5 Reasons Arsenal Must Give Arsene Wenger Another Season
2012 was a very difficult year for Arsene Wenger. Despite rallying to somehow get Arsenal to a third place finish in the Premier League, it will primarily be remembered as a year in which Wenger lost the faith of a significant proportion of the Arsenal support.
There is now a growing sense that this current season could be his last at the helm of the club. However, over the next few slides we'll look at some of the reasons the club, and particularly the fans, should show patience with their embattled manager.
His Record Remains Impressive
Arsenal fans are tiring of the club's long wait for a trophy. It is now almost nine years since the club's last Premier League title, and eight since they lifted any kind of major honour.
Despite this, Arsene Wenger arguably remains Arsenal's most successful manager. The trophy haul in the early part of his reign was particularly impressive, and whilst that hasn't been sustained, he has hardly let the club slip in to the doldrums.
His consistency at qualifying Arsenal for the lucrative Champions League can not be questioned. Arsenal have now qualified for Europe's most prestigious competition in 16 consecutive seasons. For the 13th year on the trot, they find themselves in the last 16 of the tournament. It is a monumental achievement.
If he is able to replicate it this season, in the face of stiff competition from Tottenham and Everton, it will be another laudable feat.
The Money Is About to Arrive
For several years Arsene Wenger seems to have been overseeing Arsenal's transfer policy with one hand tied behind his back.
Arsenal's stunning Emirates Stadium came at significant expense, and that debt inevitably began to impact matters on the pitch. Key players were sold without being replaced, and Arsenal found themselves unable to compete for major stars in the transfer market.
The renewal of several key sponsorship deals looks like those times are changing. Wenger recently told ESPN:
We have gone through a period where we had restricted potential, financially. [That happens] when you move into the new stadium, but we have come over that period and now hopefully can be a bit more convincing [with transfers and contracts].
Having managed to keep the club within the top four during a period of prudence, it is only right to give the manager a chance to show what he can do with more financial backing.
The Players Believe
Although the faith of Arsenal supporters in Arsene Wenger seems to be wavering, the players seem to have a degree of certainty that he's the right man for the job.
Although Theo Walcott's contract saga has taken the majority of the headlines, it shouldn't be overlooked that five young internationals have signed up for long-term deals with the club already: Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and, arguably British football's brightest young star, Jack Wilshere.
The players wouldn't show such willingness to commit to the Arsenal project if they did not believe in the man at the helm of it: Arsene Wenger.
The Board Wouldn't Know How to Replace Him
Those Arsenal fans who want rid of Arsene Wenger should be careful what they wish for. In the absence of a figure like David Dein, the Arsenal board is lacking anyone with the football expertise to identify his replacement.
It is telling that when people advocate the removal of Wenger, they rarely accompany that demand with a suggestion as to who should replace him. The simple reason for this is that there is no obvious candidate.
Recent rumours have suggested Arsenal might be preparing to add an executive with footballing experience and know-how, such as Manchester City chief Brian Marwood. Once they have made such a move, they could consider initiating a process to replace Wenger. For now, however, they simply don't have the personnel to undertake such a mammoth task.
I don't think there's any argument that Arsenal should spare Arsene Wenger out of sentiment. I do, however, think they owe him a great deal of respect. There is an important distinction.
It would be sentimental to let an incompetent man stay beyond his welcome, but Arsene Wenger is not incompetent. The previous four slides hopefully go some way towards demonstrating that.
It would be respectful to honour the terms of the contract the club gave the manager. At present, Arsene Wenger's deal runs until 2014. In his time at the club, Arsene Wenger has always respected his contract, despite countless offers from elsewhere. The least Arsenal can do is show him the same courtesy.
Should Arsene Wenger himself decide to end his reign, that'd be different, though I don't foresee that happening. I think he wants one final shot at glory and redemption, and I still see plenty of reasons to give it to him.
What do you think? Should Arsene Wenger be given one more year or not? Let us know below.