Don’t worry AKB’s (Arsene Knows Best) it is only a metaphor. Nobody actually wants Arsene Wenger to die no matter how much they despise his current autocratic regime which has infected the club from top to bottom, but you have to question, what will it take for him to leave?
Within a month Arsenal have dropped from pole position in the Barclays Premier League to fourth, a position they have been accustomed to for a decade. Yes, the season isn’t over, yes there are only five points between them and league leaders Leicester City, but can you really say this wasn’t coming and it hasn’t been seen before?
The general consensus is that, with the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and the eventual arrival of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, this will be Arsenal’s best opportunity of lifting the Premier League title. However, WOB’s (Wenger Out Brigade) will tell you there was never a chance because Wenger was still in charge.
It is not a knee jerk reaction to a toothless 0-0 draw at home against Southampton. It is an accumulation of years of stagnation, sugar coated by two FA Cup wins in two years which have allowed Wenger to continue business as usual. The manager had the chance to buy outfield players in the summer but decided not to, and so then came the perennial siege of injuries on his squad. Now, you could deem this bad lack if this was a one off but if it happens every season there has to be a cause. Are the training methods archaic? Does he buy injury prone players? Either way what does Wenger do to safeguard the inevitable? Nothing.
He doesn’t buy a player worthy of filling Francis Coquelin’s boots, when all knew he would become injured at one point. Instead he keeps faith in ageing club captain Mikel Arteta and the old dog Mathieu Flamini, both no longer good enough at this level and both equally injury prone. Arsenal are still looking for a world class striker since they sold Robin Van Persie to Manchester United to help them win the league.
No, it is not reactionary, it is a systematic failing that has run out of excuses. The money argument is out the window, especially with Leicester City proving that if you have a manager that a team rallies around and a proper game plan with players able to implement it you can do great things. If your excuse is that Leicester have Mahrez and Vardy, then surely you can see that Arsenal have spent more on the likes of Mezut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Arsenal’s current wage bill is around £192million whereas Leicester’s is at £48million.
But Wenger will not spend money on new talent because he has nurtured his players so much that he doesn’t want to discourage them by dropping them. His belief in his own ability as well as the ability of his squad is misguided at best. At Arsenal players are treated with kid gloves by Wenger. That’s why Walcott has been at the club 10 years and still feels like a rookie teenager. The same can be said with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, whilst Aaron Ramsey seems destined to play every game no matter how bad his form his. The players don’t fear their manager, they don’t take it seriously, and they are happy to collect their large wages and fly under the radar on the pitch whilst showing off off the pitch. This is shown in their constant need for selfies and relentless social media presence. Watch the Ox below taking his duty as a football player seriously as he is about to warm up with the rest of his players, notice Per Mertesacker do nothing:
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 2, 2016
There is a mentality issue at Arsenal and it stems from Arsene Wenger. He is an easy touch as he surrounds himself with yes men and a team that lacks bottle for the fight, but has a fist full of excuses. They are a mirror image of himself. Wenger has embodied his players, the club, the fans, his staff. Arsenal think they are better than they are when actually they have the resources to be so much better. When there is a need for in game management Wenger spends most the time berating the match officials instead of his own players.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman could not have put it better in what he is reported to have said during the post match altercation at the Emirates last night. As referee Lee Mason made his way back down the tunnel, Arsene Wenger shouted: “It is always the same with you.”
Koeman heard this jibe towards the ref and responded on the spot: “No, it’s always the same with you. You had 10 chances to score and didn’t take any of them, instead you take it out on [the officials].”
The football is stale at Arsenal. Possession football no longer guarantees wins, especially in the Premier League, where any team has the quality to pick you off if you’re sleeping. And Arsenal’s brand of side to side football is often the equivalent of an induced coma. Down the road Tottenham Hotspurs have a young and exciting manager in Mauricio Pochettino. Spurs now look a solid unit that are efficient, work hard, break you down and then make the correct decisions on the counter. Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester play a similar way. Usually you would expect a collapse from them but knowing the nature of Wenger and his team you know it is already in place at the Emirates.
The saddest thing is there must be a time when Wenger looks himself in the mirror and realises he is the man holding the team back and he is lucky he doesn’t have a club chairman who cares about being the best otherwise he would have been sacked a long time ago. There is no way Wenger would get away with this mismanagement and neglect at any top club. When Arsenal were crying out for a striker Arsene insisted that Yaya Sonogo was the remedy, even playing him against Bayern Munich and releasing Benik Afobe – I wonder how that went. What is comical is that Ajax don’t even want him around in their reserves because he stinks the place out so bad. Crystal Palace returned him from loan last season too. Sonogo is now on loan at Charlton. Wenger has lost the sparkle that once made him a great manager.
People will point to buys like Sanchez, Ozil and Cech to say that he still has it but those are such obvious buys a total novice could make. And even then, is he utilising their talents enough? No, because he continues to surround them with mediocre players when there is circa £200million in the bank to spend on players. If Wenger was serious about winning that league he would use the cash to better his team but he is too concerned with rustling feathers. He has his family and he doesn’t want to disrupt the household. Therein lies the problem.
The tactics, the training, the mentality, the discipline, the football, the players, the staff and the manager all need to change. The problem is will Arsenal’s board terminate his contract or offer him a new one? Will Wenger do the honourable thing and leave if he doesn’t win the league this season?
Arsene’s way will not bring Arsenal to the title and the longer he stays the more that dream will slip from their grasp. Arsenal will not improve, they will not evolve. They will always be also rans competing for the top four and an FA Cup victory. If Arsenal are to achieve more Arsene Wenger must fall on his own sword.