The last time Arsenal won the Barclays Premier league was thirteen years ago, and they accomplished the task in a grand style – playing all their league matches without a single loss in the season.That season’s achievement, which has now been christened the Invincible year, is still unequalled to this day.Two seasons later the Gunners became the first club from London to play the Champions league final, and they did not concede a single goal in any of their matches till their final game against Barcelona, which they lost by two goals to one side.
Arsene Wenger has not been able to take the club to those levels of accomplishments of the late nineteen nineties and the early turn of the century in recent years. In the intervening years, the club under Wenger’s management has consistently made the top four position on the league table and reached the quarter final stage of the Champions league.However, critics of the French tactician have lambasted him for his limited aspiration – quipping that qualification for the champions league and a top four position on the league table are in fact the summits of his domestic and continental ambitions.
It true that at some point in Arsenal’s trophy-less year that the poor performance on the pitch was as a result of the management of the club prioritizing investing in the Emirate Stadium, which was under construction then, over investing in the squad. But it has been over a decade since the club successfully relocated from Highbury to its current venue.The argument that the club is keeping a tight purse because they want to recoup money for the stadium’s construction is no longer tenable, not with the reported $100m match-day revenue that goes to the club.
In fact, no reason is tenable for the Gunners inability to break away from the mediocrity they have sunk into under the managerial direction of Wenger.
The call for the French man to quit the club has been around for soon time, getting to its crescendo at the terminal point of last season when fans, pundits and match analysts called for Wenger’s resignation.
The most powerful pressure group that could have kicked Wenger out of his position is the stadium going-fans. Had thirty thousand of the Gunners fans boycotted matches for four weeks,Wenger would have been speedily relieved of his duties by the management in a matter of days. However, the protest last season petered out when Wenger won the FA Cup; and he subsequently went ahead to sign a new contract.
With Wenger’s continuous stay as Arsenal’s manager, it is very unlikely that the club would be able to challenge for the title in any foreseeable future.
Here are the reasons Arsenal may not win the Premier league trophy nor the Champion league under Wenger’s stewardship of the club.
- The Premiership is now replete with the greatest tacticians of the modern game, and the edge Arsenal once had when Wenger had only sir Alex Ferguson,Rafa Benitez and Jose Mouriho as the only coaches who could match him in tactical ingenuity is now lost.
- Arsenal runs the risk of losing their star players who are exasperated by Wenger’s consistent adherence to the club’s wage structure.
- Even with a heavy war chest for players acquisition, affordability and availability of targeted players remains a hurdle Wenger would not be able to scale due to the unreasonable prices clubs are asking for the sales of their players.
- The absence of Champions league football would make Arsenal an unattractive destination to world-class players.
- The teams above of Arsenal on the league table last season would also equally improve their squads, making the fight for the league title fiercer than it was last season.
- Lack of silverwares in the club has shaken the belief Arsenal players have on Wenger’s methods – a breath of fresh air is what they hanker for.
- After over two decades in the club, Wenger lacks the motivation for making a title challenge – the kind that comes with the freshness of a new assignment.
- Wenger’s inflexibility that finds expression in his rigid adherence to one pattern of play makes his tactical formation formulaic , predictable and easily mastered by opposing teams.
What has kept Wenger in his managerial position in spite of poor performances on the pitch is first and foremost the funds he brings to club from the sales of players, a practice which has endeared him ,in no small way,to the club’s management.And there was actually a time it appeared that Arsenal was a feeder team to Manchester City.That was when the club made it a habit of selling some of their key players to the Citizens for huge sums of money.Huge profits were similarly made by the club in the sale of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Robbin Van Persie to Manchester United .And the profits from these sales were not always ploughed back into the squad by way of players acquisition.
The other major reason Wenger has lasted for this long in Arsenal is his past records.Three Premier league trophies, seven FA Cups made the French man the most successful manager in the club’s history.But these considerations should not stand in the way of checking the downward spiral the club has been experiencing with Wenger in the saddle.
The club’s management should consider the long term implication of sticking with Arsene Wenger who has no fresher ideas to implement in the club.
Two things are required to take Arsenal to the forefront of English football and European competition, viz a relatively young coach with ultra modern ideas about football, and the abolition of the rigid salary cap the club is currently using for its players.
While it is true that prudential spending is needed to keep a football afloat, but what is equally true is that to be a constant challenger for major trophies: money is needed for the acquisition of players. The football market worldwide is hyper-inflated; and players, like all other wage earners, are mostly attracted to the clubs that offer the highest pay.
Wenger should be allowed to see out the two years of his current contract. During this period the club’s management should painstakingly search for a coach with a wealth of football ideas who can take them to the next level, as “Professor” Arsene Wenger slowly pulls the curtain down on an illustrious career that has spanned over two decades.