All Arsenal fans out there, here is a message that the football media keep saying to you: ‘be careful what you wish for if you get rid of Arsene Wenger as your manager’. This has been said by many football pundits like Harry Redknapp, Jamie Redknapp, Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, and a plethora of others, who seem to want to encourage the fans that there is absolutely no other manager out there that can replace Wenger at Arsenal. This quote has caught on among some of the Arsenal fans, who see themselves as being ‘loyal’ to Wenger, whereas on the other side, other fans calling for Wenger’s head, are deemed as being ‘disloyal’ to him and the club.
This subject of loyalty needs to be addressed because in the 40 years that I have been watching Arsenal I have never ever seen such a poisonous atmosphere around the club. The club is divided, the fans are even fighting in and outside the ground, with many from ArsenalFanTV being targeted for bringing out banners asking Wenger to finally step down. Apparently certain fans have been threatened and other abused and attacked for being Wenger out. The people who began this quote, “be careful what you wish for” have never ever played for Arsenal, nor managed them. They are respectable pundits within the game, and they are paid handsomely for their self-opinion. However, what do they really care if Arsenal as a football club is deteriorating (and rapidly so) whilst trying to show some ‘loyalty’ for Arsene for the better times had at the club. For his services, Wenger has been paid handsomely, so he hasn’t done things at Arsenal for free. Ultimately, the club always belongs to the fans, and it always will despite the money being pumped into the game and slowly killing it as a result.
Fans from other clubs, including Chelsea, Tottenham, West Brom (recently), and others consistently sing “Arsene Wenger we want you to stay”. This may be sung in jest, but there is some truth behind it, for whilst Wenger has remained at Arsenal over the past few years, these clubs have overtaken them in many ways. Chelsea, who couldn’t beat Arsenal neither for love or money, have turned that completely around, adding trophy after trophy to their once bare cabinet. This is fair enough, Chelsea are a big club and doing well, but where is the ‘competitiveness’ from Arsenal against them gone? Tottenham, although they haven’t won anything yet, at the very least are playing better football than Arsenal, and will no doubt this season finish in the top four and above their North London rivals for the first time under Wenger.
The quote is a ‘scare mongering tactic’ that, whether intentional or not, seems to push ‘fear’ into the fans that Arsenal cannot do without Wenger as manager. Arsenal, a sleeping money-making giant, would apparently collapse and die if Wenger was to no longer be in charge. This reminds me of the myth that says that the ‘Tower of London’ would collapse if the ravens kept there would ever leave.
There is no doubt that Wenger will always be remembered as a true legend at Arsenal. He is the most successful manager in their history and should be loved at Arsenal and spoke about fondly in years to come. But Arsene, sometimes you just have to call it a day. Don’t risk your legacy any further by being stubborn and insisting that you can fix things. Arsenal are now stale and boring to watch. Consistently being beaten by all the big clubs (with many, many, humiliations over the past few years), and struggling to even beat the so-called smaller clubs.
The board too have to get real, Arsenal are sinking, and if they don’t take their heads out of the sand, the club will simply be ‘mediocre’ – having gone backwards since they moved to the new stadium, instead of forward as was promised.
Chelsea did not say “be careful what you wish for” when they got rid of Jose Mourihno (twice!) and look at what the managers and interim managers won when they took over at the helm, the Premier League and FA Cup Double (Carlo Ancelotti); the Champions League (Roberto Di Matteo); the Europa League (Rafa Benitez), and now Antonio Conte is on course to also winning the Premier League and also the Double, and just one year after Mourihno was given his marching orders for a second time. And to all of you who say ‘yeah but we are not like Chelsea’ I say ‘well it’s about time we were’ because they are constantly winning trophies (with different managers!), and we are scavenging for the FA Cup whilst being humiliated elsewhere with boring mediocre play backwards football.
Making the top four is NOT a trophy, it is just a route to the money, finances, and commercial riches that are available in the game today. Wenger, having a degree in economics, knows this and seems only to be interested in the financial side of things. This is what presents itself as a conundrum for the board, do they get rid of a money-making machine like Wenger, or do they try to please the restless fans who are sick and tired of being conned and humiliated?
If finishing in the top four is a guiding stick as to whether Wenger should still be there next season, his quotes in his latest press conference should worry Arsenal fans. Wenger is quoted as saying:
“I have done it for 20 years and it looked always like nothing. Suddenly, it becomes important so I’m quite pleased people realize that it is not as easy as it looks.”
In 2012, Wenger compared finishing in the top four as a trophy, with finishing 4th being the bare minimum that is expected by the end of the season.
Wenger also quotes in his latest press conference as saying:
“It [finishing in the top four] is a good challenge but I think it is perfectly possible.”
Seriously guys, is this what you want to see season after season, after season after season, failure to win the Premier League (or even mount a serious challenge) and fight for fourth spot? Arsenal will be very, very, lucky to finish in the top four this season, and if they failt to do so then the Champions League is gone for next season. This, by Wenger’s own words will be a massive failure, especially considering the financial resources that are available at the club.
Leaving the F.A. Cup to one side, this failure in the Premier League (finishing outside of the top four) will not be the fault of the fans who want Wenger out. It will be down to the board, the manager, and the players.
Those who wish for Wenger to remain and sign a new two-year deal can stay with their “be careful what you wish for” thinking. You will not get anything new under the current system if it remains this way.
Those who are not ‘frightened’ or ‘scared’ as to what is on the other side of Wenger’s management of the club are well entitled to their opinion. Many of them have said ‘enough is enough’ and want a change.
Why Wenger is not coming out and saying whether he is going to sign a new contract or not is because he is waiting for the outcome of final league positions (whether in and out of the top for) and the FA Cup. If he finishes in the top four and wins the FA Cup, he will view it as success and probably sign the new deal on offer, and if he does neither (both doubtful playing this kind of football at the moment) it just may well be the final ‘aurevoir’ from the Frenchman.