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Default kappilinho
Apr 26, 2018 04:26 PM
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Ou Revoir Arsene (from a Die-Hard Arsenal fan)

I was 4 years old in 1950 when I was taken to my first football match. It was an Arsenal reserve team which in those days were full of internationals. It was a time when players Arthur Milton and Denis Compton were playing football as well as County cricket.

I was too young to appreciate Arsenal winning the league in 1953. What followed were 17 baron years up until the Fairs Cup win over Anderlecht in 1970.

Arsenal had a history of appointing ex Arsenal players as managers. After the second world war there was Tom Whittaker, Jack Crayston, George Swindon, Bertie Mee (physiotherapist), Terry Neill , Don Howe and George Graham so it would come as no surprise, if Patrick Vieira is appointed although Mikel Arteta has been touted by Ivan Gazidis, however he lacks managerial experience.

In 1996 Arsene Wenger was appointed and everyone asked Arsene who? By the end of the season everyone knew who Arsene Wenger was.

He was appointed by David Dein and their partnership blossomed. Arsenal’s demise came when Peter Hill-Wood sold out to Stan Kroenke an American who knew nothing about English football only that it was lucrative money. David Dein was gone and Wenger was on his own.

For eight years he reigned supreme winning leagues and cups. His strict diet control for players improved their ability and his training methods were different from what the players were used to.

Wenger knew the French market from his time with Monaco. It was an untapped market. He brought in unknowns, Pires, Petit, Vieira and Henry. Arsenal had a side that was the envy of other clubs.

After the invincibles of the 2003 – 2004 season Arsenal began to lose their way. Players were sold, money was tight, a new stadium needed to be built, yet Wenger kept producing teams which made the Champions League.

He was instrumental in the building of the new stadium and the Arsenal board treated him like a God. He had power and full control of Arsenal Football Club. Cups were won, however, only 6 wins were needed to lift the FA Cup. The team were at best mediocre but could on occasions rise to great heights.

The failings of Arsenal were there for all to see. A poor defence, no backbone in midfield and no one to captain the side and bark out instructions. Adams and Vieira being the last two quality captains.

Fans recognised the problems but Wenger didn’t. He had already been surpassed by modern day managers at Chelsea, United, Liverpool and Spurs. These mangers were digital whereas Wenger was still analogue.

I am told that he never focuses on defence during training sessions, yet he has Steve Bould as his assistant, a great defender in his time who sits on the bench with Wenger looking like a muppet. Gone are the days of solidarity at the back started by George Graham, a disciplinarian but an excellent manager. If Arsenal scored the fans would sing out 1-0 to the Arsenal and the chances were that it would be the final result.

Arsenal had a defence of Winterburn, Dixon, Bould, Adams and Keown. Solid as a rock. Compare that to the current defence of Bellerin (never in position), Mustafi (too many mistakes and lacks awareness), Koscielny (who is getting old) and Montreal. It is a weak defence not helped by the lack of grit and ball winners in midfield and there is only one person to blame and that is Arsene Wenger.

There was a lot of sympathy and praise when he announced he was leaving. Unfortunately 10 years too late! Jamie Redknapp was the only one to say he needed to go. Ian Wright hinted that he ought to be on his way when he named 26 Arsenal players that Wenger bought, who were rubbish.

Did he leave by choice? Definitely not and Wenger has been the cause of his own downfall. He has always said that he will honour his contract so why now does he decide to go?

The performances of the team have been poor and the fans have been voting with their feet and staying away. This means loss of revenue. Fan power has got rid of many managers. Back in 1966 only 4 000 fans turned up to watch the final game of the season a home loss to Leeds after which Billy Wright was fired.

Wenger did himself no favours by stalling for months before signing a two year contract, which he ought not to have got. He would have been admired had he quit after the FA Cup win over Chelsea last year.

He is still causing issues within the club by not committing himself one way or the other to Jack Wilshire an Arsenal man through and through. I believe Wilshire will not be at the club next season.

So stubbornness, arrogance, lack of results a poor team has come back to haunt him. When Stan Kroenke sent his son Josh over to see what was going on at the Emirates he had his eyes opened. A weak board admired Wenger for what he had done for the Club and believed in loyalty. Well if you want loyalty get a dog.

Wenger was past his sell by date, the fans and media knew it and so Kroenke finally gave in. There has always been an air of diplomacy at Arsenal so Wenger was allowed to resign rather than being fired.

At least he will leave with his head held high, however, alas the damage has already been done.

He will be leaving knowing that Arsenal have an excellent bunch of youngsters coming through. The youth team have reached the FA Youth cup final where they play Chelsea.

The future looks bright, however, any new manager will need a couple of seasons to repair the damage that has been done and to rebuild the squad.

Peter Leslie
Cape Town, South Africa


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