ARSENE WENGER, THE END OF THE ROAD by Valentine
Like I said on Sunday after the 1st of 2 matches in 4 days in between Arsenal and Man City, Arsene Wenger’s time at the helm in Arsenal is finally over after 22 years.
*Why did the Arsenal Board keep him for the last 6-14 Years?*
1. *FA Cup Haul* Because he has consistently delivered the FA Cup at least every other year and let’s face it the FA cup is an illustrious trophy,. regarded as the oldest and most prestigious FA trophy in the World. Let’s not undermine this trophy because of Arsene and give credit where it is due because fewer coaches have won it in the EPL at least for that long (although some will say that Arsene has been there longer than most, but it’s okay. Go Arsene! Go Arsene!!) The FA Cup still comes with prestige and money so kudos to the Board.* Trophy Haul:* 7 times, since 1996, the last one coming against Chelsea last year at Wembley.
2. *Top 4/Champions League* He has consistently maintained consistency in playing in this tournament despite the fact that they are out by the Quarters all these years save the year that they got to the final with Barca. This also comes with Money but not Prestige for dropping out early. The Board would take the money, leave out the prestige bit. Kudos to them.
3. *Winning the League (EPL)*
His early success, a year after joining the Club in 1996 at Arsenal was phenomenal, winning the League (EPL) and FA cup double in 1997-98 & 2001-02 seasons and then winning the league for the last time in 2003-04 season (Les Invincible) was enough to win and melt the hearts of die hard fans, the Board and even eagle eyed watchers in London as well as coaches and even referees. He was the cynosure of all eyes that threatened the legacy of the Legendary Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) usurping him 3 times and even going one better than SAF in winning the 2003-04 season unbeaten with a then record 26 Wins & 12 Draws. The highly decorated former Manchester United Manager in all his years of glory never got to the finishing line unbeaten and why this seemed to have sparked a resurgence of sorts and a need to consistently reinvent himself to take Man United to the next level. This level of success sparked the opposite response in Monsieur Wenger as he became complacent and began to take himself too seriously. He failed to realise that with success came responsibility and the bigger the success the bigger the responsibility. He failed to reinvent himself in the modern game.
Arsene began to see himself as the most important and single fabric in the Arsenal textile and he began to sell very key, important and influential players and Leaders both in the dressing room and on the pitch such as Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flamini, Thierry Henry and the likes. The effect is that there were no more leaders in the team and it is quite instructive that Cesc Fabregas, purchased from Barcelona as a young teenager became the leader of the pack with amazing skills on the pitch but with little leadership experience to impart. It would become apparent over the years in the team that leadership as much as skills has a major role to play in the course of a season.
Though there were FA cup successes here and there but the lack of Premier League success also began to take its toll on the the team. The success of Leicester City as EPL Champions did not help matters at all and confined one of Wenger’s famous excuses to the garbage heap; on how spending too much money on players was hurting the EPL and Leicester did the unthinkable and unimaginable and won the League anyway without spending a fraction of what Arsenal spent on their own players. What that meant was that they used Monsieur Wengers age long philosophy about spending less and discovering talent to win the league that Wenger himself, the owner of the philosophy, last won in 2003-04 season. The BoD were watching. With Leicester’s triumph, I will not be drawn into the issue of money bags winning the league for 2 reasons;
1. Leicester won it without Money bags.
2. Arsenal has the financial power, muscle or clout to compete with any club in the top 6 and I think Arsene has been too modest when he gives the impression that Arsenal cannot compete financially just to support his declining position.
I would also not be drawn into The New Stadium (The Emirates) issue because Arsenal could still have stayed competitive without selling their best players at the time. They could have staked their gate takings as equity coupled with any financial technicalities and wizardry a handsomely paid consultant could muster. Sorry, Monsieur Wenger, no dice.
Although there were new quality, world-class additions to the Arsenal team such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, after the exodus of quality players, but the old problem still remained. The Coach had suddenly become stale overnight and that filtered to the boys on the field with a penchant for unseriousness, lackadaisical attitude and to prove that, talented young players in their generation such as Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and even Aaron Ramsey peaked at an early stage in their careers without knowing that they had peaked because there was very little coming from the coach. Giroud, Ozil & Sanchez and the others who came in later could not witness any resurgence in their careers under Wenger and the highbrow televised transfer of Sanchez from Arsenal to Man Utd did not go unnoticed by avid football followers.
Wengers early successes had now become his nemesis and if you trace when the real issues started you cannot be too far off from the last time he won the league in 2003-04 season. Well some can argue that he still won 3 FA cups after that but remember, *“The Fan blade does not immediately stop when you switch off the power, it will still rotate for a while and slowly come to and end”* and I suspect that the end is near for Wenger to quit at the end of this season either willingly or forced.
The Son of the major stakeholder at Arsenal coming to London for a few months on a fact finding mission may just herald the beginning of the change of Guard in handing over the baton to a new generation of personnel; Directors and Head Coach/Manager inclusive but I suspect mostly the latter.
Ancelloti as new Head Coach Manager will not be a bad idea since he is a a proven winner in the Premier League and will target a trophy highly coveted by Arsenal, and whether he wins it at first trial is a topic for another day but the Coach with the best fit for Arsenal is none other than Luiz Enrique. But he is no longer available and rumoured to be heading towards Stamford Bridge but Arsenal will do just fine with Ancelotti despite the fact that other reputable coaches such as Joachim Loew (Germany), Leonardo Jardim (Monaco), Julian Nagelsmann (Hoffenheim) and even Arsenal’s mostly illustrious Son, Thierry Henry have all been touted for the job.
Arsene Wenger will not be disgraced at his duty post, far from it because his early successes ensures that ,and he has earned the right to move and his next move is very crucial and predictable – to the Directors box Upstairs. Shifting upwards will be a win-win for all parties concerned because Arsenal would have it no other way; as ensuring equity and fairness to all parties concerned, rather than taking the bull by the horns, is what has kept Arsenal in this same position in the first place.
Story/ Report by
Unofficial Correspondent/Sports News Director
Federal Government College Idoani
Class of 88