Football doesn’t always serve one what they deserve. It will every other time defy logic.
Like most of us must have seen last Saturday, in the Arsenal v Man-Utd game, the better team generally, didn’t win. But that is all history now although some people like Alisher Usmanov, a shareholder at Arsenal, are determined to keep reminding us about how Arsene Wenger, the club’s coach, has lost it, and is the reason the team has failed to prosper.
According to reports, Usmanov believes that Wenger’s principles, which he classified as rigid, aren’t working to improve the team, yet Wenger remains stubborn and adamant. And in the process, Arsenal are getting farther off the pace set by most giant clubs in European football such as Chelsea and Manchester City, Usmanov mentioned.
In turn, Wenger, who was clearly ired by Usmanov, said that this wasn’t a mark of solidarity, which at this point is needed to move Arsenal forward. The contrasting views coming out of Arsenal at this time are an embodiment of the enigmatic relationship Arsene has with Arsenal football club.
First and foremost, the board, on which Usmanov sits, backed Wenger’s low-cost budget approach from 2005 to enable them pay off the debt that built the Emirates stadium at Ashburton Groove. That is why the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie, Mathieu Flamini and Cesc Fabregas were all sold, while replacements were found on the cheap.
The likes of Vassiriki Diaby, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Bacary Sagna and Francois Coqueline were bought while the Arsenal academy also helped produce some good players like Jack Wilshere, to make up for Arsenal’s financial shortcomings. That, in itself, was an admission by Arsenal that their ambitions had lowered and were no longer competing for the title.
Of course that couldn’t have been Wenger’s decision to let go of players because the club couldn’t afford to pay them big salaries like had been the case at top clubs vying for titles. But the fact that Wenger played along and didn’t desert the team, is a mark of loyalty, coupled with the ability to adapt to difficult situations.
All that time, Arsenal finished in the top four, which was regarded as success by the board, even though they never said it. But the fact that every after a season, they talked up a contract extension for Wenger, is proof enough that fourth place was like winning the Premier League title.
Against that, you feel for the fans, who believe that Arsenal should be about trophies. And ten years without a league title is really long. And I guess that is where Wenger’s vibe sees him shoot himself in the foot. He has intermittently told the fans that this team is good enough to win everything.
But after losing 1-2 to Manchester United last weekend, and are now 16 points behind table leaders Chelsea, killing off further hope for the league title this season, is gut-wrenching. And that’s why a number of Arsenal fans are baying for his blood now. Suddenly, Wenger, who for long boasted about the sexy football his team played, something many Arsenal fanws actually bragged about, is cornered.
The reality has finally set in that football is mainly about winning. And not how well you play when you are losing 1-5 to a counter-attacking Liverpool 3-6 to Man-City and 0-6 to Chelsea.
Those staggeringly embarrassing results last season, which was probably Arsenal’s best since 20072008 when they led the table for long have frustrated many Arsenal fans. Besides, where in the world does a coach remain at a giant club (not Roberto Martinez’s Everton) without winning the league title for ten years?
That’s Arsenal alone and it’s because the board allowed it, as they lowered the team’s ambitions. And this has subconsciously affected Wenger into resting on his laurels, and forgotten how to win. So, however disparaging Jose Mourinho’s comments about Wenger that he is an expert at failure were, a number of Arsenal fans are believing them and beginning to refer to Wenger in the same disdainful manner.
However, seeing Wenger being treated with disrespect is bad. This is a man whose witty approach in the transfer market has helped the club make a lot of revenue over the years. But he and the board have failed to be clear to the fans about the club’s direction.
The longer such an enigmatic relationship continues between Wenger and the board, which leaves the fans in a haze, then the wound is about to burst, which may leave a lot of irreparable damage.
Source : The Observer