It has been a very long time, six years to be precise, since Patrick Vieira lifted the FA Cup after being comprehensively outplayed by Manchester United in the final. However, Vieira’s team showed the grit, determination and desire to win the trophy which they accomplished in 2005. The words “grit, desire, determination, mentality” is only found in Arsene Wenger’s press conferences but not on the football pitch in recent years.
The manager has been immensely patient with his team and has hoped that his “Project Youth” will finally succeed and justify the decisions made by the Frenchman. However, it has only tormented Arsenal fans, who are tired of excuses from their manager and players and want to see the Arsenal players fight for the supporters on the pitch.
The Arsenal supporters have been extremely supportive of Arsene Wenger and his policies but six years is too long for a club of the stature of Arsenal and the fans are desperate for the club to win trophies. Arsene Wenger commands the respect of every single Arsenal fan but his policies have not brought success to the club in the last few years.
The Arsene Wenger who took over Arsenal in 1996 was a manager who was prepared to promote youth as well as bring in experienced big names who could help the Gunners win trophies. Wenger, since 2005, has embarked on a youth policy mainly because of the move to the Emirates from their beloved Highbury.
He has let several experienced winners like Gilberto Silva and Patrick Vieira leave the club and has replaced them with youngsters who were yet to prove their mettle. Enough time has been invested in these youngsters and though some of them like Cesc Fabregas have developed into world class players, it has not been translated into trophies.
After another frustrating year for the Gunners, there were not many to see the walk of Arsenal players around the Emirates to thank the supporters and the supporters are enraged by the rise in ticket prices as well. There are a number of Arsenal supporters who want the manager to leave the club and “Wenger Out” campaigns are at an all time high since the time the former Monaco boss took over as the Arsenal manager.
Wenger is one of the best in his knowledge of football players around the world and he has certainly brought in quite a few successful players, who were virtually unknown till they joined Arsenal. He has been notoriously frugal in the last few years and has spent money only when absolutely required.
It was expected that the manager would bring in an experienced goalkeeper and at least one quality experienced centre back to replace the error prone Manuel Almunia and to replacing the outgoing trio of Mikael Silvestre, Sol Campbell and William Gallas. However, Wenger stalled on the signing of goalkeeper and refused to pay a paltry amount to Fulham for securing the services of the experienced Mark Schwarzer.
Also, he brought in the inexperienced Laurent Koscielny from Lorient and signed Sebastien Squillaci who was never highly rated from Sevilla to plug the gaps in defence. However despite Koscielny showing that he has the quality to be successful in the future, it has proved not to be the right move by the manager as the defence has shipped in a number of goals in the absence of the experienced Thomas Vermaelen.
The manager cannot afford to make any mistakes this season and with the traditional end of season “Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona” rumours flying around, he has to be decisive this season. After the exit of the “ Invincibles” barring Clichy from Arsenal, they have lacked the presence of a leader who can take the reins of the team under pressure.
Wenger will need reinforcements in a lot of positions and also, the quality of the players must not be in doubt. Experience and leadership can bring in a lot of stability to this group of players, who are undeniably talented but lack the mentality required to grind out results. Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams, former Arsenal captains who have won trophies, were men who could inspire their team to fight for the Arsenal shirt.
The current crop of youngsters cannot be accused of not having the desire of winning trophies at Arsenal but have not shown the resilience of Champions. Also, though they are very talented, the mental aspect of the game needs to be worked on. It would not be a bad idea from Wenger to bring in a sports Psychologist or a mental conditioning coach to help the players develop a winning attitude.
On the football side, Wenger needs to bring in some quality players who can improve the competition at the club. There are far too many players on the bench who cannot provide serious competition for places and when the manager is forced to play these players, they are often found to be wanting.
Wenger needs to get rid of deadwood and discontent players and bring in players who have the desire to excel for the club. The manager must spend big money if necessary to bring in the right players to the club. Someone like a Karim Benzema is going to cost the Gunners a lot of money but he is someone who can make a difference to the side.
It will take a lot of time to digest this end of season collapse of the Gunners for the Arsenal supporters but they are sure to offer the support required for the team at the start of the next season. Wenger will have to realise that he needs some new signings to reinvigorate the team and should be prepared to spend the right money.
It is going to be a long summer for Wenger and he will have to be smart in the transfer market for the team to have the quality to win the Premier League. There will be a lot of pressure on Arsene Wenger and his team to succeed next season or it could well mean the demise of this current team.