Ever since the confirmation of the new kit deal with Puma, and the other sponsorship deals Arsenal have in place, there is fresh optimism that Arsenal could actually do the unthinkable, invest in world class talent and win a major trophy next season. Added to that, with the three teams that finished above us this year; Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, all undergoing managerial changes, Arsenal fans are thinking that this may finally be their year.
And how better to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of when Arsenal won the Premier League than to win it again next season?
Indeed the early signs are positive. It is well documented how Arsenal did in the last 10 league games of the season, winning 8 and drawing 2. And our defense has drastically improved, as in those last 10 games we kept 5 clean sheets and only conceded 1 in each of the other matches.
So defensively at least, we have something to build on.
But the biggest question is does Arsene Wenger still have the winning mentality inside of him?
The last time we won something was in 2005, the FA Cup against Manchester United on penalties. In that season, we did well to finish second and weren’t a million miles away from Mourinho’s new Chelsea side.
But that was 8 seasons ago.
If you take the recently retired Alex Ferguson as an example, he was a manager that instilled the winning mentality to all of his players. To him, winning was all that mattered. I’ve said so many times that he’s lead some average teams to the title not because he’s had squads with particularly special players technically, but because the players he did have would do anything to win. You’ve got players like Phil Neville, John O’Shea, Wes Brown and Johnny Evans who all have Premier League medals because they are winners. Every single one of Alex Ferguson’s squads was full of players with that winning mentality who knew what it mean to be playing for Manchester United, and the expectations that came with it.
But the biggest problem is even if we have a solid defense, and a massive war chest to buy real quality in the summer, do we have the mental capacity to even contemplate winning the title?
Arsene has created a culture where 4th spot is good enough. The players sometimes come out “officially” and say that winning things is the most important thing, but that isn’t what’s been happening in recent seasons. The few players at the club that I considered “winners” and having that passion you need to win trophies over the last few years were Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Jack Wilshere and Laurent Koscielny. And that’s not enough winners in a squad that has aspirations to win titles.
How does Arsene suddenly give the players the belief they can win something, and not just settle for 4th?
And how does he suddenly change his management into a style where he actually believes we can do it?
After so long without a trophy, it will be a massive ask to get the club into winning ways again. We all know from football in recent times that if football clubs want to win things after having a poor season they simply change the manager – because he will bring new ideas, new tactics, a new man management style and different ways of running the club.
Can Arsene suddenly turn himself into a winning manager once again?
That’s the million dollar question.
And unfortunately if you ask me honestly, I’m not 100% convinced he can.