This seemingly appalling question arises only because of the insurgence of the social media into every nook and cranny of the modern game. After almost 19 years into his job, Arsene has faced a barrage of criticism, vile abuse and anger. In recent years, fans and rivals have called for him to be sacked alleging a lack of success and trophies in the last 9 years and some humiliating results to bitter rivals and lower ranked opposition like the West Broms and the Derby Countys of England. But for a man of his stature and record is this justified? Or is Arsene’s time really up at Arsenal?
Since the FA Cup triumph of 2005, Arsenal have only added one more trophy to their cabinet, i.e., the FA Cup 2014, indicating a lack of ambition and direction. Humiliating drubbings at the hands of the big clubs in the recent past and some lacklustre displays have added to Arsene’s misery. However, former Manchester United captain and currently one of the best pundits in the business, Gary Neville has described Arsene Wenger’s role at Arsenal as ‘one of the most magnificent managerial performances in the history of the game’. His supporters argue that he is the most successful Arsenal manager in their 129-year-old history with 5 League Cups and 3 Premiership titles, the second most successful manager in the history of the Premier League after Sir Alex Ferguson, and the only manager to have gone an entire season of top division football, unbeaten. Under Arsene, some of the game’s greatest players – Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, van Persie, etc have found their own and flourished in arguably the toughest league in the world. Players like Fabregas and Anelka arrived at the Arsenal when they were 16 and 17 respectively, imported from Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain, and were moulded and raised by Wenger. Several other players, like Abou Diaby and Aaron Ramsey, who’ve faced a barrage of injuries and loss of form, have Arsene to thank for, once again, for persisting with them even when their own fans had lost faith.
With Arsenal’s switch to the Emirates stadium in 2006-07 season, its hunt for trophies faced a major setback. To compete at the top level, the club had to either plunge into a mountain of debt to continue with the same quality of players or resort to relying on young talent and cheaper imports. Arsene chose the latter and it was an astute move economically for players like Anelka were signed for £500,000 and sold for £23.5m and van Persie, signed for under £3m and sold for almost £30m. Credit has to be given to Wenger as Arsenal have recently reported profits in the range of £150-200m.
Recent big money transfers of midfield maestro Mesut Ozil in 2013, and Alexis Sanchez in 2014 have shown that Arsene will splash the cash, if the right player is available. On course for retaining their FA Cup and a second placed finish in the league, Arsenal are looking at a period of success, glory and stability and there is only one man to thank for this. In the words of ex-Arsenal chairman, David Dein, “He won’t be a difficult act to follow, in my opinion it will be an impossible act.”