THE TIME IS NOW by Viera Lyn
After witnessing yet ANOTHER embarrassing footnote in our team’s recent history against Nottingham Forest I felt compelled to address those who can’t seem to resist the obviously tainted Kool-Aid. How many more times can this team, the owner and our woeful manager disappoint before you open your eyes, swallow your pride and join our efforts. Trust me, I know it’s difficult to admit when you’re wrong, but eating a little crow has to be easier than continuing to play a complicit role in what is quickly becoming a laughing stock situation of epic proportions. Don’t worry though, any true supporter wouldn’t dare gloat, as the stakes are too high. Simply put, if we continue down this all too familiar road without making wholesale changes things will undoubtedly get much worse. More importantly, if we are so naive as to allow Wenger or anyone else currently under contract with this club to be in charge of the reclamation project, the mistakes of the past will almost assuredly be repeated. So don’t be tempted by the “romantic” notion that we must honor Arsene’s legacy by moving him upstairs because as long as he’s in the building and has the ear of our absentee landlord, any potential successor will be little more than a puppet regime, which means more of the same, or likely worse, for the foreseeable future.
Make no mistake, my commentaries aren’t usually meant to sway those with contrary opinions, as I would never be so presumptuous, instead I simply try to keep the narrative squarely focused, for however briefly, on the bigger picture. It’s certainly no easy task considering the manic nature of fandom in North London. When things appear hopeful, it’s difficult to find a receptive audience, whereas when things invariably go south the response is usually so vile that entering the fray seems overkill and certainly not conducive to having a rational discussion about the real underlying issues. Don’t get me wrong, there is something cathartic about the venting process but the benefits are short-lived and ultimately solves little unless some sort of consensus can be achieved. With that in mind, I will attempt to address some of the myths propagated by those enduring Wenger loyalists who can’t seem to see what has become blatantly obvious to most outside observers.
In the first place, hardly a day goes by without a member of the faithful reminding us of Arsene’s past accomplishments, which seems to suggest that those who want him gone either suffer from some sort of collective amnesia or even worse simply disregard his past exploits altogether. This is simply not the case. I have openly applauded his earlier efforts, as I truly believe he played a transformative role in shaping the modern game, but that time has long since passed. In more recent times, he’s been figured out and as such the tables have turned. Unwilling to obtain the quality necessary and too set in his ways to adapt, Wenger has become a dinosaur in the sport he helped shape.
This isn’t a case of “what have you done for me lately” as that would imply that things went off the rails fairly recently, and it’s certainly not a change simply for the sake of change scenario, as we’re not so naive to believe that this alone would guarantee long-term success, this is a measured response based on YEARS of questionable decisions, failed tactics, boardroom blunders, unprecedented losses and a level of dishonesty never before seen at our club. So to even suggest that we should continue to sit on our hands and hope, for whatever inexplicable reason, that success will come our way simply because we stayed the course, seems utterly ridiculous considering the overwhelming evidence that would suggest otherwise.
Secondly, there seems to be a commonly held belief by many of Wenger’s most ardent supporters that even if Arsene left of his own accord it would be next to impossible to find a similarly qualified replacement. Now, no one is suggesting that finding our next manager will be a cake walk, or should it be considering the complexity of the task at hand, but this is not because his managerial shoes would be so difficult to fill, the real issue is the length of his tenure and all that entails. Thanks to your misplaced support, you have made the inevitable exceedingly more difficult.
Let’s face it, over the past 20 years there have been only about 10 teams throughout Europe that any top manager would almost assuredly covet. Up until a few years ago, and admittedly benefiting from Wenger’s earlier accomplishments, Arsenal was considered one of those desired destinations. Unfortunately, this opinion has clearly waned in recent years. With Wenger overstaying his welcome, our owner’s frugal tendencies, the vast accumulation of dead-weight and their failure to shore up the contracts of our most attractive assets, we have not only lost out on some potentially franchise-changing options, of which two now ply their trades in the EPL, we have likely scared off a host of others. It’s probably the reason why some have floated ridiculous replacements like Howe, Dyche or Bould, even though none of them have the pedigree nor the drawing power needed for the kind of rebuild we desire and frankly deserve. That is why time is of the essence. If, and only if, we can rid ourselves of Wenger immediately, before any more damage is done, maybe we can entice a suitable replacement to the Emirates. Whether this candidate is a young, innovative manager or a well-established individual with a long resume to boot, matters not, so long as they want to desperately revive the “beautiful” game in North London and they have the fortitude to not sign off without the necessary financial assurances firmly in place.
Thirdly, some are quick to suggest that changing managers is counter-intuitive if you want to be a successful club, even going so far as to suggest that any such move is destined to fail. To those individuals I would say that recent history would suggest otherwise, especially for teams that have the proper hierarchical structures firmly in place. Most of the biggest clubs in European football who have experienced incredibly successful domestic and European campaigns did so despite undergoing several managerial changes during the past decade. Either a manager works or he doesn’t, and when it’s clear that things have gone awry, top clubs generally make decisive decisions and those teams rarely miss a beat. Of those “top” clubs only Arsenal has failed to make the necessary changes, despite our limited success. This seems to suggest that our club knows better than every other perennial giant in the sport, which is highly unlikely considering our glaring lack of results over the past decade. I personally believe that if we had put on our big boy pants several years ago and put an end to this facade, especially at a time when many of our closest rivals were dealing with their own internal issues, we could have made a real push and won a EPL trophy or two along the way.
Finally,and most importantly, if you truly believe that consistency has currency in the footballing world, Arsenal should have a decided advantage over those teams who are seemingly in a constant state of flux. In fact, by this juncture we should be the example by which all other clubs model themselves from an organizational and player development standpoint. As we all know, this couldn’t be further from the truth nowadays. Some might even go so far as to suggest that we have become the model for what not to do as an organization. I don’t know if I would go that far, but I would say that the longer our manager has stayed on he has become increasingly more fragile and paranoid and to compensate he surrounded himself with a whole host of spineless accomplices (yes men). Whenever this occurs things tend to devolve quite quickly as the club becomes overly dependent upon an increasingly stale manager who has stripped the organization of those individuals who could properly pick up the slack.
Furthermore I believe that this was done intentionally by Wenger so that it would be infinitely more difficult for the club to go in a different direction. I certainly understand why he chose to pursue this course of action, but that doesn’t make it right. There is no doubt he feels that this club owes him the right to decide when and how he leaves the Emirates, which is an incredibly selfish sentiment, especially if he truly cares about this club. For this debacle I place the blame squarely on the board, the AKBs and our current majority owner. It was their responsibility, as the caretakers of this club and his employer, to recognize the obvious errors of his ways and to protect the best interests of this club by saving our once proud leader from himself. Never before and likely never again has a manager been afforded such leeway for so long without major trophies to justify his tenure. So I don’t care if we get Malcom or finally rid ourselves of some obvious deadwood or beat Bournemouth decisively or sign Mahrez or re-sign Ozil or sign another kid defender with a supposed huge upside etc…,what I truly care about is finally removing all the parasites from our beloved organization before we find ourselves joining the ranks of those teams who once mattered but allowed the poor choices of a few to forever change the fortunes of the many. So please don’t fall for the usual Wenger “wag the dog” tactics, which have held us hostage for close to a decade, instead truly recognize where we are as a club right now. When you do this you will quickly realize that we’ve never been farther from realizing our dreams for success in the EPL or abroad and that our prospects for future success have never been more bleak.