Wenger has to leave Arsenal in the summer for the greater good
Every great warrior has a shelf life. Arsene Wenger’s time is up, though many will remember his name. The top teams in the Premier League are no longer afraid to play the Gunners, who are now joint-fourth 50/1 favourites to win the title this term.
It is always hard to walk away from something you’ve nurtured for nearly 20 years, but Wenger has earned the respect to do just that. Since taking over, he has accomplished what many believed to be unattainable. Manchester United were dominating at the time, and Wenger came in with fresh ideologies, revolutionising the game as everyone knew it.
Footballer’s diets at Highbury, as the stadium was then, became regulated, training more intense with an emphasis on ball retention and a skilful passing game. A year later, the effect that his impact had was clear for all to see.
A domestic double win, which included the FA Cup and the Premier League, had fans fawning in adoration; they had found their messiah, who delivered their first trophy for four years.
Between 2001 and 2003, the Gunners won the FA Cup consecutively, achieving another league and cup double in 2001/02. What followed a season later marked arguably one of the greatest club and managerial achievements in modern day history. Arsenal went undefeated for an entire season in the Premier League, with possibly the best football team to ever grace the planet. A squad of players which became known as the ‘Invincibles’.
While another FA Cup victory followed a season later, their spell of dominance was about to end, as Premier League football entered into an era evolved by billionaire owners, and the Gunners rearmed. Where Chelsea, Manchester City and Man Utd spent big, to compete for silverware, Wenger and the board drew up plans and a long term strategy to stabilise the club long term.
What followed was a state-of-the-art training centre and, incomparably, the best stadium in Europe. A case could be made that Wenger’s biggest achievement was securing Champions League football for the best part of a decade, while utilising his economics degree to balance the books, making effective use of a shoestring budget.
Fans calling for his departure should remember this. There is no doubting his hunger to win the title again, though it was a mammoth effort to lift the FA Cup last season again – their first trophy in nine years. He looks mentally exhausted, but who could really blame him?
His laissez-faire leadership style has been praised globally by every player who has had the privilege of being tutored by him, though it appears to be becoming apparent that a new, stricter and more disciplined management approach is needed.
This was widely successful by Sir Alex Ferguson, while the Scottish manager was in charge of Man Utd. Jose Mourinho has constantly used a highly organised approach, which has bordered on meticulous; a method which has produced unbelievable results.
The name Jurgen Klopp has been bandied around. A manager who has drawn similarities to the Chelsea manager, and who may find the opportunity to take charge of Arsenal too good to turn down.
For the remainder of the season, Wenger needs to regroup his players and focus on finishing in the top four, odds-on fourth favourites at 4/6 to achieve. It has, after all, become a speciality of the Frenchman. Anything less than that would be disastrous, and they cannot afford the distraction of another cup run. Their top four credentials were in danger last season, with Everton coming close to usurping them.
Players like Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott are prized assets who can make things happen, and can carry Arsenal over the line. Adding a centre back in January is a priority, though if the club are going to go a step further, Wenger cannot be afforded another summer transfer window.
Having won the FA Cup last season, he had the chance to build on that. While it hasn’t been a complete failure, a lack of awareness to realise that their defence and midfield needed shoring up, is a simple error. Mourinho wouldn’t have made that mistake.
Ultimately Wenger has to go. He will be remembered as the best Arsenal manager, and one of the league’s most intelligent. He shouldn’t leave in a cloud of shame, he has nothing to be embarrassed about. Though, if afforded to continue, it could be a downward spiral, something that many of the game will be sad to see. A fresh impetus is needed.