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Is it Arsène’s time to step aside?

By Sam Oliver

A tale of unfulfilled potential

‘You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain’ - Harvey Dent. Now although I’m almost certain Harvey Dent was not talking about Arsène Wenger when he said those powerful words, you can certainly apply them to the current managerial state at Arsenal. In the years from 1996 to 2005, he was untouchable, certainly a hero; now, I feel his time may be up. I’m not even saying this because of a lack of trophies; I’m saying it because of the gradual decline of the team since we lost the Champions League final in 2006. We’ve sold some bloody amazing players and replaced them with decent ones (sometimes not at all) and we’ve sold decent players and replaced them with mediocre players. Now before you bang on to me about not having the spending power of City, Chelsea etc. you’re right. We don’t. But the wages we do pay have been used badly, on the wrong players.

Dent: Words of wisdom?

Get rid of Chamakh, Fabianski, Squillaci, Djourou, Santos, Gervinho and Diaby (good player but never will be fit for ten games in a row) and how much in wages do we free up? Roughly 300 grand? That’s more than enough in wages for two or three world-class signings, far more useful than these bits of dead wood that will never be good enough (bar Diaby). So really, we can’t complain about City’s spending (ok, we can a bit; what they do is ridiculous, but at least a lot of the players they are paying are top players). Just imagine if we took out the previous seven players, and used the money there to buy Falcao, Holtby and Lloris. Dreamland. Thing is, we’ve paid mediocre players too much money, so that prevents us buying the top players; just think, Chamakh and Squillaci may well be the ones who stop us putting a decent bid in for someone like Huntelaar or Llorente. It’s terrible, and don’t get me wrong - I have massive respect for Arsène Wenger, for what he’s done over the years, but he’s replaced Clichy with Santos, Nasri with Benayoun (for a season (!)) and van Persie with Giroud (good player, but not in Robin’s class). Surely this tells us he’s lost his way?

It’s not just transfers though; tactically he’s been very naïve in recent seasons, particularly since the Fabregas departure. We play the Fabregas formation without Fabregas; how about we play with two strikers!?!? So often this season, Giroud will hold the ball up or flick it on, and he’ll have no support. Play Walcott or Podolski up with him, with Santi on the right, the Ox on the left with Arteta and Wilshere in the middle. Perfect.

It’s with great sadness I write this, because I’ll always love Arsène for the fantastic football we’ve played and the amazing players we’ve seen, but most notably for that incredible team that didn’t lose a game through the whole 2003-2004 season. But, even the most passionate Wenger fan cannot deny he’s lost his way over the past few years, and despite the world’s most incompetent board behind him, he’s not the same manager who did things like turn Kolo Touré from a decent wide midfielder into a world-class centre back, be the first manager in a while to go toe-to-toe with Man United, and sign players like Sol Campbell, Freddie Ljungberg and Thierry Henry for a combined total of £10 million.

Arsène’s contract goes in 2014, and that’s when I think he should leave; he’s been amazing for us, and I hope we win a cup by then to end on a high note, with the Capital One Cup this year being as good a chance as we’ll get in a while. I don’t yet think Arsène is Harvey Dent’s villain, but if we don’t finish in the top four, he’ll be remembered for the wrong reasons. You’ve been amazing Arsène, but it’s time to step aside. Au revoir.

21st November 2012

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User Comment and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

Pete  8:32am 21st Nov 2012

You are absolutely right about him stepping aside come 2014. The old cigar smoking Etonian had some time ago suggested extending his contract.I say we wait till the season ends. If the gunners can't clinch the cl berth,he should in all reality go.Fans cannot wait for him to decide when he wants to go. I believe too much decay has set in. For all you know he might pull of the cl. That is an extreme scenario given the players we have unless he gets three wc players. - Post No. 31033


John  8:45am 21st Nov 2012

The problems with articles like this is that it's nothing but gutter press cliches, half truths and qwerty knowledge in hindsight. What is the point of this drivel? Should he stay or should he go could be an interesting discussion but not at this level. Try to bring some intelligent arguments into the debate please! - Post No. 31035


natty  9:14am 21st Nov 2012

Thierry returns. Arsenal are a circus and Wenger is Co-Co the clown. - Post No. 31036


Bard  9:59am 21st Nov 2012

Nothing new here. He'll decide whether he stays or goes. The onus is on us as fans to make it clear we want a change of direction and manager. He won't sign on if we make it chrystal clear we want him out. The sadness is that he hasn't been prepared to allow anyone else to help him in the way Fergie has. It has meant that he has become a victim of his own shortcomings. - Post No. 31038


Joe S.  10:51am 21st Nov 2012

Wegner should step aside with grace.I'll be stunnened if he doesn't. What does he hope to achieve under the present owners. Season by season his legacy is withering away. Eight years of glory and then stagnation with no end in sight to the drought. Does he really believe he can turn it around and seriously compete with the best? - Post No. 31040


Any Old Iron  10:58am 21st Nov 2012

Yes, there can't be many still sitting on the fence regarding Wenger's stewardship. Most of us know Arsenal are still seeking a top goalkeeper. Noises are now being made regarding possible candidates. Absolutely scandalous that this is still the case. We have Szczesny, Mannone, Flapihandski, a Macedonian unknown. None are then deemed good enough to wear the 1st team jersey. But, Wenger has for 5/6 years persisted with Almunia, then perm one of the first three aforementioned. Proof of profligate mismanagement. 4 keepers what a waste. Denilson, Rosicky, Bendtner, Diaby, Squidgy...ring any bells. We all know that the club cannot realistically challenge with these goalkeepers. OGL feels/felt otherwise. My colours are firmly nailed, just like Tino Asprilla's shirt on a flag pole! Wenger out. - Post No. 31041


jb  11:16am 21st Nov 2012

A good well balanced piece Sam. Arsene did wonders but his time is well and truly up. I don't agree with the goings on at Chelsea but if Arsene was there he would have been sacked 6 years ago. For a manager to have successful longevity he has to freshen up his squad with the correct type of player. Arsene has failed miserably to do this. - Post No. 31042


theeternaloptimist  11:24am 21st Nov 2012

Oh I do enjoy this 'supporters' website it is just one uplifting article after another. Can't help but think there will be one or two red faces within a couple of months when we re-enter the title race. And when the tide does turn (as it will, there is too much class in this squad for it not to) I do hope the 'Wenger out' brigade will do the honourable thing and finally get behind the team and the manager, because they are being carried at the moment. - Post No. 31043


Pedro  12:03pm 21st Nov 2012

Agree with Bard about how Fergie is willing to let someone help him in contrast to Wenger.The fm is a control freak who wants to exercise complete control ie a dictator. That is why I believe Robson who spoke of a rift between the fm and Bould. My feeling is Bould must have urged him to go easy on the attack. That is why initially the gunners defence did extremely well but since then has leaked goals.It must be the fm insists that attack is the best form of soccer and that is why against a hit and defend team ,Arsenal will lose. We need someone who is pragmatic and knows the game is based on winning and not pretty soccer which gets you nowhere. - Post No. 31044


WeAreBuildingATeamToDominate  12:49pm 21st Nov 2012

What is this article telling us we didn't already know? Seems like another ex-AKB has opened their eyes. Welcome to the revolution, brother. - Post No. 31045


J-rome  12:49pm 21st Nov 2012

Its quite annoying and retarded when I here Arsenal fans talk rubbish such as "get rid of the deadwood and lets get Falcao". We cant compete financially. ACCEPT IT. Id rather see we improve our current model than some rich owner ruining our club sacking managers for fun. Plus its easy to say Wenger must leave at end of his contract, but which manager -bar Pep Guardiola- ,good enough out there suits the way we play and can to take us that step further? - Post No. 31046


Wenger Out  12:53pm 21st Nov 2012

He should step aside today. It is days like today when I wish Ambramovich was Chairman. Get Wenger Out! - Post No. 31047


Danny  13:38pm 21st Nov 2012

Amazing, Chelsea Boss DI Mateo sacked for underachieving and winning the FA CUP and CL Our useless ownership wants to keep our clueless coach What is going on ??? - Post No. 31049


johnnyhawleylovinggooner  14:14pm 21st Nov 2012

i think the circus is parked down the road at chelsea as they have just sacked the manager who won them the EC last season. the player we wanted, Hazzard, is useless with out the ball and the other big buy does not work hard enough either! (according to raido5 live last nite).i want us to learn from our mistakes, not sack people like this. i would waant AW moved upstairs anyway,i would not want him sacked. a chelsea fan just texted me to say they spend more on sacking and hiring managers than we do on players, i wonder if this is true - Post No. 31050


Red Mist  15:13pm 21st Nov 2012

J-rome did Wenger suit the way we played? and did anyone believe he would take us to the next level when he took over? The answer is no! Change has to happen and should have a few years ago now. - Post No. 31053


Mandy Dodd  15:21pm 21st Nov 2012

Pedro - sounds like you wish for Tony Pulis or Big Sam? - Post No. 31054


Arsene is a Fraudster  15:32pm 21st Nov 2012

Yes, it has been time for him to go for a few seasons now. The one and only reason to keep him on is to laugh at the remaining few Wenger acolytes who are hanging onto to his coat tails for dear life. - Post No. 31055


David  15:58pm 21st Nov 2012

When Prussian troops marched through Alsace Lorraine in 1871, they were impressed at how German it all was – 90% by most estimates. When French troops ‘liberated’ Alsace Lorraine in 1918, they were impressed at how French it all was – 90% by most estimates. AWs homeland is a mixture of both traditions and le boss is a product of that world. Or should that be ze boss? Arsene is a French name; Wenger is a German name. The point is that the Arsenal teams from 1996 – 2011, full of flair, genius, inspiration, were distinctly French in culture and attitude. Whereas, this current side, which we only saw at its best for the first 6/7 games of the season, without quite the same inspiration (Cazorla apart), is much more German: efficient, controlled, steady, indefatigable. Up until the Man City match Arsenal looked like the best team in the league this season. In fact, that brief spell is the only time that Arsenal have looked like title contenders since 2004. Fair enough, the defensive fralities are back with a vengeance, but this team still represents a new direction for AWs football. And he deserves a chance to show whether it will work. Agreed: 2014 is ample time. - Post No. 31057


Mike  15:59pm 21st Nov 2012

Chelsea is an absolute joke now - I can only see the firing happening in order to get Pep in before anyone else talks to him. I have huge respect for Wenger, but do think he is approaching his sell by date - I think the team he has got together now is a good one - if Diaby and Rosicky come back to support then the current midfield is the best in the country. I want to see this team remain constant for more than one year. There is no doubt in my mind that it is good enough to challenge for any trophy and unlike a lot of people who want to see it fail as a means to an end, I hope they win the CC as a minimum. By the end of December, we will know how they will end up in the Premier League. I still can't see what Ramsey has got but AW persists with him. However, Chelsea let their top striker go without replacing him and have a K50 million flop on their hands. Now they have fired the manager - I can't fathom that one either - Post No. 31058


CanadaGooner  16:01pm 21st Nov 2012

"unfulfilled potential" is just about accurate if one were to write a report card for Wenger and I dont think even he would argue with that. The board i'm sure will disagree as their bank-balance potential has been greatly fulfilled and they will also claim we have a new stadium (unlike spurs, liverpool and several other clubs who had been aspiring for that for decades now). the only group who feel aggrieved (and perhaps rightly so) and have been short-changed are the fans. we shout and sing till our throats go dry but get nothing for it. what's really unfortunate is the fact that it neednt be that way; i can recall the hleb howler against birmingham that ruined one season, the CL final howlers (by our goalie as well as Henry's misses), the Carling Cup final howlers (one by our underwhelmed team against birmingham, the other by Wenger who decided to play a bunch of teens against chelsea). - Post No. 31059


Ron  16:17pm 21st Nov 2012

Its a bit daft to compare whats happening at Chelsea to a normal football club. Abramovitch is some sort of egocentric nutter with too much cash to burn.Nobody sane wants a new coach every 12 months or so .... do they? With AW im not sure there is any other reason than hes just been there too long to explain his loss of the abilty to forge a winning team. Hes just maybe stale and the Clubs too much in the comfort zone with his staleness to realise a change is needed. We ve all had a job thats gone sour but we ve just stayed in it because moving on is too much hassle havent we? It happens and its happened at Arsenal i reckon, irrespective of the cash issue. The Club has no urgency or passion as a result. - Post No. 31060


Sam  17:43pm 21st Nov 2012

Only proviso on Wenger leaving - who will replace him? My guess is he will choose not only when he leaves, but who replaces him. I can't see a happy outcome... You're dead right in that the huge wage bill should be pruned by getting rid of the far-too-many players in the squad who contribute nothing. Think Wenger will meddle with the Pod, Giroud, Theo combo just as it's starting to work, by bringing back useless Gervinho. - Post No. 31061


maguiresbridge gooner  17:51pm 21st Nov 2012

Your spot on about him being untouchable from 96-05 Sam and he knew it but it's not the case now. More and more have lost patience he's lost his way alright and maybe he realises that himself.Another couple of seasons without success and the same old same old with all this dross stinking the place out on great contracts who were never good enough and never will be and things not being put right like the keeper situation is not acceptable especially when he earns so much to make sure such things are sorted.He has a couple of seasons left to prove us wrong that he still has it that he can still win something although he has being trying to do that now for the last seven or eight seasons without success (that's if he doesn't sign a new contract) But whatever happens one things for sure we'll never ever see the glory days of his rein again. - Post No. 31062


GOONERDAVE  18:47pm 21st Nov 2012

JB,please don,t put The mighty Arsenal in the same bracket as that mob from S.W 6,they have,nt got a clue how to run a football club as today's news indicates,they are run by an egomaniac who knows ****e about football,pretty much like Stan the quiet man, except he throws money into the club.There's nothing like a fool and he's money!!!!!! - Post No. 31063


ppp  19:41pm 21st Nov 2012

the anti-arsenal, wenger out brigade are looking increasingly desperate. The Gooner should either ban them or declare their pro-Usmanov anti-arsenal credentials to the public. - Post No. 31064


Dave  19:58pm 21st Nov 2012

For everyone writing against Chelsea, I can't believe that you wouldn't exchange our last 7 years for theirs. 10 - 0 trophies-wise. Chelsea has been driven by ambition, Arsenal by a desire to balance the books. The circus pre-dates Abramovic at Chelsea - it started with Ken Bates whose stated ambition was to leave Arsenal behind. Which so far they have. I don't want Arsenal to have the same ruthless ambitions as Chelsea chairmen, but it was because of the ambitiousness of David Dein that lead to the success of 1998 - 2005 and a new stadium. The last 7 years have been without that drive and vision. - Post No. 31065


Oh the Horror  6:34am 22nd Nov 2012

If Wenger went in 2009 he could still have left with his head held high.But the last 3 seasons have been a total waste.We have lost Cesc Nasri and RVP and brought in Chamakh Park Squillaci Santos Ramsey Gervinho.Every year he stays his reputation gets worse.Just think he went from going unbeaten to going 7 straight years without a trophy.The exodus of our best players will continue as long as 4th place Wenger remains.The likes of Cazorla and Wilshire want winners medals.But Wenger wont go he will sign the new contract that will be offered to him and the agony will carry on for another 5 years - Post No. 31066


mark from aylesbury  8:46am 22nd Nov 2012

Would like to see him go end of season. Not sure if I want him on the board as worried that we'd end up with the Busby effect at manu. Would not be at all surprised if a new manager only got 2 seasons if they didnt bring in silverware. If we dont get Pep (doubt it with 15 million being offered) I suspect it would push Moyes and Klopp into the frame. Though Wenger needs a few more million in the pension fund before he waves goodbye. He loves us afterall! - Post No. 31067


nick  14:40pm 22nd Nov 2012

Spot on article.. Wenger is making to many mistakes and even worse is the way he and the club try and tell us all is well. Its be littles the true fans - Post No. 31087


Aaron  13:02pm 23rd Nov 2012

"Get rid of Chamakh, Fabianski, Squillaci, Djourou, Santos, Gervinho and Diaby (good player but never will be fit for ten games in a row) and how much in wages do we free up? Roughly 300 grand?" Why did you leave out Denilson, Rosicky, Bendtner? No one will take on any their contracts. It's like Winston Bogarde at Chelsea years ago and Wayne Bridge at Man City now. They will all go the way of Almunia, run down their contracts and leave on a free, unless they string together 6 half decent performances and get a new deal - Post No. 31098


George  18:19pm 23rd Nov 2012

That's a nice piece of writing. It is an open fact to all intelligent football fans that Wenger has grown from being the apt manager we used to know to increasingly becoming a liability to the club. His managerial prowess seems to have been carried away by the past football wind which has clouded his managerial abilities. U need not be a rocket scientist or a soothsayer to know all is not well at the club n if drastic measures are not taken the club will fall flat on the ground.Its now time for the AKBs to wise up and stop the idol worship and put the club above any individual. Before Wenger the club was in existence and will always exist after Wenger's exit.Arsenal has turned from the best invincible side to a mockery by opposing fans. God Save arsenal. - Post No. 31100


declan burke  7:25am 24th Nov 2012

Wenger is widely acknowledged as one of the most intelligent people in the game, I am amazed he has let things deteriorate to the level it has over the past few seasons. Watching our C.L. match v Montpellier this week, I can't recall a performance so littered with inaccurate passing, totally against the principles and standars set so high be AW over so many years. This current team is as weak as he has ever assembled. As I see it we have perhaps 3 players I would certify as 'world class' i.e. Wilshere, Cazorla, and Podolski. Think back over the Wenger era and not alone had we world class talent on the pitch, there were times when we had 'world class' individuals on the bench. I agree AW is not fully to blame for the gradual slip in standards, he has been effectively running a public limited company who happen to have a football team in their name. AW is a victim of this but more so a victim of his own stubborness and of course financial profit on his personal front. Unless there is a dramatic change in the clubs policy and ambition Wenger is headed for a sad ending, and it will be the fans and not the board who will relieve him of his position. - Post No. 31102


TFG  0:26am 25th Nov 2012

"The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming." Another Dent proclamation. Sound familiar?? - Post No. 31105


Markymark  13:19pm 25th Nov 2012

what is J Rome on about, regarding finding a manager out there who suits our style of play ? Is this the style we have shown over the past few years, Villa yesterday,. Man Utd a couple of weeks ago ? Norwich the other week,the list is endless, just accept that the players that Wenger has brought in over the past 5 years are not as good as what we had. How many of the players versus Villa would get into lets say the team that beat Man Utd 7 years ago, and that team was on the slide as well . Come on, answer the question please ! Just remember Wenger is on over 7 million a year for failing, there are a few managers out there who could do just the same, i would have a go for 1/2 his wages and leave the trophy cabinet just like Wenger - empty. Winning matters, not trying to get in the top four, we are not gonna challenge for the champs league or our own league, face the truth ! - Post No. 31132


sam  13:15pm 27th Nov 2012

aaron, i imagine those three were left out due to two being on loan where the other clubs are paying thier wages, and the other is a good player - Post No. 31266


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