Since 1996, Arsenal have undergone their French revolution under Arsene Wenger – a change that over the long run has been very positive for the club. But has his time in London run out?
Wenger’s CV at Arsenal includes three Premier League titles and four FA Cups, as well as reaching the Champions League final once, four years ago. His last title was in 2004, and while the club has been consistently one of the so-called Big Four since their last title, they have not had a realistic chance at the title during that period.
In the transfer market, Wenger has always had a keen eye for a good signing, but can occasionally let his stubbornness get the best of him. His reluctance to do much selling or spending over the past summer has been a sore point for many of the club’s fans, and its foolishness will only be proven right or wrong once the season gets underway.
What could really decide his fate, though, are whether or not his young players can fill the shoes for injured superstars such as Robin Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas. Players like Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs have been subject to their fair share of hype while not really having proven themselves at senior level just yet.
Ever since Arsenal lost the substantial talent of Jens Lehmann, there hasn’t really been a solid player between the sticks, and it shows in Arsenal’s underachievement in the past three or four years. Wenger’s reluctance to sign a new goalkeeper and naive reliance on the underwhelming Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski could prove to be yet another thorn in the club’s side in the league this season.
Nevertheless, the man once known as the professor has allowed his Arsenal side to swim around in the shallows of glory, instead of pushing them the last little bit in order to become great once again. In an age where Rafa Benitez is fired from Liverpool only one full season after he barely missed out on the league title, it’s understandable to question whether or not Wenger’s reign at Arsenal has reached a similar stagnation.
When a man forms a long-term bond with a club and its fans, it is hard to want to let go, but Arsenal must decide on the basis of what is good for the club and will propel it forward to future greatness instead of loyally holding on to the captain of a sinking ship.
So the question is, should Arsene Wenger renew his Arsenal contract? Or is it best for the club to find someone new, with fresh ideas and desires, to lead the club into the future? Similarly, should Wenger move elsewhere to find a new challenge and get out of his Arsenal rut?
Update: Well, the argument has been overtaken by news of a three-year extension for Wenger. So was this the right decision for Arsenal?