Over the past 20 seasons, Arsene Wenger has undoubtedly provided Arsenal with success and stability. 15 total trophies and not a single league finish outside of the top four are remarkable achievements and the Frenchman should be applauded and heralded highly for what he has done in that regard.
Since his appointment in 1996, every other club to have appeared in the Premier League has changed it's manager at least once. This highlights the great stability Wenger has brought to north London but also hints at a hesitancy from the board to move on in another direction in the name of seeking greater success.
Whilst Wenger has done a fine job, only four of those 15 trophies have come since 2005 and there was that well-documented nine-year silverware drought which was ended in 2014 with their FA Cup win. The club are still seeking their first league title since 2004 and squandered their best chance in years this season with other top clubs faltering, only to fall shy yet again.
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A 12-year absence of a league title is quite frankly not good enough when you consider the stature of the club and the tools that Wenger has been afforded to get the job done. Such a drought would undoubtedly have seen any other manager at a top club in Europe, which is what Arsenal consider themselves to be, being shown the door a long time ago.
Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and the likes have sacked managers for far less and whilst no club wants a revolving door of managers like the Santiago Bernabeu seem to have these days, stability means nothing if you aren't winning the biggest trophies.
Arsenal are a huge club and their fanbase consider themselves alongside the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid yet their success is judged differently and their manager is not held to the same high standards of their competitors. These big clubs are judged on their success in domestic league competition and on their progress in the Champions League, and Wenger has nothing tangible to show for his team's efforts in either competition in 12 years.
Arsenal have not won any European silverware during his 20-year tenure and despite reaching the final in 2006, have not gone close since. They have exited the Champions League at the last 16 stage in each of their past six attempts and have only reached the quarter-finals five times in 20 years - not exactly a stellar record for supposedly one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
The Champions League is the ultimate judge of progress and Wenger has failed in this regard. The absence of a league title since 2004 is also mind boggling when you consider the finances and players he has been blessed with, yet Arsenal fans and the club itself appear to be satisfied with simply finishing in the top four and above Spurs each season.
It is becoming all too familiar a tale at the Emirates - mount an early challenge for the league but fall away and finish in the Champions League spots, just holding off Spurs to yet again finish ahead of them, then exit the European competition at the first sign of pressure - the first knockout round. Sure this gives them financial stability and partially retains their reputation as one of the better teams in Europe but is this really success?
Shouldn't a club that considers itself a competitor with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid be looking to achieve much more?
They are the nearly men of British football at this moment in time and Wenger is being allowed to coast along with no sign of being held to account for his failings and lack of silverware and progression. Arsenal should have greater ambition than simply finishing in the top four and being okay with an early exit in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
The closest thing to accountability the 66-year-old faces is parts of the crowd calling for his sacking one week, then chanting his name and heralding him as the best thing since sliced bread the next week.
Wenger's stubborn attitude in the transfer window until recently is also worrying and something that should not be happening at a club where money is really not an issue. They ranked seventh in the top ten richest clubs in world football this year and are very capable of spending alongside the top clubs in Europe yet Wenger seems to have a stoic view on this aspect of football.
Sure, the signings of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were big names, big money captures but just adding one big player per season isn't going to improve the squad at the same rate as others around them are doing. Arsenal are playing catch up but refuse to invest the same amount of money into players as their rivals who are pouring it in and reaping the benefits of it through trophies.
They ranked above Chelsea financially this year and yet their only addition last summer was Petr Cech. It is baffling that Wenger could think that he didn't need to improve his outfield personnel whatsoever whilst his rivals were reeling in reinforcements.
This kind of activity just outlines his limitations and failings as a manager in the modern age of football where you simply have to spend money to compete at the top level of European competition. Financial stability should not be prioritised over on the field success and realistically, success on the field goes hand in hand with fiscal stability.
Winning means money and spending money means winning, it isn't hard to grasp that idea yet Arsenal are still to this day reluctant to make a serious splash in the transfer market. And no, signing Granit Xhaka does not count as making a splash.
Stability is clearly a beneficial thing in today's world but the kind of stability that Wenger is delivering isn't working because, at the end of the day, football is about winning and he isn't doing that at the level he should be. Of course, there is sentiment involved when a manager has been at the helm as long as Wenger has, but a football club is a business and the best decision for the business of winning might just be to let him go.
Looking at a club where there is next to no stability for staff, Real Madrid, they have had three managers in the last two seasons yet have still won two Champions League titles. 18 men have taken charge of at the Bernabeu since Wenger joined Arsenal and whilst this repetitive change isn't healthy, it shows that you can win in transitional times if you are a big club, and Arsenal are.
Barcelona have even had four managers in the last eight years, and whilst this is not as extreme as Real, their success hasn't been stifled by going through managerial changes. Even amidst their most successful period in history, they moved on after Pep Guardiola left and had two leaner seasons but have bounced back under Luis Enrique to win two league titles and Champions League in two seasons.
There is clearly a hesitancy to move on from the certain stability that Wenger gives the club but he does the same things year-in-year-out and they aren't yielding success on the biggest stages. So whilst it may take a few seasons and even a manager or two to get there, a club with the huge fanbase and finances of Arsenal will achieve success after Wenger.
After a season where his shortcomings were arguably greater than ever as they missed out on a golden chance to win the league, Wenger should finally be held to account for his lack of progression. This past season was full of inconsistent and complacent performances from a squad that seemed to lack the energy and hunger to go out and win big games, and those weaknesses stem from the manager.
Maybe the board should start acting like that is the case and make the bold call to find someone new to move the club forward with. It isn't 2004 anymore, the invincibles are long gone, 12 years have passed since Arsenal last won the league and there is no reason to suggest a title is coming anytime soon.
It's time for change.
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