Wenger needs to leave to make Arsenal great again

What happened during and after the match has grabbed eyeballs.

Published: 09th February 2017 08:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2017 08:51 PM   |  A+A-

Arsene Wenger (File | AP)

By Express News Service

The last 72 hours, from an Arsenal perspective, have been interesting. Forget the result of the Chelsea match, a person who has no interest in football will have predicted that. 

What happened during and after the match has grabbed eyeballs. A fan was seen holding an anti-Arsene Wenger placard during the game. The sheet ? the size of an A3 ? had a simple message. "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH TIME TO GO." Given we are living in Trumpian times, it, of course, had to be in all bold. 

Anyway, the point the fan was trying to make wasn't a new one. Some fans have been saying that for a decade now. Speaking on air, Gary Neville took serious exception to the message. He called him an 'idiot'. "Wenger doesn't deserve that," the former Manchester United fan said on TV. "But to pre-empt it by bringing a banner into the ground. It's a joke." 

He wasn't done. 

Arsenal Fan TV ? the one stop shop for everything that the internet stands for today ? interviewed (as is normal practice) a few fans before the game. Predictably, their views were asinine. Neville, who was leaving Stamford Bridge, chanced upon a few views. He took exception to the YouTube channel after the game. "I walked out the Chelsea ground yesterday (Saturday) and there were a couple of these Arsenal Fan TV camera things everywhere and to be honest it was embarrassing listening to it and
watching it," he said. 

Reactions are hard currencies for YouTube channels like that and pretty soon Robbie Lyle, the host, got stuck in. "I was basically exercising my right to criticism the Arsenal manager," was the gist of his argument. Twitter was LIT ? as they say on the interwebz. A few of the fans invited Neville, a serial winner with Man United, to a debate on Arsenal Fan TV. Amusingly, the right back accepted. 

The Times' Henry Winter ? known for his erudite views ? wanted in on the action. He called Neville 'arrogant' for calling the fan 'an idiot'. "He had no right." After his column was up, Neville was quick with a riposte. "Journalist offers an opinion. Tells a broadcaster he has no rights to an opinion. I never said the fan did not have rights to his." All that happened in the last two days.      

How is all this linked to Wenger? The question might be a legitimate one but the Frenchman is conscious of external factors like fan support, mood and atmosphere in the ground during matches and so on. He frequently speaks about the ?society' that we live in' and touched on the same, following the loss to Watford. 

"Of course," he said on the subject of whether fans had become more fickle than before. "Because everybody can express his frustration straightaway, in a fraction of a second. There is no time to take a distance from what happened. 

"We live in a society that is like that and I cannot change society. I focus on what I can influence. I live with the response of society. You (press) are more the captors of what is going on, of the waves in society all over the world." He knows even more Arsenal fans moved over to #WengerOutBrigade than ever before after the Chelsea match. 

His contract runs down this summer and while he has maintained that he will take a call when the time is right, that is not how modern football clubs operate. Given that the likes of Mesut Ozil (whose contract expires in June 2018) have tied his future to Wenger's, the decision over his contract has to be now. And barring a miracle ? winning the Champions League ? he has to go. The board aren't willing to take that call. They have, in fact, done the opposite. There is a two-year extension on the table.

The Frenchman's work at the club has been nothing short of stellar. When he came to England in 1996, he revolutionised the way the sport was played there. The fear, 21 years later, is he is refusing to change his ways. That may prove the death-bell for a manager who was once synonymous with the club. Outward looking, fluid and winners. He is still synonymous with the club but the words have changed. Rigid, one-dimensional and utterly predictable. 

It may seem like kneejerk given Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League (again) and are in fourth place in the table with almost two-thirds of the season gone. But that ignores the larger picture about Arsenal?s incompetence in big games, the lack of mental toughness just as winter takes over and continued loyalty to underperforming players.

Traits that will ultimately bring down any club. 


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