My Heart Wants Arsene Wenger To Stay Forever

The 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich still hurts, even though it wasn’t a surprise. Capitulations like we saw last night are pretty common with todays Arsenal – in recent seasons we’ve been totally battered at Anfield and Stamford Bridge, and who could forget the 8-1 thrashing at Old Trafford – simply no-one does collapses quite like Arsenal.

Look, I’m going to say this from the outset – I love Arsene Wenger. No-one has done as much as he has for the club I love. He has revolutionised the whole club, and you can see why the board are happy to give him a job for life. He has made Arsenal into a major player on a global scale and his attitude, approach and love for the club is second to none.

He is loved by everyone in football for what he has done, is majorly respected and ask any former player about him and they’ll praise him to the hilt. I remember when BBC did a documentary on Arsene Wenger and had Ian Wright, Martin Keown, John Hartson and Piers Morgan on the panel, discussing Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal. It’s no secret that Piers Morgan wants Arsene to leave but the passion and respect from Wrighty, Keown and even John Hartson (who was only under Arsene’s tenure for a season) was clear to see. Whenever you see Lee Dixon asked about Arsene it’s always positive and complimentary – and it’s the same for every player who’s worked under him.

But in here lies the problem. Arseblog pointed out that Arsene Wenger always talks about mental strength – we have it if we win, or we don’t have it when we lose. These kind of phrases are typical Arsene Wenger spin, deflecting any of the blame or responsibility away from the players. When we play well he will publicly praise the team, but when we play awfully he will always talk about concentration and mental strength – when most top managers will generally call a spade a spade, and tell the world the team played crap. Jose Mourinho is the typical example – he’d never take responsibility for a poor performance from his team.

Because Arsene Wenger defends his players it means that in theory, the players should respect that protection and fight for him. Unfortunately, this approach hasn’t worked in a while now. He gets the respect and love from the players (which is plain to see) but he’s not getting a response. What has happened is Arsene has created a culture of over-pampered babies who don’t fight for the cause. Instead of having a team of men, we have a team of boys.

No leaders, no strong personalities and no passion. Look at Chelsea – their whole mentality is worlds apart from ours. Their team is full of aggressive, mean and determined players who would literally fight for each other. They’re a team that fight to win and even if they were losing in a football match you’d back them to come back because they have character. Arsenal on the other hand, like you saw last night, don’t respond but collapse instead.

Every football team has a defining period in their season and ours has been over the last couple of weeks. The games against Watford, Chelsea and Bayern Munich would (and have) pretty much determine how our season would pan out. Wins against Watford and Chelsea would have put us 3 points behind the runaway leaders – but instead we are 10 points behind. Against Bayern Munich, the scoreline was 1-1 going into half time and even though we were being outplayed we could have even been 2-1 up if Xhaka or Özil had taken their chances. At that point, losing 2-1 as a worst-case scenario wouldn’t have been a disaster. But we collapsed in spectacular (and typically Arsenal-like) fashion, rendering the second leg a pointless exhibition match.

But for all Arsene’s faults, he is still a top, top manager. He consistently gets Arsenal into the Top 4, and into the last 16 of the Champions League. So it’s clear he is by no means an awful manager, and if you’re honest with yourself it’s a pretty amazing achievement. And that’s what makes this a whole lot harder.

We haven’t won the league in 13 years and apart from the 2008 season never really looked like winning it since. Our season always ends around February / March time and that’s the frustration. Despite reaching a phenomenal level of consistency (something you will never see in football again) it’s reaching the next level which is the problem. A couple of seasons ago when Arsenal were winning FA Cups and bringing in players like Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, I would have said Arsene could have been the man to take us back to the glory days, but today I just don’t believe any more.

There comes a time when enough is enough. I completely believe that Arsenal fans have been extremely patient. Until a couple of seasons ago, my stance was 100% behind Arsene Wenger – even when about 10 years ago a lot of fans pointed out the same points I’m making today. What I’m saying isn’t new, they’re facts which have been played out for years now. But my faith in Arsene was down to wanting to give the man who has given Arsenal so much, a chance to win things once we found our financial feet as it were.

In modern football, Arsenal’s situation is unique. No other club (apart from Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson) is so reliant on one man. Football has changed and we have Directors of Football, men appointed specifically to deal with transfers – while Arsene Wenger does the job of 10 men. We can’t just “sack” Arsene Wenger without having a contingency plan in place. The bottom line is Arsene Wenger has “delivered” in relative terms (consistent Champions League football, etc.) for the board and they’re happy to go with the status quo. And that in itself isn’t a crime and look, I’m not naïve – football is a business and Arsene Wenger in that sense is the perfect man for the job.

The frustrating thing for me is while I want Arsene Wenger to leave; I still love the man, the manager, the icon for Arsenal Football Club, and in a way, would love him to stay.

If you ask me who is to blame for the malaise then I wouldn’t be putting Arsene at the top of the list. But the problem is with the whole setup at the club and how it’s run – and in a way Arsene is the fall guy. The problem is if Arsene Wenger stays at the club then nothing will change. The players need to take responsibility for under-performing and pretty much cruising through games at vital parts of the season. The board and our owner, Silent Stan, has never even talked publicly about the club and I don’t know an Arsenal fan who actually knows what his vision for the club is? Or if he even has one? The board are stale and are happy to take no responsibility for the club at all. So Arsene leaving would mean they would have to actually do some work and have the clubs best interests at heart.

For me, if Arsene could stay forever I’d be happy. Unfortunately it’s everyone else around him that’s let him down. Arsene Wenger gets slated left, right and centre, while who criticises the players? Who criticises the board? Who criticises the owners? Yes, Arsene has his limitations but he’s not the main reason we’re limited to a Top 4 finish and last 16 of the Champions League – every man needs a support network and the big problem is he has too much responsibility and has been let down by the players and the board. Unfortunately though, when things aren’t going right then sadly, the man in the firing line is Arsene Wenger.

In a perfect world, Arsene would leave with a trophy in his hands and leave on a high but barring an FA Cup triumph; it’s not looking likely.

Reports today suggest that Arsene Wenger won’t make a decision on his future (he has a 2 year contract on the table) until the end of the season. That to me says three things. The first is that he is seriously thinking of staying on – because if he was thinking of leaving then now would be a good time to announce it because it would get all of the fans onside and he would get complete support from the Arsenal faithful right until the last game of the season, whatever happened. He deserves goodwill and he would get it. Another thing it tells me is that the board have no idea on what to do once Arsene does want to leave. With a contract offer on the table and no decision to be made until the summer, it leaves no time to find a replacement if Arsene did actually turn it down. And the third point is that Arsene Wenger might have already decided to stay on – but officially announcing that a decision won’t be made until the end of the season defuses any animosity and anger towards the boss. Imagine if Arsenal came out now and said Arsene Wenger was staying on? The majority of Arsenal fans would end up losing their shit.

It’s Time For Arsene Wenger To F*cking Leave!!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have always been one of the few AKB’s left amongst the Arsenal supporters. I believed that he was the right man to take us forward, especially after years of financial difficulties – but now enough is enough.

I tweeted before the game that there are only 3 things certain in life: Death, Taxes and Arsenal losing at Stamford Bridge. And I even said to myself I wasn’t going to watch the match as I knew exactly what was going to happen. But as most of you know supporting Arsenal is a religion and is something you can’t just turn off and on with a flick of a switch. So even knowing what would unfold this afternoon, I watched the game.

The game ended 3-1 and that’s not a surprise. Arsenal were second best all afternoon and again, that wasn’t a surprise. I hate playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge because mentally we just bottle it. We approach the game with no fight, no determination and most importantly no belief. Why is that? It all stems from the manager.

I don’t know why Arsene Wenger keeps making the same mistakes. The only time we won there was when they had the incompetent Andre Villas Boas in charge and Van Persie scored a hat trick to give us a 5-3 win. Apart from that, the only win I remember was in The Invincible season when Vieira and Edu scored in a 2-1 victory.

Don’t get me wrong, the refereeing once again was a complete joke. The opening goal was a clear foul – Alonso pretty much pole axed Bellerin before heading into the net. In any other game thats a foul but there seems to be a trend of awful refereeing decision going against us recently.

After that we couldn’t really get into the game but despite this, we still make some decent chances to nick an equaliser. Gabriel had the best chance but his header went straight down the keepers throat.

But as it stands, after the defeat against Watford midweek, we are now 12 points behind. Once again, in early February we’re well out of the title race.

So now our only chance of silverware this season is either in the Champions League (are you having a laugh?) or the FA Cup. Ah well, at least we can try and finish 4th again.

Look, I love Arsene Wenger. That man has done more than any other to grow and build a football club that is self-sustainable and has one of the best stadiums not just in England but the world. And while the man has given us unprecedented success – he ideas and football beliefs are just outdated.

The best defence usually wins the league yet that’s an area he doesn’t believe he needs to teach. He inherited a side with one of the best defences the country has ever seen and did recruit well, signing Lauren, Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure, as well as bringing Ashley Cole through the ranks. But after that it’s been nothing but stop gaps. And Arsene was fortunate with The Invincibles defence, as Ashley Cole off to Crystal Palace before Silvinho had his passport problems, Lauren was originally a right sided midfielder and Kolo Toure was groomed into the roll by Martin Keown.

After 13 years without even looking like we could sustain a genuine title challenge, enough is simply enough.

The Ultimate Wenger20 Anniversary Tribute Videos!

Like most of you I’d imagine, I’ve been looking online and on YouTube in particular to see the Wenger20 tributes as I was sure there were plenty of them around. There are some really interesting and endearing interviews, and some of the best videos that I’ve found and enjoyed are below:

Thierry Henry Interviews Arsene Wenger (Sky Sports)

Thierry Henry puts the questions to Arsene celebrating 20 years at Arsenal, including what was his greatest moment at the club and and his worst:

NBCSN Special: Inside The Mind of Arsene Wenger

An in depth interview with Arsene Wenger, by Roger Bennett:

20 Years of Arsene Wenger (BBC Special)

Ian Wright, Martin Keown, John Hartson, Amy Laurence and Piers Morgan discuss Arsene’s 20 year reign at the club including how he will be remembered in history:

20 Years of Arsene Wenger (Sky Sports)

A short documentary / tribute to Arsene:

Arsene Wenger Explains The Invincible’s

The boss chats to Ian Wright, Sol Campbell and er… Williams Gallas about that Invincible’s season:

 

 

Vote Here! Who Was Arsene Wenger’s Greatest Ever Player?

Who was Arsene Wenger’s greatest ever player?

Over the last 20 years, there have been some special talents at the club. We had Tony Adams and Ian Wright who were at the club when Arsene arrived in 1996 and helped Le Boss achieve fantastic success in the 1997/1998 season.

Dennis Bergkamp would prove to be the genius that epitomised Arsene Wenger’s attacking style of football, and managed to win 3 Premier League titles and 4 FA Cups – and goes down as one of our most successful players.

Patrick Vieira as also there from the start and his last act for Arsenal was scoring the winning penalty in the FA Cup Final against Manchester United. A warrior on the pitch, he was a true leader.

Then we have Robert Pires, the man who was worshiped by the rest of the squad when he lifted the Premier League trophy in 2002. He scored some amazing goals but will be remembered for being an assist master. Possibly the most unselfish player we’ve ever seen at the club.

‘Safe Hands’ is also in with a shout as he was Mr Reliable and won 2 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cups with Arsene, even though he was in the twilight of his career.

But who do you think is Arsene’s greatest ever player? Take a look at the options below and vote!