Wenger’s faults by Jon Fox
I write as a state retired man who first saw Arsenal live in 1955 and had been a regular attendee since 1958 until early last season, ( forty years plus as a season ticket holder and regular away fan in my younger days too) when I could no longer stomach the disease running through our club, and so stopped coming.
I flatter myself that I know a little about life and how people are, what weaknesses and strengths they bring to the table. I ran a successful business employing many people for a long period and keenly observe how people interact.
In my opinion Arsenal Wenger has two overriding weaknesses, which to me at least, have been obvious almost from his start as our manager. Firstly, he is unable to stomach argument from within the group or dissension against his methods. This is a form of weakness and also of arrogance, which are so often two sides of the same coin. In short he has not the vital ability or real toughness to stand up to reluctant or troublesome players, journalists asking tough questions or even fans who can clearly see this weakness. His standard response to interviewers is to change the subject or to give a prickly response, which are typical responses used by “I always know best” people in many walks of life. Compare that to the highly charismatic and effective Jurgen Klopp; no wonder his players and fans love him!
Observe how Conte at Chelsea handled the Costa situation; decisive management with no changing of his mind and his firm stance, clear to all that Conte wanted Costa gone and not to return. Though some fans would clearly dissent, Conte put the club above the player and all knew where they stood. Remember Fergie with Stam, Keane, even Beckham? Yes, Fergie had faults – who doesn’t – but no one messed with him and he was proven right by results. Wenger has needed to do this with many players over the years but never does. Walcott is the prime example of a serial coaster and too comfortable player, on exhorbitant wages but who just does not deliver, after 11 and a half years. Others for a variety of reasons include Wilshere, Diaby, Ramsey, Senderos, Adebayor, Nasri, Denilson, Almunia and many other players who though talented, (in some of these cases) did not produce what their talent should have produced. Yet many of these stayed at the club, on increased wages doing effectively nothing to help the team. Fergie, Mourinho, Conte, Klopp , Pochettino and Guardiola would have cleared these players out far sooner and saved huge wages, letting more effective and hungrier players play in their place. Not so Wenger, as we all know now, even most of those who until recently harked back to the glory days of his first nine years and refused to move with the times, in true Wenger fashion.
Wenger’s other real weakness is an inability to learn from the mistakes which all managers make. Fans are not stupid, though ours are treated by the manager, in his arrogant statements, as though they are. Remember his comment about if fans wished to have their say but had never managed in their lives ,”even for 24 hours”? Many of us more astute observers are not in the least surprised by this type of comment. This includes many respected ex-players too. Wenger for year after long year has persisted, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, in the belief that no quality proper holding central midfielder with pace and power MUST sit in front of the defence at all times, and particularly so when away at tough away grounds. He has made do with the like of Coquelin and Elneny recently and also Ramsey and Xhaka, neither of whom are disciplined and sitting players with pace and power. Remember when he tried Denilson for about two seasons, who was frankly, hopelessly out of his depth! He has also shown a complete and long term inability to bring in and regularly motivate players to work their utmost at all times.
Another fault stemming from his inability to change non working tactics is to persist with square pegs in round holes; so many central midfielder or even strikers have been used on the right wing, also on the left at times. His latest folly is the right footed Bellerin used on the left, while the powerful and combative Kolasinac is left on the bench. How must the recently bought Lacazette feel too, benched yesterday after two useful outings where he had scored and looked sharp, while the serial non-scorer Welbeck started in his place?
The absent and uncaring owner and out of touch board, without a proper football man like the tragically ousted David Dein among them, have chosen to indulge Wenger and also refused to learn from their mistakes. To re-engage Wenger last spring was a folly of titanic proportions which we dyed in the wool fans have to put up with and be dismayed by. Or do we?
To enforce vital change of personnel in all those owning and (mis-) running our club, things need to get far worse, with hostilities shown to Wenger, the board and owner, making last years displays look like a children’s tea party by comparison. We thousands of fans who, contrary to Wenger’s opinion, know exactly where the problem lies, have now to be the real guardians of our future by turning on the club we love, in order to enforce a new regime. To write this truth hurts me more than I can describe. I have loved this great club for over 60 years but to survive cancer you have to cut out the tumour. (I write as someone who has survived a cancerous kidney which was successfully removed in 2005). Though many will disagree, life being what it is, many others will deeply know in their souls the truth of what I advocate.
With respect and best wishes,