Debate: Is time up for Wenger?

YES – Joey Wright

Many Arsenal fans would love to rewind to the 2003/04 season of success and stay there forever, yet Arsenal never recovered from the ‘Invincibles’ fame which occurred nearly fifteen years ago.

Fast-forward to the 2015/16 season, which epitomised the recent failings of Arsenal as they lost the title once more and revealed how, with Arsene Wenger, nothing will change.  It was the season that Arsenal did not sign an outfield player and unfortunately for the longest serving manager in the Premier League – more than all the other Premier League managers combined – he is not doing enough. 

Twenty years is a long time in football and many teams have seen managers come and go. While Manchester United changing managers show it is not an easy fix to hope for improvement with new blood in charge, Arsenal have to look in the long-term. The long-term has to see improvement which cannot be from a slowly decaying football team. In addition, you only have to look as far as Antonio Conte to see how a managerial change can change a club.

To change the cycle of coming close but not winning major silverware, Wenger would have to fundamentally change and even Arsenal legend Thierry Henry revealed recently that “I do not know if he’s willing to do that.” His idea of selling expensive and buying cheap is not working – Granit Xhaka and Stefan Mustafi are just clear examples of high spending which, when compared to how successful the cheaper N’Golo Kante and David Luiz have been at Chelsea this season, reveal Wenger’s limitations. Not only has he stopped his policy of cheaper spending, but he has not been able to follow through with his younger talents such as Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere. Not only is Wenger going to be stubborn with his tactics, but his changing transfer policy is not improving Arsenal’s situation. 

With the likes of Diego Simone, Massimo Allegri and even Eddie Howe being linked with the job, some kind of revolution would occur in Arsenal with Wenger gone, and in the long run, this will be seen as long-overdue necessary change. 

NO – Tom Wright

The cacophony of voices calling for the removal of Arsène Wenger, after 20 seasons at the helm of Arsenal, is louder now than ever before. The manner of the Champions League defeat to Bayern last week was embarrassing, but the European complaints of Claude & co. on ArsenalFanTV are unfounded – what else can they expect against the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich? Fourth in the league and the last-16 of the Champions League have become synonymous with the complaints of the ‘Wenger Out’ campaign, but Arsenal fans might have to learn to expect nothing more. 

In modern football success is ultimately dictated by money. It is a frustrating argument – Arsenal fans pay the most in the League for their season tickets. Many will retort: ‘but if Leicester can win the League’! Unfortunately, though, it is reality. For the Arsenal board, what Wenger brings is consistency in return for their investment – Arsenal have not finished outside the top four in his time as manger, a feat no other club has achieved. Arsenal fans are entitled to want more. But sacking Wenger by no means guarantees this. Look at Manchester United. The post-Ferguson era has been remarkably unsuccessful for them. 3 seasons, 3 managers and £350 million later and they lie 6th in the League. Wenger certainly has questions to answer – the post-Christmas capitulation is becoming far too regular an occurrence. Sacking him, though, would be the Brexit of the footballing world – a move from stability to uncertainty, a leap of faith with only the dreaded Europa League as a safety net.  

Featured Image: London Evening Standard

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