Home Global Football A fairy-tale gone sour: Arsene Wenger, the taxi is waiting.

A fairy-tale gone sour: Arsene Wenger, the taxi is waiting.

Sam Alexander Lebus provides a condemning and convincing case for Wenger's dismissal: "another abject surrender to a top 6 side, another roll over and stroke my tummy performance. The taxi is waiting".

307
SHARE
Labelled for reuse under Wikipedia commons. Author: 'Ronnie Mcdonald. URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ars%C3%A8ne_Wenger_(15339559916).jpg

F or a while I have stood by Mr. Wenger. I have let past success and praise cloud my vision. I took solace in his consistency. I respected him for his success and remained unequivocally loyal.

However, when the final whistle blew last Saturday – Arsenal’s 4-0 humiliation to Liverpool – something changed. It has been compared to Arsenal’s worst performance since the deplorable 8-2 thrashing at the Old Trafford. Six years have gone by. Has nothing happened in the intervening years?! Have we not developed as a club? No. There have been similar terrors in years gone by. The 8-2 was in 2011. In 2012, a 6-0 thumping from Chelsea at the Bridge. 2013, a 6-3 defeat away at City. In 2014, another embarrassment at Anfield, 5-1 that day. 2015 brought the first of the inaugural 5-1 defeats handed to us by Bayern Munich. The anomaly is 2016 but it was just that. In 2017 came the next two 5-1’s against Munich. There is an uncomfortable consistency there. There must be a common theme.

“Thumpings. Embarrassments. terrors.”

There have been similar terrors in years gone by. The 8-2 was in 2011. In 2012, a 6-0 thumping from Chelsea at the Bridge. 2013, a 6-3 defeat away at City. In 2014, another embarrassment at Anfield, 5-1 that day. 2015 brought the first of the inaugural 5-1 defeats handed to us by Bayern Munich. The anomaly is 2016 but it was just that. In 2017 came the next two 5-1’s against Munich. There is an uncomfortable consistency there – not the consistency I am fond of. There must be a common theme.

What is that theme? Unfortunately, it is a lack of tactical ruthlessness and dynamism from Wenger. For someone born into the initial golden-Wenger-era, who has grown up with his success and whose love of football is largely down to the exciting attacking style he implemented, that is hard to say.

Sunday identified two salient issues. The first is the midfield. Wenger has never replicated the physical midfield duo of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit. What made them so special? They gave Arsenal attacking flair but also defensive discipline. They incited fear and maintained security. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey are the antitheses. Opponents are not scared. Instead, they revel in their flaws. Sunday proved no exception. As a pair their positional awareness is unacceptable. Ramsey is too often found in the opposition box and Xhaka is seldom in the ‘red zone’: in front of the defence. When he is, his inability to tackle means he sees more red cards than he does the ball. These two just seem to be the latest in a long list of perennial disappointments.

Arsenal have failed to find an adequate replacement for their ‘Invincible’ midfielders.

They gave Arsenal attacking flair but also defensive discipline. They incited fear and maintained security. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey are the antitheses. Opponents are not scared. Instead, they revel in their flaws. Sunday proved no exception. As a pair their positional awareness is unacceptable. Ramsey is too often found in the opposition box and Xhaka is seldom in the ‘red zone’: in front of the defence. When he is, his inability to tackle means he sees more red cards than he does the ball. These two just seem to be the latest in a long list of perennial disappointments.

That is not to say we have not had decent midfield partnerships. Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song were perhaps the closest we came to replicating the Vieira-Petit formula. Though even then Song, under Wenger’s command, was allowed to roam. By the end of his stint in red, he was known less for his capacity to defend and more for an ability to expose the defence as he sauntered forward.

“Tactical incompetence”

Next issue – the team selection. Again, this comes down to a tactical incompetence. Why play Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, best known for his capacity to attack rather than defend over Saed Kolasinac? Perhaps the most physical acquisition since Manu Petit and whose position as an actual defender might have helped combat Liverpool’s attacking flair. Similarly, why pick ‘Dat Guy Welbz’ as Gunners’ fans affectionately call him, more commonly found tripping over his own feet than finding the back of the net, over our £52 million fox-in-the-box Alexandre Lacazette? Even Olivier Giroud, France’s top-pick striker, might have fared better against a team known for their set-piece frailties.

If the cataclysmic excuse for a manager, Gary Neville – no offense intended – can identify these issues then why can’t Wenger? The problems have been there for years. Two wins against top six sides in 33 games is laughable and testament to his managerial incompetence.

Regrettably, Wenger, ever the purist, seems utterly incapable of tactical innovation whereas the Conté’s, Klopp’s, Mourinho’s and Guardiola’s have it in spades. Pretty, purist idealism has been outsmarted and outdone by feisty, ruthless dynamism. Wenger has recently flirted once with the latter. In 2015, away to Man City, he gave in and set Arsenal up in a restrained and disciplined manner. We won. Surely this must become the staple against a top 6 side? Tactical pragmatism; frustratingly, we have seen that Wenger has chosen to ignore such a formula for success.

The Inconvenient Truth for Arsenal fans now is that it won’t get better, at least not while Wenger is in charge. While other teams move forwards, Arsenal moves further and further back. Last season I called for people to respect Wenger and I stand by that. I was happy to accept a 4th place finish and let him leave with the hope that Champions League football, big players and a lot of money could attract a new manager who could take us forward. The consistency was ended by finishing 5th and now it seems like our big players are eagerly waiting to jump ship. The longer Wenger stays, the more undesirable our club will become and consequently it will be increasingly less likely for any new manager to want to come and save us from our doom.

“his stubbornness in the face of results is delusional arrogance”

It is time to stop the rot. Wenger must go. He is stuck in his ways. His staunch belief in his own methods is admirable but unwarranted; his stubbornness in the face of the results highlighted above is simply delusional arrogance now. That is why the fairy tale has ended. The modern game has moved on and left Wenger in its wake.

Sunday was a Groundhog Day performance to add to the ever-increasing list. A game where midfield incompetence, poor team selection and a lack of all-round ruthlessness and awareness let us, the fans, down. Another abject surrender to a top 6 side, another roll over and stroke my tummy performance. Sadly, after years of the same, the scales have fallen – belatedly – from my eyes and I have moved to the Wenger Out Camp. An honourable man, a man who has brought us so much praise, pride and profile, but a man now decidedly past his best. A man incapable of change. A man who is taking this proud club lower unless he moves on. Mr. Wenger it is time to go, the taxi’s waiting.

 

bookmark me