Following another string of dismal results, Arsenal find themselves staring into the abyss and must face the very true reality that they will again be without a trophy come June. Following domestic cup exits to lower league opposition and a Champions League master class from Bayern Munich, Arsène Wenger finds himself under increased scrutiny from the Arsenal faithful and his position as manager is under more pressure than ever.
Following their FA cup loss to Blackburn at the weekend, Wenger called for a response. The wounded animal that was Arsenal football club were set to release an almighty backlash on their European opponents and send out signals to their rivals that they have the quality and the fight to challenge for the biggest club competition in the world. Shockingly, it was not to be. After 20 minutes at The Emirates there was not a Gooner in the stadium that would have fancied Arsenal to score, let alone win. The gulf in class between the two sides was colossal, and that one game managed to sum up the Arsenal of recent years. No fight. No determination. No ambition. It is hard to believe that a man who led the club to such glory is still in the hot seat at the Emirates, and the club is crying for change.
The fact that it will soon be 8 years since that famous FA cup final win against Manchester United is proof that Wenger has been taking the club backwards, and is no longer the right man for the job. For evidence on that claim, look no further than last year’s infamous press conference in which Wenger claimed ‘our first trophy is to finish in the top four.’ How is it that a club that had previously challenged for honours on all fronts and almost clinched Champions League glory in 2006 now consider fourth place a trophy? A club that conquered a whole premier league season unbeaten and were placed amongst the greats as one of the best teams ever assembled?
Even the most loyal of Wenger fans cannot deny the facts, and the club has gone from unbeatables to laughing stock. Some of the results over the past few years have left the club red faced and highlight the gradual decline of what was once considered one of the biggest clubs in the world. From a humiliating 8-2 loss at Old Trafford to a 4-0 pasting at the San Siro, the ‘pretty football’ that Arsenal claim to play has continuously fallen short and the collective finger of the Arsenal fans seems to point at Wenger.
There was once a time when European teams would shudder when drawn Arsenal in the Champions League, rather than queue up to publicly criticise them as the Bayern players did in December. But who could blame them? Bayern can see the decline of a club they would once consider a rival for the European crown into a team of mediocre players that will struggle to finish in the top four of the Premier League this campaign.
What Arsène Wenger fails to realise is that the game has changed, and Arsenal have been left behind. Through trying to run the club the way he thinks correct, Wenger has cast Arsenal away from their big-spending rivals, using the stadium debt as an excuse. The famous phrase ‘no man is bigger than the club’ appears to be untrue at Arsenal, as his previous genius has earnt Wenger a job for life. It is through this job security that Wenger has assumed the responsibility of balancing the books and the day to day running of the club as well as winning football matches, which stretches past his job description. His continuous reliance on a stone age ‘transfer policy’ in which young, cheaper players are favoured over world class talent in order to make a profit has left Arsenal appearing as more of a business than a football club.
The ambition of the club will always come into question when world class talent is pushed out of the door in favour of their net worth and it is this clear lack of ambition that is leading Arsenal’s top players to veer towards the exit. Who can blame Robin van Persie or Cesc Fàbregas for moving on to a bigger club in the hunt for glory? Arsenal have become a selling club to the ‘big boys’, providing old title rivals with the ammunition to shoot them down with. Robin van Persie’s current goal scoring form is a continuous reminder to Arsenal fans that their club is going nowhere, and their players know it. The cracks have been beginning to surface for the Gunners over the past few years, papered over by a moment of individual genius from a Fabregas or Nasri. An electric Robin van Persie dragged the team kicking and screaming to third place last year in the Premier League, yet without a goal scoring talisman or anyone (bar Jack Wilshere) willing to show any fight or determination, the club must start looking down the table and realise that they are headed the same way as Liverpool.
It is understandable that players will eventually move on, no player will stay at the club forever. The Arsenal faithful could at least condone the selling of their best players as long as they are replaced with quality, rather than selling on great players and replacing them with average ones. Cesc Fàbregas was replaced with Mikel Arteta. Robin van Persie was replaced with Olivier Giroud. It cannot be disputed that these ‘replacements’ seem like Arsenal have been downgrading, similar to trading in a Ferrari for a Vauxhall, or swapping a lion in favour of a pussy cat.
There is no doubt that Arsène Wenger is a very intelligent and articulate man, and has true elegance in the way he deals with the running of the club. It is through this realisation that Wenger continues to frustrate fans of the team in that even he must see he is taking them backwards. Wenger must know he has a very sub-standard team. He must know that the squad has no real depth and is heavily reliant on the likes of Wilshere and Cazorla to win a game. He must know that the time has come to step down gracefully and realise his mistakes. Never before have Arsenal fans questioned the work of le professor, ‘In Arsene we Trust’ banners plastered around The Emirates to show their support of the Frenchman. However in light of recent times and the abysmal run of form that has stretched over 8 years, Arsenal fans will be seeking blood, and there is only one man on the menu.
This article was submitted by a contributor and does not reflect the views of the Proven Quality editorial staff.