It seems more and more people are believing that Arsene Wenger's time has run out. And I agree. He's run his course, he has been taking the club backwards now for a few years and the club has the same problems as well as other problems that are multiplying fast. The players may change but it's still the same problems and faults and I put that down to bad management.
The man has taken the decisions to constantly sell our best players every season now for a few years. If you list the players that have gone compared to the ones that have come in, it's no wonder we're declining. Fabregas, Flamini, Song, Cole, Nasri, Hleb, Van Persie, Gallas and Clichy out. Arteta, Gervinho, Chamakh, Santos, Ramsey, Squillaci, Silvestre and Park in. OK, we've made some good signings as well: Cazorla, Koscileny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Chamberlain being most of them but it's not enough. You can't sell your best players and expect to move forward. Plus, we're often selling them to divisional rivals like Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea, thus improving our rivals while depleting ourselves.
It's bad management. I understand how big and influential player power is nowadays but why are those players wanting to leave in the first place? Lack of ambition, lack of proper, established quality signings and proper drive for trophies and success. Van Persie left because of lack of ambition from the club, Nasri left because he felt he was more likely to win trophies elsewhere, Gallas left for money, Hleb left for trophies, Flamini did.
It just shows that we have spent our money poorly. The club may bang on about limited resources and not having as much money as Chelsea and Man City etc, but if that's the case, why are we wasting a big slice of our money paying big wages to the likes of Diaby, Chamakh, Bendtner, Djourou and co.? Instead of paying poor players like that 60k a week, we should have been prioritising spending that money on our best players' wages and on new signings that are seriously going to help our trophy push.
For years we were two signings away from being genuine title contenders and we always refused to go that extra yard and sign proper, established players for the present but instead we spent the whole summer persuading the likes of Ramsey and Chamakh to come to us and buying for the future- youngsters that we could develop so that they can go on to sign for clubs with genuine trophy winning aspirations. The club have always said we've had money to spend and they pay ridiculous wages to squad players (who have clearly not been good enough for some time) so we have had the money.
In the summer of 2009, we sold Kolo Toure and Emmannuel Adebayor for £40 million. Where did that money go? Did it go towards signing top quality players and showing the kind of ambition we should and need to be doing to challenge for trophies? We spent £10 million on Thomas Vermaelen, which was a great signing, but we didn't sign anybody else, we still stayed in the same position of being 2 or 3 players away from being able to win the league. We didn't replace Adebayor and lacked fire power the following season. When Van Persie got injured, we were stuffed. We had to play Arshavin or Bendtner up front. I still believe that if Van Persie had stayed fit or if Adebayor had been properly replaced and we'd signed a centre half, we'd have won the league in the 09/10 season. But no, we stayed being 2 players away.
Also, one of Wenger's strengths was always his judgement of player quality, I used to trust his signings even when I'd never heard of them. But now we can see that he's lost that to a large extent. He's persisted in the likes of Djourou, an injury- prone Diaby, Chamakh, Squillaci, Chamakh and Almunia and rewarded them for their mid- table level ability with bumper contracts worth 50, 60, 70k a week. It's laughable. Why wasn't that money spent on making sure our better players stayed and on buying new players that had quality and showed our ambition for titles? There have been tonnes of players that we could have got (or at least gone for) over the last few years that we haven't- Mata, Parker, Huntelaar, David Villa possibly even (when he was at Valencia), Gary Cahill, Llorente, Jose Enrique, Berbatov, Van Der Vaart, Schwarzer, the list goes on and on.
But no, we've gone for poor players like Ramsey, Gervinho and even players that are decent but not really good enough, like Arteta. Arteta's been decent for us but is that enough? We shouldn't have been buying him on deadline day in a panic after an 8-2 embarassment at Man Utd, we should have been getting a better quality player earlier in the summer, or better yet, replacing Patrick Vieira properly with a strong, defensive midfielder years ago. We still lack that. We briefly had it in Flamini in my opinion, but let him slip through our fingers when he was looking top class.
I like Olivier Giroud as a player, he's quite good, but he's not good enough to replace Van Persie and fill the centre forward void all on his own. We need a quality striker like Llorente or Huntelaar to replace him and I believe we've had opportunities to do that, not just after Van Persie left, but while he was still here, why weren't we buying this calibre of centre forward then? We shouldn't be in a position where we're worrying about replacing Van Persie, we should have added to him while he was here. Someone like Huntelaar with Van Persie would have made us such a force a couple of years ago, even more so if we'd have been able to get the likes of Van Der Vaart and a better centre half as well.
Even now, Theo Walcott looks like he's going to add to our woes and leave us, probably for a Premier League rival, and why? Because we won't play him at centre forward and because we won't give him the wages he wants. Again, instead of spending 50k a week on Djourou, why don't we spend an extra 10k or so a week on Walcott so we avoid losing another one of our best players? And Wenger has given Gervinho, a winger who can't finish or play up front well to save his life, loads of chances up front this season, and given Walcott next to no chances there. He actually played up front against Tottenham for 5 minutes a few weeks ago, and scored. Why hasn't he given those chances up front to Walcott instead, a centre forward who has a good finish on him and is more natural to that position? Also baring in mind that his staying at Arsenal is largely dependant on getting chances to play up front as well. It's just pathetic, clueless management.
It's just so evident that Wenger needs to go. We need a forward thinking manager who has a strong desire for trophies and winning, who also has the ability to judge what's makes a good player at the top levels and one that doesn't spend ridiculous wages on poor squad players. And above all, one with true ambition so we won't always be short year after year and lose our best players every season. This rapid and embarassing decline has to stop. Enough is enough.
(Image source: http://5.soccer-reviews.com/wp-content/uploads/post/wenger-is-it-time-to-go/arsene-wenger.png 12 December 2012)