Being an Arsenal fan is never boring these days as one week you could see one of the best passing teams around the world, but then the next week you could see a bunch of over-paid people running around like headless chickens. The days of ‘Boring, boring Arsenal’ and ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ seem to have been left in the past, but as an Arsenal fan myself, I would take 1-0 to Arsenal every week over what I am currently watching.
I don’t usually jump on bandwagons especially when it comes to Arsenal and in particular, Arsene Wenger. Growing up only seeing Wenger in the Arsenal dugout has made it impossible for me to picture someone else in his seat, however, after the loss to Bradford in the Capital One Cup quarter finals, I am currently trying to picture anyone, but Wenger in that dugout.
I remember watching my first Arsenal game and properly being into it and it was the FA cup final back in 2001 when Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-1. It only seems like yesterday I was watching that game with a friend and I thought to myself, wow, this Arsenal team are really good (even though they lost). I guess I can be considered lucky because as I was growing up, I got to see the invincibles, I got to see the likes of Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, Vieira and so many more all at their peak. In fact, I believe I was watching the best ever footballing side.
I did an article recently talking about the return of Thierry Henry and in that article I said I never feared any side that came up against Arsenal. I felt confident going anywhere. Old Trafford, Anfield, Stamford Bridge, bring it on I thought and most of the time, I came out smiling as Arsenal had performed and got a result.
Now I come to 2012, I am 20 years old and Arsenal have gone from being a club I supported to a club I am obsessed with and the worst thing is, week in week out, I am usually left disappointed and angry.
I have seen Arsenal lose in two Carling Cup finals, one Champions League final, I have seen us get battered 8-2 by our closest rivals, I even saw us throw away a 4-0 lead, but last night when we lost to Bradford, that was the most pain I have felt for a long time.
I sat down ready to watch the game and I heard the team news and I though to myself, blimey, Wenger really wants to win this. The worst case scenario I drew in my head was we would go a goal down but then eventually outplay them and stroll to victory. Boy I was wrong. I sat there for the 90 minutes and the first 87 minutes, I was saying to myself ‘Why do I love football so much, why do I love Arsenal so much’. Then, we equalised. What was funny was, I laughed at the fact I was fist-pumping a last minute equaliser against a League Two opposition when we were playing our first team. As everyone is aware, we then went on to lose on penalties.
I go back to when I was growing up. Watching the League cup was a treat because we got to see the youth and the future of Arsenal play. They were exciting, passionate and just a joy to watch. They would destroy any championship team and put up a great fight against Premiership opposition and in all fairness, they would do Arsenal proud. Last night, I saw Arsenal field £66,000,000 worth of talent against a League Two side…and lose.
So lets look at Arsene Wenger. The man that brought so much success to Arsenal and in all fairness, he re-invented Arsenal and turned them into this beautiful football team. Back in the early 00s, they would pass any team off the pitch, they would counter attack so fast if you blinked, you would miss it all and best of all, they signed un-heard of players and turned them into world beaters. Arsene Wenger made Arsenal the giants they are today.
I look at the Arsenal side now and I compare them to the team we had back in the day. The core of; David Seaman, Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry. Our core now; Wojciech Szczesny, Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud. Talk about difference. Granted the core now is still a solid line-up with some great talent, especially Jack Wilshere, who in my opinion is one of the best central midfielders in the world, but just look at the four names in the first core. That would strike fear in any team. Does Vermaelen and Giroud really sound deadly?
The fact that our first team side couldn’t beat Bradford was a real eye-opener for many fans and Arsenal. Social networking sites exploded with ‘Wenger Out’ ‘In Wenger we Rust’ and for once I agree with them.
I love Arsene Wenger and I couldn’t thank him enough for the memories he has given me, but I think football has evolved in the last 10 years and unfortunately, Wenger hasn’t. He is stuck in his ways and his methods are not as dominant as they used to be.
Arsene has gone from a top-class manager, and don’t get me wrong he still is, but the last seven years he has really turned Arsenal into a laughing stock. The longer he stays at Arsenal, the more he will ruin his name and I personally can’t see him ever lifting a trophy with Arsenal again.
I believe, Wenger’s time is up.
Alex William Batt