Eoghan Dalton examines Arsène Wenger’s tenure to date at the Gunners.
Arsenal football club is a unique case. The stability over the past eight trophy-less years is what’s made sure the club hasn’t fallen apart, what with the debt incurred from the new stadium. Yes, it’s been a long and frustrating time for fans, yet you’ll find that top four finishes are crucial, especially in Arsenal’s case when they needed to clear the debt. It’s also something that Manchester United have spectacularly failed to do this season, showing that stability is an underrated idea these times in football.
Arsène Wenger is clearly the greatest manager the club has ever had though. He has brought them great success, an invincible season and some of the finest football anyone has ever seen (with many writers and commentators saying it’s the best England has ever seen). Then you factor in the stadium costs, and the board knew that lean times were ahead. Was that communicated well to fans? No, it sure wasn’t. It would appear unjust if the club decided to get rid of a manager who’s brought them that much success when they knew tough times were on the horizon.
Quality players leaving every year didn’t help either (Cesc Fàbregas to Barcelona, Samir Nasri to big spending Manchester City and Robin Van Persie to domestic rivals Manchester United being the most notable), especially when the club couldn’t pay its players more than its rivals. Of course not winning the Champions League was a great flaw but you can’t look at that as a reason to call Wenger a failure, not with the success he did achieve.
Manchester United managed to keep their team together and kept that balance between sparkling youth (Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney) and quality veterans (Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville), something which Wenger decided against in his ‘project’ which was then quickly ripped apart by the richer clubs around Arsenal. The arrival of Roman Abramovich has much to do with Arsenal’s lean period, since that influx of mammoth amounts of money meant that Arsenal couldn’t compete financially for several years. Of course, it’s also unfortunate timing that this coincided with the same period where the debt would have to be repaid.
The signing of Mesut Özil is a clear sign that the club is on the right track, with the right man in charge. If Arsenal football club is to continue progressing, Wenger must remain at the helm for many years to come.