There are little signs that spring is around the corner. It’s staying lighter longer, the first buds of leaves are starting to sprout and Arsenal are out of the Champions league with the league title already blown as well. Inevitably come the usual moans from fans demanding that Wenger steps down. However it has now come to the point that the critics may start to have a point.
With football unless you are consistently winning major titles then fans at the very least expect to see progress. Despite Wenger ensuring that Arsenal have consistently finished in the top four and competed in the Champions league since its recent incarnation progress has been a flatline. Some fans believe that a new approach is needed with fresh ideas and a new boldness that Wenger had when he first joined Arsenal and won the double in his first full season in charge.
There are of course fans who still believe in Wenger and that the goal posts have changed in football. With the money involved in the game it is getting harder to compete and that there has to be some realism. It takes time to re-build a team and patience is required.
The problem though is that none of the potential such as Walcott, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Ozil to name a few have made that impact required to win the title or champions league. ‘Good, but not good enough,’ as Roy Walker on catchphrase used to say. Patience has been urged but there is only so long that you can be promised about ‘jam tomorrow,’ without wondering if it ever will come.
Critics argue that it has been a flatline since 2008 after the awful challenge on Eduardo at Birmingham saw Arsenal slip down the table. They have of course still been in the Champions league but have got nowhere close since being beaten 2-1 in the final at Paris against Barcelona in 2006.
That though is partly were the problem lies. Familiarity and frustration of the potential failing to deliver. Critics cannot see the current Arsenal side making that extra step towards winning the big honours like the league and European cup which is why they think it is time for Wenger to step aside. A new coach would at least bring some excitement and optimism for the future.
Supporters of Wenger would state that the goal posts have changed with the money and the rich backing that have been pumped into Manchester City and Chelsea. They would cite that the move to the Emirates has had an impact on their spending as the club strive to get themselves on a financial level. Wenger has always ensured Arsenal a top four finish and a place in the Champions league.
It is reasonable and indeed a strong argument on whether a new man could do any better with the same resources. ‘Be careful what you wish for,’ is commonly stated with many citing the disastrous brief reign of David Moyes at Manchester United. Yet when you see the likes of Guardiola, Klopp, and Mourinho taking charge of their rivals you can see why some fans feel that they have missed the boat.
Besides whether a team has enjoyed a trophy haul that would put a Viking raid to shame or battling to get out of the arse end of the table a new manager is always going to be a risk. The problem is whether fans feel the club is stagnating. Yes Wenger was an innovator at the time he signed for Arsenal but whereas the players like Vieira, Henry, Pires, Overmars, and Anelka to name but a few were of the quality to win titles the current crop fall short of the standard required. Furthermore the question is whether Wenger can deliver those type of players especially as the years fly by.
For the board though Wenger has ensured that Arsenal finish in the top four and meets the minimum demands. With finance being the big demand of the Premier league era why would the board risk a change of manager that might see the team fall out of the top four?
That though is the gamble that the anti-Wenger brigade would have to take. The team could take an almighty tumble that they may not even finish in a spot to guarantee Europa league football. Some fans may be willing to take that chance for at least the chance of new optimism and sense of a new adventure that a manager brings.
The problem with Arsenal is that it is the familiarity and lack of progress that is making many Arsenal fans question on whether Wenger should stay on. At the moment though it appears that so long as Wenger finishes within the top four it is still his shout as to when he decides to hang up his manager’s coat.