It’s time for Wenger to part ways with Arsenal
It’s March and Arsenal’s season is unravelling at the seams, a pattern that has become all too familiar at the Emirates.
Last week, the gunners were comprehensively beaten 3–0 by Manchester City in the Carabao cup final, before losing to them again by the same scoreline in the Premier league 4 days later.
Arsenal then lost their following league game 2–1 away to Brighton, a fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions which leaves them 13 points adrift of rivals Tottenham in 4th place.
Having been dumped out of the 3rd round of the FA cup unceremoniously by Nottingham forest, The Europa league is unfortunately Arsenal’s last chance at silverware and a Champions League place this season.
However, it wasn’t always like this; Arsène Wenger has been manager of the London club since October 1996. His arrival ushered in radical changes in the way the club was run from top to bottom. Wenger adopted a hands-on approach to training sessions, banned smoking and drinking amongst the squad and even gave the players dietary guidelines.
It didn’t take very long for Wenger to achieve success, winning the Premier League-FA Cup double in 1998 and 2002; followed by another FA cup triumph in 2003 and the famous ‘invincibles’ team which won the league in 2004 .
Wenger was rightfully praised for constructing a team which exuded pace, intelligence, creativity, power and tenacity. The gunners were renowned for their aesthetically pleasing build-up, a hallmark they retain to this day.
Wenger’s Arsenal peaked in 2006 when, with the likes of Thierry Henry up front and Sol Campbell in defence, they reached the UEFA Champions League final.
The gunners had, remarkably, gone through the knockout stage that season without conceding a goal; but their previously impervious defence couldn’t stop Barcelona from winning 2–1.
Ever since that night in Paris, Arsenal has been suffering from diminishing returns.
In 2014, they ended a 10 year trophy drought (which had become a well known meme within pop culture) with triumph in the FA cup final. Wenger signed a 3-year contract extension shortly afterwards.
This, however, was paper over the cracks of the foundation of a football club that has been crumbling for years.
4 years later, I firmly believe Wenger’s departure from the club is long overdue. The French manager often comes across as a parent who refuses to let their adult child make decisions of their own accord, naively or arrogantly believing that he and only he could know what to do in the best interest of the club.
Arsenal have been perennially underachieving for most of the last decade; never really mounting a serious title challenge and serving as cannon fodder for Europe’s bigger boys in the Champions League.
The spine of the team has changed considerably during this time but the team’s problems have remained the same. Mental fragility, a lack of commitment, and a defeatist attitude have characterised the gunners since 2006.
In 2018, this dysfunctional relationship between club and coach has reached a breaking point. In the winter transfer window, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were bought in a effort to soften the blow of losing Alexis Sánchez to rivals Manchester United.
Sánchez was Arsenal’s best forward since Henry, and he would have left the club for free six months later had they failed to find a suitor for him in January. If that doesn’t set the alarm bells ringing at the Emirates Stadium, what will ?
Wenger’s contract currently runs until 2019 and he has reiterated to the media many times that he intends to complete it. Perhaps if Arsenal fail to win the Europa league he may reconsider.
All in all, Wenger has already been the hero, now it seems he is intent on living long enough to become the villain.
It’s time for Wenger to part ways with Arsenal was originally published in Scrimmage on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.