It seems questions surrounding Wenger’s competence are asked every week on Match of the Day, so is Arsenal’s record really his fault and why won’t they get rid of him?
Arsenal were sixth in the Premier League table after their game with Watford, but were 9 points from the top and 10 from the bottom. The defeat to Marco Silva’s Watford, which some gunners fans have called embarrassing, was accompanied by Troy Deeney claiming that the Arsenal team “lacked cojones.”
This is just the beginning of a stream of criticisms that Arsenal have received not just this season but throughout past seasons also. Arsenal’s last Premier league title was in 01/02, and despite them being runners up in 15/16, they were beaten by Leicester City, who the season before had faced a relegation battle.
“A new era is upon us and it is time for him (Wenger) to accept that his tactics are not cutting it anymore” – Ex-Arsenal player Martin Keown
So where has it all gone wrong? And why have they been a fourth placed club for years, and they couldn’t even manage that last season?
Transfer activity has been the centre of many criticisms against Wenger and Arsenal. This summer, Arsenal were one of five clubs who made a profit in the transfer window, parting with 22 players and bringing in only 2. Striker Olivier Giroud also confirmed that he nearly went to Everton and there are still doubts about star players Sanchez and Ozil, with rumours that they will be leaving in January. This situation begs the question of whether this can be attributed to Wenger.
It would seem that decisions regarding transfers and spending stem from higher in the club, and with this being a recurring theme for several transfer windows, fans and pundits are asking why Wenger is reluctant to spend and replace the players he’s lost. Despite questions about issues in management, in 2016 the club turned over £354 million and made a profit of £3 million, so money isn’t tight, which seems to bring the issue right back to Wenger.
It has been argued that Wenger is simply too old, and at 68, this could be true. He has been with the club for over two decades and fans are demanding a change in the players, in their attitude and in their performance. Although they have won five games, they have also lost three: one to Stoke, however, with their reputation and record against the big clubs, this could be accounted for. But a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool (who have troubles of their own) and the 2-1 defeat to Watford have been sticking points for their critics.
Their tactics and reactions have been discussed, with Martin Keown stating that the way Arsenal capitulated when Watford made the score 1-1 was alarming. This again reverts back to Wenger and his out-dated techniques. There is no doubt that years ago he revolutionised the way we play football in England, but a new era is upon us and it is time for him to accept that his tactics are not cutting it any more.
It seems this debate is re-hashed most weeks and just adapted for the game they haven’t performed in or for the rumours regarding players leaving. It seems evident that Wenger must accept his faults and step down, as by trying to prove himself capable he is in fact hurting his pride, ruining the club’s reputation and putting off players from wanting to be there. When will this finally happen though? And what will happen when it does?
Only time will tell, and maybe it will take some disastrous season and finishing position for Arsenal to wake up and realise that Wenger is outdated. As for after Wenger, a manager who is enthusiastic, creative and not afraid to spend is most definitely what they need.
However, a promising display at troubled Everton, saw them pick up 3 points and put 5 goals past the home side, which may perhaps settle fans complaints for now, but Wenger will have to make sure more performances filled with attacking intent follow.