He is undoubtedly one of the most influential mangers in the history of the game, especially in the premier league. The second longest serving manger in the premier league era, managing his beloved club for almost 17 years. He has lead his team to the Premier League title 3 times, the FA Cup 4 times and the FA Community Shield 4 times and summed up almost 30 personal awards in his managerial career. But it is not the personal awards that the fans care about, but the clubs awards, medals and trophies they hunger for. The awards that he has failed to produce for 7 years on the trot. This man, is Arsene Wenger, a man who whom has had so much faith from the fans and directors put into him, but seems to be failing to modernise his managerial know-how. And the big question is, how much more faith and patience can people put into him before the timer runs out?
Many Wenger loyalists, argue that he is a financial genius using the excellent youth system Arsenal has to offer, to produce world class players in abundance. Since joining the Gunners in 1996 Wenger has sold players totalling to a sum of roughly £340,000,000, compared to the £120,000,000 he has spent on them. This means that if these figures (released by the Arsenal board of directors) are correct, since his arrival Wenger has made a £220,000,000 profit in the transfer market. Another set of statistics released by the Arsenal board of directors are the following (as of May 2011-12 season):
- Revenue £243,000,000
- Wage Costs £143,400,000
- Operating Profit (excl. transfers) £34,500,000
- Group Profit before Tax £36,600,000
- Profit on Player Sales £65,500,000
- Cash and Bank Balance £153,600,000
- Group Debt £98,900,000
Now taking these figures into account, this means that Arsenal last year roughly made £100,000,000 profit, which could have paid off Arsenal's owners debts, whilst still leaving them £150,000,000 in the bank account. Money, that COULD be spent on players WITHOUT losing profit. Something that the Arsenal board and Wenger seemed very concered with. Now to some people these figures may not seem that substantial or meaningful, but look behind them and you will understand - One of the Wenger's biggest flaws, is his tendency to devote all of his attention and time to youth academy, a philosophy that produces big bucks, but for almost a decade hasn't produced the big results. Unfortunately for Wenger, his footballing philosophy of developing the stars of tomorrow in the way he wants, is no longer effective on its own. In the modern game, the simple fact is Money. Must. Be. Spent.
Looking over the years, you do see a recurring pattern of Wenger selling his big players to the clubs with the big money, and then replacing them with mediocrities. A recent example would be the the depature of Adebayor and more recently Robin Van Persie, whom he replaced with Chamackh and Olivier Giroud respectively. For years this system has not only seen a lack of trophies but also seen a decline in the clubs defensive/scoring record also. Any loyal Gunner, will remember the days back in the early 2000's especially, when Arsenal would go 10-12 games on the trot without conceding whilst consistently scoring 2, sometimes 3 goals a game. Now we see an Arsenal side who one minute, can score 2 goals at Anfield, then next minute lose 1-0 to Norwich. This could be blamed upon the lack of usual shot-stopper Sczcesny between the sticks, or the fact that the Arsenal defense is only starting to link up after an injury plagued 2011-12 season for the back four.
Some people may blame it upon a lack of experience in a back four with an average age of roughly 24, which for a defense is very infantile, whilst the goal keeper is also only 22. They may say the lack of experience can be blamed for Arsenals defensive flaws, especially whilst defending set pieces, something which seems to constantly bewilder them and often lead to conceding goals. Any excuse can be made for the leaky performances in recent years, but one thing that is evident in the Arsenal side, is the lack of WORLD CLASS quality they use to possess in players such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera, Jose Reyes, Dennis Bergkamp, Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie. World Class quality that is never properly restocked, despite having the sufficient funds leading to the fury amongst fans fed up of the clubs trophy drought. Also in recent years, another thing many fans are picking up on, compared to years before is Wengers eye for talent seemingly blinding. Whereas before Wenger would purchase superstars such as Fabregas, Anelka and Henry for miniscule prices, milk their talent for a set period then sell them on, this cycle has not been seen in the side during the past seasons. Many people are speculating whether Wengers most valuable asset, his eye for young talent and potential, is finally dissapearing along with his future at the club. Some examples of this reduction in quality can be seen in some of his more recent transfer blunders in players such as:
- Chu-Young Park (roughly £10,000,000) made 6 apps in his only season at Arsenal, scoring once.
- Sebastien Squillaci (£3,200,000) made only 23 appearances in 2 years at the Emirates.
- Carl Jenkinson (£1,000,000) all that needs to be said is that even Charlton admitted they were suprised Wenger wanted the RB for his side.
Adding all of his flaws up in recent years, you can see that they clearly outway the positives that are slowly diminishing for Arsene Wenger. Many Arsenal fans still believe that Wenger and his philosophy are the way to run their beloved club, but the majority are starting to think otherwise. Multiple pundits and football commentators are claiming that Wenger is no longer treating the club as that, but more as a business, making profit and keeping his place in the board of directors good books, but the beauty of football is that even with big bucks and stubborn owners, the fans will always get what they want, one way or another.
Another one of Wengers stubborn features, is his firm belief that a Champions League place is a trophy in itself, something the supporters clearly disagree. This is something he stated recently in the Gunners annual shareholders meeting, and it was met with a fierce backlash from fans, claiming that it is not a trophy in any way. Now, being a fan myself I can completely agree with the furious supporters, because the simple fact is that the Champions League spot, is not a trophy. Yes, it does bring in money for the broadcasting and advertisement terms, but it doesn't come with a nice big silver cup to put in the Emirates empty trophy cabinet. A trophy cabinet that many fans believe should be stacked full by now. With tantilisingly close chances to win silver ware, such as the Carling Cup final where Arsenal were humiliatingly beaten 2-1 by Birmingham after a Koscielny and Sczcesny clanger, the fans patience must be starting to wear thin.
For years now, especially since the move from Highbury to the Emirates, Wenger has told the fans and board to be patient and he will begin to win trophies eventually. He consistenly blames the expensive move of homes to be the reason he doesn't spend, but after the budgets and bank account figures were released it is clear this is not the case, so it is a simple question of whether or not Wenger will modify his philosophy and adapt to the modern transfer market of big buck buys, or get left behind when Arsenal appoint someone who can lead them onwards in a cloud of dust.