What Happened to Arsene Wenger the Manager?

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What Happened to Arsene Wenger the Manager?
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The majority of Arsenal fans appear to be delighted, and I am not quite sure why. For the fourth summer running, one of their most important players has left the club.

In the summer of 2006, it was Sol Campbell on a free transfer, Sol has since gone on to have three more good years at Portsmouth, while Arsenal's central defence has never looked solid.

In 2007, it was Thierry Henry. There was no doubting the quality of the deal, £16m for a player of his age, who had just had an average season, was good money. Henry has since though gone on to win the Champions League and be a vital cog in Barcelona's all conquering 2008-2009 team.

In 2008, it was Hleb and Flamini. Neither player has gone on to better things yet, both finding themselves largely on the substitutes bench at Barca and Milan respectively. Again Arsenal financially benefited from the sale Hleb, gaining approx £15m, but Flamini left for nothing.

In 2009, it is Emanuel Adebayor who has departed, for another healthy sale price of £25m to moneybags Manchester City. Again, good money in the bank for Arsenal, but will it make them a better team?

There is no question in my mind that the departure of Sol Campbell was not good for Arsenal. In Sol's final season 2005-2006, they conceded 31 league goals.

In 2006-2007, this total grew to 35. In 2007-2008, it was 31 again, and in 2008-2009 goals conceded increased to 37. There has been no noticeable improvement to the defence since Sol Campbell's departure.

Of course Campbell was not the only reason for a good or bad defence, but the fact that he has had a further three years of playing at a high standard, while Arsenal's defence has looked particularly vulnerable in an area where Campbell excelled (attacking the ball in the air), suggests that Campbell maybe left to early.

Whether Arsene Wenger could have stopped his departure or not is debatable.

Henry's departure initially seemed to have a good effect on the Arsenal team, they had a brilliant start to the 2007-2008 season, and were well in contention to win the title in February before a disasterous run ended their Premier League hopes.

As an experienced winner, maybe a fit Henry could have helped to ease the pressure on the young players in those crucial moments when it matters most.

Still, in the summer of 2008, after having such a strong previous season, Arsenal had genuine reason for optimism that they could win a trophy in the following season. This optimism quickly dissipated as Hleb and Flamini moved on, and the season started poorly.

Arsene Wenger had seemingly been unable to persuade two of his best performers to stay at the club. Now, after Adebayor's departure, we learn that he too wanted to leave in the summer of 2008.

Why are Arsenal now finding it so difficult to hold on to their stars? They had no trouble holding on to Bergkamp, Vieira, and Henry when they were all at their peak. Now, players appear to want to leave Arsenal before they have even reached their peak.

As I mentioned earlier, many Arsenal fans appear delighted at Adebayor's departure. He is too lazy, greedy, and unsettling they cry. These things may, or may not, be true, but what cannot be denied is that he was an excellent goalscorer for them

He averaged 0.43 goals per league game in an Arsenal shirt. This is better than the Premier League average of Drogba (0.40), Rooney (0.36) and Van Persie (0.34). In fact, in recent seasons, only Ronaldo and Torres have a better goals to game average than Adebayor.

Is this really such a good sale for Arsenal? True, it is another £25m in the bank, which means with only £10m spent so far on Vermaelen, the bank statement will show yet another credit against Wenger's name.

But it will also mean that the remaining players at the club have seen yet another star depart. While Arsenal cannot exactly be called a selling club, they are not exactly spending freely either.

I do not believe a team can build success by continually selling their more dependable players. Manchester United under Alex Ferguson have been the masters of selling players at a good price, but they sell from a position of strength, after successes, not from a position of fourth place in the league and 18 points behind.

Wenger may well find another cheaper replacement for Adebayor, but will it actually make Arsenal better, which is what they must strive to be to win trophies.

Arsene Wenger was once a fantastic football manager who built superb teams who won trophies. Has the constraints of building the Emirates, which was supposed to help Arsenal compete at the top end, actually turned him in to just a very good bank manager?

You can trust him with your money, but it seems, you can no longer trust him to maintain a winning team, and persuade players to stay with the Arsenal project.

Some Arsenal fans are pleased to see the back of Adebayor, are they right? Or has "In Arsene We Trust" now lost all sense of perspective?

We will find out in the next 12 months, but in my opinion, Arsenal cannot win a meaningful trophy in 2009-2010, to do so, you need experienced big game players, and Arsenal seem incapable of hanging onto them.

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