After last night’s humiliation of another 5-1 beating at the hands of German club Bayern Munich, surely it has to be time to say goodbye to this once great manager.
At the moment the players seem void of ideas and confidence. This, unfortunately, isn’t a new thing for the club.
Admittedly, the first ten years of Arsene Wenger’s reign was nothing short of fantastic. Three league titles, four FA Cup wins and four FA Community Shields meant we were, as fans, spoilt by the Frenchman and his new revolutionary training methods.
When Wenger arrived in 1996 he inherited an ageing back four but turned them into a defensive back line which was renowned throughout the Premier League.
Who can forget the invisibles team of 2004, going a season unbeaten eclipsing the record that had stood for 115 years held by Preston North End? These were the years you were proud to be an Arsenal supporter. The football was scintillating and the goals spectacular. Suddenly the press couldn’t get enough of the team and the club were fast becoming everyone’s favourite second team.
The team was continually blessed with some world class players. Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Dennis Bergkamp – who was of course signed by Bruce Rioch – Thierry Henry, Sol Campbell and Robert Pires. The list goes on and on.
Wenger’s job was made more difficult in 2006 with the club moving from Highbury and into its new home, the Emirates Stadium. Money was sparse while the club continued to pay of the new stadium costing the club £390m.
But Wenger continued to regularly get the team into the Champions League season after season, on a shoe string budget for a top four team.
Then the news that all Arsenal supporters had been waiting for. The stadium had been paid off and now the club could compete, not only in the Premier League but competing with the rest of Europe’s elite clubs. All supporters thought the same, if Wenger can achieve qualification without money, what could he achieve with a war chest?
But season on season was exactly the same. A strong start, disaster in November, back challenging by February and then to combust in March and be struggling to get into the All that only to put a final run together and slide in and qualify again.
But only finishing in the top four places was beginning to take its toll for the fans. They wanted trophies, they wanted titles and none looked close. Finally the 2013/14 season delivered the FA Cup. Once more the fans forgave Wenger after a nine barren spell.
An FA Cup win came again the following year but all this was seeming to do was paper over the cracks.
Looking back at some of Wenger’s worst losses as Arsenal manager is staggering. 8-2 Manchester United, 6-0 Chelsea, 5-1 Liverpool, 6-1 Manchester United, three 5-1 losses to Bayern Munich, 4-0 Milan, 6-3 Manchester City. You have to wonder how many managers at other clubs would of survived some of these.
His transfer dealings haven’t been the best either. There is no coincidence that this has coincided with the departure of David Dein.
Wenger’s continued reluctance to not strengthen the team, choosing instead to stay loyal to players has cost the club moving forward. Each year we were promised a team who had passion and drive. A team that had huge potential which was about to blossom, into a squad who would win all before them. Only to once again fail and fall by the way side.
Last night before the match kicked off, there was a protest walk from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium to insist to the board that they shouldn’t be offering Arsene Wenger another two year contract. About 500 people were at the protest. After the humiliation of last night’s game how many more people would turn up now.
The club is in dire need of a change, it needs a new direction. Arsenal supporters can with their hand on their heart say that Wenger was Arsenal’s most successful manager and one who transformed the club. But this was the first 10 years and the emphasis is unfortunately on was.
The last 10 years have been one of frustration and disappointment. Everyone felt that Leicester had done a terrible thing in sacking Claudio Ranieri, but in truth the team was not performing regardless of what they had done the previous season.
Yet Arsene Wenger is still at the club with Arsenal deciding it is up to the manager to decide when he leaves. I am all for loyalty but this unfortunately borders on stupidity. Maybe we have been to spoilt with the trophies and the title wins. No club has the divine right for success. But the Arsenal faithful want their team to at least challenge and have a crack at winning the title again.
The question is, is Arsene Wenger’s time up as Arsenal manager? For me his time was up perhaps 5 years ago. Maybe he is too close and stubborn to be able to see some of the glaring errors being made. Maybe he is too comfortable in a job which he knows he won’t ever be sacked from. Certainly, the players seem too comfortable knowing that the manager will continue to play them, and back them no matter how poorly they play.
An announcement needs to come soon from the club but I fear that it will continue to be placed on hold until Wenger has decided he is ready to make a decision. For a man so stubborn you wouldn’t rule out the Frenchman staying on for another two years.
That for me would be a catastrophic decision. It’s time for a change of manager, it’s time for a change of direction, it’s time for a change in playing personnel.
Thanks for the memories Arsene but it really is time to go. I want to remember the great man as an Arsenal legend, a man who brought a style of football which we had never seen to the club. Yes, he deserves to be treated with respect but not for the sake of the club I love.
Arsene Wenger will always be a massive part of Arsenal Football Club. It’s just time for Wenger to leave with his head held high and give a new man a chance to take this great club forward.