FEATURE: Arsene Wenger. The ageing king or the master rebuilder?
When Arsene Wenger came to North London in 1996 it signalled the beginning of a new era for not only Arsenal, but English football as a whole.
The team he inherited had just finished fifth in the league and were stagnating hugely under Bruce Rioch: Wenger came in and was appalled with what he found. Overweight, unfit players drinking and smoking on match days with awful diets and poor training schedules was causing the club to only go downward. This could not be allowed to continue.
He changed all of it: in came Anelka and Viera and outwent some of the dead weight, most notably John Hartson to West Ham for £5,000,000. This was the start of what we now know as modern football.
Arsenal went on to win three Premier Leagues titles, six FA Cups, six Community Shields and got to a Champions League final under Wenger’s guidance. Since 2005 things have seemingly gone downhill with over a decade having passed since Arsenal last won the title, but why?
Well the reasons are twofold. The first of which being the new stadium. Arsenal moved to the Emirates in 2006 at a cost of £390 million pounds and this was considerably more than they had budgeted for. As wages and transfer prices rose; mainly due to the influence of Sky and BT in the television rights market, Arsenal couldn’t keep up despite their vast finances due to the debt of the stadium.
They had to pay back £260 million at a rate of £26 million a year, therefore they need an operating profit of £30 million a year in order to stay competitive, the £26million never actually went into the clubs coffers, just straight back to the lender, hence their inability to spend it order to keep up with Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United. So therefore, can Wenger really be blamed for Arsenal’s lack of trophies?
To a certain extent yes, as some Arsenal fans would argue that when he was allowed to spend it was spent irresponsibly , for example the purchases of Andrey Arshavin and Lucas Perez were largely failures.
However, others would counter with the argument that Arsenal haven’t been seen as a viable option for players really wanting to progress their careers. This is largely due to their inability to pay the same as other Premier League clubs and their consistent short-fallings in achieving major domestic honours. Though the question remains: should Arsene Wenger be at Arsenal next season?
In short, no. In my opinion Wenger’s time at Arsenal has come to an end. He has undeniably been a fantastic servant to that club and to English football as a whole, we all owe him a great deal, but despite this, it is clear that he has failed to adapt to the modern game and he has now fallen behind the times.
It happens to a load of great managers: Van Gaal, Capello, Lippi, all of them were once true giants of the game but it has left them behind. Arsenal have undeniably stagnated under Wenger in recent years, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s his fault but under him they cannot progress further than where they currently sit, and it’s getting worse each year.
Last year was their best chance to win the title in years: Chelsea, United, and City all having off seasons with Leicester being the surprise package but yet Arsenal still couldn’t capitalise.
For many fans, that was it, if they couldn’t win it then then they’ll never win it. Then this season came the hiding at the hands of Bayern Munich, something that seems to happen every yea, alongside heavy defeats to Palace and to West Brom, and as Arsenal Fan TV will show you, the fans were not happy. So overall, I do think he should leave at the end of this season, but will he leave?
Absolutely not. Other clubs have Directors of Football or Sporting Directors but Arsenal have only Wenger. That man runs the club single handedly, from transfer decisions, to the starting XI, to pre-season tours, Arsenal are a one-man club.
He; and he alone, gets to decide his future and there is no way he will choose to resign in fact, if rumours are to be believed, he will sign a two year deal which will absolutely spark fresh outrage on Arsenal Fan TV, much to the enjoyment of everyone else, but I fail to believe that this would be in the best interest of the club, its in the best interest of Wenger.
If Wenger stays Sanchez, Ozil, and probably Oxlade-Chamberlain will all leave for pastures new, probably for PSG, Bayern, and Liverpool in that order. Wenger should say ‘thank you very much, I’ve had a lovely time, but enough is enough’, pack up his bags and head off to PSG for a season or two. I don’t want to speak ill of a man that has revolutionised English football, but I feel that its time we have too: I believe Arsene’s time at Arsenal must come to an end.
Written by Olly Norman.
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