Wednesday, 21 November 2012


I think its fair to say that most, if not all, Arsenal supporters would concur that there is something not right with the Arsenal. A lot of conjecture and discussion centres on our current manager Arsene Wenger. There are those who strongly advocate that he is the man to bring back former glory, there are those who feel that he is the problem and those that base their argument around who would replace him. 

Strong arguments are made that the Board is responsible for financial constraints that have been holding us back, and others still, put forward the opinion that the club is doing well ‘under the circumstances’. It's true to say that the football landscape has changed during Arsene Wenger's tenure and many clubs could not have foreseen the true impact of first Abramovitch and then Sheik Mansur. Competing in an unfair market place is the reality though.

Reasons are debated, argued and batted back and forth to explain our decline. Arguments and abuse are unfortunately often resorted to but there is one question that is glaringly obvious yet overlooked; what is the solution to our problems?

Change is the obvious answer. Change for changes sake? No. Change for the good of the club, it’s future and it’s supporters? yes. I would say that any changes are not on the horizon though.

Arsene Wenger is manager until 2014 at the minimum (bearing in mind the planned imposition of FFP in 2014 adds another dimension to the situation) and I would wager that he has a hefty contractual clause that makes terminating him before this untenable. So he is going nowhere.  That’s a reality that the pros and cons factions have to accept: Arsene Wenger is the Arsenal manager until at least 2014. Some will be happy about that some won't be.

If we accept this fact what can we hope for between now and then? Will Arsene Wenger make the necessary changes in personnel? Are those changes needed or is the current squad good enough? Some say that the squad is good enough but selections that are not based on form, positional choices and lack of tactical reaction are at the core of our inconsistency. Others point to the regular loss of top players. All debating points but hard to answer.

Will Arsene Wenger be able (or willing) to make sufficient changes of a psychological nature to re-establish a winning mentality at the club? Some posit that the mentality of the manager is all about theory and statistic rather than something more visceral. One for the psychologists there

Will the club hemorrhage talent yet again or will we retain quality? If Arsene Wenger wants to keep a player you would think he would have the clout to do so as opposed to standing by a flawed contracts policy. Players leaving the club with such consistency must have a root cause. More to the situation than meets the eye perhaps?

You see the immediate future can only be based on whether or not Arsene Wenger is willing to make changes if he believes that changes are necessary. That’s the simple truth if you accept that he is going nowhere.

There is a real loyalty and genuine feeling towards Arsene Wenger based on what our club achieved during the period 1997-2005 and that can tend to water down current reality. No debate from me that he is a decent person, but (to quote Michael Corleone) “this is business not personal”

The consistent qualification for the Champions League seems to be the most important factor in some minds and perhaps it’s the one thing that has allowed a club of our stature to retain the services of a manager who has not won anything since 2005. Should we fail in ECL qualification next season I hear no alarm bells ringing  in the corridors of power as I am sure Gazidis and Co. have made contingency plans for that eventuality. If it happens the following season, once the long awaited Financial Fairplay comes in we may see the inevitable  dethroning take place, because for these guys money talks. But that presupposes that Arsene will be retained with a new contract to see how he then moves things forward in the brave new FFP world.

Arsene Wenger has become so inextricably linked into every aspect of the club that he has created a unique employee/employer relationship and one that is almost a Jedi  mind trick in its pervasiveness.

It appears on the face of things that the Arsenal will continue to be fair to middling under the current regime. I just can’t see changes taking place as philosophically things are entrenched.

The argument that says “who do you replace him with” for me, doesn’t hold water. There are a great number of managers who would jump at the opportunity to manage the Arsenal and take on the challenges inherent with a great club like ours. A manager who will perhaps confront the ideology of accepting second best and question current notions of what success actually means.

Let us not forget that Arsene was himself something of an unknown quantity, a punt if you will, when he took over.

I think we will not see any changes for at least two years and therefore I can envisage things possibly turning rather sour which would be a great shame. At some point Arsene Wenger will not be Arsenal manager, whether by choice or by termination and there are those who can't or won't accept that inevitable truth. Wenger's legacy is the broader issue. The future of the club post 2014, the focus. What will both be?

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