by Ronnie Mewes
As a life long fan of Arsenal football club it becomes increasingly stressful and demoralizing when evaluating the stature of a club, once feared in English and European football by many.
Perhaps the most telling sign of this slip down the footballing ladder is in regards to the North London Derby, a game which has recently seen a greater swing in the favour of fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur. This particular meeting was once a very exiting and reasonably risk free event in which various Arsenal sides often prevailed. However a recent resurgence from Tottenham coupled with Arsenal’s inability to hold on to their leading lights has seen a notable shift in the balance of power. With the club’s failure to secure any silverware in eight years football experts within England as well as fans are now asking for a change in management to possibly steer the club in a new direction.
Paul Merson, a firm favourite within the Arsenal faithful, has recently heaped more pressure on the shoulders of Wenger “He’s got them into this mess – he needs to get them out of it. The players are all his, the decisions are all his, the mistakes are all his.”
The belief that Wengers time has come and gone is backed up by ex professional Tony Cascarino who highlights the fact that maybe he is being kept at the helm purely because of what he has previously done rather than what he is doing, “When I look at him, I see a guy who believes in a philosophy based on simplicity. He won’t change. He was a genius, but that genius has had its day. Football has caught up with him and he remains in the job because of sentiment.”
This statement can be backed up by Arsenal’s struggle with adapting to different styles, for years now the more physical and rough-and-ready teams such as Stoke City have proven to be an achilles heal for a team of such swagger and style. The main problem regardless of players coming and going is that Arsenal struggle to implement a plan b for certain situations and because of this they’ve become far too predictable and rigid. When it doesn’t work losses simply rack up.
So what can the club do? Sack the manager? Spend Big? These are all questions fans across the world are asking themselves but within them are the variables. Firstly if you sack the manager then who is good enough to take his place? The Arsenal of old is no more and attracting a big name would be another would be an unrealistic task. Delusional fans who say “Pep is the man” or “Jose would do a job” need to wake up as neither would even contemplate the job even if they were available. Spending big is not a philosophy which Wenger has previously abode by however he is falling behind all the top clubs who are willing to strengthen their squads every season. This of course is of no importance because if the current crop of players cannot reach the seasonal goal of Champions League football then how many big names that will honestly make a difference can you attract?
The most pressing concern for the club is clearly the failure of securing contracts for the top players within the roster. In recent years Arsene Wenger has reluctantly bid farewell to two key players to Manchester City followed by the club’s star man to bitter rivals Manchester United. This not only weakens the team greatly but also emphasizes a greater difference between Arsenal and their domestic peers. The club often reiterates its desire to be financially as stable as possible hence the wage structure that has often been a reason for player departures, yet a recent survey has shown that season tickets for the club are at an antagonising premium, so where is all the money going?
Due to the fact that Arsenal cannot compete with the top clubs anymore coupled with this great expense anger among ever growing disillusioned fans is becoming ever present; you can almost justify a greater pricing for matches if the club is delivering success for its supporters yet a consecutive year of being the most expensive club to watch is the only accolade fans receive these days.
So what can the club do to progress or at least stop this monumental slide down the domestic and european ladder? One of the unpalatable answers may arrive this Sunday.