Arsene Wenger is quite the fashionable topic in football at the moment. A poor start to the season, a trophy less run of seven and what looks very likely to be eight years is leaving growing frustrations around the club, particularly in its supporters. What once was a minority of fans that wanted Wenger out, now seem to be overwhelmingly calling for his head. I have always been pro Wenger. I feel there is underlying theme between Arsenal fans of unawareness of his consistent over achievements as an Arsenal manager. In this article I hope to open your mind into my in depth thoughts as a Wenger supporter.
Where do I start with this man? Even if the ‘Wenger out’ brigade want to part ways with our greatest ever manager, they undoubtedly cannot argue with not only his achievements at arsenal but his complete transformation in terms of philosophy, financial and on the field success. He was appointed in 1996, the year I was born funnily enough. Although bookmakers made former Barcelona player and manager, Johan Cruyff the favourite to take over, Arsenal appointed Wenger.Although previously touted as a technical director of The Football Association, Wenger was a relative unknown in English football; the Evening Standard greeted his appointment with the headline “Arsene Who?”
Well the world of football soon knew who the man was. 4 FA Cups and 3 Premier Leagues later he was labelled a lot of things, mainly, “Le Professor.” This is all amid one of the greatest, if not the greatest achievement in football history. The record 49 long league game unbeaten run which saw him not only go into his club’s history books, but the worlds. He did this though, what he likes to call the ‘proper’ way, the ‘arsenal’ way. All of the players signed, Henry, Bergkamp, Cole, Campbell, Lehmann, Pires and Ljunberg didn’t cost millions upon millions of pounds like what it would seem it today’s climate. He signed all of these men, made them great and they in return made him look great. Overall, Wenger was bringing in top draw players, for next to nothing money, achieving great success and making profit whilst winning trophies. What could go wrong?
Well, a lot has gone wrong to be fair to the man. 7 long years have passed since he has been able to wrap his hands round a major trophy. Something that I feel grinds on him year upon year. The year 2006 saw a new era for Arsenal, as they moved to the Emirates Stadium, a project that would hit Arsenal’s financial situation quite hugely and limit spending massively. During this time, we also saw the rise of financial superpowers Manchester City and Chelsea dominate in the transfer market and along with Manchester United this would generate on the field success. This saw the decline in Arsenal’s success and slow decline, wrongly in my opinion, of Arsene Wenger’s reputation.
In brief, what I hear when I hear a Wenger out person state their case, is them summing up our disappointing trophy less run, without looking at the factors behind it in a narrow minded manor. I completely understand why they would not look at the 400 million pound project of building the emirates as an immediate factor when criticizing Arsene because quite frankly, Arsenal fans don’t get told anything, by anyone, anytime by those employed at Arsenal. I see Harry Redknapp sometimes and think, “Why can’t Arsene Wenger give car window interviews like he did?” But anyway, that is beyond the point. My point is that I feel the Wenger out brigade don’t take into consideration how hard it has been for everyone at Arsenal accommodating this move. We had the potential squad ready before the move to emirates. Everybody knew Fabregas, van Persie, Walcott, Diaby and Nasri were all future stars, whilst impressive signings like Vermaelen, Sagna, Rosicky and the list goes on left us with a brilliant squad in terms of potential and current ability. The campaign 2007/08 being the most frustrating for me, as we came so close, but yet so far. THAT carling cup final with an impressive Arsenal side consisting of Wilshere, van Persie and Nasri falling unacceptably short to a soon relegated Birmingham City side in one of the worst days in our history, surely. Then came the departure of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and the probable departure of Theo Walcott. All contracts made untenable and ran down by the players themselves, admittedly the club was at fault for letting this happen, however they all left, aside Walcott…yet; and when this did happen they all had their wages increased. Aside Cesc they all left Arsenal, why? Because they see football merely as a job, they don’t know what it means to play for Arsenal and don’t have any bit of loyalty and thankfulness to Arsene Wenger whatsoever and repay him by being the best, what he made them to be. Yet amid all of these sales, which Arsene Wenger was seemingly gutted about, he went on. Finishing amongst the English elite and European elite, on next to nothing budget, year after year. 10 million a season and money generated from sales interestingly enough, confirmed by the reliable source, Sky Sports Spanish correspondent Guillem Ballague on talkSPORT radio. (Link -http://www.talksport.co.uk/radio/hawksbee-and-jacobs/121126/balague-guardiola-benitez-mourinho-torres-and-messi%E2%80%99s-barcelona-ultimatu-186210 around five and a half minutes in. ) The stat of how consistently we have reached the round of 16 and the top four in general has been criticised a lot recently, but when you look at it in perspective it seems a very good record. I’m not in any way saying that because of these situations, arsenal cannot and will not win. Yes we should’ve won at least something in these seven years. Just look at Montpellier last season for example, they won their league with barely any resources, and gave us a very good game out in France. I’m saying that we shouldn’t expect it. It has been miraculous enough that we’ve kept up with the top with our horrid financial situation and our best players leaving, it is quite an achievement when you put it like that, huh?
Arsenal fans need to realise that is quite literally borderline impossible for us to compete at the moment. I’m not content with mediocrity, and neither is Arsene Wenger as Piers ‘the idiot’ Morgan seems to love banging on about. Its needs must at the moment. We are at a stage of rebuilding with the likes of Wilshere, Chamberlain, Eisfield, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Szczesny, Gibbs and surely some new recruits spearheading us into the future, a core of young ENGLISH talent, highlighting English as these players seem to really know what it means to play for us. Not only this potential we have, but the added factor of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play will be fully introduced in 2014, and quote Ivan Gazidis, “As we look to the next two, three years we will have an outstanding platform on which to compete with any club in the world.” I believe there is only one man for the job, despite recent disappointments, and that is Arsene Wenger. He gave us the right to dream in the first place. He built our success. He had a vision to transform this football club and let it compete on all four fronts, season after season. This is arguably, his first poor season in his time. The man deserves more, we’ve been running on empty for a good five years now, and it looks like Arsene’s nearly ran out too. The refuel will be available I believe, come the next few years he will have the help needed for him to make us great again. He’s took us through all this. He deserves one more chance, at least. One more chance to build a team not even billions could match. One more chance to be champions. He’s took us through these tough times and deserves the rewards at the end. Quote Gary Neville on Monday night football recently,” Arsenal built this stadium not for the next six years, but the next sixty years.” This captivates my thoughts precisely, it won’t be like this forever for Arsenal. We look to be coming out of the inevitable tough period and Arsene Wenger should be the man to lead us out of it, and into the future. I don’t expect you to agree with me, but please respect my opinion as I feel it is needed due to all the negative press surrounding this great man as of late.