Arsenal: It Is Still Time to Replace Arsene Wenger (if Robin Van Persie Leaves)

Bell Malley@milesmalleyAnalyst IIIJuly 13, 2012

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  13:  Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns on May 13, 2012 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

About 10 months ago, I published a piece claiming it was time for Arsenal to sack long-time manager Arsene Wenger. And I got killed for it.

Comments, messages, talks with friends. Many people thought I was dead wrong. My claims that his club had become a feeder to bigger clubs were off. The departure of Cesc Fabregas was only a matter of time, no manager in the world could stop him. Samir Nasri's move was solely self-centered.

Arsene was a north London hero, and sacking him was no way to treat such a legend. Give him a chance.

I agreed. I argued Arsene had no chance of leading his side into the top four and back into the UEFA Champions League. He team was too depleted mentally as well as physically to contend with big-spending Manchester City and Chelsea, as well as long-time rivals Manchester United and Tottenham.

At the end of the English Premier League season, I was ready to eat my words. Arsenal had stunned me, and the majority of the footballing world, somehow mustering enough fortitude to finish third, behind only the Manchester clubs.

Yet here I am, just a short time later, writing a similar-themed piece.



The recent stories that Arsenal captain and star striker Robin van Persie, the 2011-12 winner of both the PFA and FWA player of the year awards, will not re-sign with the club, shows some major flaws in the way the Frenchman is running his club.

First off, this could very well mark the second consecutive season in which an Arsenal skipper flees the Emirates.

Van Persie must sense the Gunners are currently headed nowhere, not without some major acquisition. He would rather follow the likes of Nasri, Kolo Toure, and Emmanuel Adebayor, who went to the Eastlands and helped Manchester City win trophies.

No one knows better when their team is struggling than the players themselves.

If Van Persie thinks his current club will not contend for the EPL crown, why should the fans and management believe so?

I know Wenger will probably lead Arsenal to a Champions League birth, even if his best player is to leave.

But it is time for this team to start afresh. Completely afresh. And that means getting rid of Arsene.

Last year, Arsenal did finish third. But they were 19 points off both City and United's pace. 

They did finish well, but they were never real threats to win the title, and that won't change this year.

If "Captain Vantastic" leaves, Arsenal will begin getting linked to strikers left and right.

But, Arsene will stay put. I respect him and his principals greatly, but sometimes you need to break your bank in order to succeed. He buys talented, young players, who either have other problems with them, or decide to leave when the slightest thing goes wrong.

Wenger's payroll clearly can't compete with Roberto Mancini's or Roberto Di Matteo's, but nonetheless, there are certain players out there that would probably love to play at the Emirates.

Bottom Line: There's no denying that what Arsene Wenger has done at Arsenal is fantastic, and for that, he gets my wholehearted applause. However, when everything starts to go wrong, it is time to re-start. 

Time to find a manager who will break the bank to get a player, and be stiff enough to keep him when things go wrong.

Time to find someone who always has power in the locker room, and instead of finishing fourth, will take a few seasons and then start winning.

Not only competing for trophies late into March and then fading, but actually winning. 

Someone who will buy players in their prime. Talented, of course, but also with mental fortitude.

This may seem like a rant against this Arsenal legend, and I know what a lot of Gooners are going to say about it. However, I have infinite respect for this man. But everything must end, and this is the perfect time for Wenger's time at Arsenal to do so.