By Avenell Dave
Last night, renowned French journalist Xavier Rivoire, who is based in London and wrote a well-researched biography of Arsene Wenger, suggested on Newstalk that Le Boss should leave Arsenal at the end of the season.
According to Arseblog, Rivoire said “He’s the reason Arsenal can’t go further. He has to go.”
I didn’t hear the interview but the facts are there for all to see why Rivoire would come to such a conclusion.
We haven’t won the title since 2004; we haven’t won a trophy since the FA Cup triumph in 2005; and since then we have only been in three finals (Champions League 2006, Carling Cup 2007 and 2011) and the side we currently have is far weaker to that we saw in 1998 or 2004.
We’re out of the Champions League, we’ve failed to beat Newcastle, West Brom, T*tt*nh*m and Sunderland at home this season and the club made a loss in its recent financial figures, putting an end to the argument that the stadium would have us competing at the top top level.
Wenger persists with players like Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby and Denilson, none of whom are good enough for Arsenal.
He fails to address the glaring weaknesses in the team with solid, experienced signings, preferring to nurture raw or young talent that, once it matures, either wants to leave or finds those who have come before have done so already, if they have indeed developed in the way Wenger would wish.
So there’s wisdom in what Rivoire says?
Don’t make me laugh. It was ridiculous.
Thankfully, all the talk on Twitter last night when Arseblog revealed the comment underlined how much loyalty there is to Wenger.
This is not a case of the AKBs (Arsene Knows Best) or apologists for a manager who has failed to bring us a trophy in six years.
No, the reality is that fans who really understand the game, who understand the complexities of football and the importance of getting the balance between speculating and accumulating appreciate that Wenger is doing a magnificent job.
Look at any club who has moved into a new stadium, particularly one built in the centre of a capital city with all the additional costs that demands, and see how the clubs struggle initially making the new arena its home, balancing the need to pay for the building with the need to remain competitive and you’ll see quite how good a job Wenger is doing.
Yes, it would have been nice to have seen us buy one or two experienced players in recent seasons to offset the departures we have had, particularly in goal and defence.
But the fact that we have conceded fewer goals that M*nure this season suggests the defence is working well and in Wojciech Szcsesny we have a potentially world class goalkeeper in the making. Patience is a rare thing in football and we’ve all been guilty of getting frustrated.
If Wenger is not a gambler, why did he pay £8-10m on Laurent Koscielny, who for my money is developing into a fine centre-back who will be better next year having grown accustomed to the speed of English football.
Of course, with all the money in the world to spend, he could have signed £15-20m players like Joleon Lescott. Or he could just sell players who are over the hill like Kolo Toure, for way over their market value.
T*tt*nh*m won last night and immediately started singing “Are you watching Arsenal”, the typical response of small-minded, small time supporters of a small club who rarely enjoy any success and have their moment in the sun but cannot help but think of their rivals when they could be basking in their own glory.
I’d love to see how our neighbours get on against Barca, a far superior side to AC Milan, but there was also lots of chatter about William Gallas who had a fine game, apparently.
This was the disruptive, moody former captain who was stifling the youngsters and Samir Nasri in particular and it was right that he left and possibly should have gone a year earlier, having been stripped of the captaincy. Wenger made the right call.
Of course, no manager is perfect, no man is perfect and Wenger may benefit from having a fresh voice in the dressing room, someone who will debate with him and disagree with some of his decisions. The greatest leaders benefit from great consorts after all.
But as all of the Twitterers with any sense said last night, with the exception of Pep Guardiola, who is going nowhere, who on earth would replace Wenger and do as good a job??
The truth is, there is no obvious candidate who could take the club further.
We have had some bad luck this season and it’s frustrating that we have not taken advantage of M*nure’s indifference, but when Wenger leaves, we could be a lot worse off than we have been in recent seasons and for those of you with memories who only stretch back to the mid-90s, be careful for what you wish for.