The last time we won anything was in 2005, when Patrick Vieira lifted the FA Cup after beating Manchester United on penalties. I remember that day well and even remember all of the penalties. Ashley Cole, Freddie Ljungberg, Robin van Persie, Lauren and of course captain Patrick Vieira all scored in a penalty shootout that finished 5-4. I even remember that it was Paul Scholes who missed their penalty, with Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelroory, Ronaldo and Roy Keane converting their other four.
Since then we’ve come close to winning something. Only the season after in 2006, we reached the Champions League Final. Then in the 2007-2008 season, when Arsene had completed the reinvention of his Arsenal side, did we manage to come the closest we’ve ever had to winning the Premier League again. But fate conspired against us and Eduardo suffered that horrific injury. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I am certain we would have won the title that season if we didn’t have to experience that tragic day – Adebayor and Eduardo were forming a stunningly fantastic strike partnership and we had pace, power and guile all over the pitch.
And since then it’s been a barren few seasons where we have been settling for fourth place. We’ve managed a few third place finishes as well (woohoo) to spice things up, but joking aside it’s been stale. Arsenal have stagnated under Arsene Wenger.
We have reached a stage where it is obvious to absolutely everyone where the club is. It was obvious to the board about a decade ago, the fans new it years ago but now every football fan knows it – we are stuck in purgatory.
Arsene Wenger has to go because change is the only way Arsenal Football Club can move forward. Under Arsene Wenger we will always finish around 4th position. His failings as a manager are obvious but because of the power he yields over the club they will always go unaddressed. Arsene Wenger is extremely stubborn and won’t listen to advice or change his philosophy. It is literally his way or the highway.
Tactically, Arsene Wenger is in the dark ages and this has been badly exposed this season. His whole ethos is placing trust in his players, “letting them play” and only concentrating on how his team perform and not worry about the opposition. You can leave your team to their own devices if you have a talented squad like Barcelona’s but even they have struggled in recent seasons with this approach. Arsene constantly sends his teams out and it is abundantly clear that they are lost and have no idea what to do. How else can you explain why we’ve lost 6-3, 1-0, 5-1, 6-0 and 3-0 against the top sides this season (I include the 1-0 at Old Trafford because this is the worst United team in the last 20 years).
Also, because Arsene’s whole ideology is to “let the team express themselves” the other major disadvantage is that once it’s clear we’re getting overrun and being completely outplayed is that Arsene isn’t capable of turning things around or stemming the flow. Managers such as Rafa Benitez, Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Mancini, Alex Ferguson and (cringe) Jose Mourinho know when their team is drowning if you like and immediately make changes. Arsene Wenger and Steve Bould sit there on the sidelines with confused looks on their faces, seemingly wondering why they are losing 4-0. If Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were losing 2-0 to Everton at half time he would have changed 3 players and either tried to get back into the game or at least not concede any more goals. The failure to address this is why we’ve been thrashed away from home time and time again.
But then again Arsene can’t reorganise because he’s told the players to “express themselves”. Telling the players what to do would negate the “trust” he has in them, and go against his whole ethos.
When you have a Thierry Henry or Robin van Persie who can score a goal from anything then this approach can work, but not when Olivier Giroud is your main striker. You need to organise the players and have a game-plan, but Arsene refuses to do this.
Another major flaw Arsene Wenger has is his failure to address injury problems. Every season (I’m sure you’re sick of this recurring theme by now) he bemoans the injury problems. So his solution? To bring in an injured Kim Kallstrom. Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up. All summer we had a shortage of strikers so we bring in an attacking midfielder on the last day of the transfer window. We still have striker problems but now have Ramsey and Theo out long term so we buy another crocked midfielder. The gross negligence is almost laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.
And then we have his “excuses” for losing these big away games. As Raphael Honigstein and Greg Bakowski pointed out in Football Weekly yesterday, Arsene Wenger constantly cites “fear”, “playing with the handbrake”, “being nervous” and other mentality issues as the cause for our awful performances. Firstly, surely it’s the managers job to address these issues, especially if they keep happening over and over and over and over and over again, and secondly if he keeps spouting this sh*te then the players will believe it. They will know they are not accountable for these poor performances and the manager has a ready-made excuse to justify playing badly. It’s a vicious circle and this season it has been badly exposed.
And now to the really bad news. Arsene Wenger is here to stay. He isn’t leaving, and he won’t get sacked. Even though change is what’s needed, and change is what a lot of Arsenal fans want, Arsene Wenger delivers. He gives guaranteed income to the fat cat shareholders, especially Stan Kroenke who is laughing all the way to the bank. Because of this he will never (and I mean never) get sacked and he has so much control and power anyway. He already “has a job for life” and he has done so much for the club that the board would never “humiliate” Arsene by sacking him. He has to leave of his own accord and that will never happen either – where else can anyone get £8 million per year not to win anything?
So there you have it. The bad news and the even worse news. Think Arsene is going to leave next season?