Down and Out - Arsene Wenger

Seven years, and still counting, is the long seemingly endless wait that Arsenal faithful have to endure, for any sort of silverware. The supporters are starved off success with very little reason to cheer.  Arsenal team once the mighty “Invincibles” , seems to be a poor shadow of their past, scrapping with mid table teams for fourth place, rather than fighting for trophies with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea. Arsene Wenger, who once revolutionized the way football was played in England, has been flayed left right and center for his inept tactics and prudish activity in the transfer market. These voices of dissent are growing and even the staunchest Wenger supporters are getting disenchanted by the way their beloved club is being run.

In the current season the situation seemed to have reached a tipping point with the distinct possibility of the team missing out on a Champions League, which would spell disaster, both financially as well as for the club’s ability to lure foreign talent and retain its existing players.

Must football typically go through peaks and troughs. But for the last five or six seasons the team seems to be in a perpetual downward spiral with very little evidence of any recovery in the offing. All these have raised serious questions about Wenger’s ability to turn things around, and a section of supporters and ex-players are clamoring for his removal.

Switch To Emirates Not Paying Off

When the switch to the current Emirates Stadium happened five years, Arsenal supporters were promised that the move was conceived solely for the purpose of generating more matchday revenue that will be ploughed back in the transfer market. Arsenal will be able to compete with all the other major clubs financially, for any world class players. Cut to 2012 the scenario is starkly different. Not only has Wenger failed to enroll any major world class player in that period but has even failed to replace the ones who have left. His tight fisted transfer policies give the impression that bottom line or profitability is his overriding concern rather than the team’s performance on the field. He always exhorts about the self-sustaining business model of the club, when he should only boast about the trophies that his team has won. He even stated in a recent interview that every year his goal is to generate profits to the tune of 5 to 6 million pounds for the club. Such statements can be construed by supporters, as the manager getting his priorities all mixed up. With ticket prices going north every season, the supporters have every right to know how their hard earned money is being put to use.

The Team Not Good Enough

The current Arsenal is littered with too many average players who are not even worthy enough to lace the boots of the Invincibles. After being entertained by the likes of Henry , Viera and Bergkamp, supporters now have to endure the likes of Song, Chamack and Diaby. Wenger’s failure to replace the world class superstars that he once had at his disposal, is the prime reason for the team’s lackluster performance. His unyielding faith in average players like Diaby and Denilson , is baffling. He takes gambles in the transfer market, opting for cheaper purchases and more often than not his decisions blow off in his face. Because of miscalculations in the transfer market, Arsene ends up buying mediocre players who do not solve any purpose. How can one fault Arsenal’s defence, with players like Sebastian Squallaci and Mikele Silvestre being signed?  Their ineptitude is glaringly revealed whenever these average players are called upon to provide cover for any first team player. The situation is exacerbated by the brittle nature and poor injury record of many first team regulars.

In the current season also Wenger’s baffling transfer policy is cruelly exposed. With the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri bidding adieu for greener pastures, the urgent need was to replace these two major players. But Wenger decided to keep his faith in a young, untested Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wishere, who as per latest news will potentially miss the entire season. It is not fair on Ramsey to shoulder such a major responsibility at such a tender age and many a times this season he has been found wanting. Wenger has to shoulder the entire blame for that.

Lack Of Mental Fortitude

Mental Strength is one aspect that is glaringly lacking in the present Arsenal team. Time and again in past seasons, the team has choked on golden opportunities handed to them. In crunch matches, the team has regularly failed to rise up to the occasion and deliver. Case in point is the shocking Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham last year. And what has really started to grate the supporters, is Wenger’s continuous harping on the team’s mental fortitude , which is not actually backed up on the pitch.

Wenger never seems to have a Plan B up his sleeve when Arsenal’s  regular brand of football fails to come up with the goods during a match. His dream of emulating Barcelona’s genre of football, seems to be a pipedream considering the bunch of players he has at his disposal.

Arsenal supporters are increasingly losing their patience with the man, who once turned the fortunes of the club around. But Wenger can ill afford to rest on his laurels forever. If the team misses out on a Champions League spot, it may very well signal the end of the Wenger era.