If any a day cometh for Arsene Wenger’s Judgment day, the last one you’d expect it on, would have been his 1000th match in charge. You would probably also have liked it to be against anyone but Chelsea. (and we won’t mention the score either…) Yet, here we are, on possibly the most brutal of times for the professor himself. We have seen a frenzied media blackout, speculation of pending retirement and numerous twitter meltdowns, in full effect. Even the most extreme of ‘Arsene knows best’ types are scratching their heads, for an apt ‘keep the faith’ gesture, to lighten the bleak mood. Now let it be said that this is by no means a eulogy to the great mans reign as Arsenal manager. Not by a long way. Today I am here to try and balance out a rational outlook on what is best for the club.
I am very well aware that most fans are on tender hooks, despite being only a few points off the top of the Premiership and a place in the FA Cup final up for grabs, against a team who is a division below us. This is an article written by the most balanced of Arsenal fans, neither WOB nor AKB. So let’s talk it out then, shall we? Point one: ‘There is no one better to lead us to glory’
How true is this? We see it everywhere, that’s for sure, but if we look around the Premiership for managers, who can we see that can do a better job? Bruce? No. Laudrup? Meh. Moyes? *Sniggers* …but no. Pellegrini? He’s older than Arsene… You’d struggle for any, besides one; Jose Mourinho! He’s world class, no doubt about it but would he sit well with the Arsenal ethics of attacking continental football? Probably not, but some of us lived through the George Graham era, and that sure wasn’t pretty. Tell you what was pretty though; bragging rights and silverware in the cabinet. Yes Jose might bring a media circus with him, but he’d sure win you a few things and despite your stubborn denial, you’d end up liking him. Pep Guardiola would be the best bet for most. Jurgen Klopp is another decent young manager. Athletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone is highly regarded and of course Frank DeBoer and Dennis Bergkamp would be a welcome duo, indeed. So perhaps there is nothing for us on these shores, but there’s a lot around in great measure and the narrow minded thought that no one is better than Arsene Wenger is pretty ludicrous. Sometimes you feel the Arsenal fan that said this to you resembles a toddler on a bicycle unwilling to remove the stabilizers. Conclusion: Sorry Arsene, you’re good but you’re not irreplaceable.
Point two: ‘The mentality of the players in big games is non-existent’ This is the on-going debate of who’s fault that is, similar to ‘who came first, the chicken or the egg?’ debate. For me, it’s simple. Arsene Wenger has constructed this team and invested money into footballer he things has the quality to succeed at the top level. If it is them who are letting the team down in big games, then as a manager surely it is evenly his responsibility to take blame. This isn’t really the case when you take into account the abysmal record Arsenal have had in the big games, against the top 4 teams in the last 5 years: Look away now if you’re squeamish. Played 15. Won 1. Drawn 1. Lost 13. Goals scored: 15. Goals conceded 42
That is terrible reading! It has resulted in 4 points out of a possible 45. I guess that rules out that certain players let Arsene’s team down, as it has been happening for 5 years. So let’s look at the stats since 2005 (the last time we won something) Played 53. Won 14. Drawn 15. Lost 24. Again this is a diabolically bad record, worthy of a lower mid-table (Tottenh*m) side. So there is clearly something wrong mentally with the majority of Arsene Wenger sides, in the last 10 or so years. Conclusion: Again, sorry Arsene, transitional period or not, that blame rests on you and you alone.
———————————————————————————————————— And Finally… Point three: ‘Now Arsene has the money to spend, let him do it’
Since we moved into the Emirates stadium, no one has really known how much we owe, how much there is to pay off and how long it will take to do so. Yet it appears now, the club is showing signs that the financial shackles are off and it is time for Arsenal to spread their wings and start to make this dream a reality. Well, if last summer was anything to go by, then I hope my fears are just fears and nothing else. The introduction of Mesut Özil was a coup and we all rejoiced in the landmark marquee signing. All the drama was forgiven. (but definitely not forgotten…) Lest we forget, the first day of the season loss, against Aston Villa. With only a French U19 international and a free transfer from an injury plagued midfielder released by Milan, in our armory. Was it the back-lash that forced Arsene’s hand into such an audacious bid for the Real Madrid play maker? Who knows. For me, the dithering in the January transfer window heightened my fears again with the severe lack of reinforcements, to a small squad riddled with injuries. What is stopping him for purchasing the likes of Julian Draxler? A five million over spend? Surely this is worth the boost to the title credentials, if not the moral of the squad. But apparently it wasn’t. You begin to ponder what lies in store for us in the summer. Is this Arsene’s last chance saloon? Perhaps. Has he earned one more throw of the dice. Well, I think he has. (not many would agree) But let it be said… Conclusion: Dither this summer, at your own peril…