Wenger Fighting a Losing battle – All Parts

It appears since the start of the season many fans, including myself, have started to question the efficiency and tactical know how of Arsene Wenger.

A man who will go down in Arsenal history as quite possibly the greatest ever manager of the club, he will no doubt be remembered for two things. One taking the club a whole season unbeaten and running 49 games unbeaten. And for another generation he will be remembered as the first manager to take a London club to the final of the Champions League.

However great his achievements once were, they are now fading. People become fickle and desperate with time and this is not a slur on the loyal Arsenal fans who have supported the club through thick and thin. Not turning up when an Arab Sheikh or Russian Oil magnate comes along and not going when the balance of power shifts.

So where has it gone wrong for Wenger? In Part one of this deep examination I look at what has actually happened to Arsene and weather there is one single thing or an accumulation of events which have led to Arsenal slipping away from title contenders to also rans for the last 7, nearly 8 years.

I start by looking at the manager himself. Arsene is a very intelligent man. A university degree in economics and a playing career with several teams in the French Leagues he made his name at Monaco and Grampus 8 in Japan before David Dein contacted him and offered him a chance to turn around one of English footballs understated teams.

Euro Cup Winners Cup champions only a couple of years before, Wenger had a job of turning a team who had performed well under George Graham, into a team capable of challenging for major honours. Within weeks he had changed the diets of the players. The training schedule and even the way the players behaved before games. Taking them away from their families on a pre-match night to bond with the rest of the team. He was instrumental in applying ancient Chinese rituals in the dressing room and sought to bring unknown players with a possibility of building a title winning team.

Purchasing players from his homeland, he had the support of his ally, David Dein who continued to work with Arsene well untill Dein was ceremoniously dumped off the Arsenal board for wanting to welcome outside investment into the club. This was where Arsene started to lose his grip as the man who Arsenal fans adored.

David Dein was called Arsene’s fixer. He wanted something, he got it. If he didn’t want a players contract renewed, Arsene let Dein deal with it.

Since then Arsene has had a relationship with a man few gunners like, even saying a few would probably be too many. Ivan Gazidis, Manchester City fan at heart and Arsenal’s new CEO. Holding the keys to the Arsenal safe and the cheque book required to sign players to make Arsenal a strong unit again. But with a move to a new stadium came change in policy at board level. Balancing the books became more important than success on the pitch.

(Ivan Gazidis 2011) It is not essential that we qualify for the Champions League, our revenue is such we can cope without it.

Yet Ivan was not only responsible for such inspiration lacking statements as that, but also for helping to broker no fewer than 5 Arsenal players to the Ethihad in deals worth over £70m pounds in total. Incredibly with the transfers of Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy, both were set to join other clubs in Manchester United and Roma, untill City came calling.

So Arsene has lost his boardroom backing that he used to have, with arguments rumbling over weather the cash is really there to spend or not. Is the reported £70m cash in reserves ACTUALLY available. Or is Wenger being told one thing and the fans being told another by Gazidis.

One thing is for sure, things aren’t the same for Arsene since Dein left. His control and operative within the boardroom of the marble halls is long gone. He is now fighting a cause on his own, as he looks for glory on the pitch, the board are more concerned about the finances off it

Players are probably the most important part of a club. Without 11 players, there would be no football team. Simple statement, but does the player involved in the team make that much difference?

Lets look at the last 16 years and some of the players who have walked through our doors from Jose Antonio Reyes to Oleg Luzhny.

It is known that players nowadays are notoriously fickle. Some players are loyal, some are interested in their pockets. Some just want to play for the club they’ve supported as a kid. I take Steven Gerrard. In his recent Being:Liverpool TV Show he said he’s only ever wanted to play for Liverpool.

Sorry Steve, I’ve seen many pictures of you in an Everton kit. Hardly looks like you were forced to wear it son.

So we are also aware some players are just full of S**t.

Arsene is notoriously a good judge of character and takes calculated risks with his signings. But with certain signings he seemed to have overlooked the personality aspect and the impact on his team. Alex Song (Laziness), Denilson (Unpopular) and certain others have apparently been an issue in recent years with the way they have conducted themselves at the club. Viewing themselves as ‘big fish in a little pond’. Denilson has since been shifted as has Song, and discussions involving club members say the likes of Arteta and Podolski have given a positive atmosphere in the dressing room since the start of this season. Why this hasn’t filtered onto the pitch god only knows.

But it is more the loyalty that Wenger has shown some players and had it thrown back in his face. I refer to several names. Reyes, Van Persie, Cole, Nasri, Clichy and does anybody remember Francisco Merida? All these players were taken by Wenger at a time when they were not greatly known around Europe or the world and made them into household names. The worst of these could arguably be between Van Persie and Nasri. Nasri leaving for more money, despite forgetting his poor form in the final three months of the season was detrimental to Arsenal’s poor finish and Van Persie for using Arsenal as a hospital for 8 years, delivering one good season and buggering off to Manchester.

But lets not forget the other side of the coin. Players like Gilberto, Edu, Lauren, Seaman, Pires, Ljungberg and Vieria who gave their all to Arsenal. Only for Wenger’s stubborn policy of not offering players over 30 more than a year extension on their contract despite years of honourable service to the club.

Without these players to help oversee a ‘transition’ we struggled. Walcott was no-where near ready to immediately take over from a Pires type player. Arteta had to find his feet and offer a different style of play to a Nasri of Fabregas. So in all truth, Wenger has had his fair share of dis-loyal moments as well.

Players of such quality are not only good to have to help youngsters but also for experienced heads when the times are tough. To help see the club over the line. Some will say why couldn’t they just sign a year extension? well most players in their 30’s want security. Pires was a shining example. Went to Villareal and over his two years there helped develop a certain player we have now. Anybody know the name Cazorla? What impact could that have had if we had kept him?

Wenger is under increasing pressure today again from more corners than before. Although he isn’t the only one culpable, he needs to have a look at himself if he wants to remain in the Arsenal fans good books and achieve a top 4 finish this season.

It has become clear by now that several things have emerged. Wenger is a man under immense pressure, and probably for the first time in 16 years as Arsenal chief, he is now under pressure from the fans.

The absence of the ‘In Arsene We Trust’ banner has perhaps given the biggest sign since 1996 that the fans are not happy with the man in charge at the club.

Arsenal’s worst start for 30 years and still nobody appears to be concerned within the Emirates so long as come May we are 4th. Sorry guys, this doesn’t cut it any more.

Piers Morgan (hate him or love him) had an interview with Talksport on Monday night (12th Nov) and made his opinion perfectly clear. He shared Le Grove’s view, and mine for some time, that Wenger has taken this club as far as he can. He no longer looks the passionate man of years gone by. The one thing that got me was something Piers Morgan said in his interview

What concerned me is that Ferguson called Arsene personally to convince him to sell Van Persie, one of the best strikers in the world. Imagine if Wenger had called Ferguson about Rooney? The conversation would have lasted three seconds and would have included the word ‘off’ in it somewhere”

Now I think about it, he is right. Who in their right mind would actually agree to sell your best player to a rival who then goes and reminds you how good they actually are by scoring against you.

Wenger is in my opinion, one of the best managers we will ever have. His marble bust in the Emirates confirms him as a club legend. The longer he goes on trying to fix this debacle we are in, the more his reputation becomes tarnished.

ultimately in summary, Wenger has had a bit of ‘karma’ come back to bite him. His decision with loyalty to players in the early 00’s is now being swiftly reversed in the last few years.

The board need to take a huge chunk of responsibility instead of hiding behind Arsene and taking the easy way out of things by saying all the time that there is money. For those who want to see an interesting article about Arsenal’s spend in the last ten years view The Unsilent Majority’s article about Wonders on a shoestring. It might make you feel depressed.

Either way, I think the time is right for change, Wenger has given his all for the club and we shall never forget that. Sadly what we shall remember him for is not the Two double winning teams, or the invincibles of 03-04. What we shall ultimately remember him for is the prolonged period of time that Arsenal, one of the ‘Elite clubs’ in the English Premier League went without a solitary trophy to their name.

And before you question my article, here is a rhetorical question for you.

If Arsene was manager at Chelsea, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Juventus or Bayern Munich, and he had gone 8 years without winning a trophy there, do you think he would have still been employed after even 4 years?

His loyalty is un-questionable, his methods since 2005 however, have a very large question mark hanging over them.

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