by Mark Urban
A lot of focus is being put on Arsenal’s “crunch” game with Wigan on Tuesday, but being a follower of the Gunners, I don’t think dropping points and losing out on Champions League qualification is as disastrous as some are making out and here is why.
Arsenal used to be a force to be reckoned with on the Premier League stage, with players such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires making fans drool and opposing teams quake in their boots, but this year makes it 8 seasons without a trophy and a toothless Arsenal are once again nowhere near any silverware and wholesale changes have to be made.
As it stands, it looks as though as long as the team qualify for the Champions League, that everyone at the club seems happy just to go through the motions. This can not be acceptable anymore and although the club will take a hit financially in the short term, I think finishing 5th in the league will be the kick up the proverbial backside that the club needs.
No more putting up with average players who aren’t worthy of wearing the prestigious Arsenal shirt, no more excuses about why Arsenal didn’t sign this player or that or spend the money that Wenger keeps denying he has and the board keep insisting he does, and no more Brazilians who can’t play football – Denilson and Santos I’m talking about you.
Arsene Wenger is rightly still held in high regard for what he has done in the past, but he doesn’t seem to be that same manager anymore and the past only gets you so far. He puts up with mediocrity that shouldn’t be associated with this great club. He has also lost his bite in the transfer market. When was the last time you heard Arsenal and *insert other club’s name here* were going for a player and Arsenal ended up with him? It seems as though Wenger doesn’t want to fight for players and would rather just go for someone who is less hassle to sign – at the expense of quality.
Another excuse that seems to pop up is that the Emirates stadium needed to be financed and that is why Wenger hasn’t spent much money. While I’m sure there is truth in that, you don’t need to be a professor of economics to know that if Wenger sold a lot of the fringe players, (Bendtner, Denilson, Chamakh, Arshavin, Squillaci, Santos) that he could free up both the wages and transfer funds necessary to bring in at least one or two players who could make an impact.
When it comes to the transfer market, I’m all for bringing youth into the club, if they are good enough, and we can all see the quality youngsters Wenger has brought through the Emirates doors through the years, but you can only give them so much time, and you need a balance between youth and experience, a balance they used to have in the glory days of the late 90’s to mid 00’s.
Also, where have all the leaders on the pitch disappeared to? Where is the Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira type of stand up and be counted player, who would drag the rest of the team kicking and screaming to the desired result? Who wouldn’t put up with yet another Denilson or Ramsey sideways or backwards pass. A player who no matter what the score was, gave you hope that even in the 90th minute, things could still be turned around.
The club needs to take a long hard look at itself and I fear that the only way that this will happen is to finish 5th and although, Arsenal fans, it may hurt to begin with, and Spurs fans won’t let you forget it for the next 12 months, it may be just what the doctor ordered to turn things around and get back to the trophy laden days of a decade ago.