Arsenal, but after enduring a drab 0-0 draw against Aston Villa on Saturday evening, the boo boys were out in force once more, only serving to highlight just how fickle and divided the club’s support really is over the issue of their manager Arsene Wenger and whether he deserves to continue to lead the club forward in the future.

To put it into context, the result against Paul Lambert’s struggling but spirited side left Arsenal in sixth place in the Premier League after 13 games, having drawn five, won five and lost three, sitting five points behind Chelsea in fourth place. This is far from a catastrophe given the circumstances which has seen the club lose its best player for two successive summers running and with plenty of the season still left to play.

Arsenal fans appear to collectively lurch from one crisis to another, from despair to unbridled joy with consummate ease, with very few shades of grey in between. Of course, the reality is that when you trust a manager, as the board undoubtedly do with Wenger, to the tune of 16 seasons, stability and continuity are almost ingrained in the club’s psyche and the pace of change is often painfully slow, which makes a mockery of the hysteria on the terraces, with perception often far outstripping any kind of development.

The north London club, perhaps more than any other in the top flight, finds itself at the whims of a vocal minority susceptible to the media-driven narrative that encapsulates the extremes felt by the few; this in turn sees those very same grievances projected onto the many. Arsenal are currently enjoying their 15th straight season in the Champions League and while Wenger’s argument that finishing fourth is tantamount to winning  a piece of domestic silverware is troubling, what is the alternative?

The boo boys should be careful what they wish for and amidst all the knee-jerk reactions to what was an admittedly disappointing result, but far from the end of the world, who do they propose that the club moves for to take over the reins instead of Wenger? What mythical manager out there could do a better job with the resources that he has at his disposal than the Frenchman?

The game against Villa was the club’s third inside a week, with their previous two seeing them hammer local rivals Tottenham at home and their victory over Montpellier in mid-week clinching their place in the knock-out phase of the Champions League. To be greeted with jeers of “you don’t know what you’re doing” by a section of the away support just further drives home the point that some fans have been mollycoddled to such an extent, that they live in a bubble, seemingly devoid of any sort of context. Honestly, when you’re banging the same drum as Piers Morgan, you really do lose all credibility and you have to wonder just how far you’ve strayed from both sanity and rational thought.

The current situation at Arsenal is far from ideal, granted, and the club do appear to have bargained way too much on the Financial Fair Play rules being strictly enforced by Uefa. Turning the tide back over the waves of mediocrity which all too often dominate their displays is going to be difficult and requires patience above all else, but it’s at least a coherent plan worthy of consideration, rather than making a scapegoat out of Wenger just because the team happen to be playing poorly on an absolute dog of a pitch.

Wenger showed signs of his frustration in the press conference after the game, with his substitutions largely seen as lacking in invention, stating: “What is the thinking behind the substitution? I will not explain every decision I make. I have managed for 30 years at the top level and I have to convince you [journalists] I can manage the team?” When pushed on the topic of the chants, he seemed reluctant to have a pop at the fans: “I don’t want to comment on that. I do my job and do my best for the club. Why should I create a rift? I have given you the answer.”

The problem that Wenger faces is that he’s failing to match the expectations which he himself helped to create. A seven-year trophy drought is no laughing matter and to an extent, the failed experiment with the dogmatic approach to a one-dimensional playing style was all at Wenger’s behest and the extent to which they’ve fallen away from the summit of the English game was somewhat preventable.

However, when you consider that prior to the club’s title triumph in 1997-8 under Wenger, that the club hadn’t won the league for six years and had won just a solitary FA Cup since the 1970s, then they are clearly in better shape now than they ever were back then. The belief that the grass is greener has festered away at some of the club’s fans and it’s a dangerous view to subscribe to. Gratitude for past achievements is not a good enough reason to keep a manager employed in the present, but it should at least afford them more time to turn things around when things are not going according to plan.

Wenger is far from perfect, but criticism, such as the booing he endured away at Aston Villa at the weekend, just lacks any semblance of perspective; the sort of fans which feel it is their ‘right’ to compete at the higher end of the table and challenge for trophies. That the fans have to contend with the highest average ticket prices in Europe must be hugely frustrating, particularly given that Wenger seems reluctant to criticise the board over the matter, therefore making his position untenable, but we shouldn’t lump all our negative points about the club on to the shoulders of one visible target.

The relationship between a manager and a team’s fans is always a tricky one to balance, but with a dearth of alternatives and a team undeniably in transition out on the pitch, patience and faith are the order of the hour, not malevolent discontent which threatens to undermine anything Wenger does. With the club’s identity so directly intertwined with the Frenchman’s, removing him from the job could have catastrophic consequences that will condemn Arsenal to years in the wilderness, and with the fate of the side hanging by a thread, now is simply not the time for rash decisions and reactionary rhetoric.

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  • nishant
    2 years ago

    there is only one wenger !
    if he leavess lots of big clubs are there to snap him up !

    to all d wenger haters .. be careful of wot u ask , coz if wenger leaves there might be no coming back !

    In Arsene I trust !
    ohh to be a gooner !!!!

    Reply
    • John
      2 years ago

      He will not be at arsenal forever either

      Reply
    • chris from Cambridge
      2 years ago

      Do you really believe Arsenal is the only club in the whole world who could not appoint a different Manager ????

      Reply
  • Mick
    2 years ago

    A sensible article, refreshing to read. Most of the higher profile journalists and so called media experts would do well to follow your example rather than propagate the nonsense they continually peddle around at the moment.

    Reply
  • Tommy
    2 years ago

    Very good article, exacly what iv’e been saying to my irl mates here in sweden, who could do it better with what he is given?

    i for one can’t se any manager do what wenger has done, and the day we loose him we will be in deep shit, and maybee we will do that.. and tbh it’s strange that Liverpool fans arn’t complaining as much as we do they have been one of the biggest clubs and still are in some way, but they never even won the “premier league” as you said patience is very important..

    Reply
  • Ollios
    2 years ago

    Wenger does not deserve to be ridiculed. But the fact is, quoting from your article: ‘Gratitude for past achievements is not a good enough reason to keep a manager employed in the present, but it should at least afford them more time to turn things around when things are not going according to plan. More time when to turn things around when not going to plan? The plan at arsenal is to ‘challenge’ for the title. When I say ‘challenge’ I mean challenge, as United and City do. Not pretend to for half a season.
    We are constantly told Wenger runs the club from top to bottom. He makes all the decisions, and for sure the final ones. SO, he signed off on Squillaci,Chamakh,Ju-Young Park and Andre Santos. He also signed of £50-65K a week (not in order) salaries for the above + diaby,Djourou, denilson and Nicklas Bendtner.
    He also presided over all of the sales, and the situations that got us there. Sure, we had to sell-Nasri, Van Persie etc as they were in the last year of their contracts-so Wenger who runs the club from top to bottom let them get there. I appreciate there is no true clarity to who holds the purse strings at Arsenal, yet what is clear is the FACTS, and that is verified by the tax office and can be found online as Arsenal are a public company. You can find, simply by searching the Forbes football rich list that Arsenal are 5th in the world with regards to ‘richest clubs’ (taking in to account vauation, debt, income/revenue and gross profits)
    So-isn’t it up to the manager to push the board for funds if they are not forthcoming? Wenger is too tight with the purse strings and misses the brave, bold and willing that was provided by David Dein. No Wenger has free reign over financial ‘button pushing’ with transfers they have all but dried up (decent transfers) We are not pipe dreaming her and looking for 30-50 million pound signings, we are talking about our classic Arsenal £!5+ million and if brave enough up to £20-£23 (which is well within our means) we are talking about Mata (£16M), Cahill (£6M)players like Hamsik, strikers like Papis cisse. We are far from what we were. How many current Arsenal players would get in to the Invincible’s? We have so many dead wood players in our squad it is unbelievable.
    Going back to your original statement of Wenger deserving ‘more time’ how much more time do you want? Its been 7 years since we won anything, and several since we genuinely challenged. The upsetting point is that if we were Everton and Wenger was at the helm, doing as he is, I would pat him on the back. But, we are not Everton, and are infinitely better off financially, yet seem to want to play at the same level as an Everton or even Sunderland. What about Guardiola or Jürgen Klopp? People may sneer at the Guardiola mention, but why not? He will not manage in Spain, unless abck at Barcelona. Italy is not his thing he says. So that would leave perhaps only Germany and England. I cant really see Pep in Germany and in England it would surely be only City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal that he would look at. Chelsea he has now said is to risky for him, given the cut throat nature of Roman. So that would leave the final 3. If Fergie leaves united could be a good fit-but I honestly see that being Mourinho’s new spot-post Fergie. Its all hear-say but not impossible. There is life out there after Wenger-don’t be deluded. We are a well-run, mega rich, established Premier league team. Many top managers could be successful here. Don’t have the wool pulled over your eyes so much that you believe that the only man in the world who can bring success to Arsenal is Wenger. I am a Wenger fan, but also a realist and base my judgement on facts, merit and REALITY-not dreamland. I don’t want Wenger out yet, but I am looking at options.

    Reply
    • John Gee
      2 years ago

      “a well run mega rich established Premier League Team” ypu say. And who made us that ??Be very careful what you wish for. AW knows football and understands economics. If a club buys a player for aroung £30m that players wages double the cost. You dont get that many to the pound. Arsenal benefit from AW’s shrewdness and then perhaps the moaners will apologise. To listen to the drivel you would think Arsenal had been r4elegated. Compare us to Liverpool, Sunderland, Newcastle,Spu*s, all of whom have spent fortunes and not delivered Europe. Yes we get that as a divine right each year !!!

      Reply
      • DON
        2 years ago

        @JOHN GEE thats great one day for sure they(AW HATERS)will apologise to wenger and the board.IN ARSENE WE TRUST.

        Reply
  • WithWengerwerust
    2 years ago

    And why have we people become Wenger haters. BECAUSE HE IS A DAMN LIAR. HE LIES TO FILL THE POCKETS OF THE BOARD.
    Instead of improving the team he has hidden the 50 million war chest given to him in the bank and taken a bloody gamble on Diaby.

    Reply
    • John Gee
      2 years ago

      Does not warrant a reply, except to point out that the lunatics have been let out of the asylum again !!

      Reply
  • ArsenalFan
    2 years ago

    “just lacks any semblance of perspective; the sort of fans which feel it is their ‘right’ to compete at the higher end of the table and challenge for trophies” – Is n’t this the reason we moved to the new stadium? To compete at the highest level? What is so wrong about change? At all levels the comfortable mediocrity that pervades our club is its own cancer. Piers Morgan is spot on

    Reply