WENGER IN OR WENGER OUT?
It’s the most quizzing question to ever loom over the red half of North London; should Arsene Wenger stay at Arsenal or bring to an end to his 18-year-reign with the Gunners, after a season of many highs and lows at the Emirates Stadium.
Clearly, Wenger is one of the greatest and most enigmatic managers to ever grace the Premier League, and one who has delivered multiple honours in grand style for the North Londoners. However, trophies droughts, top heavy squads and eye-popping defeats to their closest rivals in recent months has brought the Frenchman’s position to be questioned by various sectors of Arsenal’s support. We’ve broken down the advantages and disadvantages of Wenger’s potential stay.
Think of Arsenal’s greatest managers and its best moments, you'll find Wenger’s name is written all over the club’s history. Revolutionising Premier League football upon his arrival and offering Sir Alex Ferguson the fiercest of rivalries for various seasons, Wenger managed to push Arsenal into a title contender season after season, winning three Premier League titles in the process. Arsenal’s final league title came in 2004 with the Gunners finishing the season unbeaten, extending their record to 49 games without defeat, as he brought through names such as Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Cesc Fabregas to the top of world football along the years.
Since 2004, ‘the Invincibles’ were slowly dismantled and Arsenal endured a nine-year-spell without a trophy, as they completed the transition from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006. Arsenal went through many seasons without the necessary funds to compete with megabucks Chelsea, oil-rich Manchester City and others, but Wenger still achieved qualification to the all-important UEFA Champions’ League each season, on top of continuing the trend of finishing above bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, even when it appeared that the balance in North London was beginning to shift.
Times are changing, however, and Wenger now has the funds to fully strengthen every area of the Arsenal squad and add to this season’s FA Cup triumph. ‘Le Professeur’ has pulled together a young squad, including the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and adding the talents of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil to his roster, so there is hope that Wenger can turn Arsenal up a gear.
There are many who believe nine years without a trophy is simply too long, and that the only reason Wenger has managed to keep his job is because, well, he’s Arsene Wenger, Arsenal hero of the late nineties and early noughties.
Wenger is reaping the rewards from his early success as Arsenal manager, therefore, he is untouchable. Due to the shrewd and low-key business we are accustomed to seeing from the Gunners, Arsenal has looked a lot more like a business instead of a football club in recent years, so the board will appear to be happy with Wenger, as long as he qualifies for the Champions’ League and turns in profits. Arsenal fans want silverware, league titles, and Wenger has failed to deliver that. So much is the reputation of Wenger inside the club that many doubters of the man suggest he has too much power within the club and that he will never be sacked.
There’s also the suggestion than Wenger has become outdated and that his tactical naivety versus big teams resulted in heavy defeats to the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. Football has changed, but Wenger has failed to change with it and Arsenal are paying the price for it on the pitch. Furthermore, Wenger’s reluctance to spend apparent cash reserves on players in the transfer window has irritated plenty.
On the back of winning the FA Cup, it may be time for Wenger to make the definitive step and walk away from the club. As the old saying goes, "You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
What do you think? Should Wenger stay or go?