Sunday, March 27, 2011

Arsene Wenger- A stiff-necked manager?

30th September 1996, Arsenal F.C confirms the appointment of Arsene Wenger. David Dein the then Arsenal vice-chairman was the brains behind this move. At that time Wenger was anonymous in England

The Evening standard newspaper greeted his nomination with the headline “Arsene Who?”

The Frenchman succeeded Bruce Rioch who was ousted in august 1996. In his first season in charge arsenal finished third behind Newcastle united.

In his second season in charge arsenal won both the league and the FA cup. It was the second Double in the clubs history. They won the league with two games in hand.

The following seasons were unfruitful and led by near-misses. In the year 2002 Arsenal again won the double and went an entire season unbowed away from home.

The 2003-2004 season is perhaps etched in every Gooner’s mind as it was in this momentous year that Arsenal completed an entire season undefeated, the only side in English football to have done this after Preston in over a century. In doing so Arsene Wenger’s legendary side rightly earned the tag of INVINCIBLES.

The following year Arsenal won the FA cup after canning united on penalties.

 Total trophy count till date under Wenger’s dominion:
A.      3 League titles
B.      4 FA cups
C.      4 FA community shields

In the year 2006 Arsenal moved to the 60,000 plus state of the art Emirates Stadium from their iconic stadium in Highbury. The man behind the making of this suave and spacious stadium was again Arsene Wenger.

Now what a large section of fans omit to see is that in making this transition from Highbury to the Emirates, the club incurred a massive expenditure which directly led to a colossal debt.  

There are certain questions that any gooner who has called for Arsene Wenger’s sacking should ask himself?

1.       Has Arsenal always been devoid of trophies?
2.       After the construction of the Emirates, did the manager have vast resources at his disposal?
3.       Is the manager solely to blame for the teams adversaries
4.       Can anyone else foster young talent and turn obscure players into world-class players?
5.       Can anyone else replicate the legacy this man has built?

If yes, the following are the answers to the above questions

1.       The club has been second best once in the champion’s league, Five times in the premier league, once in the FA cup, twice in the FA community shield and twice in the league cup. Thus it is not reasonable to say that Arsenal have not been on the top. The manager cannot be trounced for near-misses at the summit; the recent 2-1 defeat at the hands of Birmingham in the league cup final was purely a defensive error and not a tactical error made by a manager.
2.        The construction of the new stadium came at a monumental expense. With arrears of 470 million pounds to be repaid, it is unwarranted to say that the manager had a vast array of funds at his disposal. The absence of major-signings can only be attributed to the paucity of funds available.
3.       Thiery Henry, Denis Bergramp, Cesc Fabregas, Nicolas Anelka, these are some of the umpteen green talents that have been reared into first-rate players by the French-man.
4.       Is Wenger only at fault, I think not. The manager can only galvanize the players off-the pitch but on the pitch it is the players who have to render. A classic illustration of this is Chelsea F.C- last season Carlo Ancelotti won Chelsea their first double and this season his exit is being speculated, so has the manager’s competence diminished or the player’s performance weakened.
5.       The answer to the last question is a simple NO

       Agreed that the fans have been frustrated by this drought and their behavior is justified. But it must be understood that sacking Wenger is not an option. His obstinacy has been a hindrance at times but his contribution cannot be trivialized. His removal will only add to the chaos as his successor might not attune to the clubs pre-set philosophy and style. 

      People sieve Wenger as a penny-pincher. But his frugal nature has made this club a financial power-house. Would you fans like Arsenal to be thrown into the hands of selfish and profit-oriented owners like that of United and Liverpool?  Aren’t the examples of notorious owners like the glazers and hicks & Gillet testimony to the fact that financial solidity is of utmost importance to a club’s long-term prosperity    
All said and done, as a staunch supporter i strongly feel that the manager has been despairing by continuously placing his faith in under-performing players, and this is one grey-area which needs to thoroughly rectified..
Trophies are perhaps the most important yard-stick to measure a clubs eminence and it would be na├»ve to suggest otherwise. 

   However I ask all my fellow gooner’s to be resolute in their adhesion of our manager. For this forbearance will unmistakably guide the path towards laurels soon.
      In  “Arsene we trust”

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