Reading the blogs and news groups today the comments have reached near hysteria. But there are still a couple of points that haven’t been fully explored.
First, there is the rather obvious fact that anything less than fulsome support for the team in forthcoming games will serve no one but the opposition. It’s obvious but worth saying – especially with what happened away to Stoke.
Second, less obviously, the choice is not just Wenger or another manager. It is Wenger or Usmanov.
Wenger has brought a unique approach to football through his job, creating World Wide Scouting. One implication of that is that the young players who are recruited – the likes of Fabregas, Clichy, Eboue, Van Persie, Adebayor, Vela, Denilson, etc, must all believe that they have a chance to play for the team. Those who come along behind them won’t bother to come, and will go to lesser clubs rather than wait, if they see new purchases endlessly taking their place.
If Wenger goes, World Wide Scouting (WWS) goes, because to replace Wenger with another coach who follows the same approach would be pointless. It is, the argument goes, not Wenger that is wrong, it is his stubborn insistence on WWS and the beautiful game.
The Arsenal supporters who want change want a totally different system – one in which we buy three or four ready-made high price players in January – players who will displace people like Denilson, Song, Diaby etc.
(Just to side track for one moment, it may be argued that the big problem is the issue of centre halves. Wenger argued there that every club under the sun was looking for centre halves last summer – and there were not any available who were better than what we had – until Silvestre came along. Some may think that is just an excuse, but Wenger’s position is supported by the fact that even AC Milan, who are capable of spending money when they think it is needed, ended up taking Senderos on loan. Now why would they take a player many Arsenal supporters think himself was a weak link, if there were top centre halves on the market?)
So, back to my point. Wenger is probably the only manager around who runs World Wide Scouting as a method of developing a new team. He tops up occasionally with purchases, but only occasionally.
But the great teams of the Wenger period, that we look back to, were made up of World Wide Scouting buys plus top ups of unknowns – think of Anelka and Vieira at the start of Wenger’s reign, topped up by Henry – £11m or so I think, but still unknown in the UK.
So there’s no point in getting rid of Wenger to replace with a WWS coach. You get rid of Wenger to bring in a Buy Big Buy Now (BBBN) coach.
Which is fine, except you need money – money not just for the big transfer spree in January and next summer, but for every transfer window to come. More than you might think, because the up and coming players who would have got a chance under Wenger (Bischoff, Ramsey, Nordtveit etc) will leave and will need to be replaced.
So we will need money. Lots of money. The club has some of course – but not enough to replace half the squad – those that the people who want Wenger out deem needing replacement (defensive midfield, goalkeeper, fullback, wide midfield, centre half), plus all the back ups for them as the kids start to do a Bentley.
The banks will lend some more, but not that much (this is the credit crunch remember – the time when Liverpool I and Everton-Bolton can’t raise enough to build new grounds – which is why all sorts of special deals are needed. That is why Manchester Bankrupt and Liverpool Insolvency are bankrupt and insolvent, and that is what CSKA Fulham is CSKA Fulham and not Chelsea. There isn’t any more money around.
We have one such saviour on the horizon – Mr Usmanov.
So there you have it. We could get rid of Wenger, bring in a new manager (who might or might not be any good) and finance his spending spree by selling the club to Mr Usmanov.
Personally – and of course this is just me speaking – just one regular guy who goes to a lot of games, and has been there since 1957 – I would regret that. I would regret the move away from the Arsenal/Wenger style to the Chelsea/Liverpool style. I make no allegation against Mr Usmanov and have no evidence beyond what I have read on web sites, that he is not a fine upstanding man. But somehow I find I warm more to Mr Wenger than to Mr Usmanov. Nothing personal, just me.
It’s funny because I happen to know (don’t know why, I just do) that not long after I started watching Arsenal we had 3 successive home defeats. That in 1992 we had 4 successive premier games without scoring a single goal. That in 1995 we had four consecutive premier league defeats.
And I think that by and large I don’t want to go back to that. I don’t want to watch play like CSKA Fulham. I don’t want my club to be owned by a man who made billions out of selling metals in eastern Europe. And no, I don’t want our club to be known as the club that threw out the most successful manager it ever had.
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