The question about whether or not Wenger should step down from his role as manager has become a swirling debate that resurfaces once every few months. It’s almost always fueled by a run of bad results, a key injury or two (or three) which comes without sufficient squad depth to cope, or a perceived hesitation to pull the trigger in the transfer market. It’s the latter that has caught the media’s attention most recently, but is it fair to question a man who ushered in a new era of the Premier League, and dragged Arsenal into the rarified air of Europe’s elite?
The answer is yes.
It’s not because of Arsenal’s lack of recent league titles, either. Arsenal have not topped the Premier League since the invincible season of 03/04. After which Arsenal, with Arsene at the helm, entered a period of relative austerity, which explains (albeit the fact that it was self inflicted) their inability to compete over the last decade. Arsenal financing the Emirates stadium should have seen them come out of the end of that decade towering above their peers, with the increased match day revenue, new sponsorship deals and unprecedented run in the Champions League, they should have joined the upper echelons of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in terms of financial power. Unfortunately, there were two circumstances that Arsene Wenger could not have possibly foreseen: The cash injection of oil rich owners, creating financial superclubs out of Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris St. Germain, and the huge influx of revenue from the TV rights created in the war between BT and Sky Sports. These two factors have created a much more level playing field than Arsene would have envisaged, and it’s with that in mind that the man should be judged.
Even with the financial context, however, there is still a very strong argument to be made that the manager is no longer the right man for the job. Many argue that as he was once the catalyst for English football’s evolution, the game has now evolved to a level that has passed him by. It is easy for fans to become frustrated with Arsenal’s transfer policies, when it was clear to all (and stated by the manager) at the beginning of the summer that the club needed a striker to compete with Olivier Giroud, a new centre-back and an addition to midfield. 2 of those 3 signings are now coming months later, when the club has already dropped 5 of the 9 points available to them.
It remains to be seen whether or not these last ditch signings are enough to stave off the chants of “Wenger Out”, it’s likely that only a Premier League title will be enough to satiate the most aggravated of fans.