November 29, 2014

Appreciation For The Unappreciated

By Michael Clements

Arsenal at West Brom was fun to watch - lots of good chances, not many goals but we got the three points. It was the arts & craft project from some of the fans (and I stress some because it's not nearly the large majority, from what I can tell) that unfortunately caught the headlines and took away from what was another fairly encouraging performance from The Arsenal.

"Arsene - Thanks for the memories but it's time to say goodbye." 

That's what a group of fans shelled out £100 to have made into a banner to bring to an away game? I feel it could have waited until a home game at least, as I'm sure the boys in Red & White don't particularly like to look into the stands and see their fans holding that up. Talk about morale killer. Leave it outside the stadium even, you know the media will let Wenger know it's there.

I understand the frustration with the recent run of form, and I understand even more the frustration with our transfer policy under Arsene Wenger recently. I've stood up after Arsenal games and wanted to walk out on the club, not just the bar I was in, but once you take a few deep breaths it's back to bleeding red and laying down for the cannon. That's why it's so hard for me to comprehend this type of banner being shown in the Arsenal section of a stadium. 

Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal when we were down on our luck and, although we had many pieces already in place, we needed someone to guide us over than final hurdle. In his first full season at Highbury he won the double with Arsenal Football Club. He then went on to manage Arsenal through our most successful era that the club had ever known. 
Now, in 2014 the competition is richer and more challenging than it has ever been, yet we are still up there with the big boys year after year.

Granted, for some that's not good enough - we all believe Arsenal are the greatest team the world has ever seen, and we all want to see them win, that's the whole point. But take a step back... where would we be now without Wenger? I'm not saying he's done it all by himself, but we would be hard pressed to find a human being that could do with our club what Wenger has done over the last two decades. Financially, he and the club have performed miracles. As far as bringing in top quality personnel, well perhaps that's where things have hit a snag recently. 

The battered Frenchman has brought in such players as Henry, Vieira, Pires, Fabregas and so many more names that make your hair stand on end. Just this summer he brought in Sanchez and Welbeck - two world class players to up our overall quality. We have to ask ourselves if we would be able to attract such names without Wenger being the man on the other end of the phone, telling them why they should sign for Arsenal F.C. 

'What have you done for me lately?' 
We live in a world where people want results immediately, forgetting what got us to this point. It's fair to ask that question, I suppose, but the question I want to ask is what the plan is if and when Arsene does actually leave his role at the club? 

Klopp, Guardiola, Roberto Martinez are all names that people have thrown out there as potential successors to Le Boss. Sure, they sound sexy when you say them out loud, but what guarantee do we have that those men will pick up and improve on what Wenger is currently doing? Aside from the money-grubbing businesses clubs such as Chelski and Man City who have a sugar daddy to take care of them, how often do you see a manager come in and turn a club around almost immediately? Our chances of failure are more likely with such a massive change, in my opinion. 

It's a debate that will continue whether Arsene stays or does in fact leave. Each fan will have their own opinion on the matter, and that's what makes fanatical people 'fans'. The reality is that Arsene Wenger is not going to quit and the possibility of him actually being fired from this club (which he runs from top to bottom to some extent) is extremely unlikely. So, for now at least, he's our manager. We stick with him, while also politely shouting about his inability to sign the correct players for the correct positions. Making a banner telling him to essentially fuck off and hold it up at an away game in the middle of nowhere... that's a little classless in my opinion. That's what Newcastle fans do ( And we are most certainly not Newcastle fans. 

Perhaps one day he'll hang up his huge jacket and take a role as Director of Football or something? But I'm sure the caliber of manager we would want to replace him surely wouldn't want a Director of Football peeking over his shoulder constantly. Maybe we'll give him an ambassadorial role or something cute like that.

For now, it's three points. We welcome high-flying Southampton to the Emirates this week, and could cut their lead on us if we can improve on the promising football we've been playing the last week. A Southampton reality check, perhaps?

Things need to improve, things will improve, but it's not just up to one man. This whole team needs to stand up and play for the cannon on their chests. 

Up The Arsenal!!!