As the long, long-time Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, celebrated 20 years since being appointed coach of the north London club yesterday, 1st of October, I found it fitting to dedicate this week’s article to him. I was also motivated by one particular ‘Gooner’, as the Arsenal faithful affectionately call themselves, to write this when he motivated that “the Professor needs to be applauded,” after I told him that I was toying with the idea.
To ‘applaud to professor’, however, is not what I was thinking when the idea first came to me, I was instead thinking along the lines of: ‘Wenger Has Really Overstayed His Welcome’.
I’m not a big fan of the Frenchman as I’m sure most of his club’s supporters aren’t anymore. I honestly think he has lost his touch and is no longer the magician he was when he first came to the Premier League in the ‘90s. And it’s very simple to prove this – you just have to look at the Arsenal teams that have been under his tutelage in the last ten years and consider that the club has only won two trophies in that period!
Winning the league is certainly a skill that has since eluded the ‘professor’ and I don’t think being crowned Premier League champions is something that a realistic Gooner still considers at the beginning of the season.
While it is worth mentioning that Arsène is considered Arsenal’s most successful manager, I feel that there are a number of things that have led to his downfall:
His insistence on having teams that are made up of young, inexperienced players have made him beatable. I’m aware that he has been a big believer in young talent since his early days at Arsenal, including those very successful years of repeated league and cup doubles in 1998 and 2002, but I can’t help but think that the evolution of the Premier League has been the reason for his philosophy’s curtailed success.
Wenger also doesn’t like spending big money on players, and for someone who manages a ‘big club’ this is particularly worrying. This is because big clubs do need to spend big sometimes in order to get quality players who will help to retain a club’s ‘bit team’ status, while competing for major trophies. The importance and effectiveness of spending big bucks could be seen in the changes that players like Mesut Özil, who came in for some £42,5 million, have brought to the Gunners.
After the German superstar joined from current European champions Real Madrid in 2013, he made an immediate impact and helped Wenger’s side to end their barren spell of nine years without a trophy when they won the FA Cup in 2014.
Perhaps the most disturbing of all of Wenger’s traits is his apparent lack of ambition of late. I am convinced that this has been another major contributor towards Arsenal’s shortcomings in the last decade. You only have to listen to his post-match interviews, especially after a defeat, to hear how insignificant it is to him to not be in the running for major trophies like the league title.
He rarely sounds devastated after a significant loss, but instead celebrates finishing fourth, which qualifies his team for the European Champions League, with great enthusiasm.
All of the above are the reasons why I refuse to call the so-called professor ‘great’. If you ask me, he is the epitome of a football ‘has-been’. I’ve been saying for the last three years or so that Wenger’s time at the helm of a big club in a top league like the Premier League is up and that he can no longer guide a club, not least the Arsenal, to great success in a highly-competitive league.
All the same, happy 20th anniversary, Arsène.
*Featured image by: ibtimes.co.uk.