Arsene Wenger has always seemed immortal.
But right now, that immortality at Arsenal is in serious doubt.
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Wenger, 66, oversaw Arsenal’s shock 2-1 defeat to Watford in the FA Cup quarterfinal on Sunday — which ended their chance of an FA Cup three-pear — and now fan unrest is growing.
Is this the beginning of the end for Wenger?
We’ve already recently seen banners unfurled by angry fans and ex players, pundits and others are speaking out against the Frenchman. After spending 20 years in charge at Arsenal, Wenger has three Premier League titles, six FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League runners up medal in his possession.
He has proven himself time and time again in these sticky situations, but is his previous success enough to get him through this time?
Most fans will argue it’s not.
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Arsenal last won the PL title during the 2003-04 season and it looks like they’re about to let slip their best chance in over a decade to win it again. Finishing in fourth place keeps the board of directors happy (they’re set to do that for the 20th-straight season) but continued failure in the Champions League knockout rounds rankle — they look sit to be knocked out by Barcelona in the Round of 16 this week — and despite FA Cup success in each of the last two seasons, the fans want more.
That’s the main reason Wenger is on the hot seat.
Arsenal’s fans have accepted the excuses for a long time and have also accepted that key players had to be sold in order to help them finance the move to the Emirates Stadium. However, that’s no longer the case.
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Wenger has spent big on the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in recent years but has continued to neglect and add a top quality center back or central midfielder. That, right there, is his biggest downfall. Petr Cech arrived last summer but there’s only so much one man can do and defensively the Gunners haven’t been anywhere near solid enough for almost a decade.
There’s no doubt Wenger will go down as the greatest manager in Arsenal’s history. There will be a statue of him outside the Emirates and alongside Sir Alex Ferguson they will be seen as the two greatest managers in PL history. However, will the current run of no PL title in over a decade hurt his legacy?
That’s the people many people are asking and fans of Arsenal believe that not only the board, but Wenger himself, should scrutinize this season closer than any other if the PL trophy doesn’t end up at the Emirates.
It would take a minor miracle for Arsenal to win the league this season, and the fact they they’ve blown up and both Leicester City and Tottenham look likely to finish above them only compounds the growing feeling of discontent about Wenger and the Gunners’ seemingly never-ending pursuit of becoming champions of England once again.
To them, this isn’t about creating a team which plays in an incredibly attractive style and makes the club money. Wenger achieves that every single season. What the fans want is trophies. They want something tangible to show for it.
After two decades, Wenger may not survive this latest wave of fan unrest. This summer could see a new era ushered in, but would it be for the best?
Arsenal fans, be careful what you wish for. Just look at Manchester United and Chelsea over recent times. That said, change isn’t always a bad thing but looking around at the available managers and potential options for the Gunners, is now really the right time for Wenger to go?
The general feeling has always been that Arsene Wenger will decide when he wants to leave Arsenal. I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore. It will be an interesting offseason at the Emirates, that’s for sure.