In 1996, a Frenchman took over Arsenal. He proceeded to convert them into a European giant. Arsenal qualified for the UEFA Champions League in every season and progressed past the group stages on every
In his first nine seasons at Arsenal, he won three Premier League crowns and four FA Cups.
That Frenchman is the legendary Arsene Wenger.
Since 2004-05, Arsenal have failed to win a trophy, falling short on several occasions. If the Gunners fail to win the Premier League this year, it will mean they have gone six years without a trophy.
For a club like Arsenal, that represents a fairly disappointing run. Arsene Wenger set himself and his club a very high bar with his early success, but more important, after the achievements of the Invincibles. Arsenal fans have high expectations. They expect trophies to come in every year.
Wenger failed to win Arsenal any trophies for the past five years. After Arsenal’s elimination from three cup competitions in just two weeks and with a downturn in their league form, many people—including Arsenal fans—predicted that the Gunners would lose out on the league once again.
Many people, including Arsenal fans, have started calling for wholesale changes to the squad. Some have called for the Gunners to even remove Wenger.
Is that the solution for Arsenal’s trophy drought? Sacking the man who brought success to the club, the man who converted Arsenal into one of the most attacking sides in the world—is that what Arsenal should do to achieve success?
The simple answer is NO.
Arsenal’s trophy drought is not because of Wenger’s poor management. It’s because of the drastic financial measures he was forced to take for the welfare of the club following the construction of the Emirates.
Wenger has not been perfect. He has made his share of mistakes. But blaming him for Arsenal’s recent inability to win the titles is shortsighted and wrong.
Arsene Wenger chose to build a squad from scratch. He started to focus on the integration of youth players into the squad. He chose to groom young players when the rest of the world was assembling teams.
Wenger was building a squad his way.
Arsenal’s record signing was $16 million for Andrei Arshavin. When one pictures this in context with other European and English giants, only then can one understand the true success of Wenger’s vision.
It is tough to imagine any other manager adopt such a bold move, sacrificing immediate success for long-term success and stability.
Arsene Wenger has remained prudent in his handling of the clubs affairs, and yet at the same time the club has been improving tremendously and producing top-quality players. Two seasons back Arsenal struggled and qualified for Europe. Last season we contested closely for the title until injuries struck, and this season Arsenal are currently second in the table and very much in the title race.
The squad is becoming more competitive with every passing year as more players mature.
We have top-quality players in the squad such as Wilshere, Fabregas, van Persie, Ramsey, Clichy, Szczesny, Song and so many more. All these players joined the club at a young age and were groomed into top quality players. Arsenal have sufficient squad depth while remaining frugal and smart in the transfer market.
Arsenal have failed to win trophies, but it is fair to assume that the club is on the verge of achieving great things. We have a side that is constantly producing top-class players, a team that is constantly on the rise.
Many have chosen to call him frugal, but as a result of his efforts, Arsenal are safe financially while many other teams are going into debt. He has given Arsenal financial stability, something that few clubs in this world have the luxury of.
How many clubs can boast of financial stability and at the same time contest for top honors every season? Very few.
Every team has an expensive signing in their ranks. Barcelona have the likes of Dani Alves; United have players like Berbatov and Rooney; while teams like Chelsea and City constantly spend huge amounts on players.
Arsenal all the while have played it safe, yet have considerable depth in their squad when compared to these teams.
It is time for everyone to look at the larger picture—the picture of stability—before we simply start to criticize Wenger. I have always believed that the greatest thing to have happened to Arsenal was the arrival of Wenger.
It is even worse to see that some Arsenal fans are calling for the removal of Wenger. What these fans fail to realize is we expect trophies from Arsenal because of Wenger.
He showed Arsenal fans what it felt like to win trophies and when we failed to win trophies, these fans start to call for his removal.
To remove Wenger would be a futile move, one that will backfire upon the club. Wenger has offered Arsenal stability and the squad is on the verge of success.
When Wenger took upon this revolutionary vision of his, it never guaranteed instant success.
Just think of it: Three to four years from now, players like Vermaelen, Wilshere, Szczesny, Song, Ramsey, Miyaichi will be at the peak of their games. As a result of Wenger’s habit of giving youngsters a run in from a young age, these players would have gained experience.
Wenger sacrificed short-term success and has instead laid down a platform that will give Arsenal the opportunity to soar great heights in the future.
There is no denying that the last six years have been disappointing and frustrating in equal measure. But why turn on the team when success is so near? Wholesale changes are not the remedy to Arsenal’s trophy drought.
Arsene Wenger has been successful in building a heavily talented squad, and in a few years, they can conquer the world. But for now, patience is the key as Wenger fine-tunes the project and completes the rebuilding process.
The answer lies in supporting the team, showing faith in the squad, in the manager.
When everyone else is criticizing the Gunners without truly understanding the real reason behind their trophy drought, it is ridiculous and painful to see that even Arsenal fans are joining this bandwagon.
Arsenal fans should be proud of the achievements of the club and remember one thing: Wenger could have easily ignored financial stability, bought players and left Arsenal when they are financially struggling.
Instead, he guided the club on the right path and instilled safety to Arsenal.
I’m not trying to portray Wenger as a man who can do no wrong. Yes, he has made a few mistakes. But the positive effects of his change in ideology in the long run outweigh the short-term shortcomings.
These are frustrating times, but we are fans of Arsenal for a reason—we support the team through the highs and lows of football, and that is exactly what we should do now.
I am an Arsenal fan and I say it proudly:
“IN ARSENE WE TRUST”