Time Wenger solved ‘The Emirates Stadium Mystery’

FanCast guest columnist
Paul McLean feels that Arsene
Wenger has started to lose touch with what makes a successful team.

Highbury means a lot of things to everyone associated
with Arsenal and no doubt the official opening of the new development will see
an array of former players turn up in droves, to return to the scene of many
former glories and great games. I still can't believe it is over four years
since we left; and to be honest I still pine for the old place.

Whether the reason is that I miss the uniqueness of
the place, the far better atmospheres it provided on special games, or whether
it was just symbolic of a time when we use to win trophies and look like
genuine contenders on the pitch. Unfortunately the move to the Emirates
seemingly brought an end to a lot of things and most worrying the latter.

I know a huge amount has been written about Arsenal,
especially in the past year and a large part of it has been about Wenger and
his philosophies. I have huge admiration for the man, really respect what he is
trying to do, but sometimes his greatest weakness is this inability to admit he
may well be wrong at times. If he could hold his hands up now and again and
concede he has made mistakes, then perhaps then we can move forward as a
football club. It is okay being stubborn, but you need to prove you are right
and unfortunately, time after time, his youngsters, who he has shown a lot of
faith in are not producing or showing their capable of taking Arsenal back to
the level they once were at. I know it does take time, but how many years do we
wait in the hope of it paying off?

I read most of the Arsenal blogs, like the excellent
Arseblogger and Le Grove and while there are other sites that choose to be
slightly harsher in their criticisms, the bottom line is that everyone can see
the problems at the football club, except the one person who is in charge to
make the decisions. I am not advocating that the club should be reckless in the
transfer market, but we have such a weak spine in our team and that is the very
reason why we are so inconsistent and why we throwaway games and cheap goals.
We crumble when we are under the cosh, a trait that I thought I would never
associate with Arsenal or a Wenger team of old. Why is Wenger so blind to it,
can he not remember the important ingredients that his past title winning teams
possessed, shouldn't he be looking for that same formula? Why take the risks that
he is taking, especially when the money is obviously available to him?

Unfortunately it seems to be the curse of the
Emirates and ever since the move, the years of constraint has changed Wenger's overall
philosophy and his desire to succeed by winning on the cheap, whilst admirable,
is struggling to provide results. Most supporters generally support what Wenger
is trying to achieve, but would simply like to see the side be supplemented by
one or two wise heads that can help nurture the young players along. How many
times in the past seasons have we seen our team look like world beaters one
week and then fall to pieces the next – it seems to be all or nothing, but that
is due to a lack of experience within the team. Fabregas is no captain, as he
is still a youngster and is learning the game itself. Paul Merson made an
excellent point this afternoon on Sky, where he said that there are no wise
heads out there, for when things are going wrong to get the team regrouped and
focused – how true is that and how many times do we see ourselves crumble under
a bit of pressure? What is done is done as they say and we can only hope we
will be in contention by January and in position to perhaps address this
situation; I won't be holding my breath though.

So on to Thursday and the grand opening of the
Highbury Square development of which Arsene Wenger is set to officially open. Highbury
was famously used for a film in the 1939 called ‘The Arsenal Stadium Mystery,'
which was some murder mystery plot that needed to be solved. 70yrs on we have
our own stadium mystery at the Emirates, with the plot being a manager having
to remember what is actually needed in a team to win trophies once again. Perhaps
a visit to the old stadium may bring it all flooding back, because I believe we
have started to lose touch.