Better The Wenger You Know…

Wenger's number one fan?

Wenger’s number one fan?

My interest in football articles and in particular those associated with Arsenal was drawn to a number of articles in which the common subjects appeared to be praise for Wenger for the performance of the current team and severe criticism for the ineptitude of Man Utd`s recent managers.

Kroenke in particular remarked on the difficulty of keeping any team consistently in the echelons of the sport it competes in. He was impressed by the fact that Wenger has managed to keep Arsenal in the minimum required placing ( in the top 4 ) for the entirety of his career. In comparison, our close neighbours, Spur`s fans misguidedly believe that their club deserves to be on a par with Arsenal, despite the fact that they have gone through 12 managers in their pursuit of parity.

Pep needs a pep talk?

Pep needs a pep talk?

Even Guardiola is attracting questioning comments due to City`s inconsistency. Current rumours point towards a possibility of Aguero and Kompany being on borrowed time. Since most fans and pundits agree, that when they play, both of those players are ranked among the best in the league. It appears therefore that it must be their record of injuries that is the problem. That is a problem which Arsenal fans have become accustomed to for most of the seasons Arsene has been in charge, but in all cases Arsene was patient in the extreme and we carried on throughout periods when key players were subject to long term injury. We read now that he has presided over the complete replacement of the turf at Colney training ground as he suspects that the wholly natural content of the playing surface may be the cause of many of the injuries. That is an indication of his micro management.

Depends what you mean by 'special'...

Depends what you mean by ‘special’…

The self – named “Special One” has been sacked twice by Chelsea and once by Real Madrid and Inter Milan during the time that “The Specialist in Failure” Arsene Wenger has managed Arsenal for an unbroken 20 years. There has hardly been a top manager in the top leagues who has not at some time during those 20 years, been fired. Alex Ferguson is the only manager who stayed longer at one place than Wenger and his haul of trophies will probably never be surpassed. Apart from Ranieri last season, the common denominator for all of the managers who won trophies in the last 10 years is that they were all able to outspend Arsenal. Man City in particular rammed home their advantage by poaching our best players.

On the face of it Kroenke`s praise is well deserved, but the problem is that three years ago Gazidis said that Arsenal were now in a position to compete with the best and we were told that Arsenal was no longer a selling club. After 8 years of drought many fans were impatient for success and on at least 3 occasions we were in contention when January came around, only to see the club implode. We appeared to be battling for scraps each year and to aim for 4th place. At the AGM Kroenke remarked that 4th place was the minimum requirement, yet we achieved it so many times by our fingernails. He also said that he was glad that we are at joint top place in the league and it was nice to see more unity about the place after last year. There is no doubt that unity is a necessity and something which should be nurtured.

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In fairness, we did sign Sanchez and Ozil and I would bet that Mourinho or Guardiola would gladly sign any of them if they were available. The further signings of Elneny, Xhaka and Mustafi are undoubtedly positive additions and Holding is definitely one for the future. The influx of class players has compelled Walcott, Cazorla, Coquelin, Oxlade, and Chamberlain to up their game if they want a place in the team. Perez has not yet made the same impact, because the performance of the above players together with Iwobi has kept him on the bench. Giroud is suddenly a square peg in a round hole and his place is seriously under threat. We also have the 2 forgotten men on the sidelines in Ramsey and Welbeck. Where does Arsene play them? he suddenly has a squad of players who I think are as good or better than any club in the league and big enough to cope with the demands of success. Of the top 4, Liverpool are playing well and Klopp is doing a good job, but I question if their squad is big enough. We must now have a team for which top 4 is not the minimum requirement. Top 4 is not an option. We deserve to win and we have a legitimate reason to expect to.

If Wenger beats Klopp, Guardiola, Mourinho and Conte then who replaces him?

If Wenger beats Klopp, Guardiola, Mourinho and Conte then who replaces him?

My opinion on Wenger over the last 5 years is well known. I have given credit for his first 10 years and I think that he is once again out-performing his rivals. I would like him to win the league for his last year but, for the first time, I think we have to consider where we go if he moves on. Every top manager in the world has struggled in the Premiership and if he finishes ahead of Guardiola, Mourinho and Klopp, who would we go for who is better than him?

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8 Responses to Better The Wenger You Know…

  1. HChapman October 25, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

    The perennial whinging and whining about Wenger and the annual calls for him to leave are all well and good, but it’s all a bit like voting to leave the EU: Casting your vote to leave was entirely emotional, gave you a feeling of momentary satisfaction and power, and ignored the people who actually work in the business and understood what is likely to be the future if you vote that way – the result being you made a total twat of yourself, and made a situation you thought was not good into a situation that is going to be terrible for years, and there will be nothing you can do about it!

    • Victor Thompson October 26, 2016 at 10:53 am #

      Thanks for your comments HChapman.

      Brexit and wanting Wenger to leave are nothing like the same. I have campaigned regularly over the last 2 seasons for Wenger to go but I also gave him credit for what he achieved. The misinformation which was fed to the fans by Gazidis and others painted a much more optimistic picture of the club than it deserved and at times we looked as if we were going to win the league.

      For reasons which I have frequently highlighted, mostly attributed to AW`s repeated mistakes, I could see no sign of getting back to our position of regular champions.

      The problem with making constructive criticism is that if the recipient actually pays heed and does something about it, you have to acknowledge it otherwise the criticism was not constructive to begin with.

      I am simply saying that there are obvious improvements to the personnel and to the way they are playing. That is legitimate optimism and I have taken all of this into consideration. I have raised the question which dissenters will have to answer and it is that “if Arsene finishes above Guardiola, Klopp, Mourinho Koeman etc. and you still want to replace him, who is there to choose from?

  2. foreverinourshadows October 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    And yet each manager you mentioned has won the CL and been a success in top European leagues, Wenger is a failure, a liar and a con man, you hold on to that, we will fail again this season as we have done in the last ten years, no plan b, no leaders, average players

    • Victor Thompson October 26, 2016 at 11:02 am #

      Thank you for your reply.

      I refer to the reply above. I appreciate a dissenting point of view provided it is reasoned and is constructive. I do it myself often enough, but if you can never see an alternative to your set in stone pessimism, your complaint loses its merit. Others will see it as the usual whinge unless of course you suggest there is an alternative solution. Apart from Ranieri it is a fair comment to say that each of the recent winners paid huge sums of money and bought the championship.

  3. paul35mm October 25, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

    Thie problem with Arsenal fans is that they seem to have this attitude that if the team achieved top 4 for 20 straight years this year is the year they must win the league. There are three problems with that attitude.

    Every season is a unique and entirely separate contest with unqiue conditions and factors affecting the competition. Some of the key factors this season include;

    1. Influx of top managers – With Guardiola, Mourinho, and Klopp all getting an off season to mold their clubs means that as the season goes on the race for the title will tighten as the influence these top football men have on their clubs increases. Add Mauricio Pochettino’s presence at Tottenham and Ronald Koeman’s move to Everton you have better managers in charge of a whole host of usual top half clubs.

    2. Spending – Arsenal has been a buying club for the last four years. Ozil, Sanchez, Cech, Xhaka, and Mustafi (plus other, less heralded but important players) all brought in. In other words, Arsenal are proving what Gazidis promised; they are no longer a selling club but a buying one. However, even spending big in the summer, Arsenal (£113 million) were outspent by Man City (£213 million, Chelsea (£136 million), and Man U (£185 million). So, while Arsenal are keeping pace in terms of quality, they are still being outspent.

    3. The Unexpected – This can be the sudden emergence of a Leicester City out of nowhere or the emergence of a new manager at a smaller club (Ronald Koeman at Southampton & Ranieri at L.C.). A series of injuries in one position or to a key player could cause havoc (Arsenal’s midfield woes three years ago), or a suspension of a key player (Luis Suarez for Liverpool a few years ago) or progress in the Champions League or the FA Cup can strain a squad.

    4. Pundit-Hype – The ‘experts’ always have a point of view and write and say what they do not only to inform and inspire but to generate ratings and spur confrontation. These experts are wrong all the time. Look at their records of predicting wins, losses, scores, etc. The truth is Pundits know that Arsenal are not competing against Chelsea, Man City, Totteham, Man U or Liverpool for the title; they’re competing against the other 19 teams in the league for points. Every point gained is precious. Every point dropped, unrecoverable. Last year Arsenal had a great record against the other top five sides and came second. They beat the champions twice. They dropped points against lesser sides at key moments and finished runners up.

    Saying we were second last year so in order to progress we have to win the league is silly and wrong. Arsenal are deeper, more mature, and look ready to win but the Premier League is a competitive place and it does not take a lot to cause severe disruptions in a team’s trajectory.

    Pundits had Man City running away with the title race and Arsenal doomed to a trophyless season as recently as three weeks ago. Suddenly Arsenal, Liverpool, and Man City are all even on points with Chelsea and Tottenham one behind. Chelsea were supposedly in disarray after Arsenal thrashed them 3-0, but they came back and hammered Man U to clamber back up into the title race.

    All teams, even title teams, drop points to inferior opposition. Arsenal just did it to Boro. They will again this season. So will Man City, Chelsea, Man U, and Tottenham.

    • Victor Thompson October 26, 2016 at 11:34 am #

      Hi Paul,

      When you take as much time to reply, I have to thank you and I appreciate the effort. If you have read my replies above you will see that I have recognised that Utd. Chelsea and City have vastly outspent us and in truth, for Arsenal it has been like putting a middleweight into the ring with a heavyweight. We hope he will outbox the heavier man but in reality the punching power will almost always defeat him.

      My frustration with Arsene has been that despite the mismatch in buying power, he did produce a team which could and should have won the league twice or three times. We were led to believe that we were now in the same weight division as the other big clubs. Unfortunately, it was the manager who made serious mistakes in tactics, in the composition of the team and the repeated failure to introduce substitutes until the 70th minute which cost us titles. He did nothing to curb the geriatric football we played against inferior teams or to stem the haemorrhage of goals when we came up against our nearest competitors.

      We lacked cover when we lost key players to injury and the lack of depth in the squad also contributed to our failures. I have well documented all of the above failures but I always tried to be constructive with my criticisms. Of course if you do that, and your opinions ( as many Arsenal fans were ) were ignored, it becomes even more frustrating.

      I am simply saying that this season, he appears to have bought well and the squad is now big enough to compete for the top prizes. On the other hand, Guardiola has recognised that he has a problem with City. In truth there is an imbalance in their side, much like Utd`s. They both have suspect defences and mediocre mid-fields. City`s forwards are winning games for them but even they have faltered and the goals have dried up.

      Liverpool are on fire because there is no doubt that Klopp has a formula that works and he has them playing to it. They press hard but they are constructive as well. Coutinho is an all round playmaker and scorer who makes them tick, but if he is injured and out of the team for long, they are short of a replacement. Spurs are a big strong youthful team who also press hard but they are also probably the dirtiest team in the league and they will pay for their aggression with regular dismissals. Can anyone forget their 9 yellows and 2 reds in one match against Chelsea last year?

      Chelsea easily beat Utd. last week but in truth the way they are playing now, any decent team could beat them. We beat Chelsea easily and I see no reason why we can`t do it again.

      I see in todays papers that Maureen is using up boxes of Kleenex lamenting that he misses his family and hates Manchester. That doesn`t look like a manager who can motivate his players when he can`t even motivate himself.

      That leaves Everton and Southampton as the nearest also-rans and with respect to their managers, that is what they are destined for. They will have what is called “an honourable mention” because they are inconsistent.

      All we need now is for Arsene to eradicate our tendency to play at walking speed and go forward.

  4. Nonny October 25, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

    Can’t agree more with the article neither can I disagree with your comment @Paul35mm. Well spot on.

  5. zex October 26, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    you say we produced a team that should win the league and bemoan lack of cover in the same statement. isn’t lack of cover an indication that even if the first 11 could be expected to win the league if they play all the games, the squad shouldn’t be expected to? remember a league requires a whole squad, not just a first 11.

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