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End of Season Report Arsene Wenger

May 29, 2012

My favourite picture of Arsene. It says a lot about the man he is. 

Name Arsène Wenger

  • Position Manager
  • Born October 22nd, 1949, Strasbourg, France
  • Previous clubs as player Mutzig, Mulhouse, Strasbourg
  • Clubs as manager/coach Strasbourg (youth), Cannes (assistant), Nancy, AS Monaco, Grampus Eight Nagoya
  • Joined Arsenal October 1, 1996
  • First match as manager Blackburn Rovers (a), Premier League, October 12, 1996, Won 2-0
  • Winners League championship 1998, 2002, 2004,
  • Winners FA Cup winners 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005,
  • Winners Charity Shield / FA Community Shield (4): 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004,
  • Runner-up: Premier League (5): 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2004–05,
  • Runner-up FA Cup (1): 2000–01,
  • Runner-up Football League Cup (2): 2006–7, 2010–11, F
  • Runner-up Community Shield (2): 2003, 2005,
  • Runner-upUEFA Champions League (1): 2005–06,
  • Runner-up UEFA Cup (1): 1999–2000
  • Voted ‘Manager of the Year’ 1998, 2002, 2004
  • 1996 – Present – Played 901 Won 514 Drew 215 Lost 172. That’s 10.75 defeats a season in ALL competitions.

Arsene became the only manager in our history to have won the FA Cup more than once and the only manager to take the Club to a Champions League Final. He also became the first manager in English league history to go an entire season unbeaten in 2003/04, since the days football was played with jumpers for goalposts, all good fun and jolly good company, going onto amass 49 games unbeaten, until we were bloody robbed at Old Trafford.

Well-known as an intellectual coach with the ability to spot and develop players from around the world, mainly France :-), he has had vital input into all areas surrounding the first team. Arsene’s problem is as the years have gone by; other clubs are now spotting these players as they also cast a huge net of scouts around the world.

Since the day he arrived he changed the squad’s diet and training methods. This led to players like Winterburn, Dixon, Adams, Bould and Keown to extending their careers. All have paid tribute to him. Though a few now can’t wait to have a dig while taking the Media dirty shilling.

It has been debated that Arsene carries too much power within the club, pointing out its Arsenal FC not Arsene FC. He was influential in certain parts of the design of the Emirates Stadium. Also input to the new training ground that was built with money from the sale of Nicolas Anelka. It has also been debated that Arsene is a cash cow for the board who look to be happy with Champions League qualification, in place of trophies and spending big on success.

I am sure that there are many of you out there who are aware that Arsene has managed more matches than any other manager in our history, and enjoyed more success, though there are some people who maybe have forgotten the small details. I understand and also feel the disappointment of some sections of Arsenal support that since 2005 we have come up empty-handed and feel we should be doing more, however there are mitigating circumstances.

Just as we were about to move from Highbury into a shiny new 60k capacity stadium that would bring in the revenue to make us one of the top dogs in world football , Roman Abramovich turns up and as David Dein put it

“Roman Abramovich has parked his Russian tanks on our lawn and is firing £50 notes at us.”.

Chelsea broke the Arsenal/Man Utd domination on the title race each season and made it a three-horse race for a while. It also meant that a new high bidder had entered the transfer scene. Chelsea took over from us challenging United for the title and won three titles in the process. Today we now have Man City on the scene as well. Both clubs still able to just spend, spend, spend to buy success. Something Arsenal clearly will not do.

On a personal level, I feel what Arsene has achieved over the last seven years keeping us up there, while finances were not great at the start of moving to Emirates and trying to blood younger players has been nothing short as remarkable and stands up with anything he did during his first ten successful seasons. Top four for 15 seasons…

Maybe we should have done better in the domestic cups, at least when we had reached the finals of them and one or two semi-finals that looked almost to be sacrificed in pursuit of Champions League.

I doubt anyone would argue that it has been frustrating to see Arsenal players like Petit, Overmars, Vieira, TH14, Cesc and Nasri leave to go elsewhere. However, sometimes players just want to leave.

Therefore at start of the 2011–12 season, when Arsenal sold two big players in Cesc and Nasri, it was no great revelation. Cesc wanted to go home and Nasri just saw a shed load of cash… Suspensions, injuries and an under strength team left us short as we lost 2-8 at Man United, our worst defeat for 115 years almost the age of PHW.

I think Arsene really believed that one of Cesc or Nasri would stay, however, neither did and this with Jack picking up a bad injury we were down three top midfielders. Arsene went into the transfer market far too late to stop our early season lack of form that showed with only seven points form our first seven matches.

Arsene got in Arteta, Mertersacker, Santos, Park (Or Bench as I know him), Chamberlain and brought in Benayoun on loan from Chelsea for the season. The poor start brought the media vultures out in full force, they could smell trouble and if they could just stir it up a little more there was a huge story on the horizon. There was even crazy talk about relegation. The problem for the media is Arsenal’s board do not panic when the going gets tough. The board stuck by Arsene and as the season progressed the team grew and results started to get better right up to Christmas.

Spuds during this time were also doing well and playing very good football. Having your neighbours above you in the table and playing with style and the best player in the world :-), meant no matter that the team were improving, shadows were over the club.

Three straight league defeats in January, by Fulham, Swansea and Man Utd, and by the end of the January transfer window Arsene had not added to the squad, those circling vultures just would not go away, even though we progressed in both FA CUP matches. The club was starved of full backs for a long period a position that at times looked like a curse on anyone who played there.

However, with the full backs coming back we again improved in February and went on a run of nine wins in 10 matches, slowly rising up the table. Suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel, winning 7-1 at home to Blackburn and 2-1 at Sunderland. When we played Spuds at home and found ourselves 2-0 to a dodgy penalty and a crazy deflected goal we were looking at a 13 point gap between us and them and things looking gloomy again. Sagna took the ball by the horns got us back into the game and we came back and won 5-2. This lifted the team and the home crowd. One for sorrow was gone and two for Joy was back inside the stadium. I felt the following home games the atmosphere was as good as it had been since we moved in.

A shock defeat to QPR and then two wins on the bounce against Man City and Wolves left us third. Classically when on the front foot, the team took their foot of the pedal and what should have been a stock win over Wigan turned into a 2-1 defeat. What worked in our favour was the sides battling it out for third place were also slipping up, so when we had three successive draws against Chelsea, Stoke RFC and Norwich, it turned out not to be as bad as it could have done.

Arsene was left to rally the troops without Arteta a player we had not won a league game without him playing. This left us having to win at WBA to get Champions League football without having to qualify for the 15th successive season. The lads did it 3-2 and with no small help from the WBA goalkeeper. I went and the occasion was 10 times better than the football that day, overall it was a poor game, but sometimes the result is all that matters.

Six days later and Spuds six-day Champions League adventure was over as Chelsea somehow beat Bayern in the Champions League Final by not only taking 20,000 fans, but also about 100 London buses that they parked in front of their goal. Spuds spot in next years tournament had vanished and sent them tumbling into the Thursday night Europa League spot.

“Mind the Gap”

It could be said we/Arsene got lucky, but people should remember the league is over 38 games and the highs and lows even themselves out, the table does not lie. So while Spurs were better than us for a while, over the season they were once again shown to be living forever in our shadow as always.

Arsene can be stubborn, we all know that. However, for me is still the man for the job and the club are not going get rid of him easy or at least till his current contract is up in 2014. Some fans would like to see Usmanov voted onto the board and give Arsene the funds to fire back £50 notes at Chelsea & City putting Arsenal into the big money league. Maybe if these FFPR’s are going to kick in, we’re a bit late for all that.

Arsene rightly should take some of the blame for not getting matters in order at the start of the season. He has made mistakes, playing players out of position, picking Santos for  a dead rubber match in Greece. Over playing certain players. Maybe not getting one or two players in during the January transfer window, even if on loan.

With the season now over, the talk is of what happens next? Well the contract situation has again arisen with Song, Theo and most importantly RVP. The club should be getting them all to sign new contracts as soon as possible and offering the going rate.

Arsene and the club have already shown some intent with the signing of Podolski from Cologne. Arsenal now need to show more intent with at least three other important, rather than big signings. Having a squad that can compete is what we need as this may help make up the mind of RVP to stay at the club. Arsene MUST not do what they did last year and let these transfer dealing both in and out drag on right up to the start of the season and beyond up to the transfer window. The club have to do all it’s business by end of June/mid-July so we are ready for the start of the season this year, even if it means certain players leaving, to make sure new ones are in place.

Arsenal finished third, one place higher than last season, which is an improvement, but at the same time we finished 19 points behind the two Manchester clubs in first & second. The battle for third took its toll on a mix and match season for Arsenal, Chelsea and Spuds, maybe even Newcastle. Liverpool were just plain awful. We went out of the Carling Cup with our usual mix of first team and fringe/young players to City, though we did give them a good game and it took about £90m worth of talent to beat us with a minute or so to go. The FA Cup saw an Arsenal team that did not turn up for the match at Sunderland and we went out limply to Sunderland 0-2 a team we had beat a week earlier 2-1 at the Stadium of Light.

Another match we failed to turn up in was Milan away and lost poorly 4-0. We got a right drubbing. A much better performance in the return leg saw us win 3-0 and if Robin had not missed one of his sitters, who knows?

The league again saw too many non-performances. We should have had two or three more wins and a few draws instead of defeats that may have made all the difference.

Arsene never seems to get worked up, save with officials. Neither him nor Pat Rice are jumping up and punching the air screaming at the players when you feel that is what they need at times. We get into leads and just sit back as if we have won a match and throw the points away and yet strangely when behind we have the fight then to come back.

It’s been a strange season, maybe the strangest of Arsene’s time with the club. I feel we are not that far away and I’m sure many others feel the same. It’s time to start to fight in every game. It’s time to start to take teams apart and not get into leads and have the attitude that we have won, we need to keep going until the final whistle. We need to go for kill. Make teams scared to play us. We’re “The Arsenal”.

So come on Mr. Wenger show us what you’ve got left. Get the right players in. Give Steve Bould the right to question and use the tactics the old guard used to play when certain games require it. Let him sort out the defence, all good players in their own right, yet they need to learn to play as a unit and also have the midfield give them more protection. You can’t play great football all the time; sometimes you have to grind out results.

Let’s see a better challenge all round next season.

Marks out of 10 – (6.5)

Please feel free to comment

@harlowgooner

One Comment leave one →
  1. indian_gooner permalink
    May 30, 2012 05:45

    “So come on Mr. Wenger show us what you’ve got left. Get the right players in. Give Steve Bould the right to question and use the tactics the old guard used to play when certain games require it. Let him sort out the defence, all good players in their own right, yet they need to learn to play as a unit and also have the midfield give them more protection. You can’t play great football all the time; sometimes you have to grind out results.”

    Like you am hoping for the same but we all know how stubborn wenger is. So i dont see any of that happening. I just can’t see him changing. Hence, i feel that we need a new manager.

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