Why Wenger IS to blame for Arsenal’s failings by PA
Arsene Stubborn and Impractical
Even before the trophy less spell Wenger was always stubborn, with a rigid adherence to philosophy over tactics. It was always his way or nothing. There are two problems with this.
First his way hasn’t arguably translated to success on the playing field. Success is the great arbiter. If he was successful, in a manner not open to arguments then his philosophy and personality would not ever be questioned.
The second problem is that Wenger’s footballing philosophy requires that his players be extremely technically gifted and in form to succeed. The times he has managed to craft such teams they have been an absolute delight to watch and can beat any team in the world. But when first team players are injured or out of form and have to be replaced by less technically gifted players or when the players he has gathered haven’t the technical ability to translate his philosophy to action, then any team can beat arsenal. This is probably the reason why Sir Alex Ferguson and Mourhino have triumphed over him again and again.
There is really nothing wrong with his philosophy. Barcelona has proved that it can be highly effective. But Barcelona has been successful because they marry the idealism of their ‘tiki taka’ to the pragmatism of acquiring the players they need to make it work. For such a philosophy, as that practised in Arsenal and Barcelona to succeed then you need the right players. As good as the Barcelona academy is, the club still spends a lot of money bringing in world class talents. Because your academy can’t give you all the players you need and gifted players cost money.
There is also his insistence in certain ideals to the exclusion of all else. First it was youth, now it is a British core. Regardless of how impractical these ideals may be he stubbornly pursues them. No compromises no room for adaptability. Wenger has closed his mind to this fact. Somehow he believes that doing what he has done for the last years will somehow bring a different result.
Genesis of a Decline
Totally disbanding the Invincible Class
His failure to leave a core of players especially from the invincible class is also inexcusable. The winning mentality and spirit left the team when the likes of Viera, Campbell and others were allowed to leave the club and we have not recovered since. His then emphasis on youth and youth only did not preclude him from leaving a small number of key players who embodied that team of Invincibles. They would have formed the backbone of the young team he was trying to build then.
While Manchester united had the likes of Giggs and Scholes to pass on the ethos of United we had none, the result a break and discontinuity in the growth of the team as epitomised by the ten year wait for a trophy.
Failing the Post Invincible class
Can you all remember that of group of young talented players that always seemed to fall off just at the finish line. They might not have won anything but they played wonderful football. They were a joy to watch. Wenger was always saying – when they outgrow their immaturity they would become winners, So why didn’t they win anything? Wenger and his then insistence on a youth policy, using only players from the academy or second rate players
Bear with me as I explain. That team only ever at anytime needed one key element to succeed. It was either they lacked experience, a CB, or a striker but Wenger never addressed these needs and consequently that team never reached its potential. When we needed experience he sold every member of the invincible team, When we needed an experienced CB, he gave the team Cygan and Sanderos. When Van persie was perpetually injured, Eduardo had a long term injury and we had no striker, he played Arshavin as our lead striker. These decisions were not about being frugal, there were several economical options available then, they were evidence of an unwillingness to adapt. Arshavin came to say he couldn’t play the lead striker role yet Wenger did nothing in the January window and we dropped off a good run that would have led us to the premiership title.
Dortmund and Atletico Madrid have shown that you can build a winning team on a small budget. So Wenger apologists should stop alluding to the fact that our finances were limited for a period of years. The 2013 – 2014 Atletico side that dethrone Madrid and Barcelona and romped to the final of the champions league, the 2012 – 2013 Juventus team that went unbeaten have proved that it can be done. Why did the mangers of these teams succeed and Wenger did not? Because they are pragmatist willing to adapt to win while Wenger is an idealist unwilling to change from a course he has chosen.
No progress on the field
We have a new and bigger stadium, better endorsement deals and a higher revenue profile but on the field of play we have regressed. If we as fans are unbiased we will accept that we have not been playing well this season and this is a culmination of a steady decline in the quality of our play. Except for certain matches last season that Arsenal way we have grown used to, admittedly Wenger’s doing, has been missing from our play. We might have possession but we do not create chances. Players are static in the final third, there is almost no movement off the ball. Where before a player with the ball had two or three players running into forward positions now we pass around the box waiting and waiting. Were before we created chance after chance but failed to put the ball in the net now we just run around with the ball
Failing to fix what is wrong
For a long time Wenger has ignored glaring problems in his teams. The teams injury problems is common knowledge but every season he blames it on bad luck and does nothing about it. Positions that need to get filled don’t
His Transfer Dealings
Wenger’s transfer dealings have been a source of frustration and annoyance for some time now. Case in point the Luis Suarez saga. Why we put forward a bid of $40,000,001 is beyond comprehension. What was wrong with adding $100,000 to the amount we thought we had to top to trigger his release clause. We probably would have gotten Suarez for 45 to 50 million dollars if we had approached the whole situation with a little more common sense. He scored 32 goals after and got a $80 million transfer to Barcelona and we see how myopic Wenger can be. This has not been the only time Wenger has bungled what would have been fantastic transfers. From the same Liverpool we wanted to buy Xabi Alonso and would have but for the refusal of Wenger to be pay a couple more million. The next season he was sold for twice as much to Madrid.
Rather than buy premium Wenger has shown a preference for offering hefty contracts to mediocre players. Even when we were struggling with finances as a result of moving to the Emirates, we still had the third highest wage bill in the league. This was because we were paying top dollar to players like Silvestre, Diaby, Dennilson, Chamakh, Bendthner, and a host of other players that didn’t add value to the team.
Arsenal should be in Second place.
Several commentators and fans have taken people like me to task for our criticism of Wenger. According to them we are just 4 points off Manchester City and above United, Liverpool and Tottenham.
The issue is we should be taking advantage of the short comings of these other teams. Like last season when we lost the opportunity to capitalise on the failures of the other teams to win the premiership so too are we disappointing this season.
Last season United fell out of the top four and Chelsea was not playing particularly well yet we could only manage fourth. This season when everyone expected we would have improved we are languishing in sixth. Manchester United is still rebuilding, Liverpool has lost their talisman, and Manchester City show effects of an aging squad and yet we cannot take advantage.
Simply because our manager failed to address concerns in his team that were obvious to everyone. So we should criticise him.