Like it or not there is, and always has been, a place for nostalgia in the world of football. In fact, it can be reassuring for fans to bask in the glory of bygone days, particularly as their club transitions and endures more challenging times.
Such wistful reminiscences can be debilitating when they are shared by club directors, however, as they can cloud judgement and drive the type of decision-making that hinders growth. To understand this further, you need only look at the situation engulfing Arsenal at present, where the beleaguered Arsene Wenger continues to be given a free reign despite the his apparent decline and the obvious breakdown of his relationship with the club’s players and supporters.
Why Wenger is Accountable for Arsenal’s Plight
While Wenger’s initial success with the Gunners was commendable (as was the way in which he single-handedly evolved the culture and the playing style at the club), this should not cloud the judgement of Arsenal’s hierarchy. After all, we are talking about a club that has painstakingly built the foundations for success at home and abroad, and yet continues to fall well short on every front. So while we should always herald Wenger’s role in transforming the Gunners into a behemoth of the modern game, we should also not be afraid to assert that his time as a positive influence has now surely come to an end.
Even the standard-bearing defences of Wenger and the Gunner’s mediocrity have unravelled spectacularly this season. While it has been argued that his meticulous standards and unwillingness to spend Arsenal’ share of the Premier League’s £5.136 billion television money without achieving value for money has negated the Gunners’ ability to compete. For example, the Frenchman spent a hefty £65 million of Granite Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi last summer. This was less than Chelsea paid to sign N’Golo Kante and the returning David Luiz, and these two have helped transform the Blues into title contenders.
Herein lies the issue with Wenger’s tenure. He has, for too long, been shielded by a supposed lack of financial resources as the primary reason for Arsenal’s failure to compete at the highest level, when in fact it is his own dwindling influence and recruitment policy that may have undermined the Gunners. In short, these failings have left Arsenal with a mentally weak squad that lacks diversity and the type of physicality that is imperative in the Premier League, while Wenger himself has arguably proved unable to inspire his expensively-assembled troops and cultivate a winning mentality at the club.
Of course, the players must also shoulder some responsibility here, but it remains the manager’s job to build the team in his image and motivate them to fulfil their potential.
The Time Has Come: Why the Board Must Act This Summer
With these points in mind, Wenger must be held largely accountable for the clubs’ sustained and obvious plight, just as he was responsible for the Gunner’s glorious run of success during his first decade in charge. This is a fact that even Wenger’s most ardent supporters must now accept, with the recent, 10-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League (which cemented the Gunners’ seventh consecutive exit at the first knockout phase) further highlighting the Frenchman’s growing inability to motivate his players or cultivate a more resilient mind-set.
Most importantly, however, it is imperative that the board recognises Arsenal’s plight, and finally draw a conclusive line between Wenger’s past achievements and the club’s long-term future by identifying a potential successor. Otherwise, they run the risk of placing Wenger’s fate in his own hands, and potentially undermining one of the Premier League’s most glorious legacies.
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