I found it interesting to hear Arsene Wenger saying that many people have been questioning his loyalty to Arsenal, as I’ve never encountered any of these people. In his personal life, doubts were raised about Wenger’s fidelity following tabloid allegations, but this bears no relation to football. It’s a completely separate issue.
In the domain of the beautiful game, Wenger is a principled man. Yes, he clings on to his principles despite recent evidence suggesting his grand experiment is doomed to failure at the highest level. Six trophyless season can’t be put down to bad luck and poor refereeing or any other conspircacy theory.
At some point, Wenger should wake up and realise that some of the criticism he’s receiving is justified. It may have become increasingly virulent, but Wenger has really brought it upon himself. What can he expect if he sells Arsenal’s best players, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and then shows little will to replace them?
Nasri’s not gone yet, of course, and that in itself is a moot point. Almost in a move to anger the fans, Nasri’s in the squad to play Liverpool. Nasri got a lot of stick at Newcastle from our supporters, so what makes Wenger think it will be any different at home against Liverpool? Even if Nasri is as committed as Wenger says, can Nasri play at his best when the home fans are likely to boo his every touch? To most football people, the answer would be ‘no’, but occasionally a player can answer his critics with a display that wins the fans back. Nasri, who seems set to join Manchester City for £22m, will be unable to do that because Arsenal fans know he wants to leave. Unless, Nasri signs a new deal to stay at Arsenal, of course. Now if he could do that, everything would change immediately. At least, Nasri could then be forgiven for flirting with City and Manchester United.
Perhaps Wenger, likewise, has flirted with other clubs. He’s certainly suggested that by telling Sky Sports that fans will be surprised about the overtures he’s turned down. Some might say there’s no point him going to a richer club than Arsenal, if he ever does leave. If he wants to continue his ridiculous experiment with an unbalanced squad, which seems to be getting younger and more inexperienced with every passing year, he would be better advised to manage a club like Crewe Alexandra. Like Arsenal, Crewe are loyal to their current manager, Dario Gradi, who’s been there mostly on and rarely off since 1983. While stability is often a foundation of success if it lasts too long it can change into stagnation. Crewe did experience Championship football under Gradi, but now reside in football’s basement despite their free-flowing football.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that Wenger will preside over a similar fall from grace at Arsenal. Wenger is a clever man, why else would he be nicknamed ‘Le Professeur’? But even the intelligent among us have moments when their brain power may be in question. Right now, Wenger’s marbles or lack of them are in the dock and he has two clear choices: continue with his experiment with youth or buy big.
Excuses won’t do anymore. The season has started and we’ve already dropped points. If Wenger addresses the obvious deficiencies in the squad, all will be forgiven and ‘Mad King’ Arsene can continue his reign. After all, loyalty is a two-way street and Arsenal fans will never forget Wenger’s great work. But we need to see that he’s trying to cure his obsession with youth, for we can’t afford to indulge compulsive obsessive behaviour (COB). COB could be mostly than Gary Cahill and all the other overpriced stars we’ve been linked with.