REALITY CHECK: IT ALL POINTS BACK TO THE MANAGER by Uche
How do we all feel about Arsene Wenger? Ask this question several times and you will get different responses from the same individual, depending on when you ask the question. A day after winning the FA Cup, the majority will tell you that Wenger is the man. We beat Chelsea to win the Community Shield and Wenger is still the man. The season starts, our squad deficiencies get exposed in a couple of games and, suddenly, Wenger is not quite the man. Three games played and five points dropped already. Clearly we are not going to win the league. We were never going to win the league with our squad deficiencies so we need to stop saying that. Arsenal has potential but potential is not a guarantee of success. Potential only implies the possibility of success if improvements are made in the right areas. Arsene Wenger is a man who never does enough. That is just the way he is. Nobody understands how a winner like him became the way he is today. Maybe it is the stubbornness that comes with old age because old people are notoriously stuck in their ways.
Everybody everywhere has always known we needed a defensive midfielder. We have been lacking one since Patrick Viera left over a decade ago. Wenger being the person that he is spent many unsuccessful years trying to prove otherwise. He still hasn’t succeeded. The emergence of Francis Coquelin was purely accidental. If Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta never picked up those injuries they got middle of last season, Francis Coquelin would still be plying his trade in some championship team or perhaps sold for a paltry sum to some mid table team while our problems persist.
It is very weird how a problem with a team can be so glaring to everybody but the manager who makes the decisions.
This Arsenal board may feel they struck gold with Wenger and in many ways they did. Who else could deliver a football stadium and two decades of success on a shoe string budget? No one we know of. But in appreciating Wenger, the board has over indulged him to the detriment of our team. How possible is it that Arsene Wenger answers to no one? How possible is it that Stan Kroenke and all the other board members can see as clearly as everyone else that we have a striker problem – and yet none of them can instruct Wenger to buy a striker? What dirt does he have on them? What exactly is in his contract? Wenger is easily the most powerful man in football today. Think about it. His employers are too scared to tell him anything, no matter what he does. How possible is it that a team as big as Arsenal can be plagued with the same problems year in year out and yet they never get fixed adequately? The way Arsenal is run is a mystery. Pundits look at us and shake their heads. We defy explanation.
The issue with Wenger is not that he does not try. You cannot accuse him of not making an effort, after all, the current Arsenal team is remarkably different from the team that had the likes of Eboue, Denilson, Squillaci and Almunia not very long ago. But Wenger is a man who fixes one problem at a time. For some strange reason, he cannot sit down and fix all our problems at once. Before the transfer window of summer 2015 opened, there was much talk about Arsenal needing a spine. By spine, pundits like Thierry Henry were not talking about wholesale changes. All he meant was a world class goalie, central defender, defensive midfielder and striker. Henry was spot on. So what does Wenger do? He goes on and buys a world class goalie in Peter Cech. That is very good. One down, three to go. And what does Wenger do next? He goes back to sitting on his hands, his favourite position of comfort. All it took was injuries to our first choice central defenders for this deficiency to be exposed yet again. Calum Chambers is not the guy you win the league with. Like Carl Jenkinson, he should be on loan somewhere honing his craft.
We are a Francis Coquelin injury away from a total collapse of our central midfield and Olivier Giroud continues to prove to pundits that they were right in saying that he is not good enough to win us a title.
So where does all of this leave us? It is back to reality, and here is reality for you. We are not going to win the league. We have dropped five points in three games already. That is not how you win the league and we have seen this movie before too many times. By the time we start playing, the league leaders are out of sight. Here is also another dose of reality. Arsene Wenger will not fix our problems in this transfer window or any window whatsoever. If he miraculously buys Edinson Cavani, that still leaves a hole in defensive midfield and central defense. Wenger will not buy three world class players in one week. No. That is what he normally does in three years. The quota for this year has already been filled by Peter Cech. That is it for this window and I will be thrilled to be proven wrong.
So this is the advice I give to myself and anyone who supports Arsenal. Support your team the way Newcastle fans and Sunderland fans support their team. They know they are not going to win the league and they know they are in for disappointment but they still support their team because theirs is a love affair that defies understanding and that in itself is the mystery of fan support. Peace .
Lagos – Nigeria