Merson and Robson latest ex-Arsenal players to air their opinions

It seems like anybody who’s ever worn an Arsenal shirt is coming out of the woodwork these days to give their opinion on what ails the club. Former Gunners Paul Merson and Stewart Robson are the latest to chime in on the current state of affairs at Emirates Stadium and the performance of the team and manager Arsene Wenger.
The Daily star ran an article that quoted Merson, who played 289 league matches with the team from 1985 to 1997, as saying, “This is bordering on the end of an era for Arsenal. Another two years and he (Wenger) will probably leave Arsenal like Bruce Rioch left here. Seriously. That’s the way it goes. This has got to change. It’s an absolute joke.”
Merson said the only way for Wenger to save his reputation is to start paying some money for world-class players. He feels if new players aren’t brought into the squad then the booing, which Wenger suffered at home against Manchester United in their 2-1 loss, could continue. He added that if things don’t turn around for the club soon then Wenger’s reputation could eventually be destroyed.
Merson said even though Wenger’s been the most successful manager in modern-day Arsenal history, he could end up being called a flop by some of the team’s supporters and especially by its critics. He compares the situation to Bruce Rioch, who was sacked after just a solitary season as manager back in 1996.
Comparing Wenger to Rioch is a bit of a stretch though considering the Frenchman’s won three FA Cups, and three league championships while he’s been in charge and has led the club to the Champions League each year since his arrival. However, as Merson points out, all of the trophies were won in the first half of Wenger’s managerial reign and the cupboard’s been bare for the past six seasons.
The 43-year-old Merson, who also played for England, said it’s pretty hard to criticize Wenger since he’s done so much for the football club overall, but six years is quite a long period and a lot of football fans have pretty short memories. The ex-winger said it doesn’t look like the team’s going to end the drought this season and the odds of making the Champions League look to be quite slim.
Merson, like former Arsenal manager George Graham and thousands of supporters, feel the only way to change the status quo is to finally start spending some money. He said if Wenger refuses to buy anybody then the club’s upper management should get rid of him. He added that one of the reasons the club left Highbury Stadium and built a new home at the Emirates was to increase attendance and then use the revenue to bring in new and good players.
“Name me one top-drawer player they have brought in since?” Merson asked. “When they were at Highbury, they had Bergkamp, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Ljungberg, Henry and Pires. Where are they all now? It’s an absolute disgrace. The board have got to say to Arsene, ‘Right, there is this much money, spend it. And if you’re not going to spend it, someone else has to come in and do it’.”
Stewart Robson, another former Arsenal player, who now gives his opinion on TalkSport and hosts a show on Arsenal TV, said the current relationship between the supporters on the terraces and Wenger is at an all-time low and it could lead to an eventual end to the manager’s stint. Robson feels that the supporters of any other football club would have voiced their displeasure over results and transfers a long time ago, but Arsenal supporters were willing to give Wenger the benefit of doubt.
Robson, who debuted for the Gunners at the tender age of 17 and played in 186 games for the club, said the criticism of Wenger has generally been quiet up to now and most of it dealt with the lack of transfers. However, the infamous substitution of Andrey Arshavin for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the loss to Man United seemingly opened the floodgates. Robson now feels the unhappiness the supporters feel about the direction the club is going in could be crucial to Wenger’s job.
Robson stated in the article, “Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis said at the beginning of the season in one of the general meetings that we will never get rid of Arsene Wenger, he is here for life, although if the relationship with the supporters becomes so bad we might have to look at it again. The relationship with supporters is getting worse. Their reaction to the Oxlade-Chamberlain substitution wasn’t just about that, it was because they are unhappy with how the season has gone so far. They’re very frustrated that Arsenal aren’t going to challenge for the league title this year and that substitution was the culmination of a lot of anger that has been vented towards Arsene Wenger.”
Wenger finally made another move in the current transfer market by shelling out a reported 400,000 pounds on 19-year-old midfielder Thomas Eisfeld from Dortmund of the German Bundesliga. According to reports, he’s made just one appearance for the senior side so far this season, but has six goals in 12 matches for the club’s under-19 team. He’s young and cheap, which makes him Wenger’s ideal player. But the majority of reaction by fans across the internet today towards the signing hasn’t been too complimentary to the manager.

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