I watched Arsenal labour to a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Norwich yesterday and started to wonder if Gunners boss Arsene Wenger’s future at the club should really be in doubt?
A number of Arsenal fans held up banners and placards at the game asking for the veteran French boss to be dismissed from his post as the clubs boss.
They seemed in the majority though, as those with banners were booed by another section of the Arsenal support.
An Arsenal legend
There is no doubt about it Arsene Wenger is a legend at Arsenal. He transformed the club and the team in his early years. He will go down as one of the Gunners greatest Arsenal managers of all-time.
Even the Arsenal fans protesting about Wenger’s management of the club would find it hard to deny the fact that Wenger has had such an influence on the north London club over the last two decades. Wenger as a boss and a man should be saluted for the effect he had on Arsenal and the Premier League.
However it is easy to see why fans are protesting against the veteran Frenchman’s management of the club, as the Gunners seem to implode for period during every season and it has cost the side from north London dearly in recent seasons.
Arsenal team slightly stale under Wenger
Arsenal in the last few years seem to be slightly stale and the players seem to have apathy towards the game at times. International footballers of great acclaim such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez seem to struggle to find their best form under the Frenchman.
Wenger has stayed fiercely loyal to some of his players, when in truth their performances have not warranted such loyalty. He has been loyal to the players who have been loyal to him, but maybe that is Wenger’s problem.
Maybe Wenger has grown too nice in recent years. He no longer has a ruthless streak in him to axe off-form players or annoy under-performing stars. Maybe he just never had that ruthless streak in the first place and it was the players who motivated themselves.
The current group of players cannot even be compared to the likes of former players Thierry Henry or Patrick Vieira when it comes to attitude and a will to win.
Knowing their characters they never needed much motivation from the boss to win. They just had it built into them. The current group does not have that same attribute and that is where good man-management skills come into play.
Arsenal have been accused of being mentally weak and that could be a reason for the Gunners seemingly reverting to just getting over the line in the race for Champions League football.
Is making the Champions League every season enough for Arsenal?
For some clubs finishing in the Champions League places every season would be fine by the supporters. The top-four of the Premier League is now the aim for a lot of clubs, for whom a challenge for the title is out of reach.
Every summer somebody from the Arsenal hierarchy comes out and states the club has made money available to strengthen their squad. As we all know Arsene Wenger is an economist first and a football manager second. He does not like spending money.
The Gunners are currently odds of 1/20 to finish in the top-four this season. That place in the top four is still not assured this season, despite the north London side looking to be favourites to win the title earlier this season.
Arsenal always seems to be tantalisingly close to winning the title, but have come up short for the last 12 seasons. Wenger’s signings, tactics and decisions are used as an explanation for the Gunners failure to win titles, but he would argue that he kept the Gunners in those lucrative top-four during difficult financial times.
Arsenal are traditionally one of the biggest clubs in the history of English football and will always be expected to challenge for the big trophies. Gunners fans may have accepted that the north London side were never going to spend in the same vein as Chelsea or Manchester City, who have won the title in recent years.
However, the fact that Arsenal are not winning the Premier League title when the big spenders have struggled this season is a damning indictment of Arsene Wenger’s managerial skills and the current squad.
Those that want Wenger out may get their wish, but not till next summer when the veteran French boss’s contract expires. He is unlikely to get sacked, because of what he has done in the past. The old saying ‘you need to be careful what you wish’ for applies here though, as a lot of clubs would love to be in Arsenal’s current position.
Should Arsene Wenger’s future at Arsenal be in doubt?