In 1996 an unknown heard of Frenchman took over the reins of one of England’s biggest clubs, Arsenal.
His last tenure was with a Japanese club and when he first came many doubted if he would prove to be any good. You would all know that, that Frenchman is Arsene Wenger, arguably one of the greatest non-British managers to grace the Premier League.
He went onto convert Arsenal into one of the most attacking sides in the world that played beautiful, attacking football. Wenger was immensely successful during his initial years, never finishing outside the top two in his first nine seasons with the pinnacle of his career coming when he led his side to an unbeaten season as the Arsenal side of 2003-04 went down as one of the greatest sides to play the English game.
Wenger’s initial years was some of the most successful years Arsenal had ever seen and the fans immediately took a liking to the Frenchman who brought success to their beloved club.
The fans used to worship Wenger, with banners like “In Arsene We Trust” extremely predominant. But in recent years, Wenger has lost the support of a certain section of the Arsenal fans who believe that the time for him to leave the club is up. The main reason for the decreasing
Then there is another section that understands the circumstances he has to work under and is willing to show patience in Wenger and his long term philosophies. Currently and thankfully, the majority of the fans see that Wenger should remain at Arsenal and at present Wenger is the right man to lead Arsenal back to glory.
But most of the Arsenal fans have understood that a change in personnel is required at the club. There is no doubt that this squad has plenty of quality and an abundance of potential but something is missing. This something is the leadership that is required to achieve greatness. The winning mentality epitomized by Manchester United is seemingly lacking in this supremely gifted Arsenal side.
Arsene Wenger and his side have shown a certain frailty that has cost them the Premier League this season. This season represented Arsenal’s best chance to win the league since the Invincibles but with Arsenal choking and bottling when it matters most, the chance was lost.
Another weakness that needs to be addressed is the lack of depth in the squad that has cost Arsenal points when their best players have been injured.
Wenger’s recent comments show that in will mostly spend to strengthen the right areas.
Arsenal’s recent form has masked the fact that they have been good for large parts of the season and it has hidden the fact that Arsenal performed admirably for large parts of the season. The Arsenal defense has been one point of major criticism this season but with Thomas Vermaelen to return next season it will improve tremendously.
So Arsenal fans should not expect more than three transfers in the summer because in reality, that’s all the teams requires.
But some fans believe that Wenger at the helm of Arsenal will lead nowhere and now is the time to get rid of the Frenchman and bring in a more competitive manager, one who can bring trophies.
Their belief is that Wenger lacks the commitment to lead Arsenal to trophies and his victim mentality and his acceptance of second place as a good outcome is ruining the future of the club and his jeopardizing the future plans he has laid down. They have questioned his commitment towards Arsenal and I believe that this wrong.
I belong to the fan group that sees Wenger as the man who can lead Arsenal to glory. His philosophies has its flaws and he has made mistakes over the past few years, but he has performed admirably with a shoe string budget when most teams have rich owners who provide funds for exorbitantly priced players.
Recently many have questioned Wenger’s desire to win and have gone on and stated that he is a man who doesn’t mind finishing in the top four in the league even if Arsenal does not win a trophy that season. The main reason for such statements might be due to Wenger’s press conference in which he stated that he doesn’t mind finishing second because it is no disaster.
Some fans started to feel that he wasn’t committed enough and he lacked the ambition that a top club like Arsenal should harbor.
Initially I too felt that he was being a bit too defeatist in his attitude and it almost seemed as if he was accepting second place. But as the season has gone on it has become clear to most fans that Wenger is just not happy to be second.
His recent gestures have shown that he is a man who is severely disappointed with Arsenal’s recent form and he expects more of his team.
To put it simply he hasn’t shown the reaction of a man supposed to be contended with second spot. He has shown that he is willing to settle for nothing other than being best.
It has been obvious to many that Wenger is now extremely animated and frustrated when on the touch-line. He is no longer the calm and languid person he was when he initially came to North London. It’s entirely up to speculation whether this having a detrimental impact on the team but this highlights the passion Wenger has to win.
If he was satisfied for second or third like some believe then he wouldn’t be cutting such a frustrated figure. But the fact of the matter is that he is desperate to win because he is a winner. His recent frustrations is the sign of a man not pleased with being second or third best. If Wenger was actually not interested in winning a trophy then he wouldn’t be looking so disappointed.
His frustration and disappointment for the first time is becoming evident. This was best highlighted by the fact that he accepted responsibility for Arsenal’s recent trophy drought and even admitted that signings were required especially a defender. Wenger said that he would love nothing more to win a trophy and that has been obvious to anyone who has watched Wenger and Arsenal this season.
From the anger and tension on the touchline to playing a full strength squad in the Carling Cup and to his defensive strategy against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, Wenger has seemed to me as a man who is desperate to end his club’s trophy drought that now stretches to six seasons.
Eventually he might have been unsuccessful in his changes but he did show certain signs that he wants to end the trophy drought both for the club and for the players.
Another reason many have doubted his commitment to the Arsenal cause is because of his frugal approach in the transfer marker. Wenger has done miracles with a shoe string budget but at times he has chosen not to spend when he had the transfer kitty with him with one prime example being the winter transfer window this season when he decided against signing a centre back when the Arsenal back line was struck with injuries.
It is true that Wenger does have a habit of sticking to his squad very faithfully but that is because this is a squad that he has developed. Wenger has shown plenty of faith in players like Denilson, Diaby who have failed to show quality over the entire season which leaves Arsenal fans frustrated at Wenger’s faith in these flops.
Many believe that Wenger needs to be more ruthless while dealing with sub-par players and he is being too timid with them.
There are two ways of analyzing this. One argument which paints a clear picture that these players are just not cut out to play for a top club like Arsenal. This is true to a certain extent and while these players might be young they have hardly shown the kind of form that would want Arsenal fans to see them playing for the red and white of North London next season.
The other argument is based on history and Wenger’s fantastic ability to bring the best out of his underperforming players and convert them into top class players.
Johan Djourou and Alex Song are two players who at one point looked just not good enough to play for Arsenal but under the tutelage of Wenger they have blossomed into top notch players especially the latter and now the duo are two integral members of this Arsenal side.
If you look from this perspective you can see the logic behind Wenger’s thoughts but this season he has been proved wrong and if reports are believed then he is losing patience.
Would a man who is not committed to Arsenal’s cause lose patience in a philosophy that he has put together, a philosophy that few coaches of top clubs would attempt, let alone pull off in a successful manner.
I believe that to question Wenger’s commitment is wrong because in my opinion there is no person more desperate to win a trophy that Arsene Wenger. Arsene Wenger came to Arsenal as an unheralded manager and he then rose to fame forming a breathtaking team along the way. The construction of the Emirates hampered his progress but this season Arsenal have improved leaps and bounds.
Wenger is an Arsenal man through and through. His heart belongs at the club and he has put so much into keeping the club financially afloat and at the same time it remains extremely competitive. Wenger is a man who is under immense pressure to deliver and that pressure may be getting to him this season, but he seems a man who is willing to adopt change now and he can lead the team glory.
Arsene Wenger has steered Arsenal through a difficult period, a period that saw Arsenal move into a new stadium, a period that saw him being restrained by financial constraints and a period that saw his close friend, David Dein leave the club.
But he has kept the club extremely competitive and with a crucial transfer window coming up with Wenger looking to spend, let’s keep faith in Wenger and his team, because Arsene Wenger is the right man to lead Arsenal