; the list of blunders are long. And, the solution is simple – get a manager who has vision.
Reality #3: Wenger is too rigid
When Louis Van Gaal arrived at United, he brought his 3-5-2 system with him. And he moved off it within 30 minutes of his first match in England. Someone known to be very rigid, Van Gaal is showing great flexibility. This is very vital for any manager to succeed – more so in the competitive EPL.
But, Wenger has never shown any willingness to think beyond “his approach”. He wouldn’t tinker with his system, his players or his targets. It has cost many games and players for the club. And this may cost more if the club sticks with Wenger.
Time ripe for a change
For a club of the stature of Arsenal, failure to win titles is a huge disappointment. Mourinho may be irking Wenger but he has some weight behind his comments that Wenger is a ‘specialist in failure’.
And what’s more important is that the club needs to act fast. Vibrant managers are a rare breed and it is difficult to get one if you lose one. Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Martinez and many others are often mentioned in various degrees of interest. A new manager before New Year will help the club drive new energy and direction to the club. Who knows – the club may recover lost ground and mount a challenge for honors this season itself. Better late than never!
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