If one asserted that Arsenal was one of the least ambitious among Europe’s top guns, such might not be far from the truth. Is Arsenal even a top gun to begin with?
The Gunners standards have gradually fallen over the years from one of the most feared teams on the planet to a side that has become a laughing stock.
Such fall from grace should have seen the manager long gone but letting go of Arsene Wenger has arguably been the biggest obstacle to Arsenal’s progress.
Gunners faithful have over the years shown their displeasure over the direction the club has been going but they always seemed to be carried away by the fine string of results the team pulls at the very last moment, which is enough to finish in the top four, the major objective of the club, season after season.
However, the North London giants finished fifth this time around, the first time they’ve failed to qualify for the Uefa Champions League in Wenger’s 20 year stint.
Europa League football awaits them as a result.
The fans had a stronger tone in telling Wenger to leave the club for good this season, with the press consistently asking him if he would do so as his contract expires this summer, but he has kept quiet on the matter.
The FA Cup final against newly crowned Premier League champions Chelsea was an opportunity for Wenger to have one last shot at winning silverware this season but the men in blue were naturally the stronger side hence favourites. Wenger’s 3-4-3, a system introduced by Antonio Conte, had started bringing results towards the season’s run-in and it did here again as the Gunners secured a 2-1 win for a record 13th FA Cup and seventh for Wenger.
Arsenal fans were relatively happy with this as it’s the best consolation they could get for missing out on Champions League football. This might make Wenger extend his stay at the Emirates but the 67-year old Frenchman needs to call it a day already.
The Premier League is now intense and Arsenal finishing fifth could be a sign that Wenger can’t keep up with the pack.
Gone are the days when it was a three-horse race for the title which has now grown to six. The likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City have managers in Conte, Mauricio Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, yet to reach their 50s with burgeoning reputation. They are the ones ruling the game now and it might be difficult for a veteran like Wenger to match their dynamism and creativity.
Wenger can take a cue from his old foe in former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired from the game in 2013. United’s cross-town rivals Man City had won the Premier League the previous year on goal difference thanks to a late Sergio Aguero goal in a 3-2 victory over Queen Park Rangers. It was a bitter pill for Fergie to swallow and knowing the title race was now intense with City joining the party, the legendary Scot decided to have one last try and he got the league the following year before calling it quit.
The club record 13th FA Cup and individual seventh for Wenger should be the perfect moment for him to sign off because he might not see such chance again with the intensity in the English top-flight set to further heat up. Also his refusal to go for quality players in the transfer market means he will be squarely beaten by his rivals.
It would not be nice if Arsene Wenger left in the midst of a terrible defeat. At least Alex Ferguson didn’t. This triumph in the world’s oldest knockout competition thus gives the legendary Frenchman the chance to walk out with his hands held high. Besides he’s been in North London for 20 years, something not many of the current managers can boast of.
The ball is therefore in the court of the 67-year old to determine the decision he takes or direction he goes from here.
Photo source: Zimbio.com and Givemesport.com