Arsenal lacking leaders on and off the pitch
One of the accepted definitions of insanity is making the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome. That being the case, the men in white coats will shortly be making a visit to the Emirates Stadium and carting off The Professor, Arsene Wenger because the Arsenal manager is seemingly trapped in a vicious circle of repeated mistakes and denial.
It’s not news that the Gunners are in need of three players to complete what would be an outstanding team (goalkeeper, center back, holding central midfielder), a team that would compete for major honors but actually take the extra step that the current side is unable to do and bring home silverware. What does make the newswires though is Wenger’s stubborn refusal to do something about it.
Look, no one is asking him to hold a press conference to admit he’s wrong (that would be madness), but what most are asking is for him to buy the players that even the most uneducated football supporter knows the club needs, because this late season collapse has been nothing short of a train wreck. The third wreck in succession!
Since losing to Birmingham City in the League Cup final (thanks to his goalkeeper and center back committing the biggest calamity seen at Wembley in decades), Arsenal has won just two matches. Yes, just mighty Leyton Orient and Blackpool have felt the North Londoners’ backlash, and anyway you cut it, that’s a sad state of affairs for a club which at times has played the best football by an English side this season.
Driving for show doesn’t win prizes, though. It’s the putting for dough that fattens the bank.
One thing I’d love to be is a fly-on-the-wall at Stan Kroenke’s next board meeting. The new American owner looks Wenger in the eye, but where does he go from there? The balance sheet, which is healthy and in the black or the empty trophy cabinet that is entering its sixth season without any new additions. And that ultimately is the problem-facing Arsenal, they can’t currently win trophies.
On the other hand, in this fallow period, Arsenal’s two biggest competitors, Chelsea and Manchester United have been swallowed up in debt, but they’ve won, and they’ve won consistently. Wenger may well feel close to the tipping point, because if he can’t beat them, well, he might as well join them. If that’s the case, Kroenke better be prepared to spend big.
Perhaps the will-he-or-won’t-he Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona in the summer will be the catalyst for significant changes within the team. His captain has seemingly undermined him at a most sensitive time; however, to give Wenger credit, he has in the past moved on disruptive elements (most notably, Thierry Henry to the Catalans).
I’m not quite sure what possessed Fabregas to throw his manager under the bus. Maybe it was watching Real Madrid do the same to the Copa Del Rey, but if trends are to be believed, I would hazard a guess that the midfielder is stoking the fires for a summer move. After all he is in the game to win trophies, and he can of course trot out the same old chestnuts his countryman, Fernando Torres, used when he manufactured his move from Anfield to Stamford Bridge.
Now let’s say for instance that Fabregas can command the kind of fee generated by an Andy Carroll. That surely will prove too tempting and allow Wenger the luxury of dipping his toes into the transfer market without spending any of Kroenke’s cash. And if we look at the cold hard facts the rise of the Spaniard over the last six years has coincided with the trophy drought.
With the focus on youth throughout the team, real leaders and real men are required to take these mentally fragile yet brilliantly talented kids to the next level. Can you imagine what this squad would’ve already achieved if there had been a John Terry or Roy Keane in the middle of the park. It’s scary to think about!
Instead since Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira, we’ve been led down the garden path with the likes of Gilberto Silva, William Gallas, Robin van Persie and Fabregas: all world- class players, but would you follow them into battle? I’d barely follow them down the pub.
Arsene Wenger must not make the same mistakes with his next captain’s appointment, but as we’ve seen from The Professor over the last six years, he’s not afraid to keep making the same mistakes.
Is he insane? Has the pressure finally got to him?
Watching the horrible voyeur ‘Wenger-Cam’ this weekend, I’m inclined to think that the angst is slowly beginning to eat him alive. That is not what he deserves; however, if he did the unthinkable and resigned this summer, I for one wouldn’t be stunned.
Nick Webster is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering the Barclay’s Premier League and the English national team.