The previously unconditional support from the Arsenal faithful for their manager Arsene Wenger is diminishing by the week, and with good reason.
Every season Arsenal seem to have one nightmare week which all but ends their season and considering their elimination from the FA Cup at the hands of Championship Blackburn and spineless performance in Tuesday’s Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, this week could just be that week.
There have been cracks slowly surfacing at The Emirates throughout the clubs eight year wait for trophy, but recent weeks have signalled a significant shift in opinion amongst a crowd who for years have proudly professed ‘In Arsene We Trust’.
The root of Arsenal’s difficulty in following their 2005 FA Cup victory must lie with Wenger’s transfer policy. Ever since the breakup of the famed ‘Invincibles’ Wenger has been intent on nurturing Arsenal’s own talent via their youth academy and reducing spending bring in players. In recent years we have heard from various quarters that the club has money at its disposal and is willing to back their manager in a bid to return Arsenal to their glory days of the early 2000’s.
There is a stubbornness about Wenger in that he persists in keeping faith with the clubs underperforming youngsters rather than swallow his pride and delve into the transfer market. Wenger seems almost hell bent on proving the media and sections of the Arsenal faithful wrong in achieving success with their youngsters and it is a policy that is still not working after eight years of trying.
When Wenger has taken the plunge in paying out for players, particularly in recent years, his signings are second rate. Santi Cazorla is a prime example, bought last summer from Spanish side Malaga. Cazorla was initially a breath of fresh air for the Premier League, linking the play superbly and scoring the odd goal as well. However, as the season has gone on the mercurial performances have remained but are much fewer and further between and not at the consistently high levels shown by his compatriots Juan Mata or David Silva in their first seasons in the Premier League.
On the pitch, Arsenal have gone from playing sublime free-flowing passing football but with a backbone made of steel, to playing in the same style, but now that style is very sporadic and inconsistent with an extremely soft underbelly. Their ability to grind out results through dogged defending has all but disappeared and their former ruthlessness in front of goal now a thing of the past.
Despite claims by Jack Wilshere this week that it is in fact the players and not Wenger who should take responsibility for the Gunners decline, Wenger has been at the club long enough for all of the signings to be his, and by definition primary blame should lay at the managers door.
Growing calls for Wenger’s resignation in weeks are completely natural and understandable. In what other job would you received £7m plus per year in salary and remain in employment despite the results of your work getting progressively worse year on year?