I’ll Always Love Arsene But It’s Thank You & Goodbye
Top 4 Finish - Premier League
Arsene Wenger WAS a great manager. He isn’t any more, he’s lost his mojo, maybe his way and certainly his ability to craft was amongst the very best.
No More Mojo
I thought there would be a major response against Liverpool, especially after the Bayern Munich debacle, but it wasn’t to be, it didn’t materialise and the most important reason is that in short, he succumbed to fear, the jitters and conservatism that just wasn’t in this great man’s lexicon a decade ago.
In a football world which tries to reinvent systems, roles for players and tactics, he committed arguably the biggest football crime a manager can commit. He left out his best player, and not only his best player but one who is usually at the heart of the very best that Arsenal can offer.
That for me proves finally, conclusively (if any proof was needed after the Bayern result and Arsenal being the worst out of the top five or six teams for taking points off each other) that Wenger no longer knows what to do for the best of his team and his club.
His inbuilt managerial radar, the radar of the winner has finally switched off.
No More Excuses
We can all go round in circles and make excuses for Arsene Wenger because he is genuinely such a nice man, a man with humour, grace and the man who gave us the wonderful Invincibles, but let’s turn this on its head for a moment, if he were nastier, less appealing, brusque and rude like some managers can be, he’d have been out on his ear years ago, Top 4 or not.
Those hanging onto the “be careful what we wish for if he goes”, really are hanging onto the grandfather or uncle figure rather than a top class manager. In other words, if Arsenal had Mourinho for twenty years with his histrionics, and not won a title for say five years, I honestly don’t believe Arsenal fans or the Arsenal board would have kept him because they could use the “he’s not our type” or “he’s trouble” etc etc.
With Arsene, you sit back after another poor performance, another false dawn and say, “Oh Arsene, it’s not working but boy we do love you”.
It’s an emotional attachment we all have with this guy, because in a day and age where there are charlatans, extremely rude and uncouth managers who’d rob your Granny given half a chance, Wenger reminds us of managers of yesteryear who show loyalty, humour, kindness and statesmanship. That ladies and gentlemen, is the only reason he’s keeping his job.
But what about Top 4 Stan? That’s the equivalent of winning a trophy isn’t it? So we better be thankful that he keeps getting us there? No, not really, unless you’re a bean counter in the Arsenal finance department that rubs their hands together every May when the cheques roll in for failure.
It’s not equivalent to Antonio Conte coming in year one and clearing out the stench of a naughty dressing room, dealing with big characters and turning them into winners. The only real comparison for Wenger is lower down the Premier League with the likes of Allardyce or Pulis.
They guarantee certain things too but ask fans of all the clubs they managed, and after the “staying up” guarantee fades and fans then get antsy and disillusioned and ask one question, “when can we dream bigger than this, the bear minimum?”. That’s all Arsene delivers now for a club which rakes in money, has some very good players, fills the arena with 60,000 fans weekly and should be set fair for a trophy laden future. The bare minimum.
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
In reality, Arsene should have gone ten years ago. Arsenal should have cut the umbilical cord between wise old sage and fan. They should have gone through their transitional period and now, in 2017, should have had at least a couple of Premier League titles in the bag with maybe a tactically savvy manager who could have had them in a Champions League Final or better, with a couple of cups on top.
You add a statue outside the Emirates to Le Professeur and all of a sudden you start to feel Arsenal have moved on, moved into a bright future, took the risk of losing their “Top 4 guarantee” and handed the reigns to one of the brighter, younger, hungrier generation of managers who I’m convinced could and would have Arsenal finally punching their weight not as England’s “third” team, but to break a European duck which frankly should be an embarrassment for a club of such size and history.
Arsene can’t change that, Arsenal won’t change that, so the brutal truth is he has to go.
I’ll always love the guy because in brief personal exchanges he’s always been accommodating, warm and funny, but football these days isn’t about sentiment, it’s about winning, and Arsene is no longer a winner.
As the old saying goes, adapt or die.