As the sun sets on another enthralling Premier League season, Arsenal are once again vying for Champions League football. Is this a surprise? No. Is this unacceptable? Yes.
Clearly, investment is a word often associated with Arsenal, but for many wrong reasons. Losing their best and only world class player to the eventual champions was a bitter pill to swallow and frankly their season has progressed in a manner that reflects the loss of their key man.
At the beginning of each season, their manager boldly asserts that they are genuine title contenders but as continues to be the case, their challenge falters by mid-October. The problems within the club are deep-rooted, but can they be rectified and if so how?
Soccer is a wonderful game, evoking a barrage of euphoric and painful emotions throughout a regular league game, but for Arsenal fans this season has been a thoroughly gut-wrenching experience. Being humiliated in the domestic cups by lower league opposition is hard enough to take, but add in a number of over-paid footballers and you have a serious problem.
How have Arsenal been allowed to disintegrate into a team happy to secure fourth place, when they became the only team in the modern era to complete a regular season undefeated. Investment categorizes their plight, or lack thereof. With the most expensive season tickets in the entire Premier League, revenue shouldn’t be an issue for the club. Yet it has certainly contributed to their gradual decline over the past number of seasons.
However, in spite of poor investment and the failure to replace world-class footballers with equally gifted players, something else is at the root of the problem at the club. And unfortunately that is the manager. I am the first to accept all the tremendous things he has brought and given to the English game, but his failure to address this horrible slide into mediocrity has been painful to watch.
A hallmark of his early years in the role was an innovative tactical system and an eye for a player that other managers could only dream of possessing. Unfortunately these gifts have gradually deserted him and now he is becoming more of a liability for the club than one could ever have envisioned.
And now the club has been hit by The FA suspending striker Olivier Giroud for three of the last four matches of the season. Where will Arsenal’s goals come from?
Would a year without Champions League football benefit the team in the long run? Certainly it would free them of unnecessary expectation and allow them to focus their efforts on mounting a serious title challenge. If this was to occur, would the injection of a new manager bring with it a new ethos to resurrect the fortunes of this historic club?
A certain Scottish manager currently working in Merseyside is out of contract in the summer and would represent a bold and innovative appointment. His ability to mould teams in his image and produce quality football marks him out as the ideal candidate to lead Arsenal out of their current mediocrity.
Clearly Arsenal are an excellent soccer team, but the general malaise that has set in over the last two seasons is difficult to rectify and only through an overhaul of the manager and a host of under-performing players will they return to challenging seriously for the Premier League title once again.