But for Arsene Wenger and his sacrifices, it’s hard to imagine where Arsenal would have been today.
The stature, the reputation or even the identity Arsenal have as a club today among all other European giants, it’s all down to the Frenchman’s contributions – compare the club’s state prior to Wenger’s appointment and the state thereafter and you’ll get an idea.
The most one can say of what Wenger has done to Arsenal is that he has transformed a relative unknown commodity into one of the Football world’s biggest, most richest brands which has an identity not powered merely by the trophies they’ve won but the kind of Football they play. It’s been quite a journey from a compact, a rather tiny Highbury to The brobdingnagian Emirates Stadium that speaks a lot of what the club is at present – powerful, rich, and big. It is “The Arsenal”.
But there’s more that The Emirates speaks of. For anyone who has ever been privileged enough to pay a visit to the home of the Arsenal, the deafening silence there tells the truth about a club that has constantly underachieved for more than a decade, partly because of their impecuniousness and partly because of their own shortcomings. And among that silence, particularly over the past two-three years, are the shrill voices pleading for Arsene Wenger to be kicked out of the club. “Arsene, thanks for the memories, but it’s time to say goodbye” is a famous line in North London these days among the Arsenal faithful, and rightly so to some extent because of the repetitive character of Wenger’s failures at the club.
To some extent, the fans are right in demanding for Arsene Wenger to be sacked. They have every right to raise their voices regardless of whom are they being raised against, but, it may well be that the fairyland they keep dreaming of post Wenger’s departure could be hell in disguise. Just take a look at what has happened at Manchester United with a change of manager. When Alex Ferguson left, there wasn’t one person who could see the Reds finishing at seventh position the next season. David Moyes didn’t do much wrong, it was just that the pressure of the expectations of the world’s biggest club back then got to him and he simply crumbled under that pressure. He never got to terms with what Manchester United as a club was all about and miserably failed. Louis Van Gaal’s case is no different.
Any person aware enough of the roots of the modern Arsenal knows the consequences that could follow if Arsene Wenger’s philosophies and ideals – the foundation stones of Arsenal as it is today – are tampered with. Mind, not anyone and everyone can realise what Arsenal Football Club is about. Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola were both of the Wenger league, but them being appointed somewhere else means not one candidate is suitable enough for Wenger to be replaced with. Truth be told, any manager in the world is an apparent ersatz when tried to replace the Frenchman with because of the promise of sustenance, long-term planning, and growth that Wenger has shown and kept. Also, the fact that Arsenal have never finished below the top four regardless of how poor a side they’ve played goes on to apprise us a lot about how tough it is to replace Wenger.
Just imagine what if Diego Simeone’s defensive tactics render Arsenal ineffective resulting in an 8th position finish? Not only will that harm the club on the financial front but it could also mean that the identity of the club is lost. It’s this identity that makes Arsenal one of Europe’s top guns, how else do you think does a club without a league title in more than ten years become a gargantuan name across Europe?
The bottom line here is that Arsenal need to stick with Wenger for the time being, not until they find someone exactly of his ilk (maybe Joachim Low). Yes, the Arsenal manager is past his best, but even an Arsene Wenger past that competitive edge is better than most of his friends across Europe – that’s how good he is.
The choice is Arsenal’s.