In today’s sports world, especially in the world of soccer, there are few dynasties like Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal Football Club. The Frenchman will soon start his 21st straight season as Arsenal’s manager. After leading the team to its most successful era during his first decade as manager, Arsenal has failed to win the championship title over the past 12 seasons. The team has also failed in the European Champions league as well. Last season, the team’s dismal performance led it to place 5th in the English Premier league, a 20-year low. This has culminated in the call for Wenger’s dismissal.
Here are three reasons why Arsenal should fire Wenger, and three reasons why he should stay:
Three reasons why Arsenal should fire Wenger
He is too old-school
Arsène Wenger’s old-fashioned managing is no longer relevant in modern soccer. The sport has changed in recent decades; the scope and volume of work required from coaches and managers have increased. In the past, the two separate functions of coaching and managing were in the hands of one man. However, these two functions have evolved and now require at least two men to handle them individually. While coaches spend more time coaching, general managers are now required to take charge of various issues in the club, much like the general manager role in the NBA and NFL.
But Wenger hasn’t accepted this development. Despite the increasing demands of each role, he still believes he can take charge of all the functions himself. The result is his significant failure in both roles.
Arsenal has failed to win the Premier League title for the past 12 years. Worse, the team has failed to pose as a serious challenger. Moreover, in the last five or six years, because of Arsenal’s underperformance, it has not even entered into the discussion. Its league results are bad, and a new approach should be taken. The first step should be saying goodbye to the man who is professionally in charge of the team.
Wenger was never a good coach
Wenger`s part in Arsenal`s success is overrated. Rather than attributing Arsenal’s achievements to Wenger’s coaching abilities, they should be attributed to the great vision and fantastic work of its board, led mostly by Vice-Chairman David Dean. For example, while Wenger didn’t want to pay more than £8M for Sylvain Wiltord, Dean`s vision recruited him for £13M, and Wiltord eventually scored the winning goal in “Old-Trafford against Man UTD,” a win that won the championship for Arsenal that season. It was Dean’s persistence that got the star players and his work with them that made Arsenal so great.
Tony Adams, an Arsenal legend and captain, once said: “Coaching wasn’t Arsene’s strong point”. And he is right: Wenger`s strength is not in on-field coaching but in identifying and nurturing young talent and instilling a winning philosophy.
Three reasons why Wenger is a keeper
Wenger is Arsenal
No British soccer club is bigger than Arsenal. And the team has reached this status mostly due to Wenger. When he arrived at Arsenal, they were an unremarkable upper mid-table team, with no suitable training ground and a terrible sports culture.
But Wenger turned the club around and made Arsenal who they are and what they aspire to be: One of the biggest clubs in Europe. The first thing he did was to improve training facilities and invest in the youth academy. His vision and philosophy have allowed Arsenal to hire fascinating players like Dennis Bergkamp, and to recruit players like Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka for a bargain. Wenger is the mainstay of Arsenal.
Arsenal`s fans are wrong
Most of the voices calling for Wenger’s resignation come from Arsenal fans. There`s nothing new in soccer fans calling for a dismissal of a club coach; it`s part of the game`s nature. It happens often because soccer fans always want more from their favorite team.
However, the demand to see Wenger leave is unrealistic and based on emotions rather than on realistic thinking. Arsenal rivals, like the Chelsea and Manchester teams, are far richer, and their finishing in the top four league rankings each year (except one) is impressive. Arsenal fans got used to Wenger leading his team into the top league rankings in the past, so, now that the team is losing, they find it hard to notice and acknowledge the fantastic work done by the Frenchman.
If you ever saw Arsenal play during their heyday you know they were the best and most attractive soccer team to ever play in Premier League. Arsenal not only rode the longest undefeated run in Premier League history (49 games, including an entire season without a loss), but did so in a stylish, eye-captivating way, with soccer that is based on technique and short passing.
Arsenal`s purist game philosophy was brought to the club exclusively by Wenger and is still shaping the current team’s style of play. This adventurous style of play may be damaging Arsenal’s trophy-winning chances, but it is still worth appreciation, especially by those who love the beauty of the game.
Bottom lines: It comes down to the question of tradition versus modernity. Do you believe Arsenal should honor Wenger for his past successes or should they move on and progress to a new, more advanced era? Are you an old-school soccer fan or prefer modernity?