Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a manager who divides the fan base. Some feel he’s doing quite well and making the best of a bad situation, overachieving given the resources available by keeping the club in the Champions League despite the financial strain of building and moving to the Emirates stadium. Others feel that he is past it, that he is a shadow of his former self, has no ambition and is not the man to take the club forward and win trophies. And after a long hard season that has seen us only just scrape into the top 4 and qualify for next seasons Champions league the fan base is more divided than ever and with less than a year to run on his existing contract there’s talk that the club are considering extending Arsene Wenger’s contract but does he deserve it?
Arsene Wenger’s supporters will feel that should be offered a new contract. This is the manager who came to Arsenal in 1996 and revolutionised the game here in England and turned Arsenal around from being considered boring to watch to being revered the world over as an attractive attacking football team. He is the manager who gave us all Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and many more over the years. He oversaw the transition from Highbury to the Emirates stadium and has since kept in the top 4. Some believe that because of the stadium move that Arsene’s hands have been tied financially and that has led to him having to offload players and bring in new ones on a shoestring budget yet remain competitive. Some also believe that some of the best players we’ve sold were sold above Arsene’s head despite him wishing for them to remain at the club. They say that the fact that we’ve remained in the top 4 and in Europe’s top competition has been because of Arsene’s management and ability to get the best from his players and that with another manager at the helm we may well have fallen out of the top 4 into mid table mediocrity.
However not everyone agrees. A large section of the fan base now feel that Wenger is no longer the man to lead us. They feel that football has evolved and has passed Arsene Wenger by, that his tactics and selection over the past few seasons put us at a disadvantage at times before a ball has even been kicked. They criticise Arsene for sticking with players who aren’t good enough to play for the club. They say his transfer policy is a joke, that his eye for judging talent has gone and his insistence on bringing in young average players from France as opposed to signing top quality players frustrates them. They feel that the wage structure put in place by Arsene is pathetic and has rewarded mediocre players with huge wages so that were no longer able to sell them on when we want too. They know the stadium move meant we had to budget but they feel that if money wasn’t wasted on inferior players on massive wages then Arsenal could have challenged for trophies and brought in top quality players. Even this summer many feel that with a transfer budget estimated to be around £80m that Arsene shouldn’t be the person to spend it thinking he will likely waste it on average players instead of spending it on the quality signings needed to close the gap on Manchester United who walked the league this year.
In my opinion we as fans are not in possession of all the facts surrounding the club’s position of the last few years. There’s also conflicting pieces of ‘inside information’ being leaked to bloggers and papers which could well be from people within the club with agendas to either undermine Wenger or divert the blame from him to the board. Until all the full facts about what really goes on inside the corridors of the Emirates come out none of us are really in a position to determine who is at fault for the fact we have gone 8 years without a trophy and sold all our stars only for them to be replaced by average players by comparison. It is my belief that Arsene should be given the benefit of the doubt for his final year. With what he has achieved in the past, he’s probably earned one last throw of the dice. Now that top 4 has been achieved and there’s a lot more money coming in there are no excuses. If we bring in some top players and have a great season then I think it will only be right for Wenger to be offered a new contract. If the summer ends in us failing to adequately strengthen and the season ends up as another where we fail to compete and limp into 4th as has been the case of late then I don’t expect he will be offered a new contract and he will have many fans who remember him not for his successes but his failures.
Johnny Greenwood ( @Johnny_G86 )