What is Arsene Wenger’s “legacy”?

He has ruined his legacy
His legacy is now taking a team from top to 6th
He has no legacy

That is 3 examples of what I have seen in the last 48 hours when it comes to discussing what Arsene Wenger’s legacy is.

Alongside the usual his legacy is not going unbeaten, that was George Graham’s team – ignoring the fact that Graham had been gone 9 years, leaving a team in 14th, and David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Steve Bould and Tony Adams were long retired. A load of rubbish is often spouted, often emotionally.

Wenger needs to go this summer. I have spoken before about how 2014 should have been the time he should have gone.

Having just won the FA Cup, his time was naturally up. He was already running out of ideas and had sailed The HMS Arsenal through the rocky waters of the early new stadium financial constraints years.

The summer of 2013 was the first summer we had real money to spend. We failed to spend it – only signing Mesut Ozil. It was the summer of Luis Saurez & Gonzalo Higuain. Wenger had shown a reluctance to spend. At the end of that year he should have stood aside and let someone else come in with fresh ideas, someone who would spend the available money. Jurgen Klopp. Pep Guardiola.

Instead, he stayed. And whilst a further 2 FA Cups have been won since, it certainly feels like he has now outstayed his welcome.

So what is his legacy?

Like many, he will be judged greater once time has past. Once the wounds are heeled. And time will heel them.

Wenger is the man who took us unbeaten. This had not been done since Preston North End in 1888. Anyone who pretends this is not one of the greatest achievements in the modern game, anyone who says that his recent performances mean that the Arsenal invincibles of 2004 are meaningless, it a bellend.

To act like what we did in 2004 is not special is childish. I actually feel for fans who have that opinion,. So bent up with bitterness and rage that they refuse to embrace going unbeaten as one of the greatest achievements in football history.

Wenger also won the Double Double.

The Double has only been done 11 times in history. Wenger accounts for two of them. Only Sir Alex Ferguson (with 3) have achieved it more.

To put it into perspective, Wenger has as many Double’s as Tottenham have league titles.

Despite Jose Mourinho’s greatness at Chelsea, the double always alluded him. Manchester City have spent £1b on players, they have never won the double. George Graham got close in 1991, but ultimately fell short.

And then we have the FA Cup.

Wenger broke a 97 year record when he led Arsenal to his 7th FA Cup. It is a record that will never be broken. 7 FA Cups for a single team, in an era where managers barely last beyond 7 months.

And it is the records that will define Wenger.

Those FA Cups
That unbeaten season
The 49 games undeafeted

This is Wenger’s legacy. You might not respect him now, but respect him for what he did.

But for me, his ultimate legacy is the bar he has raised. The standard he has set.

This season, we will finish 6th. We would have made a League Cup Final and a Europa League semi-final. Even if we win the Europa League, my opinion will not change, he has to go. And that is his legacy.

He has made it that finishing 6th is not acceptable for an Arsenal manager. Making finals and winning trophies no longer enough to keep the job.

Back in the 70s and 80s, we were starved of success. The 1987 League Cup success for George Graham trigged a 20 year golden period for Arsenal.

Arsenal finished 4th that year and it was considered a successful season. Due to Graham, and then followed by Wenger, a repeat of the 1987 season would now be seen as a failure.

A run of 10 games without winning. 5 wins in the last 18 games. Imagine that now?

For me, Wenger’s legacy is that the bar of what is now considered a failure is now much higher than it was 30 years ago.

Wenger Out, no matter what, but lets remember he was an Arsenal great.

Keenos

Advertisements

Time to back The Arsenal

The last time Arsenal made the FA Youth Cup Final was 2009. A team containing Jack Wilshere.

The quarter final was up there with one of the greatest games I’ve been too. A match away to Spurs. They didn’t know what hit them. Neither did the OB.

I digress from memories.

As Arsenal fans we do not have much to cheers about at the moment.

A League Cup final against Manchester City ended up in embarrassment. We are 6th not e league 2 points ahead of Burnley. We have a Europa League semi-final to look forward too. More glasses are half empty than half full.

But there is something we can actually enjoy at Arsenal. The development of some English lads.

In recent games, both Calum Chambers and Rob Holding have continued their turbulent Arsenal careers. Alex Iwobi, who joined the club at 9, has also continued his development. Ainsley Miatland-Niles has had a break through season.

Then we have Chris Joe Wilock and Reiss Nelson. Both have recently made their first Premier League starts. Both have looked good in the cups. And there is plenty to be excited about in our youth teams.

Under Liam Brady, Arsenal nearly lost their Academy Status. It was underperforming. It got relegated to the second tier of your football. But look at the side now.

Last night the U18s beat Blackpool 5-0 to make the FA Youth Cup final for the first time in 9 years. They won 7-2 on aggregate and will face Chelsea in the final. A Chelsea team that has made 8 of the last 9 finals (yet still not developed a youth team player good enough to play week in week out for them).

The Chelsea side has an incredible amount invested in it. It is a side built on spending a lot of money poaching the best young talents off London clubs. Arsenal will go in as under dogs, but can be proud to have made the final.

Arsenal are also second in the U18 Premier League South. 15 points behind Chelsea (with two games in hand). Chelsea are the force at that age group, but Arsenal, with the FA youth Cup still to play, are clearly the best of the rest.

As you move up the age groups to the U23s, Arsenal are also dominating.

They face Porto in the 2017–18 Premier League International Cup Final and also top the Premier League 2 – the revamped reserve league.

If until the end of the season you are struggling to get behind the first team – and I know many of you are – embrace the youth teams. Go to the Youth Cup Final, the International Cup Final. Enjoy watching young local boys play.

Up the Arsenal.

Keenos

Mustafi the Monstrosity

Arsenal signed Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia in 2016. The talk of the first few months of his Arsenal career was that he had solved Arsenal’s long term defensive problems.

In December of the same year, whilst everyone was saying how great he was – at that point he had yet to be in a losing side in an Arsenal shirt – I wrote a blog highlighting that Mustafi had not really solved Arsenal’s defensive crisis.

Pretty much 18 months on from that article, the evidence is conclusive. Mustafi has not solved Arsenal’s issues in defence.

Against Newcastle yesterday, fault for both goals can be laid squarely at the German’s feet.

For the first, he was static, letting Ayoze Perez run across the front of him in the 6-yard box. He made a near identical mistake for Shane Long’s goal for Southampton last week.

And for the second he was caught ball watching once more.

It was a poor header by Nacho Monreal, but Mustafi failed to follow Islam Slimani. This led the Algerian to have a free header and set the ball rolling for Newcastle’s winner.

A lot of people complain that Arsene Wenger does not improve defenders. Whilst this argument does have some weight, the problem with Mustafi is something that can not be coached.

He continually loses his man, continually lets his opponent run off the front, side and back of him. He is certainly not a Martin Keown when it comes to man marking.

His mistakes are due to one thing. His lack of concentration. This leads him to be continually out of position. Always on the back foot. And many a goal conceded. Concentration is not something that can be coached into a player.

So Mustafi needs to go. Or at least be relegated to a squad player. And this is where Arsenal’s defensive crisis deepens.

Laurent Koscielny can not be relied upon to play 38 league games. He will be 33 in September and has the Achilles of a 90 year old. He has struggled to play twice a week this season and needs replacing.

So Arsenal have one centre back who is not good enough to be first choice, and another who is not fit enough to be first choice.

It leaves Arsenal in a situation where we now need to sign two first choice centre backs in the summer.

But is trying to buy two top class centre backs in the summer unrealistic?

Arsenal are once again prisoners of being poor in the transfer market.

Last summer it was clear that either Gabriel or Mustafi could leave the club. Gabriel went back to Spain, and Mustafi nearly went to Inter Milan.

But what did not happen was Arsenal signing a new centre back.

We knew last summer that Mustafi was not good enough. We also knew Koscielny had his injury issues. And we knew Per Mertesacker had very little left in the tank. So why did we not sign a new centre back last summer – regardless of Mustafi going to Inter Milan or not?

With a bit of forward planning, we should have signed a centre back in 2017 who could then play alongside either Koscielny or Mustafi. And then in 2018 buy another centre back to partner that man.

Instead we signed no one. And that leaves us in a position where we now need to sign (and imbed) two new centre backs into the first team.

It is a situation that we should not be in. And a situation that will probably only see us sign one centre back. And it is also a situation of our own making.

A situation that highlights just how poor we have been in the transfer market over the last 10 years. No planning. No thinking. Just winging it.

Hopefully with the two new men coming in (Sven Mislintat & Raul Sanllehi) will take the power and thinking on transfers away from dithering Wenger.

What is for certain, Mustafi has not solved our defensive crisis.

Keenos