Clive Luketo | Football Editor | Wednesday 14 September 2016 | GMT 16:00 | firstname.lastname@example.org
What does the future entail for Arsenal FC? Arsenal’s transfer activity over the years has led to much dissatisfaction from Arsenal fans, as they often watch in distraught the successful signings of their title rivals with no display of their own. Currently, the most successful manager in the FA Cup is in the final year of his contract as he turns 67 in October. Could this season be the right time for Arsène Wenger to bid farewell? Could he mount one last hurrah by making a successful title challenge that has so far eluded Arsenal for the last twelve years? With much unrest around the Emirates Stadium, the demand for change amongst many fans has never been higher.
With ‘Wenger Out’ protests at the Emirates during the first game of the 2016/17 season, the dissatisfaction of Arsenal fans is evident to see. Since moving to the Emirates in 2006, they have failed to land a single Premier League title. The only domestic success that they have endured has been winning consecutive FA Cup finals against relegation battlers Hull City and Aston Villa. I guess it’s just common practice now that Arsenal mounts a better challenge in the Emirates Cup than the Premier League.
Once remarked as ‘a specialist in failure’, it is difficult to discredit this statement about Wenger when it is plagued by Emirates’ trophy cabinet. Whilst it is important to remember that Wenger was the individual who helped transform Arsenal into a dominant force in the early years of his tenure, football is no longer a sport about stability. It’s about results. The sacking of Chelsea’s most successful manger, Jose Mourinho, is a clear indication of the instant need for success over stability. Therefore, Wenger’s inability to at least sustain a title challenge is more reason for him to consider stepping down, especially if he is unable to deliver this season.
The transfer activity conducted by Arsenal has been the most obvious criticism and has led to key players leaving over the years. The biggest one being Robin Van Persie, who rejected a new contract at Arsenal because of his disillusionment with the transfer policy. The following season he joined Manchester United and won the Premier League. Currently, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have two years left on their contract. Is there a possibility that they could reject a new contract and exit the club due to the transfer activity conducted?
Moreover, discontent is not only being seen from former players, but from football pundits and editors. Many pundits have highlighted over the years Arsenal’s lack of a world class striker since the departure of Van Persie. Only the signing of Oliver Giroud, injury-ridden Danny Welbeck and the most abysmal strategy of trying to turn the inconsistent Theo Walcott into a world class striker have been attempts by Wenger to plug that hole.
With that being said, the recent acquisition of Lucas Perez does bring a little optimism to the Arsenal faithful – the ‘Spanish Vardy’ does have some qualities to improve Arsenal’s attacking prowess. Arsène Wenger has constantly defended his transfer policy in ensuring that Arsenal keeps their pockets full. However, with the level of money involved in the game, it is clear that Arsenal fans are not willing to abide by him any longer. Especially as Arsenal sells one of the most expensive season tickets in the Premier League, fans expect huge returns on the pitch through their investment, and right now they simply are not getting it. Super-agent Jon Smith recently admitted that Arsenal’s transfer policy would only alter when Wenger leaves. For some, there has never been a greater reason for Wenger to step down.
However, a clear question that hovers over the potential exit of Arsène Wenger is his replacement. An individual that may be well suited to the Arsenal job is Thomas Tuchel. He has done a good job in reenergising Borussia Dortmund after their abysmal season under Jurgen Klopp last year. His mixture of possession and counter attacking play suits Arsenal well.
Nonetheless, it will be difficult for Arsenal to mount a successful title challenge after Wenger leaves. As seen at Manchester United, the exit of Sir Alex Ferguson led to a huge overhaul in the squad as well as huge investments in players, as evident this summer with the acquisition of Paul Pogba for a world record fee. Thus, the question remains whether Arsenal are ready to flex their muscle and help achieve the signings desired by Wenger’s successor or whether they will continue with Wenger’s transfer policy and further disillusion their fans.
Regardless of what the future entails for Wenger or Arsenal, what is evident is the necessity for change. If they are going to compete with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, then they have to act quickly as something does need to change. As Wenger’s contract comes to an end, maybe the time has come for a change in management at the Emirates.