Arsenal FC post Old Trafford: Mr. Wenger's Last Season as Manager?
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As the recriminations from Tuesday night’s Champions League exit of Arsenal at Camp Nou rages on, it only strengthened the case for a rude awakening for this storied North London Football Club.
Today's sixth round FA Cup loss at Old Trafford to Man United coalesces the spirit of doom now on the ascendancy within the club. It has become tearfully laughable to say the least.
With one out of four chances left to win any piece of silverware (a cheeky joke by the look of things presently), the last 14 days have become something of an anticlimax for the now heavily traumatized team.
Indeed there were warning signals which were painfully ignored during the last transfer window in January. To watch a season implode the way it has for them is to afflict their fans with cruel and unfair punishment. It's clear madness to keep doing the same thing over and over again, and to expect a different result each time.
Enough is enough. In the interest of fair play, I will start by commending Arsene Wenger for what he has achieved since he came to Islington in 1996. He has undoubtedly entered the pantheon of great managers of the club.
Truly, he has revolutionized the way football is perceived and played around the world.
However, there comes a time when a working relationship becomes dysfunctional and even counter productive. A bad trait of being stubborn when it is aided over time by blind loyalty is that it solidifies errors which bind a club into a circle of nagging failures.
Should Arsene Wenger be fired at the end of the current season?
Glaring defensive frailties ignored over time has tended to sap the team of certain vitality. This season alone, a clutch of gut wrenching home defeats and some cardiac arresting draws speak of a palpable lack of defensive discipline and responsibility.
So it’s either one of two things: Defenders don’t understand their roles as a unit or such roles have not been drilled on during training.
Even their highly regarded forwards are streaky at best and hopelessly inept when it matters most. Today's FA Cup tie proved that beyond a shadow of doubt.
The current team is still in search of an identity. Based on what we have seen thus far, for the remainder of this fast disappearing season, they are more likely to remain average journeymen with the occasional flashes of brilliance. That is even too much a compliment for what we have witnessed lately.
For such state of affairs to have persisted for so long says only one thing: Mr. Wenger has run out of any remedy or is simply out of touch!
Other clubs have caught onto this as they have devised a winning formula against Arsenal—play it high into their defensive areas, use set plays or be robust by not allowing them time on the ball to cast their spell.
In some cases like today's game, teams let them play their fancy football away from their goal area and hit them with a swift counter attack. Any one of those approaches tends to expose their soft under belly as a team. The manager has used his seductive media image to disguise this problem.
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His well practiced antics of blaming everyone or everything else but his team’s shortcomings is no longer comical. If it isn’t the condition of pitch then it must be the robust tactics of the opposition. If it isn’t that then it must be an officiating conspiracy against the Gunners.
Nothing is ever his or his handpicked squad’s fault, however patently obvious it may seem.
He is infallible as the board; some misguided fans tend to think that doesn’t help at all. That he has become an untouchable demi-god of sorts is not in doubt, but we still need teachable humans to manage things here on earth-based Arsenal.
It’s time for the Professor to move upstairs as a Director where his Economics Degree would better serve the club as a whole. It is sad to note that this urbane man has lost some of his respected luster in recent years.
There comes a time when sentiments or loyalty to past achievements must give way to pragmatic realism in order to go forward. These past six years of nothingness is akin to having a plane that has taxied on the tarmac long enough but fails to take-off.
The comedy of errors ought to be over. Please, it’s time to change the pilot.
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