Let’s not pretend any longer, Arsenal football club are a team in crisis. Languishing in 10th place in the Premier League table after fifteen games, and with a meagre twenty one points to show for their efforts, fans have become increasingly vocal in the need for change at the club. Top of their agenda, the removal of Arsene Wenger from the helm, the man known as ‘Le Professor’ appearing to have gone a little ‘Nutty’ in his old age. Now this is all well and good, fans do have a right to feel aggrieved, especially given some of the desperate performances the players have put it as of late and particularly against Swansea last Saturday, but should Wenger leave, will things really be any better?
Ask most Arsenal fans who they would like to see as Arsenal manager should Wenger be forced to step aside, and an alarming number will come back with one of two answers, Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho. This is surprising, given that A.) Mourinho is manager of Real Madrid, one of the top teams in the world while also having a strong affiliation to Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea and B.) Guardiola, the most sought after manger in football today, can choose from nearly any team he likes as his next destination, and a team in decline such as Arsenal surely isn’t looking like the most attractive of locations. On top of that, the simple fact remains that Wenger is still revered as one of the best managers in club football today, and has no shortage of admirers himself. In fact, perhaps most ironically of all, it is his own fans who are quickest to point out his flaws, when a large proportion of teams would love to have him as their manager. Yes this is the roughest patch of his managerial career at Arsenal, but he has done a lot of things right. Those fans also seem to forget that before the arrival of Wenger in 1996, the team was not constantly competing for top honours year after year, so he has done a lot to change the mentality of the club.
Now to the influence Wenger has on the team, and it is clear that the pack have caught up with his ideas. What were once ground breaking philosophies, proper dieting, passing and moving, attractive counter-attacking football, are now employed by most teams. Worse yet, rival teams now know how to stop these trademark Arsenal traits. Wenger’s clear refusal to change his ways are as puzzling as they are frustrating, and this is one issue that does need to be addressed. Those fans who argue he is sitting on a fortune that could be spent on reinforcing the team need also to remember that all is not what it seems at boardroom level, and while Wenger will never moan about the power struggle that appears to be going on above him, he will continue to look like the bad guy who refuses to part with the gold the club have amassed.
Finally, while things are bad now, this is actually one of the better Arsenal squads the club has seen in recent seasons. Yes it may be devoid of any real star power, although midfield playmaker Santi Cazorla may have something to say about that, but there is a little bit of depth to the squad, something that has been missing in the past. Having Aaron Ramsey, the captain if Wales, warming the bench does have to count for something. There is potential there, but too often the word potential has been used to describe Arsenal’s future, with nothing coming of it in the end.
So while fan unrest continues to mount against the most successful manager in Arsenal’s history, all of the facts need to be taken into account before a call can be made, because if Wenger is forced to walk, he’s not coming back, and that is a risk. Yes he is too stubborn. Yes he needs to change some of his ways. Yes he needs to discover how to properly scout and buy a world class centre back. But if he goes, really who can do much better with the resources that Wenger has at his disposal? Just because there are other options out there, doesn’t mean the grass is always greener on the other side.855151