I have never been a fan of Arsenal, but any true sports fan must feel for what the London outfit is currently going through.
Of course, it is only natural for one to celebrate another club’s misfortunes, but then one must concede that Arsenal should not be the one struggling now, especially after some of the wonderful things they have brought to the Premiership, especially in the early years of Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager.
Ironically though, the man who came in as “Arsene Who” when he arrived Arsenal’s former ground, Highbury some 16 odd years ago, but quickly became a firm favourite of Gunners’ fans when he brought almost instant success, must now share the blame for the woes currently afflicting the great club.
Stubborn to a fault, “Le Professeur”, has failed to realise that the tried and tested tactics that brought him three league titles and four FA Cups in his first eight seasons in charge is no longer working and thus needs, if not a total overhaul, at least a re-jig to make it workable in the modern day clime.
Arsenal fans will no doubt grudgingly admire the work of their great rival, Sir Alex Ferguson, who despite being over 70 has remained in tune with the modern game and has thus always tweaked his team and tactics in order to keep the Red Devils a force in English and European football.
After losing the title in heartbreaking fashion to city rivals, Manchester City last season on goals difference, the Scotsman immediately vowed that this would not repeat itself under his watch and brought in the league’s leading scorer, Robin van Persie from Arsenal. We have all seen what a wise move it has turned out to be.
And herein, perhaps, summons up the major difference between the two managers – Ferguson would have never sold his most potent player to another Premier League club! Instead, he would have shipped him outside England so as to ensure that the player cannot turn round to bite him – as RVP has already done to Wenger!
Quality players like Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam, David Beckham and Gabriel Heinze were all sent abroad rather than kept in England where they would have been able to make Ferguson’s life more difficult. However, average players like Philip Neville, Wes Brown and John O’Shea were all allowed to stay, with Fergie clearly aware that they would not pose any major headache for him.
On Wednesday night after whatever last hopes (albeit faint) of winning some silverware after eight barren seasons went up in smoke with Bayern Munich outgunning the Gunners 3-1 at the Emirates in a UEFA Champions League tie, it should have become clear to the Arsenal hierarchy that they would have to do a deep soul search and decided if the future of the club still remains with the Frenchman.
Yes, he may be making money for them, but by the time they look at all the empty seats in their beautiful Emirates stadium, it should dawn on them that the fans are an important part of the club and need to be placated with something to cheer about in the form of silverware.
But even if the unthinkable happens and Wenger is eased out, none Arsenal fans will ever forget what he brought to the English game.
However, until that happens Gunners’ fans will have to watch enviously as Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and even Spurs leave them in their wake.