After two seasons of success with back to back FA Cup wins, it has been a good period for Arsenal. Mainly down to the satisfaction of ending their silverware drought with something to show for their efforts, but also an optimistic sense that Arsenal can build on these cup wins and aim higher. Bringing in more star players, trimming the squad of deadwood, preparing better for key games and taking control of a league that is becoming more and more unpredictable. But there has always been this anger towards Arsene Wenger quietly bubbling in the background.
Frustration of the same old seasons, failed pre-season expectations and not challenging for the Premier League with some baffling results have called for Arsene Wenger to leave. Bed sheets ruined to make banners, anti Wenger chants becoming louder, increased social media abuse and a civil war breaking out within the fan base. No wonder nobody likes Arsenal fans.
Protest At Your Own Peril Arsenal Fans
It is a case of the same old season for Arsenal fans. A season beginning with hope, title ambitions and another FA Cup with the usual eye catching performances balanced out with poor run of form, flopping out of the last 16 of the Champions League and failing to retain the FA Cup. Towards the end of the 4-0 FA Cup replay win over Hull, a gigantic “Arsene, thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye” banner was dusted off and unveiled with some cheers of support and a mixed reception on Twitter. After Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Everton, another banner entitled “Time for change Arsenal FC; Not Arsene FC” was held in protest to the current regime. Even after Arsenal cruised to victories and displayed a convincing performances in both fixtures, they were defiantly held with the same poor timing of a drunken karaoke singer belting out Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer at a funeral. The unfortunate thing about the fans’ banners is how they immediately overshadowed successful away trips and suddenly becomes the main talking point within the papers and social media; Joel Campbell’s delightful pass to Theo Walcott suddenly forgotten in the favour of talking about a bed sheet. In a time where Arsenal are in the midst of a self implosion and slipping out of the title race, these moments are not helping the team’s cause.
After nearly 20 years at the helm, it is understandable why fans want change and protest at games. Predictable and some baffling substitutions, inability to hold onto results, a miserable injury record and reluctance to spend big to get the right man and improve the team. Granted he become less financially tight with the transfers of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but criticisms remain. Failure to overcome Watford at home and struggling to beat Swansea, Manchester United and Spurs lately adds fuel to the flames and loses not only a chance to win three FA Cups in a row but a shield to defend Arsene Wenger with. That is not even to mention that Leicester City will likely win the league with Arsenal (amongst others) failing to keep up and a good chance Tottenham could finish above them. The argument for Wenger’s departure holds weight and is plausible why a movement that has been building over the past few years is gaining so much support.
Albeit Arsene Wenger is not a perfect manager but protests like these can derail a strong end to the season and create a poisonous atmosphere within the club. A civil war within the Arsenal fan base will do nothing but prolong the club’s dire form in 2016 and pass the fans’ angst and bitterness onto the players’ minds and dressing room with Aaron Ramsey commenting how shocked he was to see the anti-Wenger banner away at Hull City. Given its already acknowledged poor timing, to protest when a league title is still winnable shows self righteousness from certain sections of support. Sure Leicester might end up winning the league but there is still a chance of them dropping points and struggle to overcome teams in their remaining eight games. Instead of arguing between fans and becoming a laughing stock to neutral fans, perhaps the focus should be pushing Arsenal towards a title, not pushing a great manager out of the door.
Hence if Wenger were to leave, the fallout from his departure would be severe. To replace a successful manager with another talented coach and have instant success is extremely difficult and requires long and careful consideration. Look no further than at Manchester United; Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and United are still struggling to find the right successor to his dynasty with David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal unable to match his historic feats or compete for silverware. The post Ferguson era should be a warning sign to those Arsenal fans who want change and be a sign of caution towards Arsenal’s future as a competitive club. Suddenly those Top 4 finishes and ability to attract talented players will potentially be replaced with miserable sixth place finishes, losing star players to rivals again and struggling to challenge in domestic cups.
An Arsenal without Arsene Wenger is inevitable and while it has been a disappointing season for fans with no silverware, anger has to be directed somewhere. Wenger is an obvious target considering his private and frigid demeanour, but banners from the Wenger Out Brigade will not fix the Emirates’ bitter atmosphere or heal the damaged squad morale. Arsene Wenger has seen glided the club through testing times and if fans force him out, it could be devastating for the club’s future and set the club down a dangerous path.