Arsenal runs through my veins, as it does with most supporters. When they win, my days are full of excitement and confidence. After a defeat, they are full of stress, frustration, annoyance, and the worst part, disappointment.
I wasn’t born in the U.K., so I can’t say I’ve watched Arsenal since I was a kid. English Football wasn’t broadcast all that much here, therefore, my passion for the club began around 2000.
During that time, Arsenal were a dominant side who made Highbury a fortress. The supporters at the match were passionate, and the players showed their appreciation by leaving it all on the pitch, every match.
Arsene Wenger was still enjoying success, but since the Invincibles, it has all started to slowly fall apart for the Frenchman.
Players who were fundamental to the squad got older and either looked for greener pastures, or simply couldn’t play at that level anymore. With a very expensive project underway to build a new stadium, we all knew it was going to be difficult to make many big money signings. The supporters accepted it and moved on. Better times shall come, but when?
Being at the top of the list for most expensive match day ticket prices should come with some sort of reward. Something like a club which can compete with most. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
And just to set the record straight, I’ve always been a supporter of Arsene Wenger. I have a soft spot for him, and I can admit it, but, let’s call a spade a spade shall we.
Wenger has been fantastic for the club in many different ways, and at different times in his tenure.
His first decade brought the club and the Premier League for that matter a new way of thinking. Proper nutrition, new training methods, and an eye-catching style of play. This wasn’t your typical long ball type of footy.
In addition, he brought stability, and money management.
Spending less than your direct opponents and still making it into the top four in order to get into Champions League isn’t all that easy. At that time, it was accepted because a new stadium was being built, times were tough financially, we understood that.
As we now approach what I think is his final season at the club, looking back on the second half of his tenure, it’s been nothing but failed promises. And that’s referring to Wenger, Gazidis & Silent Stan.
What happened to finally being able to sign any player, apart from those exceptions such as Messi or Ronaldo? What happened to being able to compete with most clubs, apart from maybe those few exceptions that have much deeper pockets?
On Wednesday at the Allianz Arena, what we all witnessed was a side that doesn’t seem to believe in Arsene Wenger’s strategy, and a manager that is so stubborn that even he may be a bit embarrassed to change in fear of proving his critics right.
We can all agree that Arsene Wenger loves this club, that goes without saying. I just can’t understand how the hell he’s able to sit on the bench, and not yell at his players when it’s needed. Give them some guidance. Show them you’re there and you care. Give them some motivation.
Having gone into the break even at a goal, to be honest, Arsenal wasn’t that great in the first half, but, one could argue they had the best scoring chances.
Xhaka had a volley straight at Neuer. If that’s either side of him, I think he’s picking it out of the net. Ozil then had a left footed shot which the German keeper stopped with his foot. I don’t think I’m crazy to say that Arsenal could very well have led at the break, although they probably didn’t deserve to seeing as they were chasing shadows most of the opening 45 minutes.
I don’t know what was said at halftime, nor do I care. But, we do know what’s said during the match from the sideline, and that’s very close to nothing.
Even at one, they still looked disjointed and unorganized. No one seemed to be on the same page. Apart from Alexis, not one player looked interested in getting the ball every time. Instead, when they got the ball, it was as if they were holding a ticking bomb, and had to get it away as soon as possible. Where was their confidence and desire?!
That’s the difference between the Arsenal of Wenger’s first decade, and the Arsenal of Wenger’s second decade.
They used to have leaders, and players who looked for the ball and wanted to be the difference makers. Now, it seems as if they are afraid to make a mistake. Afraid to raise their voice at each other.
Koscielny is brilliant, but is he a leader? Maybe in the dressing room he’s vocal, but guess what, there isn’t another team in the dressing room trying to defeat you. On the pitch is where you need the leaders, and where you see who the leaders are. Arsenal doesn’t have one, simple as that, and it starts on the sideline.
Wenger doesn’t transmit confidence and passion to his players. Maybe in his first ten years he didn’t have to because he had a very different type of players. Now, it’s all very different.
I’m convinced that Arsene would love to lay into some guys during the match, but he’s so damn stubborn, if he did change his style, everyone would say, see Arsene, if only you weren’t stubborn and listened, things could have changed a long time ago. He’s as stubborn as they come, and that won’t change.
Unfortunately, that has led us down a road of embarrassment and frustration.
A thrashing at the hands of Bayern, who are far from as dominant as they’ve been in years past, yet, Arsenal again got ripped apart. All they had to do was not get blown away, in order to give themselves a second chance in the return leg at home. They couldn’t even do that right.
That should very well have been the straw that broke the camels back. We’ve all known it for years, but I couldn’t convince myself that the man who helped change this club and the game was no longer capable of getting the most out of his players.
Let’s face it, he’s run his course, whether we like it or not. And again, I’ve always been pro-Wenger. Trust me, it hurts to say this.
Sure, the future may be scary without Wenger. We don’t know what will happen, but, if we continue to live in fear of a post-Wenger Arsenal, we will continue to take one step forward and three steps back.
He’s not willing to change his approach, and he appears to have lost the confidence of his squad, something that was unfathomable in his first decade. His players would have run through walls for him, but today, that’s far from the reality.
It’s time he comes out and announces that he will not be extended his contract this Summer. At that point he will get the farewell he deserves, and can go out with his head held high. That will also give his players the opportunity to prove that they too appreciate what he’s done for them and the club. Realistically, I see this as the only scenario that would lift the players mentally, as well as the supporters.
Extending his contract would rip this club apart, and Arsene knows that. Therefore, if he has the club’s best interests in mind, he’ll do the right thing. Sit down with the board, explore options to replace him, and go out the right way.
Until that is done, we could be looking at Arsenal’s worst season during the Arsene Wenger era, which would be difficult to accept if it truly is his last.