Why change could set Arsenal back even further

Arsene Wenger has attracted widespread criticism over the past six months or so for a failure to address the systematic problems apparently inherent in his side. A flawed transfer policy and a failure to react quickly and decisively to unfolding events have been the main rebukes against his judgement. We are in unfamiliar territory here; Wenger simply isn’t used to scrutiny this severe or reactions this knee-jerk. A lot of the problems at Arsenal at present are of the manager’s making, but there would appear to be no better alternative out there to sorting them out than Wenger himself.

Arsene Wenger is a deeply stubborn individual. Almost to a fault. He’s continued far too long with certain players in the past when it’s become abundantly clear that they simply aren’t good enough. To criticise him is entirely natural considering the start Arsenal have had to their campaign. Blind faith in a manager is a dangerous commodity and Arsenal fans are well within their right to demand more after an indifferent and inauspicious start to proceedings.

Arsenal have so far in their opening six league fixtures, lost heavily to Man Utd 8-2, disappointingly to Liverpool 2-0 and unfathomably to Blackburn 4-3. It’s been a struggle, let’s make no bones about that, but it’s far from panic stations just yet and there is plenty of time for things to be put right.

Wenger, albeit late on in the transfer window, moved to address the holes in his squad made by the departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas. Most would argue that both departures were inevitable and that he should have planned for them a lot earlier on. But it’s worth noting that Wenger hasn’t paid over the odds for any of his new acquisitions and that in Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, Wenger may already have his two replacements.

But are those calling for his head within reason?

No, is the short and simple answer. It’s worth looking at the clubs Arsenal are competing against for the top four. They operate within an entirely different financial sphere to the Gunners and Wenger has done well up until this point to make his team’s competitive.

Wenger has always been a manager to focus on unearthing tomorrow’s next big talent and nurturing them, whereas the likes of Man Utd. Chelsea and now Man city can simply go out and pay top whack for them as they approach their prime.

Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League for 14 straight seasons, an astonishing achievement. The club may have gone 6 seasons without a trophy, but he is also arguably the club’s greatest ever manager alongside Herbert Chapman.

A readdressing of the fans expectations needs to happen. Arsenal are a top four club at best at the moment. They have no divine right to challenge for trophies every season, it’s merely something which they‘ve become accustomed to earlier on in Wenger‘s trophy-laden reign.

They are in a group located behind the Manchester duopoly and Chelsea. They can be best bracketed alongside the likes of Liverpool and Spurs as clubs with the potential to break into the top four and it should be by no means be seen as a given.

Wenger has become so entrenched in Arsenal’s recent history that the club from top to bottom has been shaped in his own image. Just how difficult would it be for another manager to come in now? It could potentially set the club back years. Time and patience is the key.

Liverpool are undergoing a rebuilding process that requires both in abundance at the moment. Arsenal are now about to go through theirs. There will be inconsistent and infuriating performances in equal measure along the course of a long campaign, but as Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis stated last week: “He did not suddenly become a bad manager or somebody who became out of touch with the game. That is complete nonsense.”

Arsenal’s latest failings will have hurt Wenger more than anybody else. What Wenger needs now is the time to turn things around. The tide appears to be turning with concerns to Wenger’s stubbornness and he’s finally accepted that in order for Arsenal to be successful once more, he may have to adapt himself as well as his side.

A change in the club’s style of play from one that needlessly focuses on keeping possession and lacks penetration to a counter-attacking side appears to be well under way. The players have let their manager down so far, a reaction is most definitely required. Wenger remains the right man for the job, albeit with a tinkering of a well-worn philosophy, for removing him now could have drastic repercussions on the club’s long-term future.

You can follow me on Twitter @JamesMcManus1
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