Why I think Arsenal is still in decline and why the blame is Wenger’s. by PA
Wenger has lost his Mojo
I cannot pinpoint exactly when this occurred but the manager we have now is not the same man that arrived at Highbury in 1996 revolutionised the way Arsenal played and led us to an unbeaten season. There has been a subtle change. Sometime in the last ten years the confident and inscrutable mien that we all knew and were fond of, his chutzpah, gave way to a fearful countenance, puerile excuses and touchline tantrums.
He started with giving excuse after excuse for his team’s failures, apparently trying to protect his players’ ‘fragile confidence’. Instead of calling out his players when they failed to perform he blamed lack of maturity, bad luck, referring decisions, and bullying tactics by opposing teams. When we won due to luck, he praised the players’ heart and effort, concepts we had not heard during his winning days. Sometimes it seemed as if he watched a totally different match. The problem started when he began believing his excuses, the result: frustration with the rest of us for continually questioning his methods and for not seeing the progress only he sees.
As time passed the fragile confidence and erratic performance of the team served to erode his own confidence. Any fan should see that Wenger is not as confident as he used to be then. His posture on the bench is now dejected and dispirited. Everybody including the players see that he doesn’t quite believe that this team is good enough. And a manager that has no confidence in his team has doomed his team.
He also slowly lowered the bar he had previously set high, fourth place now became a trophy. The problem wasn’t our finishing third or fourth, it was his public declaration that it was a desired outcome. Even if because of the financial constraints facing the club finishing fourth was acceptable, it should never have been thought of as trophy. It was at best a consolation.
It meant that paradoxically, while the pressure on the team to win a trophy increased as the drought wore on, the bar of excellence dropped. Finishing fourth was now considered a trophy in the eyes of the club hierarchy.
He has also lost the ability of finding gems in the rough and polishing them, something that set him apart at the beginning of his Arsenal career. Where before he unearthed player after player that shined for Arsenal now he seems to find only average players.