This season promised so much for Arsenal. At the turn of the new year it seemed that The Gunners could realistically win the double of a Premier League title and a third successive F.A Cup. Fast forward to today and the reality turned out very different for the North London club. A bad patch in the season has seen them removed from the F.A Cup at home to Watford, and poor results have left them languishing third in the league. As the inevitable post-mortem of the season is dissected, the biggest question being raised once again is if Arsene Wenger is still the right man to manage Arsenal?
Not winning the Premier League since 2004 is a significant strike against the vastly experienced Frenchman. The fans are still appreciative of the colossal impact he has had on the club. It can be argued that no one person has done more to influence the football club then Wenger. In his twenty years in England, he has revolutionized not just Arsenal, but the league itself.
His obsession with fitness and free-flowing football changed the old, archaic nature of the English game. Wenger’s list of achievements and trophies in the first decade of his management come close to rivalling the all-time great Sir Alex Ferguson. The second half of his Arsenal career makes less exciting reading however. For over half a decade, an Arsenal season could be typified by a fourth place finish in the league as it’s most notable achievement. He suffered from being usurped by the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, to a position where Arsenal are now deemed outsiders for the title every season.
It seems that in recent years, early season promise is quickly crushed in a devastating bad spell early in the new year. In the last five years, Arsenal have yet to progress past the round of 16 in the Champions League, with only two F.A Cup trophies to show in terms of recognizable silverware. It seems like every year the fans voices of discontent get louder.
Every season, a portion of supporters call for Wenger to leave the club, and it appears as though this portion get’s bigger with each passing campaign. A key characteristic of Wenger’s management is his frugality with money, something that served him well in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. In 2016 however, he just looks increasingly out of touch, as he failed to build a squad capable of winning the league. He also finds himself unwilling to overpay for players, and whilst this is very noble, it does help when this is increasingly a part of the transfer market concerning world-class players.
So, should Wenger do the honourable thing and step down, or should he fight on and return next year ready to prove the hordes of doubters wrong? It seems Wenger still has the support of the players at least. Earlier this week, star man Mesut Özil took to Twitter to publicly defend Wenger in the hope he stays on at the club next season. This support is encouraging and shows he is still a popular man at the club.
It seems that if Wenger is to win back a majority of the fans calling for him to go, a good start would be spending big in the summer transfer window, but it is arguable if he will even get that long. Arsenal have an issue with strength of depth at some key positions, such as defensive midfielder. It is these issues that usually derail the club’s season and turns the fans against Wenger. The club arguably need a defensive midfielder, and a world class striker amongst other things.
Whilst Arsenal have spent big on individual players in the past few years, they have yet to spend big improving the squad as a whole. It seems at the moment as if they are one or two players away from being title contenders. If they can add to the individual brilliance from the likes of Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech with very good squad-rotational players who can create some competition for places within the first team.
The only issue with this is that the club have arguably missed their best opportunity to win the league this year. Manchester City have been in turmoil since the news came through that Manuel Pellegrini is to be replaced at the end of the season. Chelsea have suffered a shocker where a top ten finish is considered a good salvage job. Manchester United and Liverpool are going through transitions, and yet despite all this Arsenal still couldn’t win the league. Even worse for the fans is that it seems bitter rivals Tottenham will finish above them in the top flight, pending the last seven games of the season, but whether this is as Premier League champions remains to be seen.
Next season, Manchester City have arguably the best club manager in world football joining them in Pep Guardiola, who will have a war chest bigger than most countries of the world to spend on players. Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool will all likely spend big to significantly improve their squad’s. Even Leicester and Tottenham will have Champions League football to entice players away from the likes of Arsenal.
So back to the original question. Should Arsenal replace Arsene Wenger as manager? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Also a huge thank you for reading this article. Find me on Twitter @brfcjordan95.
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