Wenger War Must Stop Splitting Supporters
February 18, 2013 in Arsenal
Following our terrible exit from the FA Cup on Saturday I was angry and drank a lot. I’m honestly glad I did. What erupted on social media was at this point predictable and I’m glad I was too deep into the bottom of a pint glass to see it as I would have likely railed against people on both sides of the argument. The hashtag #wengerout was prominent into the next day and a stunning loss drove open a wound that had not really healed since Bradford.
I thought about when to write this for several days. I waffled between waiting for Bayern to be over or not. I decided in the end to get this out there before hand because I didn’t want to be seen as piling on or excuse making dependent on tomorrow’s result.
So lets put the facts down first. Arsene Wenger has brought Arsenal 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups and 4 FA Community Shields since becoming the manager in 1996. He also accomplished the feat of going and entire League season unbeaten, only done 115 years earlier by Preston North End. Given the gap in eras between the times it occurred Wenger’s Invincibles can be viewed as a singularly unique accomplishment. Additionally Wenger’s Arsenal surpassed Nottingham Forest’s mark of 42 League matches unbeaten. Neither of the latter two accomplishments are in danger of being matched anytime soon.
However it all stopped in 2005. Since then Arsenal’s win percentage when compared to Wenger’s first 9 years is only 4% worse yet no trophies have been collected. However if you look at the players who have left Arsenal since then, Ashley Cole is the prime example, they have gone on to win numerous medals with other teams.
The problem with Arsenal from the perspective of the supporters is not a simple one. Arsenal is viewed without and within as a giant in football. A team with a rich history and a very full case of trophies that for nearly a decade has underachieved. Couple this with the revolving exit door of players of high quality (RVP, Fabregas, Nasri, ect) that have left for their own reasons but have gone on to win and the problem exacerbates.
If you think the problem is as simple as one man, Arsène Wenger, then I really don’t know how to help you. Arsène Wenger is a part of the problem. He is largely viewed as a poor motivator these days and there are rampant reports of poor training and rifts with Steve Bould on even if the team should train defensively. Too many to be ignored. That’s not a criticism of what he has done for Arsenal Football Club, but he also has not done much now for the team either except oversee a degradation of talent and stature while letting our best players leave once he has developed them. Again, I am not ignoring his legacy with the club. Thank you for everything you have done, but 9 years is long enough as a supporter of a club with resources as large as Arsenal’s to say what have you done for me lately?
However the calls for change cannot stop with Wenger. He is not the end all be all lynchpin through which our troubles hinge. Bringing in David Moyes from Everton this summer will not solve our woes. Arsenal is very concerned about money. They, meaning absentee majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, wants a profit in the short term no matter what the long term impact is to the team. As long as Arsenal, as an institution, don’t invest their resources back into the team they will never return to what they were. Arsenal were pursuing David Villa this January transfer window with our reported £70 million war chest and did nothing but bring in Ignacio Monreal. Monreal is a good player, but he is not enough to secure at least fourth for this side.
Nothing was said about why this money was not spent until after the loss to Blackburn. Apparently Kroenke and Wenger decided to wait to spend it until summer once they were for certain out on Villa. Why? Was Holtby not someone this side could use? Demba Ba? We may not have landed some of the prime targets from January, but we didn’t even wade into the pool.
Will Arsenal turn around if Wenger is replaced? Maybe. However the problems at Arsenal football club are far deeper than a manager who controls far too many aspects of the team. A new manager will force those pieces to be distributed out but in the end as long as we don’t invest to bring in new talent and keep the talent we develop we will continue to grasp for trophies and not bring them home.
I’m not in either camp in the whole exchange on Wenger’s future with Arsenal. I am in a much more basic place. Something fundamental has to change. Arsenal need to realize who they are, spend a little money and completely commit to putting together a side that can truly compete and not one the manager can simply pay lip service to in confrontational meetings with the press.
However there is something more important here within the supporters. We cannot let this divide us. @piersmorgan thinks he is a person of some stature and good for him but inciting social media riots won’t change anything. The way the Arsenal Supporters Trust goes about making the team more transparent can. Don’t give in to the vitriol that is out there. I don’t care if you want Wenger out or not. You live Arsenal and are entitled to your opinion. What I cannot stand for as a supporter is when we attack each other over this. No one is a traitor for having an opinion. However if you think it’s ok to abuse others for having one different from yours, that’s where you are wrong.
Treat each other with respect above all. We are all Arsenal til we die.