Calls mount for Le Professeur to quit Arsenal

Father figure: The son of a bistro-owner “made Arsenal what they are today”. ©PA

Is it time for Arsène Wenger to stand down? Arsenal were humiliated in the League Cup final on Sunday and now a club legend says there is ‘no case’ for ‘Le Professeur’ keeping his job.

“Arsenal are on the road to nowhere under Arsène Wenger,” wrote Henry Winter in The Times. They were “so bad they made children cry”, said Paul Hayward in The Telegraph. Gary Neville was even blunter in commentary: “They’re a disgrace. An absolute disgrace.”

The Gunners collapsed to a 3-0 defeat in the League Cup final to Manchester City on Sunday. Much of the blame for this abject display has been piled on manager Arsène Wenger.

Wenger, who signed a new two-year contract last summer, is fast running out of backers. Speaking on the BBC on Monday, Arsenal legend Ian Wright said he "could not make a case" for Wenger to still be Arsenal manager next season.

Arsenal are closer to the bottom of the Premier League than to the top, and few believe they will win it any time soon. The fans have been split for years: you are either an “AKB” (“Arsène Knows Best”) or a member of the “WOB” — the “Wenger Out Brigade”.

Every day the latter movement swells, while the AKBs fast resemble Japanese soldiers who continued fighting days after the second world war had officially ended.

These are the charges: that Wenger is tactically stubborn, that his teams are mentally weak, that he has too much power, that he dithers in the transfer market and that he is too lenient with under-performing players.

In his time at the North London club, Wenger has won three league titles (including one without losing a game) and eight FA Cups. He is easily England’s longest-serving manager.

Since he arrived in the tough, insular world of English football, his influence has been huge. He was the first manager in England to place great importance on players’ diets. Now every club rigorously monitors what their stars eat. He has changed Arsenal too: from 1925 until 1996 they were known for a defensive brand of football, but under Wenger their fast-flowing, attractive style has been lauded all over the world.

Arsène FC?

There is a flag that sometimes appears at Arsenal games. It reads: “Arsène: thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye.” No-one will ever forget the success they have had under Wenger. But it has become stale. Their failures this season have been entirely predictable, and by staying Wenger would only be harming his reputation. He should resign; and if he does not, the club should sack him.

How shabby it would be if Arsenal became so driven by results that they sacked their greatest manager! reply those whose faith in Wenger has not wavered. They point to Manchester United, who have still not recovered from the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, as an example of what happens when such a major figure leaves. As another flag at the Emirates Stadium proclaims: “In Arsène we trust”.

You Decide

  1. Should Arsenal sack Arsène Wenger?
  2. Managerial reigns are becoming shorter and shorter: do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing?

Activities

  1. Imagine you are Arsène Wenger and you have just resigned. Write an open letter to the fans explaining your decision.
  2. Think of one other person who has had a profound impact on a single sport, and give a five-minute talk to your class explaining your choice.

Some People Say...

“If you do not believe you can do it then you have no chance at all.”

Arsène Wenger

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Arsène Wenger has been Arsenal manager since 1996. His current contract extends to the end of next season, but many expect (and want) him to depart sooner than that. Arsenal have only won the FA Cup since 2004, and are further away from winning the Premier League than at any other point of the Wenger era. We know that Arsenal fans, once split 50/50, now mostly want Wenger to leave.
What do we not know?
Whether Wenger leaving would cure Arsenal’s woes. Manchester United have experienced great difficulties replacing Sir Alex Ferguson — another towering, long-term manager, and many neutrals still believe Arsenal fans should be careful what they wish for. We simply do not know when Wenger will eventually leave.

Word Watch

Made children cry
A clip of a young Arsenal fan crying went viral shortly after the game.
Ian Wright
Wright was a striker for Arsenal from 1991 until 1998, and so saw first hand the vast changes Wenger made at Arsenal. He is now a pundit for the BBC.
Closer to the bottom of the Premier League
Arsenal are 27 points away from Manchester City at the top of the table, while 25 points separate them from West Bromwich Albion, at the bottom.
Without losing
Arsenal won the league in 2003/04 without losing a game — the club’s greatest ever achievement. The side became known as “The Invincibles”. This feat almost equals the unique Preston record of the 1880s (they won the cup as well as the league without suffering a single defeat).
Diets
Wenger famously said: “English people eat too much sugar and meat, and not enough vegetables.”
1925
Arsenal’s other great manager was Herbert Chapman, who took over the club in 1925 and was in charge until his death in 1934. Like Wenger he was a pioneer, championing innovations such as floodlights and numbered shirts. But unlike Wenger his style was based on a strong defence.

Subjects

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