Today’s post is by Niall Prosser
A cast iron case for history – or continuity?
I’ve made a decision.
I’ve decided where I stand on the Wenger Question.
As you’re aware, Arsenal fans are currently split between whether Wenger stays or goes. There appears to be a shifting in the sands every time Arsenal win or lose. There are also those on either side who are certain about their position and the merits of their views.
I’ve never been certain.
I will be honest and let you know that I have been questioning Wenger – and questioning Arsenal at the moment.
I read the blogs that suggest Wenger can’t motivate players, how he can’t make decisions about signings, doesn’t have tactical awareness and his training methods are leading to the injuries we are having. The biggest reason though to question Arsenal and therefore Wenger this year is the success of Liverpool. They have for some supposedly weakened the arguments about why Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League recently.
There are three main reasons why I have decided that I want Wenger to stay and why I think he is the best person to take us forward:
1) I’m worried – I’m worried about others next year. I’m worried about the strength of our rivals – let’s briefly analyse each of them:
Liverpool are likely to win the league. Suarez seems happy and appears likely to stay. Their chairman has suggested they are going to spend big to boost the size of the squad to mitigate some of the affects of the Champions League. But they have played a game once a week this year. They haven’t had injuries to their key players either. Despite a Suarez-less start to the season, pretty much everything has gone right for them this so far this year and certainly since Xmas.
Chelsea will have Jose for a second year, appear to be about to sign a world class striker (Cavani or Costa). They seem to living by FFP so may sell but I believe they will be stronger next year.
Man City appear to have lined up some big moves which will strengthen them defensively. They have more stability and alongside a mooted stadium expansion, appear to be building an empire.
Then there is United. New manager. £200m (supposedly). They’re like a wounded animal at the moment. They have shown they’re willing to pay big wages as well. They need a new defence, new centre mid and more but they have the resources and history to get.
I think next year there will be 5 or 6 teams who can think they can win the title let alone get into the top four.
Arsenal therefore need to improve as well. We all know we need a great striker (and there don’t appear to be many around or available), a defensive midfielder, possibly a new right back, another pacey winger and possibly another centre back. That is a big shopping list. We don’t need another manager with different ideas or who needs time to understand the players.
We need a manager who understands Arsenal, who has a history of investing our money wisely and of finding great players. We’re shopping in a different market now and some say he needs to be more decisive, but he built this team and can make it stronger again.
2) History – the biggest problem with every argument made against Wenger is based on history; let’s quickly review some of them:
Firstly, he can’t motivate players – yet everyone who played for him (and still to this day) says great things about him. He has motivated a team to go 49 games unbeaten. He has won leagues, cups and awards. This is not the track record of someone who can’t motivate people.
His methods are said to lead to injuries – yet again, those who make these arguments also ignore the history lessons. When Arsenal did go the season unbeaten they did it with a core of players who played most of the games. They did it using Wenger’s training methods. So they clearly work. New methods and ideas are good but there is not always progress.
He is being out-thought by younger managers. I’m a believer in trying to get your opposition to change to counter your style rather then the other way around. There does though need to be an ability to switch it if it isn’t going well. Wenger has done this in the past but sometimes the players must do this as well. The City, Chelsea and Liverpool games have shown the team need some more leaders but they also showed that we were missing key players.
I do think Wenger has to learn from this year but I think history has shown he can.
Equally Wenger gets a lot of stick for not winning anything for 9 years. I believe that when the decision was made to build the stadium it meant we weakened significantly for a period but it would lead to us becoming a mega-club for the next 50 – 60 years. It was a necessary sacrifice. Compare teams with a similar sized stadium to Highbury and look how they’re struggling with the competition – especially with the oil clubs.
During this period of weakness Wenger was at his strongest. He was loyal to us at a time he knew we were less likely to win – when we were weak – and he stuck with us. At the moment the club is in a position of strength but he personally appears a little weaker. We should show him the same loyalty he has shown us.
Now is the time to return that loyalty.
3) Alternatives – United are admirably displaying the difficulties of replacing someone who has come to define a club. They are highlighting the problems associated with flushing out alternatives – not to mention the evident lack of those alternatives. At the time of writing it appears that their two main options are Giggs or the Dutch national coach. Everyone else has dropped out of the running (assuming they were ever actually in it) and are staying put.
Equally United didn’t plan the transition post Ferguson or prepare for life after the man. When change finally came out of the blue last summer, it meant that United missed out on players such as Thiago whilst ending up with Fellani. They changed their whole back room staff and exec team. It was all too quick and destabilising.
Meanwhile, back at AFC, the appointment of Jonker as youth team coach could be seen as the club giving the man an opportunity to learn and understand the club and who may then become the Director of Football when Wenger finally steps down, possibly in two or three years. Remember we have a CEO who was wanted by lots of businesses and clubs. Already with tangible success, he continues to develop the commercial side; he is delivering.
I think he may now start preparing Arsenal for life without Wenger – but he needs time.
So I think and agree Arsenal need to improve. Central to this is Wenger continuing to learn and enhancing the team to meet the challenges of others.
He has the knowledge and experience to do this.
He continues to be the right man for arsenal.
Niall can be found on Twitter @tuwituwo