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The Two Sides of the Arsene Wenger Coin

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer INovember 20, 2008

It is getting a bit tiresome isn't it, this whole Arsene Wenger thing?

Arsenal fans seem to be falling out with each other over our own manager. There is a dichotomy forming between those called the "Wenger Out Brigade" and those called the "Arsene Knows Best Brigade".

These two groups are the extremes, they are polar opposites. In between I lie, along with the vast majority of Gooners. Let me explain the terms.

The "Wenger Out Brigade" have emerged over the last number of weeks. They blame all of Arsenal's woes on the current Arsenal manager, believing that he is a stubborn, selfish man who is putting his own interests in front of that of the club.

In recent games they have chanted "Wenger Out," but their views remain a minority for now.

The "Arsene Knows Best Brigade" have been around for a lot longer but are coming more to the fore now. They believe that Arsene Wenger is some form of God who does not put a foot wrong. The complete transformation of Arsenal has been attributed to Wenger by the AKBs.

There are various levels of AKB syndrome, but those that suffer from it the most never, ever question any decision made by the manager.

In MY honest opinion, I believe neither side of the divide are correct.

I have stated here before my support of Wenger and his style of play. Having said that, for me he will never be bigger than Arsenal FC. If he was in the wrong I would have absolutely no problem in saying so.

In fact, he does have questions to answer but not to the level that he has been accused. If I feel Wenger is in the wrong I will say so; however, if I feel he is wronged I will say so, too. Hence, I am not a WOB or AKB, I am simply an Arsenal fan.

There have been many stories emerging about the running of Arsenal lately. I liken them to a coin - there is a heads and a tails with a middle separating them. Just as there is my side, your side and the truth.

Below, I will outline some of these stories. The "Heads" will refer to the common story being told, the "Tails" to the opposite side of the story and the middle—well the middle is what you want to make of it, therein lies the truth for you.

So, without further ado...

Heads: In the last number of years, Arsene Wenger has decided that he is bigger than the club and is using it to his own devices. Having gone a whole season unbeaten, he now wishes to write himself into history by taking a club full of youngsters to the Premier League title. He will not divert from this because he is stubborn and selfish.

Tails: Suggesting that a man of Wenger's reputation and education thinking that he is bigger than any football club, particularly one with the history of Arsenal, is nothing short of ludicrous.

The unbeaten season dream was fulfilled by a team packed with experience and the current Arsenal squad is merely Wenger dealing with a budget with can in no way compete with Chelsea, Manchester United, or even Liverpool.

Heads: Wenger has turned Arsenal into a selling club. He buys young guys who are full of potential, plays them for a few seasons, and then sells them on for a large profit. With this kind of philosophy, the club can have little hope of winning anything under his reign.

Tails: The manager's hand has been forced by the greed of the new breed of player. Nicholas Anelka listened too much to his brother who made him take the money and run. The same can be said of Flamini who—off the back of one decent season—decided that more money, sitting on the bench, and UEFA Cup football was better than a better contract, first-team place, and Champions League football at Arsenal.

Heads: It has been constantly reported for the last three years that Wenger has anywhere between £30-75 million to spend in the transfer market. There is a glaring need for an experienced central defender and defensive midfielder, yet he refuses to act in the transfer window because he is too stubborn in his philosophy of sticking with youth players, some of whom are not up to it.

Tails: Arsene Wenger has never come out and stated that he had anywhere between £30-75 million to play around with. It is evident that he has some money to spend, as Nasri was bought for £12 million in the summer.

However, his inability to secure the signings of Inler, Cana, or Alonso during the summer suggests a lack of funds rather than a manager unwilling to spend. He obviously saw there was a problem but did not get the backing of the board to remedy them properly.

Heads: The board runs the club as a business not a football club. For every million that Wenger saves in the transfer market, those on the board give him a huge bonus as a sweeter. Thus, the board save money while Wenger adds to his pay packet.

Tails: Very few can doubt that Arsenal is run very efficiently, which a huge turnover of money from match days and merchandise, this suggests that the board are greedy. They make sure the club is not losing money and thus when the time comes to sell, they will see a tidy profit for their efforts.

To suggest Wenger would rather a few thousand on to his already large pay packet—between £4-5 million per year—over being portrayed as a successful manager is slightly crazy.

Besides, it is not as if he has much hobbies outside football, he doesn't own flash cars and huge houses—what exactly is the extra money for? To make sure his wife stays in stock of the latest Jimmy Choo's shoes or that his daughter gets sent to the finest of schools? Surely his current pay deal takes care of all that.

Heads: Wenger is a liar. Week after week after week, his postmatch interviews are full of the same old rubbish—how the team is full of potential, is full of spirit, and that we can go on and win the league. He has also lied about wanting to bring in a midfielder in the summer saying there was no one that he liked yet he made numerous bids for players. He is a liar and can't be trusted.

Tails: So it would be far better for Wenger to act all John Tosack every weekend—to blame it all on the players and single them out for criticism in the media? Dressing downs are for in the dressing room not in the full glare of the media. Whatever he has to say to his players he will say behind closed doors.

As for the "lie" about the midfield and the "potential" of Diaby and Denilson, what else is the man to do? For whatever reason, he could not sign Alonso, Cana, or Inler in the summer, and now he has no choice but to believe in the abilities of the rest of the squad.

To come out in the media and say he desperately needs a central defender or midfielder would only knock the confidence of the players he has to work with for now. He needs these guys to believe in themselves at least until January.

So there you have it, the two sides of the Arsene Wenger coin. Evidently some of the accusations thrown at the Arsenal manager are frankly insane and beyond belief. Others may hold some semblance of truth.

As for me?

Every time I flick the coin it tends to land on tails more often than not. Things are not as clear cut as they seem at Arsenal FC, and our board aren't the "great guys" that they are made out to be.

This is my opinion, others may disagree strongly but I have to have faith that Wenger has little money and is some kind of a managerial genius to keep this club competitive because of the failures of the board.

The only other option is to believe that this club is at the hands of a narcissistic, senile 59-year old and no Arsenal fan should want to believe that!