Five reasons why Arsene Wenger is still the right man for the Arsenal
Football was coming home, Newcastle United were finishing second in the Premier League, David Beckham was making his England debut and Hull City were languishing down in the old Third Division. A long time ago; eighteen years in fact.
In other news, eyebrows were raised as Arsenal decided to appoint an unknown Frenchman as their new manager. One of England’s leading clubs was now led by a foreigner and somebody who only held managerial experience in France and Japan. “Arsene who?” they muttered.
But how he proved himself. In excess of a thousand games, thirteen major honours and two double winning teams later, that unknown Frenchman is now regarded as one of the finest managers in world football.
Eight forlorn years without any silverware, however, has resulted in even the most devoted of Arsenal fans to succumb to the ‘Wenger Out’ bandwagon. The FA Cup win at the end of last season has done little to waver the opinion of many, frustrated at Wenger’s lack of urgency and shortcomings in the transfer market.
The message from the hardcore away following at West Brom last weekend was loud and clear: “Arsene, Thanks for the memories, But it’s time to say goodbye.”
But is it really time for Wenger to finally bid farewell to his beloved Arsenal?
Here are five reasons why ‘Le Professeur’ is still the right man…
I) Two pieces away…
As much as the supporters continue to berate Wenger, Arsenal aren’t a million miles away from being a top, top team and Wenger is on the verge of building yet another successful side. Ok, so conceding a combined total of eighteen goals at Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City last season is not a sign of a title-winning team. Granted.
But, they are simply missing two pieces to their jigsaw; the addition of a speedy centre back to partner Laurent Koscielny, and a world-class defensive midfielder to shield the back four and help solidify a defence prone to conceding. Sign these two to complement the abundance of talent going forward and Arsenal will be serious challengers.
II) A load of Klopp
The infatuation with Jurgen Klopp seems to be gathering pace amongst the Arsenal faithful. However, has anyone taken a look at the Bundesliga table recently? You will find Dortmund striving for consistency and, despite progressing in the Champions League, a team scrapping for their lives and facing the real threat of relegation.
Given Bayern Munich’s dominance in German club football, Klopp’s two successive league championships is an impressive feat. However, despite Arsenals struggles, they have yet to fall from grace quite as hard as Dortmund have. Klopp’s methods appear to be wavering.
In addition, the likes of Pep Guardolia and Carlo Ancelotti, managers who have been there and done it and would be of interest to Arsenal, are currently overseeing long-term projects. Roberto Martinez is another name bandied around but, again, is he a winner?
The likes of Klopp and Martinez have yet to prove themselves season in, season out. Recruiting either of these would be a considerable gamble.
III) The greatest Arsenal manager
The facts are there for all to see. The guy deemed surplus to requirements by the Arsenal faithful has overseen more victories, recorded a higher win ratio and won more trophies than any of his predecessors. Let those statements sink in…
Arsene Wenger is Arsenal’s greatest ever manager and will be for some time to come.
He has built not one, but, two double winning teams, including the famous invincibles who managed to go an entire season unbeaten, a run which eventually lasted forty-nine games. Given the competitiveness of the Premier League, it is hard to envisage such a feat being repeated. Ever.
IV) Seventeen consecutive Champions League campaigns
For every season of Arsene Wenger’s reign Champions League football has been a given. This is not an achievement to be sniffed at considering the numerous two-legged qualifiers that Arsenal have had to hurdle in order to make the group stage.
However, like any success, and getting to the Champions League IS a success, it gets taken for granted. Manchester United, who, before their troubles last season, also held a phenomenal record of featuring in every Champions League campaign since its inception, currently occupy the sofa come Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have confirmed their place in the knockout phase for the fifteenth successive campaign. Like Man.United, Arsenal have had their fair share of rebuilding to do over time but Wenger, to his absolute credit, has never guided Arsenal below fourth position.
More so than any other manager in the modern era, Arsene Wenger has identified and been responsible for nurturing some fine, young talent, some of whom have gone on to become Europe’s greatest players. Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Patrick Vieira, and most recently, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere owe Wenger for their rise to stardom.
Plucking Thierry Henry from left-wing obscurity at Monaco, and moulding him into one of the all time greats, has to be considered a managerial masterstroke. Wenger identified a raw talent and instilled confidence where he see fit. Henry is Arsenal’s record goalscorer and regarded as a Premier League legend by fans and critics alike.
Like many throughout the years, Henry remains in debt to Arsene Wenger the manager and Arsene Wenger, the man.
Wenger is certainly coming towards the end of a distinguished career at Arsenal. But having recently declared his expectations for his current crop of players to go on and win the league within the next three years, it appears Gunners fans will have to endure Wenger for some time to come. There’s no sign of the great man waving ‘au revoir’ just yet.