Arsenal legend, Ian Wright said watching his former boss Arsene Wenger struggle at the Emirates now, is as embarrassing as watching Mohammed Ali lose to Larry Holmes. He is probably very correct. Ali was a boxing legend, arguably the greatest ever. He was supposed to have retired when the ovation was loudest, but he decided to take on the new king on the block, Holmes.
The fight ended in disgrace for the greatest and heartbreak for millions of his fans worldwide.
Arsene Wenger also has brought such joy, pride, victories, TROPHIES to Arsenal. He even won the league in 2004 without losing a single game all season. He too should have left when the ovation was really loud and he was being lauded as the lord of the Emirates. But no, he stayed and stayed, even when it was obvious he has lost touch with what modern football is all about.
Any club can have a bad day and lose 4-0, but if you watched Arsenal’s performance against Liverpool on Sunday, you will admit that was not a club having a bad day, it was a group of players who either had no clues as to what is expected of them or players who could just not be bothered. Arsenal is a big club that should be challenging for the title and not one that would be beaten 4-0 without registering a single shot on target.
Arsenal is a big club that should be competing for big name stars all over the world and not a club that has at least three key players (Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain) openly seeking greener pastures and refusing to sign new deals with the Gunners. Chamberlain, just yesterday, signed for Liverpool.
The unfortunate truth is that the jump-ship-at-all-costs theme did not start with the above named trio. Of all the so-called big four in the premiership, the club that has strengthened its rivals more than the others has been Arsenal. Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, William Sagna, etc left Arsenal to join Manchester City. Ashley Cole left to join Chelsea, Robin van Persie left to join Manchester United. When you look at players from other top clubs joining Arsenal, you realise they are players who could not get into the first team of the clubs they left. Danny Wellbeck and Mikael Silvestre from United and Petr Cech from Chelsea are typical examples.
Another Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry described the problem with Arsenal as comfort. Everybody seems comfortable with mediocrity and underachievement. The board doesn’t seem to care if the club wins trophies or not, as long as they become richer at the end of each season. The manager is not worried about job security or winning cups as long as he keeps the board happy and rich. The players are not bothered to give their best because they know they will get picked for the next game. And when the serious minded players who want better developments for themselves decide to leave Arsenal, the club begs them to stay and runs down their contracts. For instance, Ozil has been underperforming for the last two seasons, he is refusing to sign a new deal, so what on earth is he still doing at Arsenal?
The way things are being managed at the Emirates, you sometimes wonder what they have been smoking. Majority of the fans want Wenger out, half of the players don’t want to play for him any longer, the other half just want to while away the time as their contracts run down, yet Mr Wenger doesn’t seem to think it is time to go.
If things continue this way, the board may have no choice but to sack Wenger and that would be a great shame because he has done so much for the club and he deserves to be immortalised and not dumped in the rubbish bin of history. Sadly, as things are now, he may have to win both the premiership and the Champions League before he can make up for the damage he has caused to his reputation. That’s what happens when people overstay their welcome.
Frankly, if Wenger loves himself and he loves Arsenal the way he always claims, now is the time to leave the club and let someone with fresh ideas take over.