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.
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.
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.
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?