Thursday, April 14, 2011

Between Arsene Knows and Arsene Goes

This is the middle ground I occupy. Between two militant bands. The one- whose numbers are dwindling- possesses an unshakeable faith in the manager's ability to keep Arsenal at or near the top. The other- becoming louder and louder- screams that his head should roll.

But it ought to be pointed out that Arsenal are 2nd in the league and clubs that sack managers while in such a position invite the term 'basket case'. The worst thing that can be said about Arsenal these days is that they have missed some pretty big opportunities, and I think the manager is at fault for that, but at the same time, you can't really see them hurtling down the table and out of Europe any time soon.

The people who call for his head are being unfair and unrealistic. But their complaints might help, in a perverse way, because for too long there has been a sense that the only real pressure on the manager, the only real expectation, is to finish fourth at least; that winning nothing is acceptable.

Maybe Wenger won't win anything with Arsenal again. I'm certainly not convinced that he will. I think he has lost something in his switch to prioritising the future of the club. He has forgotten some of the fundamental ingredients of success on the pitch. But at the same time, the club has not fallen to pieces, and shows no sign of doing so. They continue to qualify with ease for the Champions League. Even if Wenger does not win another thing, at least he will have left the next manager with a good foundation to build on.

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