Before I go into my thinking let me make state my opinions:
- Arsene Wenger is the club’s greatest ever manager
- Arsene Wenger remains one of the world’s best managers
- Arsene Wenger can achieve as much success as any possible replacement
- Arsene Wenger should leave at the end of this season
So how can I say 4 after the previous 3? Let me try to explain.
Arsenal are not a poor club; compared to the vast majority of clubs we are rich. However, compared to 3 other English clubs we are very much the poor relation. The problem is a huge swathe of our fan-base flatly refuse to accept this reality. So let’s look at the reasons why so many think we should be able to compete with these clubs and why their thinking is wrong.
We are the 5th most valuable football club in the world and worth more than City and Chelsea.
Yes we are, but you can’t spend your share value. An owner could of course borrow against it and fund the club that way, as Manchester United basically do, but our owner chooses not to. So just like the value of your house does not mean you can buy a new Ferrari, the value of the club does not buy players.
We have the largest cash reserves in football.
Yes, we do, but all of our cash reserves are shown in our accounts. City and Chelsea’s cash reserves are in the bank accounts of their owners and don’t show in their accounts. And importantly, their owners are prepared and willing to spend their own money to subsidise the clubs. Ours has no such willingness. It doesn’t matter how rich your Dad is, if he won’t fund your lifestyle, you are on your own. The fact that Stan is fabulously wealthy does not help a jot if he insists on the club paying its own way. And he does.
There is a proven 85% correlation across all leagues of money spent (on fees and wages) to success.
Did LCFC club outspend the rest?
No they didn’t. They were a once in a lifetime exception, and people should understand that for every 5000 to 1 winner, there are 5000+ losers. Using this freak result as an argument against years of proven data takes an incredible amount of stupidity, but that doesn’t seem to put people off.
Until fans accept that there are 3 teams much more likely to win the league at the start of every season there will always be rebellion. I don’t care who the manager is, each and every year there are 3 teams that will have vastly more expensive squads and who will most likely have out-spent us on transfers in the previous window. Some fans will ignore the financial gulf and demand we “compete” with the super spending clubs. But why?
Well, Arsene Wenger for a start. His massive early success set the bar, and the change that has happened in the game since is ignored. We want doubles and unbeaten seasons, no sausages for us, oh no-sir. We deserve better. We have tasted it, many are fans because of it and we demand it again. And again.
But we just want to compete I hear you say?
But that is bollocks, because if we did compete, the same fans would be accusing the team, manager and club of “bottling” it if we didn’t go on to win.
The connection between the fan-base and the team is broken. A huge portion of fans blame Arsene. If he achieves the finish we should be achieving – 4th- this will be hailed a failure.
But here is the thing. Any future manager getting 4th or better will have succeeded. Only Arsene can both achieve and fail at the same time. He needs to massively over-achieve for it to be seen as acceptable. If we finish outside the top 4 this year, it will be his first failure in real terms. But it is accepted thinking that he has failed for 13 years. And this thinking will remain as long as he is manager.
He has to leave before fans will see and accept that he is not the problem, and never has been.
The players appear to back him almost to a man. But until he leaves they will hide behind him and he will let them. He will take the flak for the players and the board until he leaves. I doubt a new manager will be as selfless.
Also the players could be carrying his burden onto the field. The pressure applied by fans and the media will not be released while Arsene is in the driving seat. They are sure he is the problem and will not consider an alternative view.
All this does not justify our current form which, by the way, is unprecedented in 21 years, but it might go some way to explaining it if people would be prepared to be a little open- minded. The problem is they are not. They are convinced. And only Arsene leaving will satisfy their lust for blood.
Arsene simply cannot win. He should leave, even if the club will actually be worse for it.
That said, if he stays, he will get my 100% support.
Because, well you know?
He’s Arsene Wenger.