'In Arsene we trust'....a phrase every Arsenal football club fan knows by heart . Ever since Arsene Wenger took over in 1996, he's won 3 premier league titles, 4 FA Cups, 4 Community Shields and also made a final appearance in the Champions League. However the last 5 years has seen that phrase lose much of its sheen as Arsenal head into their 8th trophy less season. Their latest failure coming at the hands of a side (Bradford) 64 places below them in English football as a full strength Arsenal were dumped out of the English League Cup.
Needless to say the calls for Wenger's head have grown, some saying he has completely lost the plot, some calling him an egoistic dictator while some are calling Arsenal a mid-table club thanks to their French coach's complete lack of ambition. While the first two assessments seem a little harsh, the 3rd criticism is something which does have some merit. The North London club clearly need a top level striker to partner Olivier Giroud and what's the name that's being linked to the club in the January window - Demba Ba! From which angle does Wenger think that the Newcastle striker will solve his clubs problems? If he signs him, Ba will join a growing list of players at the Emirates who are at best - mid level club players. Gervino, Chamakh, Djorou, Mertesacker, Arteta, Arshavin (A top player when he joined), Ramsey and let's not forget the high and mighty Lord Nicklas Bentner (Still on Arsenal's payroll as he tries to destroy Juventus' fortunes on loan)
A total of 27 points from 51 this season shows how the club is going backwards, in 16 years Arsenal have never had a worse win ratio. A 44 per cent victory rate, as this season's figure currently stands, is lower than the 44.4 per cent equivalent in his first year at the club, and down from the high mark of 65 per cent in 2002. Arsenal are currently 15 points behind leaders Manchester United yet Wenger boasts about how the club has secured a 13th successive year of knockout stage football in the Champions League! Arsene Wenger continues to say that he's the right man for the club but even for a diehard fan, that explanation seems rather weak.
There's no doubting Wenger's footballing brain, few would argue about the attractive style that Arsenal plays when in full flow. He's also shown that as a top level manager, he does think from the heart on many occasions. Prime example of that: Selling Van Persie to Manchester United when the Dutchman had a host of suitors, despite that Wenger sold him to his arch rivals as RVP clearly wanted to head to Old Trafford. Would Alex Ferguson ever sell Wayne Rooney to Arsenal? I highly doubt that, remember the fit the Scotsman threw when Gabriel Heinze wanted to join Liverpool. It's these qualities that endear most Arsenal fans to the man who transformed the Gunners ever since arriving 16 years back, but for how long? Nowadays our primary target is to secure Champions League football, add to that defeats to teams like Swansea, Bradford, Olympiakos and gone are the days when an Arsenal fan could actually hold his head high in a room full of football lovers.
Despite the dissapointment an army of diehard fans still believe in the club and the man who is leading them. Pep Guardiola has expressed his desire to coach the club, which could be a masterstroke since Wenger could then be made technical director. Arsenal is a club that deserves to be challenging for titles day in and day out but at the moment they seem to headed the Liverpool way...Let's hope things do take a turn for the better....after all 'In Arsene we trust'.
Story first published on: Friday, 21 December 2012 12:22 IST