Arsene Wenger has been an amazing manager for Arsenal, but he is facing a very challenging season. Wenger has often defended his record by pointing to the fact that he keeps getting the club into the Champions League. But he has more rivals for this than usual and faces a real battle to make sure it is Arsenal that finish in the top four by May 2013.
Wenger is clearly a man that likes to stick to his principles on how a club should be run, and it’s unlikely that he will waiver too much. The Arsenal hierarchy often defend their man and point to all the great things that he has done for the club. But fans desire success and expect a team as big as Arsenal to provide it.
Therefore, some people think that their manager must be prepared to change certain things. Those changes may have to happen now rather than later, because not being in the Champions League is simply unacceptable for this historic team.
Wenger has earned a reputation through developing talented young players and turning them into something special. In fact, I think this is Wenger’s greatest quality, and something many Premier League clubs desire.
This approach is laudable for a club that has a limited budget and is looking to compete with the bigger and richer clubs. But this is not the place that Arsenal finds itself in, so in some ways the manager in incompatible with the club.
There have, of course, been occasions when Arsenal have splashed the cash under the Frenchman’s reign, but Wenger’s record at doing this is mixed at best. Therefore, I have often held the view that he doesn’t really trust himself to spend big on a player again. Again, something he may be able to get away with at a club with a limited budget. But the fans of this club expect star names to be turning out for them every week.
I think the situation is now getting close to the breaking point, and something will have to give. The simple truth is Arsenal may not finish in the top four if they don’t acquire quality in the January 2013 transfer window. So, Wenger may have to go against his principles in order to save his job.
The thing that disappoints me more than ever with Arsenal is how they let key players go, yet the club is supposed to a major force in the Premier League. I understand that sometimes selling a player is the right thing to do, particularly if there is a backup player that can offer a similar level of quality.
But when you do sell a player, at least make sure it is to a foreign team that will have little impact on Arsenal’s future. However, when those players are turning out for Premier League title rivals it is clear that all is not right at the club. Of course, the latest move like this was Robin van Persie joining Manchester United in the summer.
This is where Arsene Wenger could take a leaf out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s book on managing a successful team. I think we all know that the Arsenal manager has a preference for young players that he can develop.
However, he has tended to dispense of players as soon as they reach a certain age. I can’t remember the last time he kept a player well into their 30s to guide the younger players through. About the closest he has come to doing that is with Thierry Henry’s loan spell with the club, something that could be rumored to be happening again this season.
Perhaps this in itself shows that Wenger knows that this is an area he has made a mistake in. We know that the club has a talented group of young players, but they tend to lack leadership within the team because of this central problem.
Of course, this is in complete contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United; Ferguson still knows the importance of players like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs even though they can now only be used for a minimal amount of match time.
I get the impression that Arsene Wenger is not very ambitious when it comes to running Arsenal. There is no doubt that he is one of the greatest managers we have ever seen in the Premier League, and it is certainly refreshing to see one manager stay at one club for such an extended period of time.
But it seems that hunger for success has diminished over time; that early success that the Gunners enjoyed under him seems to have been buried to the ancient past. Now, it seems that Wenger is only really concerned with making sure the club qualifies for the Champions League.
Any thoughts of winning the Premier League or even an FA Cup do not seem to be present at all. I know that the club don’t want to run their operation like Manchester City or Chelsea, but the problem goes beyond a perceived lack of resources. The desire to win trophies simply doesn’t seem to be there for Wenger.
Right now, they are in danger of being overtaken by a club like Everton if Arsenal fail to finish in the top four and they don’t sack Wenger, then what does that say about the ambition of the club as a whole.
Player unrest is not good for any club; it’s difficult to really understand what has gone on there. But Walcott doesn’t seem to be a player that Wenger sees as integral to his team anymore. However, he is refusing to the accept the possibility of selling him in January.
This situation has rumbled on for long enough; it is time for Arsenal to either use the player and offer a contract that both parties see as acceptable, or cut their losses and agree to sell the player for any sort of decent fee for this fringe player.