Would Arsenal have been better off if Wenger had quit in 2006? by Paul
Undoubtedly a new era had besmirched Arsenal come 2006 as the curtain finally came down on Highbury. However was this change of ground the only necessary change needed for the Arsenal? The club and more importantly the fans now had a mounting appetite for success which would go starved over the next seven years.
Whether Wenger goes on to win countless more trophies or not, he will unquestionably go down as the greatest ever Arsenal manager. Yet why is there still such furore from disgruntled Arsenal fans culminating every year in the calling for his head? In this new era of social media it is easier to gauge a more valid, nevertheless hyperbolic opinion from a higher proportion of footballing fans, far from your usual crowd in the pub on a Friday night or whichever ex-Liverpool pundit is on the tele. So why is this? It cannot be due to Arsenal style of play which has seen a similar response to Sam Allardyce tenure at London rivals West Ham. I believe this overall resentment from Arsenals fan is due to Wenger effectively having the ‘blueprint’ on the ultimate team, the Invincibles and his stubbornness in his attempt to ‘reinvent the wheel.’
Wenger was once a pioneer of the evolution of English football, he bought young, hungry and powerful footballers from around Europe and merged them into one of the best sides in English footballs history. With success came much adulation from the media, but as his stubbornness and ego grew the team disintegrated. Arsenal greats such as Vieira, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Parlour, Lauren, Keown, Campbell and Wiltord all left Arsenal without an authentic replacement being signed. The era of Arsenal replacing experienced pro’s with youth team products was in full swing and while for every Fabregas there was a Denilson, and Toure there was a Senderos, Arsenal became inherently weak. The replacements he did sign Rosicky, Eduardo and Hleb did not pick up the slack left by Pires and Ljungberg and Henry. Arsenal became a settled top four side that has never really convinced anyone of winning the league since. In 2006 Wenger said: “Arsenal lack maturity to be champions”, yet continued the perseverance in promoting youngsters, such as Djourou, Eboue and Fabianski. Maybe the quality he strives for in his squad should have been directed more towards himself as Arsenal face the same problems when facing Chelsea and Man City each year.
While it was a difficult time anyway in Arsenal’s history, as the club struggled to pay off the stadium it still shouldn’t have been paramount in Wenger’s mindset. While Wenger did do a great job of keeping Arsenal within the Champions league places since 2005, Arsenal have toiled away without any reward. Now, while Wenger recently said he will not sign another striker in Giroud’s absence, it reminds strongly of when Vieira departed and Wenger quoted: “I am not in a hurry. We have Gilberto, Flamini and Fabregas. We have plenty of players.”
This strong central midfield player was not entirely replaced until the emergence of the somewhat dubious Alex Song a good six years later. Altogether this ultimately highlights that Wenger cannot deal with issues so prominently visible to Arsenal fans everywhere. Now while I do not know if Arsenal would be in a better position had they parted company with back in 2006, I think the question should be looked at to see if Wenger truly is the man that should be taking us forward now when there are still glaring weaknesses within the squad and infrastructure.