Is it time for Arsene Wenger to say goodbye?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has single-handedly transformed the English game; scientific methods such as stringent diet plans and structured exercise techniques are one of the many endowments the man has graced us with. He also introduced an unprecedented style of football with a flair that manifests itself to ‘Va Va Voom’, which is aesthetically pleasing and can arguably only be surpassed by the current Barcelona crop.
His 2003-2004 team – which he moulded at the peak of their powers – went an entire Premier League season unbeaten. A feat which has never been replicated in the Premier League era and is improbable that will ever happen again.
Then came the imperious wave of foreign ownership which included big-money takeovers. This hampered the club’s ability to compete with the big boys, such as Chelsea and Manchester City, eclipsing the once indomitable Gunners.
With a monumental debt looming over the club – due to a shift from the celebrated Highbury stadium to the state of the art Emirates stadium – Wenger resolved every season with his mediocre squads to make it to the top four and ensure a Champions League qualification. When we look at his legacy in retrospect, these barren years where he guaranteed the team to remain competitive, will definitely be recognised as one of his greatest accomplishments for the club.
Currently, the club has a record surplus of funds available, and two successive FA cup triumphs have created real hope for the fans that Arsenal can actually compete for top honours once again. With the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla, this feat seems quite plausible.
However, Arsenal remains a team which you know will never last the distance in a 38-match marathon for the Premier League title. Pundits are torn on whether Wenger is naïve or just too arrogant in his belief in the team.
In my humble opinion, he overestimates the ability of his team and has a deluded perception that his team can play any team off and on the pitch. There is no real tactic apart from an all-out attack. The board has absolute faith in his methods and have chosen consistency over change after surveying how Manchester United fared after Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
The recent dissent amongst fans with banners at games reading ‘Thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye’ deeply hurt Wenger and now he will only stay on if the board, fans and squad genuinely trust him and want him to remain as the manager.
Nonetheless, only time will tell if Wenger will be able to replicate the class of 2003-2004, which had a mixture of technical ability, physicality and a winning mentality.
All we can say is that for a man who has spent a good part of his career and life catalysing the success of Arsenal and has always taken the blame for all the shortcomings of his team and the lack of ambition of the senior management, he definitely deserves infinite respect at the least.
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