It’s time for Wenger to bite the bullet after Gunners fire blank again

by Nicholas Godden

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Another Premier League season draws to a close but Arsenal fans will be burdened with feelings of familiarity. Disappointment, misplaced optimism and an overwhelming sense of underachievement.  The dust continues to gather in the Arsenal trophy cabinet, while memories of Patrick Vieira lifting the Premier League crown as captain of the ‘Invincibles’ begin to fade.

The Gunners’ current crop – a mere shadow of that former team – have now made it six years without major honors. A season that promised so much has delivered very little and murmurs of discontent have begun to echo from within the Emirates. So much so, that disillusioned supporters are calling into question the position of Arsene Wenger. But, the club don’t need to change the manager, the manager just needs to change.

There is much to admire about Arsenal as a football club – from their attractive style of play on the pitch, to the scrupulous management at board level – but the only thing that satisfies fans is results. Arsenal’s have not been good enough. “Six percent, you’re having a laugh”, referring to the hike in season ticket prices for next term, reverberated from the stands as Arsenal’s last home game ended in defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend. A result which allowed Man City to leapfrog the Gunners into third place.

This season’s failings have made it more apparent than ever that the squad Wenger has assembled and developed is not good enough to compete at the very highest level, at home or abroad. The enigmatic Frenchman infamously misses most things on the pitch, but he must now open his eyes and realise the foibles of his team. Another year of excuses steeped in desperation will serve no positive purpose for Wenger or his players. It is time to take responsibility. The frailties must be addressed.

A crucial summer beckons for Arsenal. Stan Kroenke recently acquired a majority stake at the club and the American should be encouraging Wenger to dip his hand into his deep pockets and strengthen key areas of the squad. It is a squad that is littered with an abundance of technical ability but little else. Arsenal know only one way, if it fails there is no plan B. The squad lacks the personnel to win ugly, a quality that encompasses all would-be champions, particularly in the competitive environment of the Premier League. A balance that is missing from the squad has to be found.

Perhaps even more significantly the team is deprived of leadership, an Adams or a Vieira who can take the game by the scruff of the neck. A figure the younger players can rely on for guidance and reassurance when things don’t go their way. The importance of this type of player can not be underestimated. Wenger insists his team have character and mental strength. Their inability to recover from the Carling Cup final defeat provides stern evidence to the contrary.

Wenger’s promising young boys have failed to mature into the men that he expected them to become. The patience of the Arsenal faithful appears to be wearing thin. But, the Gunners are not a million miles away, wholesale changes are not what is required. Two or three additions are all that is needed to complement the current style. The disgruntled supporters can be won over but the manager must stop letting his stubbornness get in the way of his team’s success. It’s time for Arsene Wenger to bite the bullet.

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  • Ricardo

    Arsenal needs trophies – lots of them. What worries me about Kroenke is that he has teams all over the place in the Americas. He has teams in basketball, football, hockey, soccer, and lacrosse. I fear that he might not give Arsenal the attention nor the money they deserve to bring in these 2-3 quality players which you mention.

  • Spectrum

    “The disgruntled fans can be won over.” I can tell you he won’t win me over. He’s gone stale, has lost the plot, and is fast using up all the credit he gained for the club up to 2004. He’s living off past glories, and has no ideas other than to keep buying kids for the future. A future that never arrives. And you expect him to change ? Can a leopard change its spots ? He’s obsessed with doing it HIS way. But it’s clearly not working.
    He’s been allowed to indulge himself at the cost of not winning trophies, for too long. He doesn’t deserve ANY more time. Go. And go NOW.
    ” In Arsene we rust.”

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