As long as Arsene Wenger continues to stick to his guns and carry on trying to win trophies by playing football his way, we will continue to have this debate until we are blue in the face. But seeing as a former player has recently had his say, maybe something is about to change. Emmanuel Petit has come close to being the first former Wenger-lover to suggest that something has to give soon if Arsenal are to end their six-year trophy drought. Is he right? More importantly, will Arsenal finally take note?
As a self-confessed Arsenal fan, Petit stopped short of saying that the Gunners had no fighting spirit. But reading in-between the lines, it was pretty obvious that this is what he was getting at. He suggested there was a distinct lack of ‘proven winners’ in the ranks and the senior players were started to ‘crack up’ under the pressure of fighting for honours on 4 different fronts.
As we know, four has quickly become one thanks to defeats to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final, Barcelona in the Champions league and Manchester United in the FA Cup. So surely the Frenchman has a point? I mean, how much longer can fans sacrifice success in order to play football ‘the right way’? Speaking to some supporters, they still adamantly stick by their manager, and I certainly do condemn them for that. Wenger has proven to be one of the world’s best, and he specialises in bringing through some of the best youngsters around. But no team has won trophies with just kids. Automatically, you will be reading this and are about to throw Manchester United in my face. But even that team had the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane and Gary Pallister in. Plus a certain Eric Cantona was awaiting his return from suspension in October of that year. My point is, Petit is right. I don’t see the experienced head in Wenger’s ranks who can carry the team through a game which isn’t going their way – Birmingham in the cup, perhaps.
I am by no means saying Arsenal should desert their way of playing football, but they certainly need a plan B, which Wenger never seems to have. They miss a Patrick Vieira, or a Tony Adams. As much as I hate him, I happen to think Jens Lehmann will be a good signing for the club all things considered, as he may be able to use some of his experience around the place. Arsenal certainly miss Thomas Vermaelen, but injuries are no excuse; they should have players ready to come in who can handle the big occasion.
Arsenal are very much still in the race for the Premier League, and you could argue they have an easier run in than rivals Manchester United. But we’ve been here before. There is every chance The Emirates club will slip up in games they should win, because they just don’t have the bottle to keep it together. The Gunners have a huge game on Saturday away at West Brom. It’s the type of game they should win, but at this stage of the season it is also the type of game which I wouldn’t be surprised to see them slip up in.
Now that Petit has echoed a sentiment many non-Arsenal fans have been thinking for quite some time, maybe a few more will start to take note. Wenger needs winners and players with physical presence to do the ugly work around Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie and Jack Wilshere. But how long are fans seriously willing to wait for the manager himself to realise this? Maybe one more trophy-less season, perhaps.
Want to help me and Hansen make Wenger realise that his kids won’t win anything? Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@joino