Would you fire the next manager if he won two FA Cups and 4 top four finishes over 4 years?

By Tim Todd Freelance Twitter Correspondent

What is the definition of success for a football club? If Arsenal had appointed Jurgen Klopp in 2013 and he had won 2 FA Cups and finished top four in each of his three seasons, narrowly missing out on the League title last season, would Arsenal supporters be calling for him to be fired today?

My friend Rich in London posted this exact question on Twitter this morning and I thought it was such a great question that it required a longer discussion than can be had on twitter. As usual, we are going to be respectful here and not resort to ad hominem attacks. Instead let’s just talk about this idea from Rich,

What this tweet raises is the question of how we define success and it also points to the sort of bipolar way that Arsenal supporters approach the managerial position. My first reaction to the question is “of course not.” You don’t fire a guy who has not only won trophies, two FA Cups, but who has created a team which has finished better in each of his three seasons.

My second thought though, was what would a club like Bayern do? Or PSG? Or Man City? Or Chelsea? Or Man U? Or Barcelona? Or, is this getting old yet? Or Real Madrid? Or Borussia Dortmund?

The argument for why those clubs are expected to win the league every year is that many of those clubs are in weird leagues. With the club resources they have, if PSG doesn’t win the French league, they will be rightly considered failures. The classic argument is that Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Barcelona, and Real Madrid are effectively in 2-club leagues — though that’s not entirely true anymore now that clubs like Valencia and Atletico have mounted title challenges in Spain and with RB Leipzig adding to the competition in the 18 club Bundesliga.

And when we look at the managers of these clubs, many of them are under fire. Thomas Tuchel is reportedly being pushed out at Borussia Dortmund after just two years! He finished 2nd last season in the Bundesliga and their domestic cup, and this season Dortmund is struggling in 4th place. PSG just replaced their manager, Laurent Blanc, who had won all four domestic titles the season before. Barcelona are getting ready to fire Luis Enrique, who won back to back League titles and the Champions League in 2015. He won the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE! And Barcelona are going to fire him.

And in the Premier League, Chelsea fired the manager who won them the Premier League, half way through the season that they were Premier League champions! And City fired poor Manuel Pellegrini after he won them the Premier League in 2013-14 by announcing that they were going to hire Pep Guardiola half-way through the 2015-16 season. Incredible, really. Manchester United fired legendary coach Luis van Gaal after he won them the FA Cup because he didn’t finish top four.

So, it’s actually very common for top clubs to fire managers. Even smaller clubs fire managers when the club seems stagnant. Liverpool fired Brendan Rodgers after their spectacular title collapse and Tottenham has been through a string of managers before settling on Pochettino. And who knows how long he will last if Spurs stop progressing or drop out of the top four.

This raises the question, one which Wenger would ask rightly, what are the values of OUR club? How do we measure success? How does the club’s management team measure success?

This seems to be the real tension at the Arsenal. There are those who want Arsenal to be at the top of the table, meaning at the level of competing for the Champions League and there are many people who are just as rightly happy with Arsenal in the top four every year.

I remember those times when Arsenal were competitive in the Champions league. When I first saw Arsenal at Highbury in 2006, they went on to the Champions League final that season. That was the last time that Arsenal were really competitive in that competition. Since 2006 Arsenal have been dumped out of the Champions League in the round of 16 eight of the last eleven times – with seven consecutive round of 16 eliminations. Would any other top club put up with that record?

On Friday, Wenger reminded everyone that Arsenal, Bayern, and Real Madrid are the only three teams who have spent 20 years in the Champions League (it’s actually 19 consecutive seasons over 18 years between 1998/99 and 2016/17). This is an achievement of sorts. However, in that same time Real Madrid won 4 Champions League titles and Bayern 2 and Bayern have been runners up an additional 3 times. That means 9/19 Champions League finals have featured those two teams while Arsenal have made it just once. And in that time Bayern Munich have made 10 different managerial changes and Real Madrid, 16.

Those clubs would certainly fire a manager who only won the domestic cups. Other clubs like Liverpool and Tottenham probably would see 4 years in the Champions League and two domestic cups as reason to renew that manager’s contract. The question then is what kind of club is Arsenal?

Qq

89 comments

  1. An ambitious “elite” club should be looking for progress in the “elite” competitions – their domestic league and the Champions League. So no, after the third season, Arsenal shouldn’t necessarily sack the manager as there was clearly progress in the Premier League and the results in the Champions League, although disappointing, were, at least, no worse than previous seasons. But any board of directors worth their fees should be demanding progress this season. And there isn’t any. In fact there’s probably regression. So in the summer of 2017, after being given 4 years, yes, the manager should be sacked.

    1. Same, give the manager three years to win the league or CL and if neither is achieved, move to the next one. Let’s also put the FA Cups in their context – they didn’t come when we were repaying the stadium, when it would have legitimately qualified as a (slight) overachievement, they came after Ozil and Alexis, which were supposed to be European glory signings.

      The question below the question is, does the Board set any trophy targets? Does it look like they ask for anything other than healthy balance sheets? If the lot of them could be fired, I would, but the next best alternative is replacing a complacent manager.

  2. Great Article. You have hit the nail on the head. The question is not “Mr Wenger in or Mr Wenger out”, the question how do you want to finance the club? The only clubs that consistently beat/finish ahead of Arsenal in the league are those with near infinite resources. We can reach that level by the model we have but it necessarily requires a more protracted incremental process.

  3. If that manager did not compete for the PL or CL once in that period, there was no progress being made, his tactics were an abomination, his players frequently looked unmotivated, he was arrogant, delusional and disrespectful to supporters, and the FA Cup wins were due to lucky draws and playing garbage teams in the finals, then yes I would want him gone.

    1. I agree with the first bit, but everything after “he was arrogant…” seems extremely harsh and uncharitable.

  4. It is too simplistic of a question. I think that if the results were the same against the bigger teams, the tactics the same against any team, the lack of in game management, the lack of organization without the ball, playing favourites when they are bang out of form, etc etc. Then yes, I probably would be. That is the issue with the question, too simplistic and ignorant of the manner of how a season played out. If we were getting results and actually competing for big trophies, but we’re unlucky, then it’s no problem. However for many, there is a reason for the reference Groundhog Season Arsenal despite the 2 FA Cups against two relegated sides. (Let’s not forget that. If it was a bigger side, we may be talking about 1 cup or no cups)

    1. You mean the bigger clubs that couldn’t stop relegated sides from getting to the final? Or the ones that we beat to get to those finals?

  5. If you wish to cheer clubs that fire their managers after 1-3 years and winning their leagues, CL titles, and domestic cups, then please find the door. Sheesh, with that kind of mentality those clubs have no long term identity, just a bunch of mercenaries cheered on by fair weather fans. Do not give me any Spanish league BS, as the top two teams were funded with incentives via tv rigths by the Spanish government. The revolving door madness is just that.
    Not saying I do not want to win, or have high expectations with regards to the players or manager, but if anyone really thinks Arsene could not have won the EPL with chavs, $h*tty, Munich or Spanish crazy money than they are not in reality!

  6. It is not too simplistic a question. The question has been purposely stripped of historical context to make a very specific point.

    For those back-in-the-day Seinfeld fans, is Wenger “sponge-worthy” Up, you know, when he was young and virile and stuff.

    For me, the answer is a resounding no. To take it up a level from baser instincts, is Wenger smart? Duh yeah.

    Is he a genius? Maybe. Probably not not. Who knows? But plenty of geniuses wasted their careers chasing something after their initial breakthroughs, jncluding one of my heroes, Albert Einstein.

    He reinvented the universe with the Special and General Theories. We passed from Newtonian physics into a whole new reality. And then he spent the rest of his career chasing the Unified Field Theory. To Explain Everything, Spinoza’s god, the sum total of the universe. And then quantum mechanics came along and Einstein railed that “God does not play dice with the universe”.

    His industry has had passed him by on the shoulders of his work! As maybe it has for a certain beloved Frenchman as well.

    1. Great thought. I read this and thought of nasa technology. State of the art at the time, eventually cheap household items. Time moves us on through the levels. Everything expires.

  7. I think we have to be realistic when comparing Arsenal to Real and Bayern in the champions league. Those 2 teams are able to bring in the best talent from across the world, not just because they can outbid anyone else, but also because of who they are. Arsenal are neither in that financial or ‘ pulling power’ league. In essence what we have been asking Wenger to do for the last 13 years is to overachieve. And he has. Just not to the extent of winning things.

    The question we should be asking is “should we actually have won more than 2 cups in 4 years”. For me the answer is no. We’ve done as well as we could have with the players we have. 2 excellent players and 9 average players will never win anything (please don’t mention Leicester, they fluked last season and this season is proof of that). Sanchez and Ozil were not good enough for Barcelona and Real. Yet they are deemed to be too good for Arsenal. What does that mean? That Arsenal should not even be eating from the same table as the biggest European clubs, and yet we are. We play with (and lose to, admittedly) these teams every season but no one else can say that.

    I hear people say that another manager will win things with this squad. That’s bull. A new manager will have to overhaul this squad and that costs money. Money that we probably don’t have. And if we did, why shouldn’t the man who spends it be Wenger?

    I don’t want to be a supporter of a midtable/Europa league team. Screw that, I want to continue being a supporter of a top 4 team in England and a top 16/champions league club in Europe.

    1. Sorry, but look at some of the teams that have won the CL before – Porto under Mourinho. Atletico Madrid came within a whisker twice. Dortmund as well, and they have won it although that was probably before big money.

      Essentially, teams with history and money will have an admitted advantage, but teams that are set up with a clear plan and a good team can win.

      Let’s not forget that Arsenal are the 7th richest club in the world, but we have gone out in the last 16 of the CL for a long time now. That is underachieving. I think that a new manager can take the same players and do much better than Wenger. It just depends on the managerial appointment.

        1. Yes, every achievement is a double edged sword. Reading some comments, it just seems like Wenger and Arsenal would be better off not qualifying for the CL every season, and not getting out of the group every year. Because achievements are failures.

          1. I don’t view it as an achievement. You state below that he has been a par manager. By hitting par, he qualifies for the CL by virtue of finishing in top 4.

            In the old format (where he conveniently tried misrepresent his European record over in his interview last week), he would only qualify if he won the league. In addition, they also didn’t have the group formats (or second group stage). Wenger would obviously have the most games managed because of this (and incidently – the most losses). If you take in consideration the qualification criteria was laxed during his tenure and not before, it would make him look saintly in comparison.

            But I am still standing by the 20 year record (actually even more with Monaco) where he hasn’t ever won a final (with only 2 appearances over this longer than 20 year spell) is an incredibly poor return.

            No one is saying that he hasn’t done well for the barren years (and that is debatable as well because he was overpaying wages to substandard players rather than buying players like Alonso or Schwartzer when we needed them). However, in my view, he is like the war-time President/Prime Minister who is no longer in war-time. Good during the barren times, not so good in the times of abundance.

          2. Right, it’s now so easy to qualify that every club does it every year. Top 4 such a failure that ManU, Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea all aim for it when they can’t win the title (just like Arsenal). 20 years and only 1 final because Arsenal should be winning it or reaching the final once every 3 years or so like Barcelona and Bayern do. Right, for not doing this, Wenger’s achievements are to be called failures.

            Look, I get you want Wenger gone. I also understand some of the reasoning for it. But there is no need to make light of his achievements or try to find ‘context’ and ‘luck’ only in his successes and not in any failures. We can play that luck game all day long and I bet I come out on top with how much Arsenal have been ‘unlucky’.

          3. Firstly, who said anything about luck? Nowhere in my posts do I use the word. In fact, I praised him during the barren years, despite being complicit with the board for pulling the wool over the punters eyes. It is miraculous that he kept us in the CL Money with the likes of Bendtner, Diaby, Denilson, Eboue, Almunia, etc. There were loads of players who reached the pinnacle of their career at Arsenal that had no business being in the squad which is a testament to Wenger. He improved these sub-standard players into decent players to keep us in the money.

            All the teams you mentioned above (except Spuds) have won the CL during Wengers 20 years of CL qualification. Bad examples. And you use a strawman argument of Bayern and Barcelona. Not I didn’t imply or come close to saying that. But I am saying that we should be doing better than the traditional round of 16 exits. This year will be the 7th year in a row and we have had opportunities where we should have gone through – even against Bayern of Barcelona. No matter how you want to spin it – 20 years with Arsenal and 1 final is an incredibly poor return. If we were to compare it to other peers during his ‘achievements’ you’d see why someone would come to that conclusion. He couldn’t even manage a final with one of the best teams in Europe when Henry, Vieira were at their pomp (the closest being a QF when we got knocked out by Wayne Bridge. The final that year – Porto/Monaco). Have a look – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsenal_F.C._in_European_football

            Wenger was innovative when he first came on the scene. His knowledge of French football was unparalleled and he was able to polish rough around the edge players into gems often by playing them in different positions – Lauren, Petit, Henry to name a few. One of his biggest traits as a human is probably also one of his biggest failings as a club manager – loyalty. He has been loyal to under-deserving/under-performing players and stuck with the coaches for far too long. When you hear the same messages for years from the same coaches, the players likely will hit a glass ceiling.

            He has had his day and will always be respected because of it, but football is about competition and being the best. He has left a solid foundation for someone else to build on as long as the right appointment is made.

    2. initially I was enjoying ur saying until u made mentioned of no other manager could handled the team better Wenger, Dats a lie. look at atletico madrid , on paper or players vs players which team is better? arsenal all d way, but these guys are competitors, fighters only that they need a bit of luck to win UCL. the other point DAT I disagreed with , being OK with top 4 finish. look at d biggest club in London today, they have changed more managers Dan expected yet they are still there( just wish we could just swap d Bayern match with Chelsea fc) Wenger has expired since 2006. manufactured in 1996, expired 2006.

    3. “A new manager will have to overhaul this squad and that costs money. Money that we probably don’t have. And if we did, why shouldn’t the man who spends it be Wenger?” Because he hasn’t made the right signings since the board gave him more money to spend in 2013. The quality is not good enough. If the club can’t sign top players, then they must have a manager who can make the team outperform the sum of its parts like Simeone or Klopp.

  8. I was going to say that I don’t think it’s fair to compare us to Bayern, PSG, Real or Barca. Their leagues are nowhere nearly as competitive as the Prem. Not winning the domestic league puts their coach on the hot seat, failing to win three years in a row would almost certainly spell the demise of the manager. You’d think that would not be the case in the Premier League, but in fact our main rivals, City, United and Chelsea are extremely intolerant not just of failing to win, but also of failing to *continue* to win.

    Putting aside interim managers, since 2000, City has replaced its manager seven times. Keegan is the exception. He was allowed to fail four times. Everyone else got a year to show progress or the boot. Even Mancini and Pellegrini who won titles, got sacked the following year when they regressed.

    United. Fergie was untouchable. Though I wonder if he was under pressure when Chelsea won twice in 05 and 06. But once he was gone the leash grew short. Moyes and Van Gal got 1 and 2 seasons to show progress before the boot. If Mourinho fails to return them to the CL this year and win it next year I bet he gets the boot.

    Since 2000 Chelsea cycled through nine real managers. Ranieri was allowed to fail four times, after that it was win or leave. Even Mourinho, Ancelotti and Di Matteo were sacked when they declined in the season after their triumphs.

    So yes, if we want to be like the elite clubs we should sack Arsene. If the next manager doesn’t deliver in two years he should get the boot as well. We should find someone who will do whatever it takes to win. Whether it’s bribing agents, throwing a second ball on the pitch to stop a break or sending players out to kick the other team, winning is all that matters. Kroenke should go one better and import some American talent to place microphones in the other team’s dressing room and cameras in their practice facilities; hack into their databases and modernize our pharmaceutical enhancements. And once our winner stumbles we should toss him aside like a used tissue because winning is all that matters.

    But to be honest, I don’t want to be like them. To be sure, I want to win, but I want to win our way, with our values intact. I realize that makes me, like Arsene, an idéaliste and a romantique and I’m fine with that. This is, after all, just football. No lives are at stake. The means can be just as important as the ends. Football should be an art.

  9. It’s titles like yours that are so incendiary and designed to clickbait. I thought as a site you were better than that. You cannot take Wenger last 4 years in a bubble and use that as a forum for conversation. You know that you troll. So please f**k off and be a grownup.

    1. he’s asked a hypothetical yet intriguing question with the idea of creating an interesting and refreshing dialogue and you come on this forum with your panties in a bunch. okay, sunshine, what do you want to talk about?

  10. I was going to say that I don’t think it’s fair to compare us to Bayern, PSG, Real or Barca. Their leagues are nowhere nearly as competitive as the Prem. Not winning the domestic league puts their coach on the hot seat, failing to win three years in a row would almost certainly spell the demise of the manager. You’d think that would not be the case in the Premier League, but in fact our main rivals, City, United and Chelsea are extremely intolerant not just of failing to win, but also of failing to *continue* to win.

    Putting aside interim managers, since 2000, City has replaced its manager seven times. Keegan is the exception. He was allowed to fail four times. Everyone else got a year to show progress or the boot. Even Mancini and Pellegrini who won titles, got sacked the following year when they regressed.

    United. Fergie was untouchable. Though I wonder if he was under pressure when Chelsea won twice in 05 and 06. But once he was gone the leash grew short. Moyes and Van Gal got 1 and 2 seasons to show progress before the boot. If Mourinho fails to return them to the CL this year and win it next year I bet he gets the boot.

    Since 2000 Chelsea cycled through nine real managers. Ranieri was allowed to fail four times, after that it was win or leave. Even Mourinho, Ancelotti and Di Matteo were sacked when they declined in the season after their triumphs.

    So yes, if we want to be like the elite clubs we should sack Arsene. If the next manager doesn’t deliver in two years he should get the boot as well. We should find someone who will do whatever it takes to win. Whether it’s bribing agents, throwing a second ball on the pitch to stop a break or sending players out to kick the other team, winning is all that matters. Kroenke should go one better and import some American talent to place microphones in the other team’s dressing room and cameras in their practice facilities; hack into their databases and modernize our pharmaceutical enhancements. And once our winner stumbles we should toss him aside like a used tissue because winning is all that matters.

    But to be honest, I don’t want to be like them. To be sure, I want to win, but I want to win our way, with our values intact. I realize that makes me, like Arsene, an idéaliste and a romantique and I’m fine with that. This is, after all, just football. No lives are at stake. The means can be just as important as the ends. Football should be an art.

  11. As others have pointed out, there needs to be a little more context added to the question. I would say that taken purely at face value, no I wouldn’t be calling for the manager to be let go if he had those results. But first, I must point out that we didn’t “narrowly” lose the league last season. Arsenal were out of the league race by the 35th round of games when we had 64 points to Leicester’s 76. Three games left in the season and we were fourth and definitively out of the title race. Leicester won the league the following week with two rounds left. I would not call that “narrowly missing out.” And in terms of actual points won, our annual points haul has gone down from 79, to 75, to 71 points last season. That’s three consecutive seasons of worsening results, despite considerably improving the players we have at our disposal in the transfer market over the same time period. Given that we play four games against the “Big 6” in the run in to this season and we’re dead last in the mini-league of those teams, I’m not confident that we’ll better our points total from two seasons ago and may even finish with less than last year.

    Our performances in the Champions League have been somewhat lucky. Looking at gross shots, our shot differential has been -5.7, -2.6, -1.8, and -0.4. For a team that is consistently in the top seven in the Deloitte Money League, to have an overall negative shot differential over four years is abysmally under performing. Given those kinds of numbers, it’s somewhat surprising that we’ve managed to advance from the group stage every season. And just looking at our performances against the top team in our group and our last 16 opponent over the last four years, we’ve been outshot 233 to 129 and given up 46 big chances vs creating 26. Granted those teams include the likes of Barca, Bayern, and Dortmund but to me that amount of underperformance is terrible. I’m not expecting us to outshoot those team but I expect better than being outshot almost two to one in overall shots and big chances.

    In summary, we’ve gotten worse in the league three seasons in a row and we’ve grossly underperformed in the Champions League despite being consistently in the top seven teams in revenue in the same time period. That is the context of the question. Two FA Cups mitigates that somewhat but we should be doing better. For me, we’re suffering from Wenger’s summer transfer window of 2015, when he chose not to bolster our midfield. That’s completely on him.

  12. My allegiance is unconditional.No matter how good or or how bad it gets I will support this club with every fiber of my being.Doesn’t mean I won’t find a an online avenue to rant and rave and rail against the gods of football.And Mourniho, always Mourinho.

    There’s a lot of nausea and dissatisfaction out there after what happened in Munich. Exactly the right time for people like me to say, COYG!

  13. I think for me, FA Cups and league position do not tell the whole story.

    A big part for me is whether I enjoy watching the team play. Whilst the league position suggests we may be a more competitive team, I do not see that on a match by match basis. Even when we are collecting points against the lower clubs, we rarely play entertaining football and far to often we have periods of dire football. We also have far to many nervous moments and to often we are celebrating getting the draw at home to a bottom half team.

    Our passing game has deteriorated and there is a real lack of structure and balance to the team. I think these aspects have actually got worse over the last few years.

    Essentially, I think it is a combination of trophy/league improvement alongside an enjoyable match day experience that is my measure of success.

  14. “What is the definition of success for a football club? If Arsenal had appointed Jurgen Klopp in 2013 and he had won 2 FA Cups and finished top four in each of his three seasons, narrowly missing out on the League title last season, would Arsenal supporters be calling for him to be fired today?”

    Let’s keep it simple shall we. If Klopp had been appointed in 2013 and said what he did when Liverpool hired him, which was that he would win the league within the next four years, provided he was given a full control of transfers and ample spending power, then no amount of FA cups and CL qualifications would meet the goal he had set for himself and the club.

    In May we would have been coming up on the fourth year of his managerial reigns at Arsenal and by the look of the table we are not winning the league, are we.

    Everything else is just a distraction.

    That’s one of the problems that’s been ailing Arsenal FC – no clear and definitive goals and subsequently no real accountability.
    Saying Arsenal are trying to win all four trophies, with the priority being the PL , CL, Top four, FA cup and League cup in that order, is not setting a hard target for anyone at the club to reach but rather a wish list.

    If there wasn’t a fan unrest I’m pretty sure Kroenke wouldn’t fire Wenger even if he missed all the wishes on his list. Not right away anyway.
    And as far as the fans go, there are some who believe Wenger should have a job for life regardless of what his team does on the pitch, so there.

  15. There is no other club in the top 4/5 in the PL that has had a history like ours in the regular, season-after-season disastrous meltdown of the odd game and humiliating results.

    Think about it.

    8-2 Manchester.
    6-0 Cheslea. Wenger’s 1000th game. Oh how I cringed and curled up for two whole days after that.
    4-0 Southampton.
    4-0 up at halftime against Newcastle United and then…we set the most unenviable of PL records.
    3-1 Monaco in the Champions League.
    3-2 Birmingham City in the League Cup.
    5-1 Bayern Munich.

    Need I go on?

    I don’t what the answer is except this, the status quo, is not the answer.

    Enough already.

  16. 5-0 Chelsea, League Cup 4th round
    4-0 Milan, CL
    Manchester 6-3
    Bradford 3-2 on penalties
    Manchester United 6-1
    Liverpool 5-1
    3-2 Olympiakis, CL

    NO other team whom we consider our peers sport this kind of record. So maybe they are NOT our peers because of just that.
    Tottenham 5-1 League Cup

    1. Hold on, some of those were ages ago, when Arsenal were actually brilliant, and so I think we have to take them with a grain of salt (at least, the Man United 6-1 was, unless we’re thinking of different games).

      But I’ll add another one: two years ago in the CL group stages, we were up 3-0 at home in the second half against Anderlecht, I think it was, and we ended drawing 3-3.

    2. If we’d changed managers four years ago and he’d won two cups and kept us in the Champions League we’d be saying “good job stabilizing the club after the departure of our greatest ever manager”. People are paralysed with fear that we’ll become an Everton-type club if Wenger goes. But we left Highbury to join the top table of European clubs. We successfully achieved that in financial terms. In sporting terms, we’ve failed.

      This was the pattern during the first few transfer windows after we moved into the Emirates; the club would say “if Arsene wants it, there’s money to spend”. Then deadline day would pass and everyone would groan in disbelief because we hadn’t addressed clear, gaping holes in the squad. Rinse and repeat. Arsene debuted his famous “if I was given 100million to spend on transfers I would give it back” line. Let’s remember that until 2012 clubs like Sunderland and Tottenham had spent more on players in the preceding 5 years than we had (might need to double-check that). And it was around that time that Arsene was finally able to confess and tell us about the budgetary restrictions he’d been working under.

      We can argue about Wenger and the club having valid reasons for being dishonest, yes, dishonest with the fans. But the end result was the same. Broken trust, disillusion, apathy and the birth of the “top-4 club meme”. The club literally had one set of targets while fans and players believed it was another. And today no-one can say for sure what our hard targets are.

      1. If you couldn’t tell that there was a shortage of funds, then that’s on you. If you chose to blame Wenger over not spending money, that’s on you too. Broken trust? Are all fans such delicate flowers that they need constant nurturing and expressions of love. And a man dedicating his life towards getting your club to the top end of the European table doesn’t count as such? (By the way, the club never lied. If Wenger wants it there is money available was the truth. Just not the complete truth)

        Basically, I see what you are saying as an indication that the Arsenal narrative is more important than the Arsenal reality, and for this Wenger should pay the price. Which actually is what I’ve been saying. Without the constant negativity of x years without a trophy, Arsenal are terrible, Wenger is a busted flush with a ‘rictus grin’, there is no way Arsenal fans’ relationship with Wenger gets as strained as it is today, regardless of any of his failings.

        That returning 100 million pounds was a quip, a joke. (Which is the problem with using quotes. Lack of context) Read his interview with Martin Samuel in 2009. He says he would like to spend 100 million on one player (rather than spread it around the squad) On the one player that would make the difference between winning and losing.

    3. And therein lies the problem, or the dilemma for me. You have these list of horrible results. All associated with the manager, (which seems a bit, only a bit, unfair to me as by virtue of his longevity, he’s bound to have a longer list of such results.)

      And yet, at the same time, our win percentages are high, we consistently, in the long run, perform at worst on par, while a lot of the other clubs don’t.

      Usually, I’m the sort of guy that goes more by the larger trend than the outliers, especially when it is something I can’t claim to understand every single detail of. I guess if you believe Wenger doesn’t do tactics (not you you, generally) or isn’t up to modern coaching standards, and you know what you are talking about, you might be right. But I don’t know about that, and in overall terms, Wenger is doing a good job. Maybe not good enough for what we want, and no denying there are some issues. But enough to sack him? I’m not sure. Not without having a better idea of what comes next. How do you go from 4th to 1st? No club has been a consistent force in that regard without massive investment. No club has come close to breaking that elite trio of European clubs without state funding to back them (and even so they aren’t there)

      How does firing Wenger get us there? If I can get a convincing answer to that, I’d be fully on board with Wenger needing to go.

      And if the argument is only related to ‘better organisation etc’, a )like I said I don’t understand tactics, and b) I would rather ‘suffer’ the Wenger method/madness for a couple of years more than get rid of our greatest ever manager over such ‘gains’. But that’s just me.

      1. Wenger has been a par manager – this much has been true. That being said, he has been consistently poor at beating good clubs. Under Wenger, Arsenal are a flat-track bully team and Ozil is the microcosm of that. He is great against the poor teams. When the big teams come calling, we usually lose. Occasionally, we pull off a great result (Utd last year at home and this year, Chelsea at home) where we press and harry which should be used as a blue-print against other sides, but for some unexplained reason – they don’t do.

        The result against Bayern is just the penny dropping for a lot of people. I have wanted him out for about 5 years now as I was sick of seeing the team being unorganised without the ball. Even with the ball, it can become pedestrian. I think that another manager can get more from these group of players with just clear instruction on what to do with the ball and without.

  17. Raw numbers would say: we’ve had the 4th biggest budget in the PL for a long time now. During this time, finishing 4th would be the expectancy. Above = overachieving, below = underachieving. So Wenger has delivered in the Prem every year, no?

    1. By that logic, Arsenal have been in the top eight teams in terms of revenue in Europe and therefore should finish in the quarterfinals of the Champions League every season. So he’s absolutely not delivered in Europe, yes.

      1. T song, I’d say the difficulty of the opposition has to be factored into that. Also there is an element of taking for granted our entry into this competition every season. Because of the seemingly inevitable failure is that result. But I’m sure if you asked fans of clubs who haven’t punched their tickets in a long time, they might bite your arm off for the chance to get blown out five goals to one against Barcelona or Byron Munich. Is he a failure in Europe? Sure, let’s say so. Especially in 2004 when that Arsenal team had every right to win the competition in the year that Monaco and Porto fought for the trophy in The final. But he is not a specialist in failure, he is a specialist in partial success. When you meet only part of your objectives, but not all do you call that a failure in your own life? Or, do you say I’ve accomplished some of what I need to, but here is where I can improve. It’s a mindset. For others they may say I tried and I failed therefore I am not good enough at this. I should just quit.

      2. But teams compete in different domestic leagues, and there’s an argument for English clubs having a tougher time?

      3. I agree we could have a better record in Europe but just saying that we should be getting to the quarter finals of the champions league based on our standing ignores the fact that we often come up against teams we wouldn’t be expected to beat like Bayern or Barcelona. It would make more sense if when we got to the last 16 we were always playing teams similarly ranked or beneath us.

        Sure there’s the odd ‘Monaco’, but mostly we’ve gone out to far better teams ranked above us.

    2. I’ve been saying the same thing for a long time now. People don’t want to hear it. He has held serve every season now. But he has yet to break serve, and what people really want is for us to hire an overachiever, who can break serve. Easier said than done I’ve always said, but that line of thinking has never had much traction. People are very focused on the few clubs or managers who have been over achievers and the taint same time span, forgetting how hard it is to achieve that. So what I’ve been hearing is that people would rather accept higher variance because they assume that that will mean a better chance to win the title. Only once you get into a high variance system it’s impossible to predict when that variance will actually deliver the desired result. But at this point my feeling is that most people with whom I interact with anyways, would rather see some change even if it doesn’t lead to improvement then no change, even if it means saying goodbye to the sort of measured successes that we have had.

      1. i understand your point but the reality is arsenal don’t really pass the eye test. watching them, they don’t seem to have an identity. they merely rely on the brilliance of a few players. you need more than talent to win a championship, you need a team. arsenal don’t look like a team. if you can get a manager who will highlight the strengths of the players on the arsenal roster and have them look like a collective unit, the talent is there for this team to be elite.

        1. The talent is absolutely not there for this to be an elite team, not even close! Come now we can’t with one hand berate him for years of under spending and then with the other hand berate him for not winning the title with those squads as a coach up against silly odds every season. How many world class players do you think it would take for us to even approach the elite trio? Our two best players were cast offs from two of them. It’s debateable if they’d even get into those teams now let alone anyone from the rest of this squad. It may be the best squad we’ve had since 07/08 but I don’t think by much and it certainly has a long way to go to catch up to Chelsea let alone the elite three.

          1. I disagree, Doc. This squad of players is the most complete that he’s had since the invincibles, possibly ever. That is the point I keep circling back to. Previous Wenger teams overachieved, and it was joyful to watch them overachieve. I defended him relentlessly during the lean years and the 4th place finishes because I could see the value he was adding, his imprint was all over those teams. I don’t have that feeling any more, the current team is less than the sum of its parts where the previous teams were greater, even if they achieved less in terms of results.

            Not saying that definitively means he should go, just that we have to acknowledge there are problems.

          2. Greg, huge difference between best squad since invincibles (debatable in itself) and elite. There is a chasm that divides this group from elite, and it’s not Arsene Wenger’s making.

            Yes, I do agree that the squad is currently less than the sum of its parts. I think that’s down to our issues in midfield. Any team would have issues with such little continuity and at times, quality in the heart of the pitch. Some of that is Wenger’s making and some of it is not.

      2. Over the years I’ve heard this complaint that Arsenal should be more like a certain club. Usually this coincides with them having achieved something awesome, and when that fades and the club goes back to being bad/only good, a new club takes its place as the model to follow. Leicester is just the latest in this line, soon to be replaced by the next overachiever.

        Hell, we were apparently worse off than Wigan and Portsmouth because they won the FA Cup when we had no trophies, and ‘only’ top 4.

  18. i don’t really put a lot of stock in cup competitions. a team can have one bad day and that’s the end of their tournament. as someone has already mentioned, arsenal won two fa cups against two teams that were relegated. the league is the real litmus test as you have to be consistent to win a championship.

    you have to ask if the team is moving forward. if the answer is yes, then the manager is getting it done. if the answer is no, then you have to ask how much can he actually do and how much time do you give him. sure, arsenal finished second in the league last year but is it because the team has progressed? the general consensus is that everyone else was worse.

    the fact that there is clear daylight separating the elite teams in europe and arsenal and the fact that this gap has only widened over the past four years suggests that this “new manager” has not proven that he can take this team forward. after all, the reason for the move to ashburton grove was to establish arsenal as an elite team.

    for me, the answer is no. the team doesn’t appear to be progressing or playing good football, not to mention they often struggle and are often lucky to win games they’re expected to win. this all just seemed so easy when david dein was there to serve as a foil to wenger. since his departure, wenger seems to have lost his magic.

  19. my primary gripe with last season is that ranieri proved he’s a better manager than arsene wenger. he utilized the limited resources at his disposal to produce a better, more consistent product than wenger did. that’s why arsenal failed to win the league last year. if you follow that failure up with the way arsenal has struggled against many lower-quality opponents and the growing divide between arsenal and europe’s elite this year, the decision to allow wenger to leave becomes clear.

    wenger’s job is to manage arsenal’s resources efficiently in order to create an elite team. he, clearly, hasn’t done that over the past few years. arsenal just spent £35 million on a central defender that wasn’t even good enough to make it at everton. i don’t mind arsenal getting mustafi but that’s an insane amount of dough for such a limited player (that’s always been my beef with that signing).

    1. Do you really give that much credit to Ranieri? For me that whole season was a freewheeling exercise in beautiful improbability coming to fruition, everything from Jamie Vardy suddenly becoming a lethal striker to unearthing one of the best defensive mods of this generation to having stupid luck first on offense, then on defense and all in a year where none of the moneyed clubs could tie their shoelaces. Ranieri deserves some credit but man that’s a nightly leap to crown him king for that one season. And if anything is proof of what I said, it’s Leicester this season.

    2. Ok I don’t normally rebut this much to one person but you’re on such a tear I can’t stop myself. Mustafi wasn’t good enough to make it at Everton? As if an academy player is supposed to be in the first team at that age? And what does limited mean to you exactly, because to me it means a player with poor technique. If anything he has the best technique of all our center defenders. I’m sorry to get angry at you but after years of hearing people blast Wenger for not spending, it’s difficult to hear him getting blasted FOR spending, on a position of need, and for his signing to be written off after less than one season for no good reason. Imagine if he doesn’t buy Mustafi, the field day people could be having going off against Mertesacker or the rookie Holding, or the actually limited Gabriel. What’s more his partnership with Koscielny has been really good. Oh by the way he is only 24. I’m sorry again, it’s nothing against you but this seems a careless comment and I could not leave this unsaid.

      1. People actually said it was poor squad building having DELAYED Mustafi’s signing, because two CBs got injured in the offseason. One just before the season began. No leeway made for the fact that Arsenal can’t just pay whatever, because they were also trying to sign a striker (for bigger money than they eventually paid for Lucas)

        Imagine if he doesn’t buy Mustafi over ‘only’ a few million pounds!!

        1. Shard and Doc spot on. Mustafi is not perfect but has already shown enough to suggest he can be a top player for us for years to come (still wish we had a bit more height and aerial dominance in that starting defense, mind).

  20. No. We should not “fire” the hypothetical manager, not should we “fire” Wenger.

    The harder question, and Wenger knows this, is whether it is Arsenal’s best interest for him to go, when, and with what preparations.

    Wenger is essentially Manager, CEO and board right now. Normally, not a good thing. However, he’s always put the team first, and he an continue to do so. How it plays out will be very interesting indeed.

  21. The answer might also depend on who “you” refers to. Ultimately, this is a decision for the Board. Putting on that hat, would you, as a director, vote to terminate the contract of Arlene, who is the most successful manager in the club’s history, by all accounts works hard and loves the job, who has delivered you business financial stability and looks likely to deliver that in the remaining few years because of poor customer online reviews (that have not yet affected revenue figures and realistically might not do so in the near future) and some division in sectors of your customer base. The customers who complain are unlikely to ditch the product completely so you could still win them back. Would you still fire him?

    As fans, I think there is no single answer – we want different things for Arsenal – some to win at all costs, some not – some have even said Mourinho would be an option as he wins things – winning trophies is great, but the feeling passes, seasons end and rinse and repeat…I like the Arsenal that Arsene has shaped and would certainly give him another contract for him to bow out gracefully in 2017/18

    1. Yeah, this. If I were in charge of Arsenal, there is no way I could justify pushing Wenger out as an acceptable risk. In fact, I’d be pushing him to stay.

      I get why fans would want something different, but the board doesn’t run through the will of the fans, and that is a good thing.

      Still, Wenger might walk. I think his presence hurts this team now, not necessarily because of him, but because the narrative built around Arsenal and him which exerts greater pressure on the players. At the same time, he was clear that he wants to, and will, keep on managing next season. Arsene Wenger at another club? That’s just not right.

      1. You’re labouring under the misconception that the Arsenal “narrative” and the Arsenal reality are two separate things, the former being a complete fiction made up by media and fans who are “delicate flowers”, and the latter being an assessment only the rational, level-headed few can perceive. And now you’re arguing that if you were in charge you’d encourage him to stay. Which is probably billionaire Stan Kroenke’s position. I’ll leave others to assess the irony there.

        Arsenal isn’t a manager’s fan club for Arsene Wenger afficionados. In the real world, football men at the sharp end of European football have to take responsibility for their words and actions. And a club should be accountable to the fans who pay some of the highest prices in global football for tickets and merchandise. Wenger covered up for the board when he had no real money to spend. In that situation, some managers would have been honest with the fans. Instead he sold us a fiction. That’s not a narrative, those are the facts. If you can’t accept them as such, whatever judgement you make regarding Wenger’s future has little to no credibility.

        Final point – Chelsea’s only Champions League win came about because they fired a manager mid-season. When Eden Hazard announced his destination after leaving Lille he said “I’m going to play for the champions of Europe”. I hate Chelsea more than I hate Tottenham but let’s be honest – this idea that changing managers will automatically bring about disaster is an overly-negative attitude that is holding us back. Our competitors must be loving it.

        1. I never said it’ll bring about disaster. In fact, I’ve always maintained that we’ll handle the transition more smoothly than ManU did. (This presumes Wenger not being shunted out against his will) I just don’t feel that the argument for a new manager taking us to new heights is very convincing in itself, and in such a scenario, if I am to err, I would rather err on the side of Arsene Wenger.

          The narrative of x years without a trophy was applied uniquely to Arsenal and was used to damage Arsenal’s and Wenger’s credibility, despite Arsenal being in a position (reality) where due to the stadium, there was likely to be a lack of trophies. In fact, it was likely to be worse than it was.

          If Wenger deceived us fans, then how come I never felt lied to? That I always knew that ‘there is money’ doesn’t mean ‘we can outspend Chelsea’? And why the presumption that Arsene Wenger talks only to the fans when he speaks, or that he owes his allegiance more to their whims rather than the board’s wishes? Many managers would have told the ‘truth’. None of them would have transformed this club.

          So you think it would be more palatable for Arsenal to say, you know, we aren’t looking to win things these next few years. If you think this would either mollify the crowd for very long, and that this would actually be helpful to Arsenal, or help the narrative, then wow. I can imagine the headlines, Arsenal publicly declare lack of ambition. Wenger complicit in such complacency. etc etc. It isn’t just Wenger who has to take responsibility while the fans get to act like innocent little lambs led astray by a dishonest club and manager. Fans need to think for themselves too.

          The transition itself took place under many changing conditions. We were the second biggest club in England when we started. Then came Chelsea. Then City. Then Liverpool and Spurs got more commercial income, while the financial and housing market crash reduced our income further. It wasn’t a case that the club knew they were going to be the 4th largest club in terms of wage bill and 18th or so in terms of transfer spending. If they did know, they might not even have undertaken that journey, or done some things differently.

          1. You continue to take the manager’s side over everyone else,even the fans,who pay through their noses for his salary and everything else at the club.I find it astonishing,considering Arsenal fans have been far more patient than those at other big clubs,and how little regard Wenger has for fans and their opinions,even his devotees.

          2. prvhc

            I wasn’t aware it was Wenger vs the Arsenal fans. I have seen no indication of it from Wenger. Only from fans who insult Wenger, his work and mock anyone who dares to express support for Arsenal’s greatest ever manager. So yeah, if it’s about picking sides between him and such fans who choose to see Wenger as an enemy, this fan here will side with him every time.

          3. I find it astonishing as well. Gooners are human beings like anyone else. The bond with the club is an emotional one. In weighing the pros and cons of Wenger some speak about the club as if it’s an internet start-up with a lot of disgruntled customers.

            Arsenal fans have legitimate grievances. And by the way; most of the so-called narratives about Arsenal started as observations made by fans who watch every game, listen to every club-related press conference and interview and have remained patient and loyal to the club through some very depressing periods. And our magnificent away fans who are some of the best in England. Those are the fans I’d like to stand up for.

            And Shard, what’s with the using “innocent lambs” and “delicate flowers” stuff? If we’re gonna demand that people respect Wenger can we do the same for fans with differing opinions?

            Trying to evaluate what Wenger should have told fans during the banter years is a tacit admission that he was not entirely truthful. Doesn’t matter what conclusion you come to, or what you think I would have preferred to hear. As I said earlier, the end result is this damaged relationship with a large section of the fanbase with less and less willing to give him the continued benefit of the doubt.

          4. kaius

            Respect for the opinion that Wenger should not be manager of Arsenal FC anymore. Sure. I have no problem with that view. I am not even opposed to it. I just question the value that will bring because I am not sure that’s a solution in itself.

            But respect for the view that Wenger was dishonest,that Wenger brought this abuse on himself because some people can’t figure out the obvious? No. I guess it’s my failing here, but I can’t respect that view. Nor can I respect the idea that his ‘dishonesty’ in that regard is just cause for the toxicity and the constant negativity built around the club for years. Wenger loves the club, and has done so much for it that he doesn’t deserve any of the abuse he gets. Legitimate grievances or not.

          5. Nah you’re not even discussing in good faith at this point. Who’s arguing that he deserves all the toxicity and abuse? You’re talking like this is the comment section on Legrove and everyone here’s slagging him off. It’s okay to support Wenger without referencing the extreme behaviour of the loud minority to justify your viewpoint.

            Differing opinions on Wenger should be evaluated in the context of Wenger’s long-term relationship to the fans, and the combative, working-class nature of British football. He’s one of the highest-paid managers in world football, not head coach of a varsity lacrosse team. If you want to discount every reason given for Wenger’s fractured relationship with the fans, good for you. But remember, there’s no cheerleaders in British football.

          6. Shard
            In 2017 if you still think Arsene Wenger is best for Arsenal, there’s no arguing with you.Your agenda is all too clear.
            I’ll leave you with a question.
            Would you have Thierry Henry playing at Arsenal in 2017 on 300k a week and scoring 10-15 goals every season because he was once great for us?

  22. Agree with one nil.Losing by big margin seems to a regular happening under Wenger. He doesn’t bother about defnce.
    To cut the crap,Arsenal better get someone with proven credentials and not some promising guys.

  23. If I had to second-guess what might be going wrong, I think it might be that Wenger himself no longer has the same level of self-belief and self-confidence of old. I can see 2007-era Wenger pick Holding and Lucas every week, for example. Not saying for a moment that those two would solve everything, but there seems to be a level of doubt, timidity and conservatism that’s crept into his approach.

  24. I would say to all posters whatever way they swing, if you enjoy watching/supporting the Arsenal continue, who ever is the manager or players,if you dont then dont contribute to your angst by posting on an internet blog,Football is an emotional game which encourages people to think emotionally about it but when those emotions cause you to to dislike/resent/complain/and actually campaign for something you have actually no control over then its time to give up,move on and try something that once again gives you pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction, life’s too short to be hung up on whether manager A or player B is good enough for your side as we all will get what we get, if it is too much of a disappointment, then move on!!

  25. It looks like the time is nigh for Wenger to move on and be celebrated for what he is….. an Arsenal hero. Nothing else would be right.

  26. The only thing that most of the fans is to see true capabilities of Arsenal. Is the club overperforming or underperforming? Rest are just noises. Organization Tactics and other hipster things related to football is just fodder for blogs , twitter etc. They have less meaning in real time. At the end of the day it’s real humans playing the game in real time. Not on PlayStation/Xbox.

    For me. I have understood one thing. I only follow Arsenal to see ideas of one person manifest themselves through a medium.

  27. For me, from a fan perspective and not an owner perspective, the question is wrong. The questions I have are, firstly, do Arsenal have the financial resources to compete for the League and Europe? I say yes, with the following assumptions. First, I fully acknowledge that in terms of acquiring talent, the more money the better. The clubs with the most money are always going to pay the most in transfer fees and player salaries and therefore have the most talented squads. But I also believe that teams with lesser talent can win major silverware. Winning trophies requires talent, a sound tactical approach both in theory and execution, and some luck. I operative under the assumption that Arsenal make enough money to have a fighting chance of titles domestically and in Europe. No, we can’t buy the absolute best players but with the revenues we have, we have more than the minimum to successfully compete at the top. If you don’t share these opinions, further debate is unnecessary. Arsenal will never win the league or in Europe.

    If you believe we are in a financial position to truly compete, the second question and the ultimate point of debate is whether Arsene is a manager that’s capable of making a team which is more than the sum of its parts and overcome the relative talent gap? Based on the last almost four full seasons, I say no. We’ve added two of the world’s best attackers in Özil and Sanchez. We upgraded a troublesome position with Cech. Albeit belatedly, we’ve added depth in central defense and central midfield. And yet we’ll finish finish with fewer points than the 79 we had at the beginning of this four year cycle. And of the current top 10 of the Deloitte money league, we join Liverpool as the only club to fail to advance beyond the first knockout round of the Champions League. So in spite of improving the squad, we’ve regressed in the league and stagnated in Europe, underperforming relative to our financial peers.

    1. Comment of the thread.

      The clarity of the argument stands in bold, sharp contrast to the ever moving goalposts, torturous logic and Chemical Ali style determination to try to tell us that grey is pink, of our man in India.

      1. Nice imagery man. If I’m Chemical Ali, does that make you lot Bush and his cronies?

        Fine. Have your way on this comments board. I won’t try to argue my point of view, which is more nuanced than you either choose to understand, or to acknowledge.

    2. Teesong, small gripe but it wasn’t “wrong” for 7am to ask this hypothetical question. It’s premise was for us to question how we evaluate success at Arsenal.

      Apart from that I agree with every point you made. Way too much denial about the facts. And as someone else pointed out earlier, Arsenal simply don’t pass the eye test and haven’t for the last two seasons.

    3. This is a good comment, reasonably argued. I do think there is a tendency to talk up this squad lately which is not entirely justified. I do think it’s a better group than they’ve shown this season, but also the midfield remains a mess and it’s for a lot more reasons than just the identity of the manager. It’s hard to put a consistently high class product on the pitch without continuity and identity in midfield and while Wenger does pick the team and signs the players, he cannot foresee all ends or prevent injuries.

      I also don’t think it’s justified to draw a sharp line between people who think we can/can’t win top honors. There’s a difference between knowing our chances this season are awful (even before a ball is kicked in the case of the CL) and between thinking we’ll never get there. I think almost everyone would say we can get there some day. So as you point out, the debate has been over: how? And how much does getting rid of Wenger move the needle vs. keeping him and continuing to invest in the squad? As Greg said this may be the best squad we’ve had in a long time, and yes, they are under-performing. The challenge is to establish the chief causes of that and whether the proposed intervention addresses those causes. I’m cautioning against the assumption that all the problems you correctly identified are referable to the identity of the manager. It’s not that simple.

      So sure, we can change the manager and see if that helps. But if the squad stays the same, we’ll still have the same snowball’s chance in hell vs. Barcelona next year in the CL round of 16. If the midfield remains an injury riddled revolving door, we’ll still struggle to beat a coherent press and win against top opposition. Francis Coquelin won’t suddenly grow a nuanced understanding of space and Mesut Ozil won’t become a midfield dynamo of energy. I’m sure I don’t need to go on. I’m just pointing out what won’t change even if the manager does.

      1. This is a good squad of players, which is more than good enough to win silverware. In my humble opinion what we lack first and foremost is a solid, well drilled defensive structure. Even against “lesser” teams, we tend to give up good chances because of individual errors or structural issues. We often get away with mistakes simply because of the lack of quality of our opponent but sometimes we get upset because they take the chance. Against better teams we’re often only poor but sometimes embarrassingly bad, like Bayern recently. These are not new issues and so we’re defending the way Wenger wants. So in order to address this issue ask yourself if Wenger will change his spots and adapt or will we need a new coach to address this? I know my conclusion.

        And given his despondent reaction to the Bayern result, I think legitimate questions can be asked over whether he’s lost the squad. He acted like a man who was as perplexed, frustrated, and upset as the fans over the performance. He acted as if he simply didn’t have any answers. Coaches and players lose their trust in each other all the time. People like Mourinho seem to burn that relationship quite quickly. If he’s lost the players, there can be only one choice over his future.

  28. Good question Tim,
    One answer is that Arsenal are a club that are the 4th best in terms of playing squads in the premier league. Chelsea and City especially and United all have greater player resources. Hence a manager finishing 4th, 3rd and 2nd and winning 2 FA Cups can be seen as doing well and would keep their job.
    As far as to whether Wenger should keep his job it all depends on what his plans are for squad development (I don’t think he was quite done building his new squad even though he’s taken too long already) and how he plans to transition the club toward the next manager over the next year or two. Personally I think that is or was the basis of his dwelling on his next contract. Things may have changed with the nature of the teams capitulation which has clearly angered and frustrated him as much as anyone. I would have thought he was the type of man to take that and all the media questioning and mount a response. I also very much doubt that his plan for passing on the management of the team has ever been anything other than a very thorough one that includes restructuring the club for a modern coach type manager to take over. I think he was thinking about how he was going to do that over one or two years of a new contract. But it’s up to him and the club.
    The club are likely looking directly in his direction for direction because without him they are going to need an experienced football director directly.

  29. hi, dr. gooner. i do not believe ranieri’s league win was luck. they won the championship last year because they were the best team in the league. if they had won a cup competition, the luck argument could be legitimized as the best team doesn’t always win those. however, winning a championship that’s formatted like the bpl by 10 clear points is not luck. luck may play a part but the best team always wins the championship.

    as for mustafi, i haven’t written him off or said that arsenal shouldn’t have bought him or much of the stuff you’ve implied. i wrote in plain english that my gripe was with wenger’s lack of efficiency (bad management). mustafi was just an example (maybe you did get too emotional with your reply). regardless of how you feel about shkodran mustafi, there’s no way he was worth £35 million. that’s varane-type money and mustafi is no varane. my point is that wenger failed to respect valencia’s predicament and were forced to grossly overpay for a player.

    for me, a limited player is the same as a limiting reactant in chemistry; a quality that a player has or lacks that significantly minimizes their effectiveness in a game. that’s not always down to technical skill. example, one could easily argue that thomas vermaelen is the most technically gifted central defender arsenal has ever had. for me, vermaelen is limited. mustafi, compared to elite, £35 million central defenders, is limited.

    1. Thanks for clarifying. It was a late night after a long day and I didn’t have my usual restraint about me (believe it or not! the beast must be chained). I still disagree with you but as stated your points are a lot more reasonable.

    2. It’s wrong to evaluate Mustafi on his price tag. A lot of factors went into our eventually paying that. Wenger does too many transfers too late, when you have the least negotiating leverage.

      Mustafi is a good defender, but clearly he’s not in the Sergio Ramos bracket. For a defender in his first season at Arsenal, he’s done very well.

      The problems are in the forward line, and Lucas, understandably, wants to leave. Welbeck, Giroud and Lucas are a surfeit of average. When all are fit, we can’t fit them in, and we end up pleasing no one. I’d trade two of them for one elite forward. Problem mitigated.

    3. I’d just like to say that 35m may buy you elite in Europe, but not in England. There is an inherent English luxury tax (which not just Wenger, but other managers have referred to) and Mustafi fits in with the likes of Mangala, Otamendi, Luiz, Bailly etc

  30. What the heck is Alexis doing on the pitch at Sutton? Shouldn’t he be out of the country resting or something?

  31. It’s genuinely staggering to me (and has been for over 10 years) how little Theo Walcott offers the team apart from goal scoring. Even against non-league opposition.

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