At some point , after the match on Sunday against Brighton, when the noise from the crowd subsided in his head ,Arsene Wenger probably looked back on what might have been. Not just for that game in particular but for the season as a whole.
He has recently postured , evaded questions on his future and stubbornly refused to react but the next couple of days will be much different. The Frenchman is under incredible pressure , possibly the worst of his reign and it shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
He will have been haunted by his thoughts after the final whistle and those thoughts were no doubt full of underachievement , unrealised ambition and failure.
The scale of the failure is a matter of opinion but the Arsenal boss has been on a downward spiral for 4 or 5 seasons and is increasingly reluctant to admit it.
He is on the brink , having lost the confidence of those around him and his position is becoming untenable.
How sad , for someone that has given so much and loves the club so deeply. He now faces the prospect of being sacked or forced to resign and that will be clearer to him now, than at any other time as manager.
Wenger is a principled , honourable man , one almost at odds with today’s cutthroat game but he has been unable to turn things around and it now looks as if only a change can resolve the problem.
This situation has been developing and has been ignored or skimmed over , as if ignorance was a cure.
So what has caused this situation ?
Why has Wenger lost his touch ?
There are many reasons but the most obvious must be the damage of moving from Highbury to the Emirates. This resulted in the club being unable to compete financially and they also went on to suffer competitively.
They had to sell key assets and a team that was once the spoken of as one of the worlds finest was broken up and gradually sold off and those sales included the departure of Robin Van Persie.
From then on , Wenger had to make do , deprived of the cash to fund new signings , the team fell short season after season.
The promises he made about the potential greatness of his side was undermined by youth , he had no choice , so , one by one, he threw inexperienced players in at the deep end and at the time was praised for doing so ,but the results had began to dip.
He has failed to address the issues to the spine of his team and every year it’s the same old story, Arsenal lack consistency and as a result , usually by December , they have little or nothing to play for.
The back line has been Wenger’s achilles for years and instead of buying quality , he went cheap and cheap leads to all sorts of issues.
Koschelny, Mustafi , Bellerin , Chambers , Jenkins and Holding are at best average players. Bellerin is exceptional going forward but his ability to defend and his positional awareness is questionable.
Wenger purchased Xhaka trying to solve his holding midfielder conundrum but it’s been shown that he is inept at the role.
These days Wenger provides safety for pampered players who don’t even go through the motions , it appears one good performance is enough to allow a player another 6 games on cruise control.
No matter how dire , the same faces get to appear on the team sheet and this season that was never more obvious in the case of Ozil and Sanchez , who virtually chose when to perform.
After 20 years at the club , Wenger’s methods must be stale and his philosophy, a little tired or jaded but his enthusiasm appears intact. Yet this alone will not see him through this deepening crisis , not this time.
I expect him to go at the end of this season , Arsenal owe him that.
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