The Wenger conundrum!

#Arsenal are in a state of relative unrest – their fans are openly brawling in the stadium (google: Arsenal fans fight amongst themselves at Chelsea), they are brawling on Twitter and Facebook and comically on their favorite rant channel – #ArsenalFanTV. It’s a battle over their long-term manager #ArseneWenger and his failure to win meaningful silverware over the past 12 years. After a very brief period of success, culminating with the incredible season of the #Invincibles, this club has won no titles in the #EPL and #ChampionsLeague and have made the yearly chase of 4th place, their gold standard. For the faithful, this is beyond blasphemous, especially given the rise and rise of #Chelsea #City and now #Tottenham. By itself, that’s a fair grievance.

At the cost of annoying many of my Arsenal supporters (just know, I do love all of you) let me help recalibrate that grievance a tad. For 12 years now, Arsenal have been a mediocre team and a mediocre club. Everything their leadership has done, every team their manager has put out, every transfer they’ve made (#Sanchez being the only outlier) shows they behave no different than an #Everton or #WestHam or #Southampton during their surges of temporary success. That brief history of success though, make Arsenal faithful believe that Arsenal are an elite European club and hence must compete for the title and  the Champions League. (I can hear folks in Munich and Madrid and Turin snickering at this thought) But the truth is that Arsenal have been run like a mid table team with a mid table mindset that has actually consistently outperformed this status – year after year. if you look at it from that perspective, #Wenger looks pretty darned good, doesn’t he? Before you get all mad at this “mid-table” accusation, lets look at some facts.

After the era of the Invincibles, Arsenal have never had a team that fielded a title winning side in entirety. It’s always been one or two stars (#RVP #Fabregas and so on) but not 11 who had the talent or the mental strength (or the experience of winning trophies) to win the title. And just when it seemed like a team was brewing and just needed 2 world-class additions to make them title-worthy, boom, they sell their prized asset to #Barcelona or #United or now #City, while bringing in a #Sonogo or another 12-year old French kid. That ain’t a lot different from what #Spurs or Southampton or Everton have had to do. Sure, the #Emirates was built and paid for in this time (bravo?) and what we don’t know for sure is whether the frugality that came with it were Wenger’s calls, Management calls, Owner calls or all of them in concert with each other. It would be surprising if they were just Arsene’s calls alone, don’t you think?

#SirAlex went through a phase where he had to do the same thing because of the massive debt the f*#cking #Glazers put onto #United in the purchase of the club – he sold #Ronaldo and bought no one of note for 5 years, helping the Glazers run down their massive debt. But #SAF (love him or hate him) was something else clearly, and he took an average team and still somehow got them to win a bunch of shit for 5-6 years. But you saw what happened right after. The next few coaches just had nothing to work with. Utter mediocrity. And they bought stupidly. And look where it got them. But #United are a different animal. Commercially they are untouchable – now even surpassing #Real and #Barcelona in club value. They could afford to be utterly moronic for those 3-4 years, miss out on CL and yet buy whoever they desire at any goddamn price they want. Let’s ignore them for now.
Wenger has kept a mid table Club in the top 4 for the last 12 years. That’s something.
Still in 4th place this season (although not for long, I fear) this side (aside from the brilliant #Sanchez) would likely not have even one player that would make it to the Chelsea, United, City or Spurs starting 11. Goalkeeper, nope – #DeGea, #Courtois and #Lloris are certainly superior. Defense, meh. Midfield – heavens no! (#Ozil can do wonderful things but you wouldn’t rely on him in a tough game, would you?) Upfront – #Giroud, #Welbeck and #Iwobi – in place of #Ibra #Costa #Kane #Lukaku and even #Defoe – not a chance. So it’s just Sanchez, isn’t it?
Wenger is over-achieving for what this club has become. And yes, it’s a valid argument that he’s played a key role in making it so – and his departure might well be warranted. But be careful what you wish for – because here is the thing, who comes in? #Simeone has been most supporters wet dream and I can see why. What he’s done at #Atletico is nothing short of miraculous. But there is no guarantee he will want to come. (He’s often spoken of his dream of coaching his beloved #InterMilan and they now have the financial muscle to support him and his grand ambitions). There is also no guarantee he’ll succeed with this type of Arsenal squad and you cannot change all 11-15 players in one go.
Simeone’s success at Atleti has been built on exceedingly solid players, physically strong, a willingness to lay their bodies on the line and a mental strength that we haven’t seen in most clubs.  Respectfully, Arsenal have only 1 player like that in Sanchez and who knows if he’ll even stay put. You just can’t replace a whole side in even 4 summers – just ask the bumbling #Moyes and the Philosophy Van Gaal! These Arsenal players tend to fade away when the heat is turned on! The best visual for this was that Hazard goal the other day. (Ozil jogging back, #Coquelin – the defensive enforcer getting thrown off like a rag doll, #Koscielny falling off like an amateur and #Hazard scores from a situation he had no business scoring from)
So if Simeone did come, he’d likely fail initially. The rebuild will take a long time. And in the EPL there isn’t a long time. Contrast this with what happened at Chelsea. Conte is a lot like Simeone. He needs physically and mentally strong players. Willing to give everything on that field. With a drilled discipline to execute the tactics he lays out. Mourinho already had exactly that setup at Chelsea. Whatever went wrong last season, the fact is that the 15-16 core group at Chelsea met all those requirements, already. Tough mofos!
So let’s be more objective. Who can take this Arsenal side and do what’s necessary to take it from where it’s at to winning the title . And do it all within 2-3 seasons?
It’s become even harder now because you have to compete with the 3 super clubs – United, City and Chelsea (money and status wise) and you have to compete with the fast growing Spurs and a nouveau riche Everton with a very good manager. You can’t just throw more money at this than these super clubs.
So there are 2 choices – find someone who can preserve that core Arsenal DNA and most of the existing players and bring more of a winning mentality and see if they can take them a few levels higher (in terms of title mentality) OR you stay the course with Wenger and hope for the best. Tactically he’s been outwitted by the top managers for a while now though, hasn’t he?
Option 1, since most people are baying for change, seems to be the popular choice come this summer. 
So let’s be more practical then. Who helps achieve this for Arsenal? It’s easy to say Simeone. Because there are only 5-6 elite managers – let’s call them super managers and they are all in their clubs of choice – Mou, #Klopp, #Pep, #Conte, Poch, #Carlo are taken.
Klopp certainly had the right DNA to take over from Arsene. But he’s knee-deep in doing what he’s trying at #Liverpool and look how long and hard it’s been? For a second then, let’s look beyond these names.
Who plays the Arsenal way but also has a winning mentality and is young and hungry? 
Within Arsenal history, I’ve heard folks say – Thierry Henry. Sure. That’s one romantic option. And then pray it ends like the #Zidane hire at Real has (so far). The other option would be the actual heir to the Arsenal throne from past player picks – #Vieira. That might be one way to go. Hand the team to the last guy at Arsenal who actually had a spine and has been in Management for a few years now – he would come happily too, I’m sure. Can’t see a Vieira led team wilting at #OldTrafford or #StamfordBridge. No sir. He’d personally strangle each one of his players if they did.

Option 2.
A young English manager, with EPL experience and plays the Arsenal way – #EddieHowe. Not a big name so far but showing all the signs of making it to the top one day – why not now?
Option 3.
A guy who already plays the Arsenal way. Has Klopp DNA but is a lot more like Conte/Mou on the tactical front – prepares his team like hell – #ThomasTuchel. To me, the best outside option. He can’t win the #Bundesliga with #BVB. He knows that. #Aubameyang will go to Real or Barca this summer. Tempt him with a top offer – money, budgets, ambition. Give him funds for an enforcer, for a proper striker and see what he can build. Give him 3 years to convert Arsenal into a title winner, so he doesn’t succumb to overnight expectations. Every summer give him funds to bring in 2 stars. By year three he’ll have about 5-6 players he wants to combine with the 7-8 he wants to keep. Oh and don’t sell your stars!
That’s really the best bet, aside from sticking with Wenger. Because there is a very good chance that Arsenal will go the United way after parting ways with him. And Arsenal are no United. If they have the 3 seasons United have had, they will not be able to recover. Not in the near term atleast.
Be careful what you wish for my dear Gunners fans. Just saying.

19 thoughts on “The Wenger conundrum!

    1. Hoffenheim from 3rd div to Bundesliga in 3 seasons as well (lots of money behind that, but I digress. Not like AFC doesn’t have it). Idk if it’s realistic, just looking outside the front-running candidates. I’d prefer Howe FWIW.

  1. I don’t agree with everything you say, but I do agree that Wenger is out of his depth tactically and strategically.

    Apart from Simeone and Tuchel mentioned, rumours in Barcelona indicate that Luis Enrique may be available in the summer; he is done with Barca board room politics much like Pep was. Having said that, I would like to see Simeone or Tuchel leading the team; Howe won’t be able to attract top talent, atleast not yet

    1. Not true; also I don’t agree with your grouping of super clubs. I don’t think talent is not going to Arsenal; I think Arsenal is not, realistically, going after them due to wage (primarily) demands and transfer fees.

      A change in guard is likely to come with new policies and a strong signal to compete for trophies. Arsenal do have the resources (financial and brand) to see through a transition. Also some of the available talent has been under performing; I see several players stepping under the right circumstances.

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