In the summer of 2011, Arsene Wenger admitted that if Arsenal sold both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, they could no longer be considered a 'big' club. What happened only a couple of months later?
Yep, you guessed it! Since then, he's tried just about everything to convince us they're still a massive club in England, frequently referencing the fact they've qualified for 16 successive Champions League campaigns, but I refuse to buy that. Arsenal are a club with a rich history, winning three Premier League titles and 10 FA Cups. However now it seems their success is measured by whether or not they finish above Tottenham Hotspur. A remarkable decline in ambition, and I believe Arsene Wenger is to blame for this.
This reduced ambition is exemplified by their newly-found selling policy, and their reluctance to spend big in the transfer market. As soon as Arsenal produce a player of genuine quality, it seems they're immediately outed- Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Robin van Persie to name but a few. Perhaps if they replaced these names with equally talented players I'd be more forgiving. But Marouane Chamakh and Andre Santos are hardly world beaters- to say the least. What happened to the Arsene Wenger who went out and scouted the likes of Sylvain Wiltord, Robert Pires and Marc Overmars? The current man seems a vague shadow of his former self.
With every trophy-less season that passes, it seems the frustration amongst the Arsenal supporter grows.
You're bound to get the occasional deluded fan who'll continue to worship Wenger as the Messiah, but those who are brave and wise enough to take their rose-tinted glasses off will understand the problems that lie within. Wenger has simply lost that winning touch.
The FA Cup was realistically Arsenal's best shot at a trophy this season. They faced Blackburn Rovers in the last 16 at The Emirates, with a seemingly easy route to the quarter-finals. Instead Wenger rested the likes of Cazorla, Wilshere, Walcott and Sagna, and Blackburn provided a shock result, winning the match 1-0. It seemed to me that Arsene Wenger had grown so out of touch with the fans, and what they truly wanted. Of course finishing above Tottenham would be great, but surely that wouldn't compare to the euphoria of finally lifting a trophy and ending this ever-growing trophy drought.
This situation is perhaps more dangerous for Arsenal Football Club than first meets the eye. In my view, Arsenal have little chance of winning a trophy under Wenger (unless you include the Emirates Cup, which the more desperate Arsenal fans are beginning to). But it seems the hierarchy at Arsenal are reluctant to sack their manager, and equally, Wenger is far too stubborn to even consider resigning.
This being the case, I fear that Arsenal could enter into an impregnable cycle which would first see them fall out of Champions League qualification, before then slipping down the table to mid-table mediocrity.
You'd be foolish to suggest that Arsene Wenger's era at Arsenal hasn't been a successful one. But it seems ominous that very soon those years of success will become overshadowed by the following period of under-achievement. Unless he resigns now, he'll no longer be remembered as the great manager he once was.
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