In Arsene We Trust: When Blind Faith Leads Nowhere

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In Arsene We Trust: When Blind Faith Leads Nowhere

In Arsene we trust…

Let’s think about that for a minute. It shows you how much affection and trust Arsene Wenger commands from Arsenal FC fans.

The man is clearly admired and worshipped which is understandable, after all he won the EPL, FA Cup and some other minor Cups with Arsenal FC ever since he took the reins in 1996.

Is the worship in his persona or even faith in him justified in 2010? The answer is no.

Arsene Wenger hasn’t delivered a single trophy in years. The last time the Frenchman laid his hands on some silverware it was 2005 and a fellow Frenchman named Patrick Vieira captained his team.

Since then Wenger has successfully removed all veteran players or those who deems as such. He quite literally rejuvenated his squad.

The purpose of such undertaking – to make the squad more competitive, to play beautiful football.

Well let’s analyze the situation a bit further.

Prior to Wenger’s arrival in London Arsenal were never known to be an attractive let alone entertaining side. There’s a wonderful phrase which sums up how Arsenal were known in those days:

1-0   to the Arsenal.

It gives you a correct reflection what the Arsenal way was back then – a mean defense and results. In that sense the Arsenal of then had a lot more in common with a much disliked figure among Gooners – Jose Mourinho. So much has Arsene altered the image of Arsenal that most fans can’t even remember when the Gunners didn’t play the game the right (read: beautiful) way.

Yes the Frenchman almost instantly brought success to the red half of London. But what a lot of fans tend to forget or like to ignore, Arsene inherited a good squad. Sure he made a few signings but the core for the success he would enjoy in further years had been in place.

He could count on the services of Arsenal legends such as David Seaman, Tony Adams, Martin Keown etc…

The success came.  But from 2005 until now the success has dried up. Is it a mere coincidence that since Arsene shaped and build the squad according to his vision Arsenal won nothing?!

 

Different circumstances

In comparison or rather foresight let’s compare Arsenals current situation to FC Barcelona’s near endless trophy drought which lasted for 6 painful seasons.

- No Manager in Barcelona history has ever enjoyed as much freedom as Arsene Wenger. In the pre-Laporta era a player was bought when the President gave his permission. Whereas in London Arsene makes the decision. 

In Barcelona no Manager serves for 5 years without winning a trophy.

- Johan Cruyff, the architect of the “Dream Team” which won 4 La Ligas and the very first Champions Leauge trophy for the Blaugrana was sacked after 2 seasons of failure.

Luis Van Gaal won 2 La Ligas and a Copa del Rey yet even he found the pressure at FC Barcelona to be too much. 

Frank Rijkaard who finally lead the Blaugrana out of their misery and steered the mess that was FC Barcelona towards 2 La Ligas and a second Champions League was given the boot after finish third in the League and reaching the semis of the Champions League and Copa del Rey respectively.

 

It is clearly for everyone to see that FC Barcelona is brutal when it comes to achieving success. The mere fact that a manager won titles doesn’t count for very much when you don’t deliver on an annual basis. What happened in the past is good for the history books but not enough keep the fans or the board happy.

So the situation of Arsenal FC and FC Barcelona can hardly be compared at all. Even FC Barcelona’s current golden boy Pep Guardiola isn’t given the freedom Arsene Wenger enjoys in London.

Guardiola took a side that was humiliated and unmotivated to new heights and glory. And he did so by making a few changes. Sounds familiar? It is. Arsene Wenger also only enforced a couple of changes and was rewarded with (almost) instant success.

 

Stark differences

The only manager that can be compared to Arsene Wenger is his old foe and counterpart in Manchester, Sir Alex Ferguson. These two managers enjoy de facto untouchable status within their respective clubs. But that’s where the similarities end.

Whereas Wenger is suspicious of veterans and players over 30 in general, SAF actually embraces them and keeps them around. Not for sentimental reasons or out of senseless gratitude, no for the sheer experience and guidance they can provide to the youngsters they nurture in Manchester. And players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes still can be relied upon when it matters the most. Paul Scholes broke the heart of Culés around the world when his screamer of a goal sealed the fate of FC Barcelona and the future of Frank Rijkaard in the 2008 CL semis.

Which brings us to the question – whose policy is more successful? The answer is a no-brainer and quite obvious – Sir Alex Fergusons. Unlike Wenger, Ferguson isn’t afraid to buy quality players even if they are expensive. (Again Wenger shouldn’t do so just for the sake of if, but if there is some truth to it he has the money to do so)

Wenger should only do so if he seems it an appropiate deal.

Expensive signings do not equal quality. But more often than not quality has a certain price especially if you want to add something special to your ranks. A world-class player doesn't come cheap right?

For every flop like Veron or Berbatov there are success stories like Rio Ferdinand or Wayne Rooney and to a lesser extend Cristiano Ronaldo. The latter one joined Manchester United in 2003 for a sum of around 11 million GBP – which would have been within Arsenal’s means back then.

There lies the difference. Arsene Wenger by his own admission tabled a bid of around a quarter of it. He –SAF- was actually quite nervous because CR7 was visiting London for a couple of times yet Ferguson aggressively pursued his man until he got his signature.

We all know by now how Cristiano Ronaldo developed under SAF. The aggression and passion in which SAF pursues his goals and targets is evident in the way Manchester United play – they want to win at ALL cost. And it shows in their trophy case. Manchester United won 5 EPL, 1 FA, and 1 Champions League in this decade with old and ageing players like Giggs and Scholes. Not even newly rich Chelsea and the deep pockets of Roman Abramovich could stop them from winning 3 EPL titles on the bounce.

So why are Arsenal fans still believing in Arsene Wenger’s perennial promise of winning the League? Why aren’t they rioting and calling for his head?

 

The Church of Wengerism

Arsene Wenger is truly a God in London. He can do as he pleases. Say whatever he wants. Promise whatever he wants yet nobody seems to be angry about failing for five straight seasons. How else do explain the blind faith fans have in the man? Just criticizing Wenger will put a lot of those Arsenal fans in defensive mode.

Let's try an analogy.

If you have a President who is a moron but happens to be from your political party - will you support him all the way even though he makes a lot of bad decisions? Do you have the blind faith that by some divine intervention he will get you back on track once again? Because that's what's happening in London right now.

I thoroughly believe that by criticizing the commander in chief I am not disloyal rather a caring citizen.

By all accounts I am not an Arsenal supporter. I am a FC Barcelona supporter but should that stop me from pointing out the obvious? 

 

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