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.
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.
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.
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?
A sophisticated, articulate Arsenal Man of Mystery. Aged 70 and a bit.