It has not been a good season at the Emirates. They’re 13 points behind Chelsea in the Premier League, they have already been eliminated from the Capital One Cup, and they’re likely to finish second in an easy UEFA Champions League group. And now this past weekend at Stoke might have been the tipping point for many Arsenal supporters, with the anger beginning to boil over.
The abuse Arsene Wenger has been hurled is getting louder and louder, and not just from a select few. And even though some of the anger is justified, the vitriol Wenger has been getting is bordering on ridiculous. While it might be time for a change at the top, it’s certainly no time to abuse a manager the way Wenger has been treated by some Arsenal supporters (see video below of Wenger being the victim of verbal abuse from Arsenal supporters).
The anger is not without merit however. Even though Arsenal have spent money in ways they have not done in the past two summer transfer windows, certain problem spots have yet to be addressed. The lack of a true defensive midfielder has hurt the strength of this side no matter how pretty the football is going forward. The depth of the back four is still paper thin and has required youngsters like Hector Bellerin to play before they are ready, while also having a natural centerback in Calum Chambers playing out of position at right back. Injuries have still mounted up and while Arsenal is not that far away from the Top 4 spot they crave, it has still been their worst start under Wenger. These were easily fixable problems that have been ignored, and the results are predictable.
And yet Arsene Wenger isn’t the easily interchangeable manager at the helm for their North London rivals. He is one of the best managers in English football history, and while he probably should have been sacked a good time ago, he has still managed to keep his team consistently in the Champions League and in the Knockout Stages every season, which is remarkable considering the upheaval in English football that has occurred in the meantime. And even though his managerial style has been becoming more outdated with time, he has still been successful in spite of that, a sign of a manager whose ideas are getting through. He has helped steer Arsenal into becoming one of the biggest clubs in the world and while their late 1990’s and early 2000’s success is well behind them, they are still a factor every year in the race for the Top 4.
How some Arsenal supporters have treated him and the team this season is beyond the pale. Certainly the club should be doing better, but in the larger scale of things to be as poor as they’ve been and still have a decent enough chance at the Top 4 is impressive all things considered. Yes the tactics have been wrong on many occasions, and the failures in personnel and team selection are at Wenger’s feet but in all likelihood, the Gunners will still finish where they seemingly always do by season’s end: in the Top 4.
Wenger is still trying to do what he deems best for the club, and while that may not be working anymore to the same extent it did in the past, his successes cannot be overstated. While other managers and styles may have passed him in the Premier League, his own still works despite all of that. Arsenal’s trophy drought is gone, and even though their aspirations should be higher, only when they are not met should change happen, not now. Anger is fine, but the abuse is uncalled for and wrong.
And always remember, changing managers for the sake of change almost never works. Ask Spurs.