Do Arsenal need a complete change? by Sean
Change? In football this a word shrouded in fear and unimaginable risk. However, change is also what makes teams successful and transforms huge risk into resounding success. With Arsenal a lack of change has been one of the primary protagonists in their failure to deliver at the highest level of football. In the past eight years the lack of progress is startling for a club with substantial resources. Of course the club don’t have the funds that other top level premier league clubs have at their disposal, but as the last three years have shown they certainly have the finances available to bring in top quality players. They have after all been able to purchase two players each over £30 million in the summer. The financial gap has been significantly closed from the huge abyss that it was once was, extinguishing somewhat a core excuse for Arsenal not being able to compete.
For years it was believed that increased expenditure would finally catapult Arsenal into a position to mount a genuine title challenge. Not quite, leaving the club at a position to be legitimately criticised. Every season has an eerie feeling of history repeating itself, with fans able to predict accurately the timeline of the season. It begins with great euphoria, expectation and belief in the squad and concludes with severe frustration and disappointment with the team crumbling in the exact same fashion to the season previous. The match against Chelsea on Saturday was so predictable with the match unfolding exactly the way most fans feared. An inability to compete both physically and mentally were fatal again to the team’s performance. The statistics against the top teams in England only emphasise an inherent weakness in the team and illustrate why they are never serious contenders.
Of course many clubs would be envious of Arsenals position, but given the clubs infrastructure and its talented squad of international players it is seriously underperforming. This is simply unacceptable at any level of football, it is undoubtedly a travesty if any team does not perform to the standard which it has the ability to fulfil. It is this chronic underperformance at Arsenal which continues to poison the pursuit of success. On paper the squad is arguably as good as any in England leaving it abundantly clear that the mentality, discipline and desire required at the highest level is absent. This isn’t a hasty reaction to another big defeat but a response to the cumulative failings of the team.
Change is necessary in football as the appointment of Conte at Chelsea testifies to. His success has been euphoric transforming virtually the same team which imploded in the 15/16 season into the dominant force which they now are in the domestic league. Arsenal have been paralysed by a crippling inertia with very little credible change occurring. Performance has clearly been at a plateau with the lack of progress in terms of results damning.
For how much longer can fans accept such mediocrity given the talent of the squad? Every season ends with such disappoint which makes it wholly justified to question the position of the manager. There is no doubt that he has revolutionised the club, but the fact remains that the club now in this moment is failing. Many fans have been criticised for their vocal assault on Wenger’s position, but isn’t this perfectly understandable given their discontent with the clubs direction. Don’t fans have the right to criticise the man who leads the team and assumes accountability for its performance. As we have seen throughout every football club it is the manager who transforms and dictates the team with the appointment of different managers strategic.
The fans are being continually let down and exploited with Arsenal’s season ticket prices the highest in the league. No matter what, it is the manager who is held responsible for underperformance within any organisation. The defence of Wenger’s position has now reached a point where it is based primarily on sentiment and nostalgia. The board must also be held accountable as they do not seem concerned with the team progressing, they are perfectly content to promote a brand and profit from it. Change must occur at board level with a competitive attitude needing to be instilled here first. Gary Neville recently classed some fans calling for a new manager as ‘embarrassing’, yet some of these fans have supported the club for years going home and away. Therefore, they are entitled to this opinion which is hard to argue against, why should they settle for what they have? This defeats the very basis of football.
Gary Neville and other pundits continually criticise Arsenal for having a soft belly which makes them seem very hypocritical when fans express the same concerns. The fans care about the clubs future and ultimately finance it. Therefore, it is quite daft for them to be harassed for sharing a legitimate view. Without a change in the clubs mentality, any change will be futile. The biggest risk isn’t changing manager, but it is whether or not the board will change, if they do not then they compromise any possibility of success. Greed and business principles have sabotaged the club with the overall objective not a sporting one. Sport is all about progress, improvement and development, aspects which Arsenal seem blind to. It is hoped that a change in manager can be the beginning of a fresh injection of life and competitive edge at the club. Without doubt the future without Wenger is uncertain, but one with him and the current board’s philosophy seems very predictable indeed.
Sean Gallagher 05/02/17