Arsene Wenger was appointed Arsenal manager almost 20 years ago. In that time he has overseen some of the greatest triumphs in the club’s history. He also played a big part in relocating the club to the Emirates stadium. Many people agree that he is Arsenals greatest ever manager. He has helped guide the club to lifting the last two FA cups, but before that, Arsenal hadn’t won any silverware for ten years. Was this down to Wenger failing, or circumstances the club faced at the time? It is looking increasingly likely that this will be another season with no trophy for Arsenal. Wenger has to take full responsibility for this season’s results. So the question remains. Is it time for Wenger to step down from the club he loves?
Arsene Wenger reinvigorated Arsenal on his arrival in 1996. He brought with him fresh ideas, and a style of play that was to be envied around the world. His achievements in his first full eight seasons were remarkable. He guided the club to three Premier League titles, and four FA cups. He helped turn Arsenal into one of the most feared teams in Europe.
Next came Arsenals transition, moving from Highbury, to a brand new 60,000 seater stadium (The Emirates). Wenger played a big part in making this happen. His vision for the club was unparalleled. Wenger realised that for Arsenal to compete with the biggest clubs in Europe, more ticket revenue would be needed.
Not only did Wenger transform Arsenal, he also helped to transform English football. The way he went about things was quickly noticed. He brought with him new ideas concerning training, fitness, and diets. He was a visionary, his main aim being in bringing Arsenal into the 21st century, both on and off the pitch.
Arsene Wenger built a hugely successful team, arguably the best team in England at the time. It was the way in which the team played the game that made it extra special. Wenger insisted that his team played with flair, focusing on attacking the opposition. Arsenal were not only the best team, but also the most exciting team to watch. The ‘invincible’s’ will never be forgotten. The team from the 2003-2004 season that went the entire league campaign unbeaten.
Some of the players brought to Arsenal by Wenger will be remembered in England for a long time to come. Players such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas, and Robin Van Persie. All of these arrived at the club for fairly modest transfer fees. Wenger played a massive role in helping them develop from promising youngsters, to world class superstars. Has any other manager developed so many world class players?
Wenger’s early years were incredibly successful, filled with honours. Arsenal won the FA cup in 2005, but then had to wait another nine years until they lifted more silverware. For a club like Arsenal, not winning a trophy in that amount of time was unacceptable. How much blame should be put on the shoulders of Wenger for this barren spell?
Arsenal moved to the Emirates stadium in 2006. So it is no coincidence that the beginning of the club’s trophy drought started here. Wenger had to balance the budget. Paying off the loan for the new stadium was the priority, so less funds were available for signing players. The standard of the squad clearly dropped during this period, winning trophies proved to be increasingly difficult. But the message was clear. It would all be worth it in the end, once the debt was paid. Arsenal would be winning titles once again.
It was quickly realised that for Arsenal to once again compete with the very best, the chequebook would have to come out. Wenger splashed the cash on Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, breaking the club’s record transfer fees in the process. Could Arsenal once again start to compete with the very best? It looked that way as they won back-to-back FA cups. So what has gone wrong this season?
At the present time there is a split opinion amongst Arsenal supporters. Half feel that it is time for Wenger to leave the club, while the other half feel he should stay. There are pros and cons to both scenarios. Ultimately I feel that the decision on when Wenger steps down will be down to the man himself. The main concern now should be regarding what is best for the club, and the future.
I firmly believe that every club should be looking to progress every season. Since Arsenal won the FA cup in 2014, the team hasn’t improved. They still show the same weaknesses on the pitch, and past mistakes keep on repeating themselves. How much responsibility Wenger should take for this is debatable. But the question of Wenger’s future at the club is ongoing, it is now a valid question to ask, Would Arsenal improve with another man in charge?
If Arsenal do finish the season trophyless, which is looking more and more likely, the Arsenal board and Arsene himself will have a big decision to make. If he stays, the Arsenal fans should support him, as I still think he is capable of adding more silverware to his collection. If he does leave, the question then is who will replace him? Maybe the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Only time will tell.