Before I start this post, I want to say, as a scorned Evertonian, I know exactly what a disappointing season looks like. I also more than understand the ambitions of Football fans, and the huge sense of betrayal when those heights are not reached.
Now then – with that in mind, let’s look at Arsenal. A historic and iconic football club, with a loyal following spanning far wider than their North London roots. Over the years they have had much to celebrate and a large portion of this is down to their manager, Arsene Wenger.
So why are many of the Arsenal faithful calling for Wenger’s reign to end? We’re in a footballing era where one could argue wealth brings success. The money invested in Chelsea in 2003 saw the Gunner’s rivals surge to the top and stay there, the recent investment into Manchester City another example of a dormant club woken up and most notably bring home their first Premier League trophy. Even this past month we’ve seen players leave these shores to take on a better-paid challenge in the Chinese league. Simply put, there is an increasing correlation between money, success and opportunity.
Amidst all this, Wenger has managed to work with the comparatively small funding available to him with huge success. Recently bringing in the likes of Mezut Ozil and the irreplaceable Alexis Sanchez has shown that he will spend money when it’s required, but not this often needless, glutinous almost showboating style of spend by the likes of Manchester United (who currently reside a place below Arsenal in the league). Wenger operates how he wishes, and to great effect, he brings an air of class to Arsenal, something rare and likeable.
I struggle to sympathise with any football fan complaining about the lack of trophies after only waiting two years. Let’s not forget the Gunners won the FA Cup twice on the bounce in 2014 and 2015, and here I am among many other fans praying for the slightest chance to lift the cup just once more in my lifetime. The tone of many fans after the matches is similar to that of a spoilt child, anything less than 3 points is a disaster and the cries for Wenger to leave is turned up yet another notch. I’m not saying that less than 3 points should be applauded, but rather take into account how much the game has evolved, and how much the clubs around them have had to change in order to drive title challenges year after year, Arsenal have remained almost unchanged in their approach, and still compete at the very top. Again, down to Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal are one of the few remaining consistently top performing teams without this recent capital investment and yet, year after year they finish in a Champions League spot after having a season full of European ties and domestic fixtures, which if you ask me, is mighty impressive considering the competitive nature of the Premier League. Okay, so they haven’t won the league in a while, but they came mighty close last year only coming unstuck at the very end, some would argue poor management, I would say it’s just football, look at who won that year and try and explain any logic when comparing the table this season.
So if not Wenger, then who? I call to the #WengerOut brigade? Without recycling the famous, ‘Be careful what you wish for,’ term, I would be intrigued as to who would be a worthy fit of a man who sits second to Sir Alex Ferguson in the table of most Premier League games won? Looking around at available candidates I just can’t see anybody worthy of usurping Wenger and his legacy.