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Is Wenger Destroying His Own Empire?

In 1996 a Frenchman going by the name of Arsene Wenger took over Arsenal football club. Little known to many then Wenger transformed football at the club, introducing new interesting ideas, getting the players on strict diets and fitness regimes.  He trained his players by him self and has continued to do so helping them learn the fluid attacking football he wanted them to play.

Fast forward to the year of 2006, Wenger was being applauded for his shrewdness in the transfer market over his 10 years, buying brilliant players for bargain prices and Arsenal football club was in a happy place as it moved to it’s brand new stadium. In those 10 years Wenger transformed Arsenal, lifting the Premier League on 3 occasions and coming runners up on 6 occasions winning domestic cups along the way with their most recent trophy being the 2005 FA Cup 8 years ago.

In 2006 just as the season was coming to a close Arsenal fans reached the ultimate goal: a place in the Champions League final. As we all know they lost in Paris against Barcelona and Arsenal was never the same again.

It was the previous summer where things started shaking with the sale of captain Patrick Viera which fustrated some fans yet Wenger wasn’t worried and masterminded Arsenal’s fantastic European run. However the summer after that Wenger yet again offloaded the current captain in Thierry Henry to Barcelona and his supposed replacement was Eduardo Da Silva, bought for £8 million.

veirra and henry

Since then Arsenal have never finished in the top 2 and Wenger has continued to anger the fans. No trophies in the last 8 years despite two League Cup finals ending in defeats to Chelsea and most recently Birmingham. In the last 8 years Wenger has continued to sell big name players and not replace them.

It started about 6 years ago when Wenger decided to sell players like Alexander Helb, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure. The brand then continued with Sami Nasri and Cesc Fabregas departing the Emirates. The frustrating thing for the Arsennal fans was Wenger’s failure to replace these players.

In the summer of 2011 Wenger sold Fabregas, Nasri and Gael Clichy. He replaced them with Mikel Arteta, Gervinho and Andre Santos. Things however got worse last summer another captain in Robin Van Persie was sold to Manchester United and Wenger didn’t succeed in the replacing him or hard tackling midfielder Alex Song and was left with a big hole in the squad. However, yet again he managed to clinch a very scrappy 4th place.

RVP_Song

Some will argue in the last 2 years Wenger has spent money, in fact he’s spent over £100 million in the last 2 seasons prior to the current one.  However it’s been the lack of quality added to the squad which has frustrated the season ticket holders at the Emirates who pay the most money in the League to see their club.

Wenger bought and spent but the lack of quality was a concern, he dished out £11 m for Gervinho who never really made a mark and was sold this summer. He spent £7 million on Brazilian left back Andre Santos on deadline day in 2011 where he also spent a combined £20 million for Per Mertasacker and Mikel Arteta. Last season Wenger spent some cash again, bringing in Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Naxo Monreal.

This summer was in my view where Arsenal could and should have left their mark, a change in personnel in terms of managers in the top 3 sides meant Arsenal could really go for it. In July that’s how it seemed, Arsenal were reportedly very close to the signings of Gonzolo Higuian and Julio Cesar.

But Higuain went to Napoli whilst Cesar remains at QPR. Arsenal also bid £40 million plus £1 for Luis Suarez which was laughed out from Liverpool and it seems the striker stays. Wenger also tried to bid for Wayne Rooney, it seems for the time being Rooney will stay at Manchester United or join Chelsea. Wenger also this summer tried to finally replace Alex Song with Luiz Gustavo, the midfielder then joined Wolfsburg.

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So what now for Arsenal? With just over a week left in the window Wenger needs to act. It’s reported Arsenal have bid for Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye but do they really need him? Don’t they need a hard ball winning midfielder such as Fellani?

Or maybe a striker who can put the ball in the net on a consistent basis, Michu? A solid centre half, maybes someone like PSG defender Sakho who’s been linked with Arsenal, what do you guys think? Has Wenger destroyed his own Empire? Is it time for the professor to hand up his coat?

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pedro roriz
pedro roriz
7 years ago

i think that what he has acchieved speaks volumes for his behalf. so, he should not be discarted just because he isn’t winning trophies anymore. i guess england could learn with other countries that the institution of the “manager” may be dying. with football becoming increasingly complex, the coach just can’t attend to all of his duties with his full attention. so, dealing with transfers, managing sponsors, recruiting staff, studying opponents, etc, it is all too much.
in my opinion, the gunners should hire an experienced football director that should be in charge (along with the coach’s imputs) of buying, selling, recruiting players. if he focus on that and the coach focus on the ‘rosa’ as the italians say things might improve.

Darren Smith
Admin
7 years ago

I personally think Wenger is arrogant and far too proud to admit he needs to invest big sums in singular stars to succeed, I know there were ‘bids’ for Saurez and Higuain, but if he really wanted to get them, he’d have made it happen, neither player even came close to discussing terms, so he just wasn’t prepared to spend the money which you have to in our days. Back in the glory days a club could work off a budget and bargain hunting. Wenger made his name around that and that alone has kept him in the job over the last three years IMO, but the EPL isn’t the same, its evolved and Wenger hasn’t, he needs to adjust his thinking if Arsenal are ever to challenge.

You can’t sell your best players and replace them with lesser quality, thats what has happened in the last 3-4 years and slowly it has shown until Arsenal are now a doubt for even the top four.

Last but not least I think its disgusting for Wenger to bid £10 million for a player thats worth at least 50% more if not double, very naughty tactics and just hours before the player is meant to feature in a match, naughty, naughty, he’d be the first to moan if the shoe were on the other foot like it was with Fabregas when Barcelona were looking for a cut price. I am of course referring to the Cabaye bid.

Johnny Karp
7 years ago

I admire Wenger, what he did at Arsenal is outstanding by any standards. But I partially agree with Darren, after criticizing the likes of Man City for splashing huge sums of money on single players Wenger is too proud to admit that he needs to do that himself now. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the club has the money and doesn’t borrow it from a sheikh like Man City does. I hope Wenger will realize that as soon as possible, hopefully this week! :)

Darren Smith
Admin
7 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Karp

My comment was very one dimensional, I should add that I do admire the Arsenal way its the right model to maintain a club and do things right, its the sort of model I use in FM :) But I think as Johnny said Wenger is too set in his ways and after so many years of stability Arsenal have admitted they can afford a war chest, yet they still aren’t using it when the need is desperate, its not too late to turn things around and use the cash they have smartly made over the years, but Wenger desperately needs to admit he needs to spend, still seems too proud to do so though.

Johnny Karp
7 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

We understand, you were upset about the Cabaye thing :) And you are right to be so, the bid should have been made after the match, that’s how a gentleman should have done it.

Darren Smith
Admin
7 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Karp

I think I’m more annoyed that Cabaye has given Newcastle such a backhander going on strike immediately to push something through. No player is worth keeping with that attitude, he’s made it very hard for us to negotiate a fair fee now, just a shame he’s our creative force, going to be a long season for me mate!

Darren Smith
Admin
7 years ago
Reply to  Gaurav Chaddah

@ Gaurav, It winds me up because if Newcastle went on strike against paying his wages due to misconduct it would go to court…surely he’s in violation of what he’s paid to do, I guess the Toon are just playing the waiting game incase there’s a chance of keeping him and resolving the tiff. If it were me I’d threaten him with a fine for been absent and let him rot in the reserves if no one is prepared to meet the demands just to make a stand, players walk all over their clubs now, its a disgrace. If you have signed a contract, you should honour it, you belong to the club that pays you and they can sell you for whatever fee they see fit!

Johnny Karp
7 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

Yeah, I totally agree. They will have to sell him for less than he’s worth now.

Johnny Karp
7 years ago
Reply to  Gaurav Chaddah

He was absolutely right about Man City in my view, that kind of spending is extremely dangerous and can lead to clubs going bust once the “Sugar Daddy” decides to collect what’s rightfully his. Arsenal is so strong financially now thanks to Wenger, all he has to do is spend some of the profits on taking the club further on the pitch.

Ryan Daly
Ryan Daly
7 years ago

I think Wenger is passed it. He was a great coach, I think he has lost his touch recently and it seems that it’s mostly down to the fact that he refuses to change as the modern game evolves. He refuses to acknowledge that finding great cheap players is almost impossible and that player values have gone up immensely recently. I think he deserves credit for constantly getting the best out of his squad but he really needs to change his transfer philosophy in order to bring Arsenal to the next level. Signing young/unknown talents is all well and good but when those players improve into quality players he does nothing to convince them to stay, so effectively Arsenal has become a development team where players get good and then move to a world class team. I would also love to know whether it is Wenger’s decision or the Arsenal board’s decision to set a limit on their wage bill.

As far as I am concerned, if Arsenal fail to significantly strengthen in the next 7 days, this season will mark the start of the end for Arsenal and Wenger. Spurs and Liverpool look far stronger even at this early stage and Arsenal’s only saving grace recently has been CL football, given that I think they will miss out this season, I see Wenger and a lot of players leaving next summer

Bmwdestroyer
Bmwdestroyer
7 years ago
Reply to  Ryan Daly

“down to the fact that he refuses to change as the modern game evolves” This, back when he stated at Arsenal he was one of the most innovative managers out there, his tactical ability and his ability to spot a bargain and spend money when he needed to was what made him an incredible manager. Recently though he seems to have run out of ideas for tactics and his transfer policy recently has been awfull. I dont see him changing his ways so unfortunately I think it is time for him to go IMO.

Ben
Ben
7 years ago

He should have gone 5 years ago! He has no clue what he is doing in the transfer market, lets our best players leave and then replaces them with rubbish. The thing is that he has spent money, just on some absolute rubbish. I will always be grateful for what he has done but it’s time for him to go. But with no time left in the transfer market what manager is going to come in and do any better now? I think the board must take some blame in this too, letting him get away with what he is doing, the whole club is a bit of a mess if I’m honest. As an Arsenal fan, I think this is the season we realize we aren’t the best team in North London :(

Ben
Ben
7 years ago
Reply to  Gaurav Chaddah

I honestly don’t think 5 is, if any manager at a big club went 4 to 5 years without a trophy questions would be asked, especially if they don’t challenge for anything which we didn’t. The warning signs were there and the board didn’t act and just let him ruin the club.

Ben
Ben
7 years ago
Reply to  Gaurav Chaddah

Fair enough, I am very anti-Wenger being in charge so am a bit biased in wanting him to go! It’s just that every year we get worse and worse and it’s so frustrating! The other question is, if Wenger did go, who would replace him? Not a lot of managers available of that calibre and c.v

meric
meric
7 years ago

no money no honey :)

Archie
Archie
7 years ago

Sorry everyone but I disagree. As usual, everyone thinks Arsenal are a club in crisis after losing one game. Yeah right, how about we wait to the end of the season before we jump to the conclusion that Wenger is past it? I’m sure we’ll be signing players before the window closes, we always do and they usually end up one of our top performers. We’ve got the same team as last year minus Gervinho, Wilshere is fit, Ramsey looks likes hes matured at last, Giroud has started scoring regularly. If Bale goes to Madrid, I really cant see them doing better than us. Even if he stays I think we’ll finish above them.

We finished 4th last season despite losing our best player and Tottenham having their best year ever in the prem. How is that bad? You might say that there’s no trophy for finishing 4th, and fair enough, I want us to challenge for the title, but I would hardly say that getting into the CL with such ‘average’ players is proof that Wenger has destroyed his empire. Look at teams who have spent over the odds and collapsed in recent years; you have to credit the stability Wenger has given Arsenal. We are still in touch with the top teams and we’re always going to be one the favorites to win trophies.

Also, all the Arsenal ‘fans’ booing the team, that makes me feel sick.

Anyway rant over, dont call me deluded, but people dont realise how lucky Arsenal are to have Wenger. He trusts the squad, and so do I.

Johnny Karp
7 years ago
Reply to  Archie

Just one quick remark: the post doesn’t say anything about the current season results, it’s surely too early to say what’s going to happen after two matches. The post does talk about the past few years though, and those haven’t been exactly brilliant, right? The club’s aim shouldn’t be finishing above Spurs but winning the title, that’s what Arsenal was doing in the good old Wenger days.

Darren Smith
Admin
7 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Karp

I think Johnny has touched on the key point here, right at the end of his comment. Its all about expectations, if you’re happy with falling backwards and now barely scraping 4th position then Wengers done a great job because the club is stable, but if you expect Arsenal to win trophies or at least challenge (which I disagree with your point on this Archie, they aren’t one of the favorites to win trophies anymore) then he’s not doing a good job.

Erbsademon
Erbsademon
7 years ago

I think Wenger has done a fantastic job despite his lack of trophies over the past couple of years. While I can completely understand why Arsenal fans are upset over Wenger’s lack of transfers during this transfer window there may be a ton of behind the scenes issues which may be contributing to the lack of purchases. Not a single fan can honestly say they know how the transfer negotiations and/or contract negotiations have gone. Maybe he just having some bad luck at the moment. I would remain patient because let’s be honest, Arsenal is annual Champions League team and consistently finish in the top4 in the Prem and maybe in the next year or two they will put together the missing pieces and win a trophy.

saltwater
saltwater
7 years ago

Let’s forget the whole “haven’t won a trophy in 8 years” thing. Let’s forget the “sells his best players and brings in replacements that aren’t as good as their predecessors”. When you look at what he’s doing right now, putting in cheeky bids for World Class talents and attempting to buy players who quite obviously he doesn’t need, there’s something wrong there. The fact that your run-of-the-mill football fans can see areas where he needs to strengthen but yet he refuses to spend money on a striker, or a DMC or a CB for instance, that’s worrying. I worry that his arrogance might be clouding his judgement. I look at some of the players that played against Fulham: Giroud, Podolski, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Sanogo. Can anybody really say that any of these players would get in, for instance, Tottenham’s first 11.

This is a manager who has completely lost his way in the transfer market and lacks the conviction and the ability to attract big name players. If he really wanted Suarez or Higuine, he would have got them and shown his hand, instead of trying to activate clauses with a £1 coin. I completely agree with those above who say he has not evolved with modern day football, the time on spending peanuts on a player that will come good in 6 years has gone. Daniel Levy has realised that and put his money where his mouth is.

His transfer policy, though admirable, is not realistic for today’s football, and as a result he has been left with a paper-thin squad that lacks quality. The Fulham win was paper over the cracks, and I am convinced that come May Arsenal fans will start to realise how big this crack is.
Great article by the way Guarav, for a second I thought I was reading the Guardian!

Johnny Karp
7 years ago
Reply to  saltwater

Good point there, I am surprised to say the least that he isn’t looking for a centre back, at least I haven’t read about any bids for a CB. The only top class CB we have is Vermaelen…

Jack
Jack
7 years ago

I agree with this article but at the same time Wenger deserves a break form all this criticism. Everyone has forgotten how he rejected the Brazil job to stay with Arsenal when he could have easily left. I’m a Spurs fan but I reallyrespect Arsene Wenger. However, I think what has let Wenger down is what he has done in the transfer market. I think that they can be linked to all these fancy players but at the end of the day your not going to win the league if you hardly ever make a marquee signing. But the thing with Wenger is that he always comes good in the end; It looked like they wouldn’t make top 4 last season and they did.

Soovey
Soovey
7 years ago

GAURAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAV

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