Arsenal Fans Must Keep Their Faith in Arsene Wenger

Ryan Bailey@ryanjaybaileyFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2012

While Chelsea fans appear united in their displeasure at the appointment of Rafa Benitez, another managerial position across London continues to divide supporters.

Arsenal fans who believe in Arsene Wenger––the club's longest-serving and most successful manager––have long been referred to as 'AKBs' ('Arsene Knows Best').

The rival faction goes by the acronym 'AMG,' or 'Arsene Must Go.'

Saturday's feckless draw with relegation-threatened Aston Villa gave the AMGs ammunition, with fans chanting 'You don't know what you're doing,' as the Frenchman replaced forward Olivier Giroud with defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin.

That Wenger blamed the uninspired performance on fatigue also irked the AMG masses.

One of the most vocal proponents of the anti-Wenger brigade has been Piers Morgan, who continually uses the #Wengerout hashtag on Twitter to express his feeling that the former Monaco coach has outstayed his welcome at the Emirates.

Arsenal now find themselves in sixth place—five points off the pace of Champions League qualification.

In his 16 seasons in North London, 'Le Professuer' has never finished outside the Top Four. Yet, with three losses already on the board and an apparent loss of style on the field, many Gunners fans fear that Wenger is now steering the ship into mid-table obscurity.

Of course, this isn't the first storm that Arsene Wenger has weathered.

With the notable exception of the 'Invincibles' campaign of 2003-04, an Arsenal season is rarely complete without a moderate dip in form and subsequent lambasting of the long-serving coach. By the end of the season, Wenger always gets results back on track and always delivers a league position that flatters the club's modest budget.

Arsenal's fiscal modus operandi is much more 'responsible' than a number of their Premier League competitors.

In recent seasons, the Gunners have had to sell the likes of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Alex Song to make the books balance. Six-figure weekly wages are not doled out at the drop of a hat––Robin van Persie was the highest paid player of 2012 on £90,000 per week––and salaries are not increased beyond certain established limits.

Why would Alex Song stay if his services can be better remunerated at a club like Barcelona?

Despite being the fourth-most valuable club in the world, the Gunners are financial limited by the burden of cost of the Emirates stadium. To finance the £470 million project, Arsenal took out a 14-year fixed-rate loan of £290 million.

This debt, Arsene Wenger is quick to point out, hampers transfer funds and salary spending.

It is the Arsenal board that sets the financial policies, not Arsene Wenger. Owner Stan 'The Man' Kroenke, recently named 'the most powerful man in sports,' also owns the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Rapids, the Colorado Avalanche and the St Louis Rams.

While the oil-rich owners elsewhere invest aggressively to win titles, Kroenke Sports Enterprises appears more interested in diverting funds elsewhere, exemplified by a reported bid for an MLB franchise earlier this year.

Long term financial matters aside, Arsenal fans must maintain their faith in the man who has delivered three titles and consistent Champions League qualification during his reign. Wenger has done a superb job of putting pressure on the sides with much more spending potential, and he has recovered from more than his fair share of mid-season lumps.

It is certainly true that Arsenal are not playing with the form of champions, having lost three league games this season, including a surprise slip-up against Norwich. Yet, even the current league leaders Manchester United have lost three games, including a surprise slip-up against Norwich!

When the form of over-achievers like West Brom and Everton begin to wane in the second half of the season, Arsenal can benefit from Wenger's experience of 'squeaky bum time' and tactical nous to climb back into the Top Four.

While a reactionary mid-season managerial change is par for the course at Chelsea, it is not something that should be entertained at Arsenal.

Le Professuer takes an empirical and measured approach to the game––and so should the AMGs.


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