I’m a Gooner. Ever since I got to watch bits and pieces of English football from way back in the 90s, I always admired the way Arsenal went about their game. I conscientiously followed their undefeated year in the 2003–04 Premiere League campaign and remained a fan even after losing cable TV to economic reasons.
Much of the team’s success can be credited to managerial capability. Probably why I really admire Arsene Wenger as a manager, not just as a football manager, but as an all-around boss. Sure, player skill and talent have to be credited for winning games but Wenger’s buy-low (or even make your own) and sell-high player acquisition strategy has allowed him to create very talented lineups. His ability to scout and acquire fresh talent is quite amazing as well.
Now, Wenger’s facing much flak for six straight years without any football silverware and Gooners are getting anxious. But should lack of success tarnish Wenger’s reputation as a manager? I’d say it’s fair to criticize but to bottom line everything to winning would and should be uncalled for.
For the past years, Arsenal always blamed youth as an excuse. With the exit of veterans like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Fredrik Ljungberg, Patrick Viera, and Sol Campbell, all what’s left were promising young talent – Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas (a captain at 23 years of age). But after several years of falling short, it’s ludicrous to continue attributing failure to immaturity.
Arsenal still is a top-flight club in English football. Too bad they choke when pressure mounts. But is the collapse of this year’s campaign Wenger’s fault? We can quote him on this: “The players have been outstanding all season. If there is somebody to blame, it is me.”
However, keep in mind that despite not clinching any trophy, Arsenal stands above other major clubs in terms of sustainability. Unlike Chelsea and Manchester City that lost millions of pounds to acquire big name players and still struggle to topple Manchested United’s hegemony, Arsenal is making a profit. Arsenal’s profit numbers means that the club won’t have to worry about bankruptcy issues in the near future. That means Arsenal can continue to contend at a sustainable. As a club supporter you have to appreciate that.
I just think that Arsenal has yet to find a suitable skilled and healthy XI to go with. For most of the season, key players have been hampered with injuries (Van Persie, Fabregas) and acquisitions proved to be not so fruitful (Chamakh). Wenger has got to find a solution for the back four. Vermaelen, Squilachi, and Clichy are wobbly at best.
Wenger would end the campaign trophyless. I just hope the Arsenal board continues to support him. Sacking him would be a very bad mistake. For all he’s done, he, in the very least, deserves another year of support from Gooners. He’s got mine.