Arsenal FC: Why the Invincibles Have Done More Harm Than Good for the Gunners
When high achievers suddenly fall short of the bars they have raised, the critics will slowly emerge to remind them that they are failing.
The common consensus is they become a victim of their success. That may be true in most cases but when the mistakes they make are blatant to even the most inexperienced witness, then questions must be asked.
Arsene Wenger has spent 16 years on the hot seat at Arsenal FC and he has gone from being a genius that could not be criticized to a man who appears to have lost the plot.
Unfair, some would say, considering he was responsible for transforming Arsenal from a mediocre team filled with stars that would only challenge for cup competitions to a team that was annual title contenders.
In 1998, his first full season at Arsenal, he won the league in a style that had not been seen before in the Barclays Premier League, let alone Highbury. That same year the team lifted the FA Cup.
He then went on to do the exactly the same in 2002 before winning the FA Cup again in 2003 and 2005.
However it was in 2004 when he led the team to the Premiership without losing a game that his legacy was forever cemented into folklore if it wasn't already certain.
Wenger had the ability to ascertain the services of players that were cheap and under the radar and mold them into world-beaters.
He created a team that would forever be known as the Invincibles. Respect levels had now reached heights that could not be surpassed as Wenger and Arsenal became the first to achieve such greatness. Forever legends.
Is Wenger past his best?
This propelled Arsenal to worldwide fame and garnered a new set of fans who gave Arsene Wenger a god-like status.
Acquiring fans is always a good thing but the term "Glory Hunter" could now be banded to Arsenal fans as it once was described to those of Manchester United.
Perhaps these fans did not understand the history of the club and take into account what the club was all about. Where it came from and what the old badge stood for. The club stood before Wenger was born.
Wenger had now almost created a new club separate to the one that existed before him. Whilst things are going well, this is great, but if they don't, you begin to alienate those who have followed for years.
Wenger's managerial style means he keeps his cards close to his chest and does not like to convey to fans, friends and family his feelings and intentions.
As Wenger began his crusade to create a young team on a minimal budget, not one fan blinked an eyelid in full trust that the manager knew what he was doing.
Ageing players coming to the end of their contracts were sold or let go, only being offered a year extension whether they liked it or not. This kind of treatment even extended to greats such as Dennis Bergkamp, a player many forget was not purchased by Arsene.
As the face of the Arsenal setup rapidly changed, so did ambitions of profit and turning Arsenal into a global brand. So the innovative idea to leave Highbury, Arsenal's spiritual home, to move to The Emirates Stadium was taken on the premise it would open the club to achieve a greater commercial revenue which would in turn be used to amass funds for things like transfers. This plan was put forward in 2000.
Since the move in 2006 the board have tightened the purse strings and Arsenal have not won a trophy but have consistently qualified for the Champions League.
Year after year the cracks begin to widen and it has become increasingly hard to back Wenger, who is letting his stars leave, only to replace them with players that are not of the quality of the ones who came before.
His tactics appear archaic now. His judgement seems to be impaired. His ambition has been tampered with by a board that is happy to creep into top four as long as they collect money and put bums on seats. He has lost the dressing room. That is why his prodigies leave him to pick up the pieces of his lack of decisive action to be the best Arsenal can be.
He has lost his knack of filling his squad with great players that would do a job for him. He is overpaying both in the transfer market and in the club's wage bill for average dross that other managers are not even really looking to touch.
Arsenal currently have had their worst start to a season under him only just worse than the season before. There is a pattern and it is called regression.
Wenger came out and stated that he felt that fourth spot in the league was like winning a trophy. Even if that was financially the case, it is not what fans want to hear. They want to see the team at the top of their game in every competition they enter. They do not want to be also-rans.
Wenger has not won anything in seven years. At any top club he would have been sacked but it's the fact that once you see past the illusion of competitiveness, Arsenal are no closer to ever ending that drought under him.
It is because of the Invincibles that he has been granted such a staying power with some fans reiterating he has a job for life. It is because of the Invincibles he will have a job until the board is replaced. It is because of the Invincibles that Arsenal will always be stuck in that memory.
It is because of the Invincibles that Arsenal can no longer move forward.
Discuss whether you agree or disagree: @BungaBungaBoys
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