FOX Soccer Exclusive
Wenger exit is no Arsenal solution
Samir Nasri's probable transfer will leave a noticeable hole in Arsenal's midfield attack. (Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
These are dark, dramatic days at the Emirates Stadium, of that there is no doubt.
With just a solitary point taken from the opening two games of the Premier League season, Arsenal’s performances have left much to be desired, lethargy and confusion all too regularly arising where light-footed speed and beauty once flourished. Cesc Fabregas has departed, very little money has been spent where many feel it is most needed, and the squad’s defensive injury crisis appears to deepen by the hour.
The angry rain clouds which opened to soak Arsene Wenger and his players to the skin on Saturday afternoon could hardly have provided a more fitting dose of pathetic fallacy.
Following the gradual implosion of Arsenal’s title challenge last season, there had been hopes that Wenger would use the summer to strengthen his squad and return in 2011 with a team more capable of mounting a sustained bid for domestic honors. The likes of Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Emmanuel Frimpong are all gifted individuals with promising futures. Whether they are able to form the spine of a title-winning side in the nascent stages of their careers remains to be seen.
Undoubtedly, with Fabregas, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Eboue all leaving and Samir Nasri reportedly unsettled, the manager now finds himself with an exceptionally young group of players possessing a great deal of potential but relatively little by way of practical top-level experience.
Arsenal’s current squad could be said to represent the very furthest extremity of Wenger’s philosophy. A great believer in youth and aesthetics, the Frenchman seems to be on a perpetual quest to vindicate his long-standing methods and convictions, to prove that style can and will overcome experience.
With over six years now standing between the club and its last major trophy, the manager’s methods are becoming increasingly divisive; as the man who was once described as having a “job for life” by former vice-chairman David Dein being put under increasing pressure by fans desperate for a return to the serial successes of Wenger’s first decade in charge.
In a managerial career that started in 1984, Arsene Wenger has won his league's manager of the year award six times, claiming four league titles along the way. In total, Wenger has claimed 11 major honors in a managerial career that started in France and had a brief sojourn in Japan before moving to London.
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There’s now a clear dichotomy between those who believe his ideology will pay off in the long-term and those who claim it has already proved its redundancy beyond all reasonable doubt. Unfortunately for Wenger, it is the latter camp which seems to have been growing in size and vociferousness of late, his most ardent critics exasperated by the Gunners’ frequent on-field self-destruction and the backward steps they perceive their club to be taking.
Furthermore, the need for seasoned defenders and a replacement for Fabregas having not yet materialized during the transfer window, it is easy to understand the infuriation of some supporters. The situation is perhaps not as black-and-white as Wenger’s detractors would like to believe.
While Arsenal’s current situation is far from ideal, it would be folly to suggest that the club is in the grip of a crisis which can be remedied only by the removal of the manager. The Frenchman may be criticized for his apparent reluctance to spend the money reportedly available to him, but it is worth remembering that Arsenal are in a particularly strong financial position compared to their rivals; something which could come to be increasingly significant once UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations are introduced ahead of the 2013/14 season.
There is still time left for Wegner to bring in a couple of players before the end of August. Swirling rumors have Nasri’s proposed transfer at a standstill. In addition, if Arsenal’s able to defy the odds and keep Nasri – who was one of the team’s few bright players against Liverpool – until January, then Wenger could buy himself the time he may need to identify suitable targets before strengthening his squad in 2012.
Arsenal may have been booed off again this weekend. The players looked glum and discontent under leaden skies, but all is not lost.
No matter how many setbacks the team suffers, the fact remains that it was Wenger who modernized and revolutionized Arsenal Football Club; as it was Wenger who guided the team to some of the most notable achievements in its history. Like it or not, that is a reality which has afforded him a wealth of patience from a club which is shaped in his image.
With that being said, with the crucial second leg of the team’s Champions League qualifying tie with Udinese coming up on Wednesday and being quickly followed by a trip to Old Trafford on Sunday, should results go against the Gunners over the next few days even the once unimpeachable Wenger could soon be living on borrowed time.
There’s every chance that the next week will be – for better or worse – a definitive one for the North London club.