With the Premier League season still only in its preliminary phases, managers are already coming under fire for numerous reasons, from dealings in the transfer market right down to their opening results. Amongst these includes the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
It seems we cannot go one Premier League season without a bit of Wenger controversy these days; four games in and signs inscribed “Wenger Out” have already appeared around the Emirates Stadium. Some tight games and even a shock defeat at home to West Ham United on the opening day of the season have left some Arsenal fans, yet again, questioning their manager.
Although The Gunners sit in sixth place in the Premier League, by no means a poor start to a campaign, the calls still come. The campaigns for Wenger’s head, led by various social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, have arisen from yet another poor display during the summer transfer window.
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Arsenal signed just one player this past summer, Petr Cech for £10 million, and have let eleven go. Granted, some of these players were loaned out so can be seen as ‘future prospects’, however, the lack of investment made shows an Arsene Wenger that we have not seen for a few years, a tight and unwilling Wenger.
Former Manchester City, Newcastle United and QPR midfielder Joey Barton has recently spoke out about Wenger and his current Arsenal side.
Barton said: “Nobody can criticise Wenger on the job he has done to build the infrastructure at that club to a fantastic level. But it's probably been sacrificed at the cost of trophies and challenging at that level.
“The culture he now adopts is developing players from within or young players they want to develop, rather than going out and buying ready made products.”
Since taking over, at what was then Highbury, back in October 1996 Wenger has guided Arsenal to a top four finish in every single one of his seasons in charge and has accumulated numerous Premier league titles and FA Cup triumphs.
Throughout past transfer windows we have seen a change in the previous Wenger philosophy, paying out big sums of money for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez - three players who have had such a big impact at the club giving them a fresh look. However, Arsenal fans may fear that Wenger has fallen back to his old ways.
The current Arsenal side has been described to have a ‘lack of spine and character’, it doesn’t compare to that of the earlier days in the Frenchman’s era during the Highbury days; the days of Henry, Viera, Bergkamp, Adams and Pires. Players who knew their role in the side. To accumulate such a side, Wenger had to spend money, he went out and bought Henry, Pires, Wiltord, Viera; that was the way he had to go to win the league, and nothing has changed since.
Barton has also been known to quote Einstein on occasion. True, he is a very unlikely source of the cure to a football mangers problems, however, Barton quoted him by stating: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”
One might fear that Wenger’s old-school philosophy of bringing in young players, nurturing and developing them to create the next Cesc Fabregas may have been long gone, however, he may yet to realise that. You can only buy the players capable of doing what Henry and Co were capable of doing. Players like that are not bred in the same place, they have to be bought from all corners.
Promises were made by the Frenchman that he would be busy on this summer’s transfer deadline day, many links were made but no business was done; which would only have angered the Arsenal fans. Pundits such as Paul Merson claimed Wenger had “cheated” the club’s supporters when talking on Sky Sports showing of ‘Goals on Sunday’ and he was not far from the truth.
The one thing that has always stopped the North London side from regaining the Premier League title has been their poor displays against their biggest rivals in Manchester City and United, Chelsea and Liverpool. The Gunners never seem to turn up for the big occasions, their famous easy-on-the-eye flare football is normally quite easily dealt with by these sides, the 6-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge last season in Wenger’s 1000th game as manager comes to mind. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side dispatched with Arsenal with ease, and you could say that it is due to their quality of players their rivals possess.
Arsenal, who have won just once and lost 16 times against rivals who have finished in the top five in the past five seasons, have struggled to keep up with these clubs financially. Their unwillingness to invest in proven players at the highest level has severely restricted their challenges in the past. In order to beat these rivals and return to the top, Wenger will need to match their investments or The Gunners may well be left behind.
It is true that paying these sums of money will not always win you the titles, players will come and go, however, under the tactical mind of a man of Arsene Wenger’s knowledge and abilities Arsenal would be a dominant force. Unfortunately Wenger’s unwillingness to spend in transfer windows may well be his downfall.