This week it was revealed that Arsenal are set to commemorate the career of Dutch legend Dennis Bergkamp by unveiling a statue of their revered former striker outside the Emirates Stadium.
The statue will be a reminder to all Gunners fans of previous glories and of the absence of a talismanic figure such as Bergkamp that has contributed to the club’s failure to win a major trophy in the last 8 seasons.
Dennis Bergkamp was signed by then Arsenal manager Bruce Rioch in 1995 and spent 11 years with the Gunners scoring 120 goals in 423 appearances. Renowned more as a scorer of great goals than as a great goalscorer, Bergkamp often lit up the Premier League with his incredible technical ability which he fully utilised to produce unforeseen moments of magic and he often proved to be the catalyst for the successes of his Arsenal team.
Since Bergkamp’s retirement from the game in 2006, the Gunners have not lifted a trophy and it could be argued that Arsene Wenger has failed to replace Bergkamp’s leadership skills, flair and his ability to improvise since the departure of the Dutchman and his former team-mate Thierry Henry, whose statue also resides outside the Emirates stadium.
Bergkamp’s fellow countryman Robin Van Persie momentarily filled this void, spearheading the Gunners attack prior to his departure for Manchester United last summer.
Wenger’s failure to adequately replace these players, each of whom had the much sought after ability to change the game on their own accord or to rescue a seemingly irretrievable situation for the Gunners, has resulted in this responsibility falling on the young shoulders of Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott.
At the ages of just 21 and 23 respectively, Arsenal cannot continue to rely on two youngsters to galvanise the team at such a crucial development stage in their careers.
Arsenal revealed this week that they have posted a half year profit of £17.8million, increasing their total cash reserves to £123million. Upon this news, club chairman Peter Hill-Wood insisted that the money would be used to invest in the playing staff.
In a month that has seen the North London side exit the FA Cup and effectively the Champions League, Arsene Wenger’s position has come under greater scrutiny than ever before during his 17 year tenure at the helm of the club.
This summer’s transfer window may be Wenger’s last throw of the dice to resurrect the failing fortunes of the Gunners and there will be immense pressure on the Frenchman to acquire big name, experienced players who are capable of becoming the driving force behind this young and often naive Arsenal side.
There will never be another Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal. However, Arsene Wenger needs to find someone who can replicate their immortal Dutch striker’s drive, ingenuity and game-changing ability this summer in order to save his reign in north London.
The Mazy Run