Following a humiliating defeat against Blackburn Rovers, the clamor for Arsene Wenger’s sacking has reached fever pitch with several fans starting to grow extremely tense about the club’s future with Arsenal’s future as a top-four club remaining in serious jeopardy.
For some time there has been a call for the sacking of the illustrious Frenchman, the man who led Arsenal to three Premier League titles and the only man to win the Premier League going unbeaten the whole season. For the Wenger critics, all this represents a time which Wenger cannot recreate and if Arsenal want to scale great heights, then Wenger has to be sacked.
Let me make one thing very clear: I am a pro-Wenger fan and still keep the hope that this team under Wenger will win a trophy and silence their critics. But if Wenger does indeed fail to win a trophy or fail to qualify for the UEFA Champions League then, his time at the helm of Arsenal might be drawing to a close, but a complete judgment can be made only at the end of the season.
Ever since the Gunners failed to win the Premier League last season, there has been widespread call for the ousting of Wenger. That combined with the sale of Fabregas and Nasri along with Arsenal’s inability to sign any “world-class” players means that the pressure is on Wenger unlike ever before in his tenure.
After Arsenal’s disappointing loss against Blackburn, a defeat that was déjà vu all over again for Arsenal, the call for Wenger’s removal has further strengthened. This disappointing result coupled with the earlier disaster at Old Trafford (I rather not mention the score) means that the Gunners face a tough task if they are to qualify for Europe’s premier competition next season. Ivan Gazidis recently stressed on the fact that Wenger will not be sacked.
For some, that was a huge relief while the others felt that the club was making a huge mistake, one that would prove to be costly come May 2012.
Here are five reasons why the Gunners shouldn’t sack Wenger now and should wait at least for the end of the season before they contemplate the removal of Wenger.
The fans' attitude towards Wenger has slowly gone cold over the past few months but there is no doubting that even now a lot of Arsenal fans support the Arsenal manager and wish to see him at the club for at least another year.
There is no doubt that even these fans feel the frustration regarding the barren run that has now spanned six seasons. But they believe that Wenger is the right man for the job, continuing to put faith in the manager.
But these days, the number of fans calling for the removal of Wenger as manager has risen massively especially in the wake of a sixth straight trophy-less season and especially the circumstances in which it occurred.
The two groups of fans have created a rift between the supporters. There is no doubting that both set of fans want the Gunners to succeed both the path to achieving glory varies for the two.
There is no doubt that there has been a lot of uncertainty in the Arsenal fanbase. The fans are always an integral part of any club and it is always a huge bonus to have the fans united. Sure, the fans will disagree on small matters like which player to sign but when it comes to major decisive issues like the manager at the helm of Arsenal, it is imperative that the fans are united in backing the manager.
If Wenger indeed is sacked now, the fans will not be totally behind the new manager. Why? Because right now Wenger has his own set of loyal supporters who will always feel he should have been given one more season.
The backing of fans are all the more crucial when you have a new manager coming in. A new manager will have to be provided the best environment possible, a situation in which the fans are a 100 percent behind him.
If Wenger is sacked, the fans will feel that he never got a chance this season to achieve something with a talented squad and at least silence his critics. But if he does indeed fail this season, then a majority of the fans will indeed start to believe that the reign of the Frenchman is drawing to a close.
In such a situation, they will welcome the new manager much more favorably than if Wenger is sacked midseason. The backing of the fans will only work in the favor of the new manager and that is why it is crucial that the new manager is someone the fans will welcome with open arms. It serves no purpose if the new man is a reminder of how Wenger’s illustrious tenure came to halt.
Seeing the way the Gunners have struggled of late, people have been quick to say that the Arsenal manager can be replaced with ease. There is no doubt that there is no dearth of top-quality managers who can bring great tactical flexibility to the team. But is replacing Wenger all that easy?
I would say not at all. The legacy left behind by Wenger is seeping in success and he is one of the most respected figures in the club. Wenger has left a legacy of being the first manager to win the league unbeaten and it also him that ensured the smooth passage of the club when the construction of the Emirates could have been disastrous for the club.
So when the replacement for Wenger is being sought, it has to be someone who comes with a lofty reputation himself, a person who will not be daunted by the legacy of Wenger, a person who will be unfazed at the task of filling the boots of Wenger.
If Wenger is indeed sacked now, then the board will have to rush through the appointment of the next manager and in the process will end up signing a manager who is not up to the task leaving the Gunners in further trouble.
People will always say that Wenger himself was an unknown talent when he came to Arsenal and there is no reason why he cannot be replaced by someone like him—someone talented but unheard of.
But is that the path the club wants to go down? I would say not. If such a manager is indeed appointed then he may succumb to the pressure accompanying the role.
Under Wenger, the fans have been treated to some sumptuous football with Wenger’s focus always lying in playing the beautiful game. If Arsenal do bring in a manager who focuses on results rather than the style, then the fans may once again be disappointed.
That is why the best time to replace the Frenchman would be in the summer, because it gives the club the ideal time required to pick a suitable successor who can carve out his own legacy at Arsenal and also gives the manager time to draft in his own signings.
The fans may hate or love them, but there is no doubting that every Arsenal player including all those to have played under Arsene Wenger remains unanimous in their praise for Wenger. Cesc Fabregas left Arsenal for boyhood club only this summer and his tribute to Wenger just epitomized the respect he had for the Arsenal manager. Even Thierry Henry still backs the Arsenal manager.
Despite the recent hardships, some Arsenal players have reiterated their faith in the Arsenal manager.
There is no doubt that most if not all the Arsenal players still have faith and immense respect for the Arsenal manager. Several of these players owe a lot to Wenger for shaping their careers. The likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Robin van Persie come to mind, as Wenger shaped all these players into world-class athletes who can tough it out against the best.
If Wenger is indeed sacked, it will be an emotional and painful moment for all of them and sacking him in midseason is just not something the players might be able to handle. He is a legendary man, someone who is like a father figure to these footballers and when he does go, they will all be losing a great manager who has the ability to bring out the best in his players.
Sacking him and replacing him midseason is far too distracting and will only backfire on the club.
This is definitely a controversial one. There is no doubt that a few years back, Arsene Wenger along with Sir Alex Ferguson were the best managers the Premier League had to offer. These days many see Ferguson to be a country mile ahead of Wenger. Right now there is no doubt that Ferguson is the better manager but does that necessarily mean that Wenger is as poor as several critics and media outlets are making him out to be? Definitely not.
Of course, Wenger’s critics will point to his transfer market weaknesses and his tactical inflexibility. Wenger is not perfect and has flaws in him but a manager should also be judged on his ability to get the best out of his players and that is what I believe Wenger has done.
Before you call me a Wenger fanboy and delusional, take a step back and hear me out.
For the last few seasons, several people have been quick to proclaim that Arsenal will fall out of the top four and till now that has never happened, as the Gunners have comfortably maintained their status as a Champions League football club despite the rise of Manchester City and Tottenham.
Before the start of the season, the same people who criticize the Gunners for not winning the league predict them to fall out of the top four citing reasons such as lack of depth, quality and all the usual stuff. And despite all the predictions of doom and gloom, the Gunners invariably do well till March. But they have never fallen out of the top four.
Several people see Arsenal’s squad has been poor for quite some time now and have been predicting their fall for the last two seasons, yet the Gunners have not collapsed like they predicted. By default, that obviously means that Wenger has achieved great results with a good squad.
Any Arsenal fan knows that the results achieved by Wenger recently have left a lot to be deserved. Yes, Wenger is to blame for the club’s defensive frailties.
But spare a thought for the Arsenal manager too. He has never criticized his team and always deflects the blame onto himself. Yes, the critics will say that Wenger is the one who sends out the team but there is only so much he can do. The players in recent times have been left scot-free and in the process it is Wenger who has been treated with real disdain in the press and among fans.
There is no doubt that the players too are letting the manager down but the bigger problem is that not many are taking up the responsibility. Samir Nasri perfectly epitomized this when he left Arsenal for City stating reasons like desire to win. We must remember that Nasri himself was far from great during the business end of the season and he too must take responsibility for the frailties in the team. Instead, he chose to abandon the club during its time of need.
There is obviously something going on in the back to which we as fans are not privy to. Many have been vehement in their criticism of Wenger for not signing players but we must remember that even Wenger stated that he would have wanted to finish the business earlier and not so late. Unlike last season and before that, the club actually targeted all the right players.
Yann M’Vila, Eden Hazard and Mario Gotze were all subjects of bids by the Gunners and while they ultimately did fail, they did make an attempt to sign some world-class players.
Wenger is a quality manager and every player who has worked with him admits that. He still has the quality to correct Arsenal and the least we can do is give him time to rectify the problem—at least this season.
Even last season he managed a great series of results and though not many expected the Gunners to actually challenge for the title, the team was Manchester United’s main contenders for large parts of the season. While we all know how it finally went, until March the Gunners were doing better than the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.
Also, there is the factor of spending money in January. Even if the Gunners do manage a string of great results now, such is the quality of Chelsea, City and United that the Gunners might still find themselves behind in the title race. People will state that Wenger rarely spends but whenever the squad has needed it, he has bought in the transfer market. The likes of Andrei Arshavin and more recently Arteta and Mertesacker all prove that.
People often forget that the Gunners actually built a stadium and were in massive debt. If you look at the first few years of the six-year trophy drought, the focus was on finishing in the Champions League and ensuring that the club doesn’t fall badly because the spending power was low—especially in comparison to the likes of United and Chelsea. Building a new stadium is never an easy task and the Gunners managed to go through a phase of transition without any real hiccups when we have seen many teams collapse after building a new stadium.
Wenger did superbly with a young squad despite a restricted spending power, and he deserves credit for that.
I still believe that he is a quality manager, better than most of the alternatives and a manager with great respect for his players. While not many agree, giving him time is what I think is the prudent course of action.
While the squad hasn’t shown it yet, there is no doubting that this squad has immense potential and can compete for the league when firing on all cylinders.
Arsenal’s flurry of transfers in the last two days of the transfer window—in response to the defeat at Manchester that we will never understand—resulted in the Gunners adding five new players. The five players who made the move to North London were Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker, Park Chu Young, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun.
Out of these players, the most excitement was regarding Arteta and Mertesacker, both due to their quality and the positions they filled.
The summer departures of Fabregas, Clichy, Nasri, Eboue and Bendtner all meant that these transfers were required both to add quality and beef up the numbers.
Out of these players, it is Mikel Arteta who has made the most impact with two superb displays against Blackburn Rovers and Swansea, scoring one at Ewood Park and looking like the midfielder the Gunners have been crying out loud for this season. He has shown that he is no Cesc-lite and can blossom into a force for the Gunners.
With the likes of Alex Song, Bacary Sagna, Aaron Ramsey, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie already in the squad, there is quality at the club and while the recent results might not have reflected that, this squad has the quality to make a top-four finish a possibility.
The reason the Gunners have struggled are mainly because of the injuries that decimated the squad prior to the signings and the lack of cohesion between the new defensive unit as illustrated by Santos playing Yakubu onside for both of the Nigerian’s goals.
This squad has the quality to achieve something significant this season and ever since the Gunners kicked off their “new season,” they have managed two wins and a draw and defeat each. Not a great record, to be honest, but the Gunners should go one step at a time. Confidence is low in the team and like Wenger said, confidence comes back slowly and Arsenal should look to build their season one step at a time.
If they do indeed manage that, there is no reason why they cannot mount a surge for a top-four finish and possibly look to win the FA Cup, Carling Cup or both.
This squad has immense potential and they are still trying to gel with each other. Time will improve this squad and Arsenal fans should look at this team, see the talent and not be carried away by the immense negativism that has surrounded the club.
Wenger can achieve something this squad and he is known to bring the best out of his players. Arsenal’s win over Shrewsbery in the Carling Cup only highlighted their depth and with Wilshere and Vermaelen coming back, Wenger can do well with this squad.
He has the confidence in his ability, the team has good spirit and the Gunners can push hard for a good season despite a tumultuous start.
This article is surely going to bring contrasting opinions and I would love to hear your take on the future of Arsene Wenger.
A special mention has to be made to how Wenger has been during all this intense speculation. He has remained unfazed and has shown great poise and dignity despite faced with immense pressure.
He has been disrespected severely in the media who have made him look nothing short of a fool.
He has done several great things for the club and we must respect the man, whether we want him as the manager or not. He will go down the history books as one of the greatest Arsenal managers, if not the greatest.
I believe in this squad and Wenger, and call on all of you to show faith in the squad.