Arsenal Defeat at Tottenham Should Not Mean an Exit for Arsene Wenger

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterMarch 3, 2013

Arsene Wenger has endured a disappointing season with Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger has endured a disappointing season with Arsenal.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The 2-1 defeat at Tottenham has left Arsenal with a mountain to climb in a bid to overhaul their north London neighbours for a Champions League spot.

The Gareth Bale-inspired defeat at White Hart Lane will also add to the burgeoning clamour for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to vacate the position he has held since 1996.

Wenger has overseen a disappointing campaign with the Gunners this season. Defeats to lower-league opposition Bradford City and Blackburn Rovers in the domestic cups, and an inevitable defeat in the Champions League to Bayern Munich next week, have seen some supporters turn against the Frenchman.

The loss to local rivals Tottenham has seen Andre Villas-Boas' side open up a seven-point gap on the Gunners in the race for the top four in the Premier League.

Arsenal have not won a trophy since the FA Cup defeat of Manchester United in 2005, and a Wall of Fame running around the Emirates Stadium has stopped dead in its tracks for the last eight years.

Arguments rage that Wenger has had his time with Arsenal and it's time to move on to a new manager, notably from a US-based talk show host who shall remain nameless.

But is this the right time for the Arsenal manager to be leaving the club?

If a report in the Sunday Telegraph becomes reality, there may be a different outlook at a club which has under-achieved significantly in recent seasons.

A Middle East consortium may be about to make a substantial offer in the region of £1.5 billion to current majority shareholder Stan Kroenke for the Gunners.

That in itself should be enough to hold back the calls for Wenger to leave for the moment.

A successful takeover of Arsenal would immediately change the landscape for the club, despite a certain amount of cynicism among supporters over the proposed buyout on any number of fans' forums.

True, the multi-million buyouts of Chelsea and Manchester City by Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour were not the subject of newspaper speculation. The acquisitions were done behind the scenes and presented to the world when the deals were completed.

However, despite what the fans consider to be a desperate position at the moment, Arsenal remain an attractive proposition for potential buyers, and that includes having Wenger at the helm.

Such stability also increases the value of any club for the vendor, in this case Kroenke.

Arsenal were swift to counter the takeover story on Sunday, with The Guardian among the newspapers outlining Kroenke's desire to maintain control of the club.

Kroenke, who also owns the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise, is savvy enough to know that this would be a good time to sell out with the club still in a relatively strong position.

All of which brings us to Wenger. Few managers in Europe have enjoyed as much success in spotting talent and bringing it to fruition as the Gunners boss has over the years. Thierry Henry was floundering at Juventus, Kolo Toure was brought in from ASEC Mimosas, and Cesc Fabregas developed in Arsenal's academy.

Times have been leaner for Wenger more recently, with high-profile Arsenal players such as Fabregas and Robin van Persie moving on in bids to win silverware after years of carrying the Gunners.

But books are well balanced at Arsenal, with the club announcing a half-yearly profit of £17.8 million last week, as the Daily Telegraph reported.

Whether such frugality is down to the fact Wenger can't or won't spend may never be cleared up, but it also offers a further incentive for new buyers.

Football always has and always will be an emotive issue. Anyone can name a chairman or three, all previously solid businessmen, who have been seduced by the lights of the Premier League and have frittered away cash in flailing bids to stay among the elite. But Arsenal remain a different a case.

This is the first season without van Persie, a phenomenal talent in any given footballing time and certainly not an easy figure to replace, as Olivier Giroud and Gervinho are proving. Any team would struggle without such a prodigious player as the Dutchman, but the scrutiny is tighter at Arsenal, where success used to be a given.

Wenger was at fault here by failing to bolster his forward line during the January transfer window, and the dominant display at Spurs lacked any penetration, which cost dearly, as it has done throughout the season for Arsenal.

The steady decline of Arsenal is due in a large part to management, but being fifth in the league and qualifying for the Champions League for 16 successive seasons is no mean feat. Ask Liverpool fans how they feel about missing out on Europe's elite tournament in recent years.

Potential new owners will have their own man in mind, just as Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour did. But parting company with a long-serving club boss would be a destabilising factor when Arsenal least need it and a reactionary move rather than a carefully plotted switch.

Changing the manager is not necessarily a change for good, and an inviting run-in to the end of the season compared to the matches Tottenham and Chelsea face could alter the complexion of the Gunners' campaign before the end of May.

Those calling for Wenger's removal should be careful what they wish for.