On Sunday, Arsenal drew level with Chelsea, bringing Mourinho’s imperious record against Wenger to an outstanding 13 games without reply. The mere fact that Wenger has never beaten Mourinho proves that that it’s not a case of sheer ‘bad luck’. 13 is too big a margin and this is bound to be overshadowed by the fact that Arsenal have found a rich vein of form lately, having lastly lost to Tottenham back in February. But surely, isn’t this just a speck of dust in Wenger’s illustrious career that shouldn’t worry The Gunners? After adding 3 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cup triumphs and Manager of the Year awards in 1998, 2002 and 2004 to his collection since he landed in London, not to mention that Arsenal have finished in the top 4 in every season since he took over, many people (
read the Arsenal faithful) often argue that Wenger is still the shiz-niz and there isn’t a more consistent manager in the league for the last decade or so.
And why not?
Wenger is an outright legend . After all, how many managers can boast of having a win ratio of 58% over a span of 19 years? Don’t get me wrong, I really do respect Wenger, as he is one of the elite coaches in the world and is credited with revolutionizing the beautiful game in terms of tactics and diet . In fact, my problem with Wenger is that he’s good. Consistently good.
As you all know, Arsenal have been among the top 4 in every season since he took charge and this is where the problem lay. To finish in a top four spot is a remarkable achievement; so much so that Wenger even used to declare it a trophy. However, finishing fourth every season without a title to show for it is an utter waste to me. Even more astonishing is the manner in which he manages to hypnotize Arsenal’s board and fans every season under the disguise of ‘improvement’ and ‘progress’ only for reality to sink in at the end of the season. Turining our heads to Europe, it has now been seventeen years in the Champions League that Arsenal have not won Europe’s most coveted prize which begs the question, what’s the point of qualifying? It’s happening once again this season, and no one is talking about it. So I’m going to do it for the love of the game.
Every season Arsenal perform well, but have nothing to show for it.
It’s a common Arsenal trait that follows a very specific pattern every time. They begin the season spectacularly, get lost somewhere along the way and manage to string a good run of results in the latter stages of the campaign just in time to secure Champions League football. It’s exactly what is happening now, with the only difference being that now it may be top two instead of four. Now, if Wenger considered the top 4 to be equivalent to a league trophy, then top 2 might must be a Champions League title! It is in these times that the great managers are distinguished from good managers, and Wenger’s stubbornness is what edges him out from being amongst the most decorated in the business.
Whenever opportunities arise in the transfer market, Wenger is often hesitant, and somewhat ends up shooting himself in the foot with his decision making. Remember when he insisted on Ibrahimovic doing a trial instead of actually signing him? Or when he refused to gamble on an unknown 18 year old prodigy by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo? How about letting Didier Drogba slip to Chelsea in spite of the fact that he was in his favorite shopping basket, France? I could go on but I’m not here to shame. What makes this even much more bizarre is the fact that the funds have always been there, but Wenger uses them as if they were his own. I know the gaffer’s got a degree in Economics but dude, loosen up abit! Quality is expensive, and if you have to pay an extra 10 million to acquire it, then why not do it? Look at Chelsea for example. After coming so close to winning last season, Mourinho realised what he must do. Summer quickly came, and before we knew it, Fabregas, Courtois and Diego Costa became part of an already star studded squad. As a result, Chelsea won the league the minute it begun.
Another applicable example would be Manchester City. After a hefty amount of Arab money (courtesy of one Mr. Sheik Mansour) was injected into the club, a huge chunk of it was used in the acquisition of new players. Not just any players, mind you, but top quality players. Some say up to now, City have spent more than 300 million pounds on players only. What has that brought them in return, you ask? Two premier league titles and a couple of league cups to go with it. All that in less than three years. Is this to say that all the signings these two teams have made have had absolutely no flaws? Of course not; some players just aren’t built for the Premier League. But you see, you’ll never know until you try. I remember how critics were highly skeptical about Costa due to his attitude on the pitch but alas, the gamble has paid off.
With that being said, I certainly can’t discredit what he has done to correct his errors of late. He’s brought Arsenal a long way, and even moved them from Highbury to The Emirates (yes, he considers that an achievement, and there’s nothing wrong with it) It seems he’s had a revelation of sorts and is now willing to see things differently once in a while. This became apparent when they went to the Etihad and beat City. I was beyond SHOCKED! That instead of Arsenal playing their usual free flowing attacking football, they instead chose to defend first and get the goals later! If both teams were playing in plain white kit, I’m quite sure you would’ve mistaken Arsenal for Chelsea. And City for….well, City. It was a tactical mastermind most synonymous with Mr. Mou, the best paid bus driver in the world. He also brought in Sanchez, Welbeck and most impressively, a young Hector Bellerin (Kid got wheels!) I also think Gabriel was a wise piece of business. Wenger is definitey a good coach, but now is a good time to be better.The Arsenal squad is definitely stronger than its been for a while now and even though their only potential source of silverware this season is the FA Cup, I feel they will be a shoe in for the title come 2016…BUT ONLY IF:
- Wenger doesn’t get carried away and refuse to strengthen his squad this summer. Of great concern is a good center back, a quality holding midfielder and a proven striker.
- Vary his tactics from time to time (i.e. have a Plan A, B and C) and realize that sometimes it’s okay to ‘win ugly’
- Take gambles in the transfer market because no one will slaughter you if it doesn’t work out. ( We’re not slamming LVG for the Falcao decision)
- DO something about the training routine. Like seriously, its actually turning into some sort of induction ceremony. Every player that joins is welcomed by a lengthy spell on the touchline due to injury.
and most importantly…
- Get rid of that ‘geography teacher’ look. It’s terrible, really. 😀
However, if he fails to break ‘the usual‘ flow this summer, let all Gooners get to twitter and trend #WengerOut for a month or so, and the cycle continues…
(By the way, Klopp is available as of next season. Just saying.)
See you on the pitch!