Monday, 24 March 2014

Wenger is asking big questions of himself and quitting is an option

The inquest has well and truly begun into what went wrong at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. I think it's fair to say that it was the worst performance I've witnessed under a side managed by Arsene Wenger. It was gutless.

The manager and players held a clear the air meeting yesterday at London Colney and Wenger has cancelled his pre-match media conference scheduled for this morning. The club is pretty much in media lock down mode.

And that's because Arsene Wenger is facing a lot of tough questions. And they're mainly the one he's asking of himself. Is he the right man to carry on at Arsenal next season? Has he taken this team as far as he can? Is he up to the task of rebuilding this team to be title winners? Is he prepared to spend big money in order to sign the players we need to compete with Europe's elite teams?

In the excellent documentary Arsene Who? broadcast on Sky Sports on Friday, former vice-chairman David Dein said that Wenger would always question himself at the end of the season and decide whether he was the right man to continue leading Arsenal. This summer those questions are going to be very tough to answer.

Winning the FA Cup would be a start. It would take the silverware question off the table. But the bigger question many of us would like answering is why we've gone backwards in games against our direct title rivals, especially away from home.

It has never taken the manager as long as it has this time round to sign an extension to his contract. The deal is agreed in principal but remains unsigned. And there is very real doubts that he will sign up to another two years.

Of course at the moment he is carrying on like he will be staying, attending meetings on this summer's transfer plans and the pre-season friendlies we're going to play. But while the piece of paper is unsigned there are very real doubts that our most successful manager won't be leading the club next term.

Wenger's commitment to our club has been strong and there have been lucrative offers for him to leave. He's stuck by us while we moved stadiums and sent out a competitive team to compete at the highest level every season, despite not having the budget to spend the money our rivals were doing on players.

I've never been one who has wanted the manager to leave. He's been fantastic for our football club and I don't think any other manager would have been as successful as the way he has been, especially after our stadium move, to qualify us each season for the Champions League.

But now I do feel we are at a turning point. Arsenal fans have been patient enough with the lack of silverware in the last nine years. And once we taste success again, we'll be thirsty for more.

There will be pressure on the manager to bring in established players who can help us win league titles, the domestic cups and the Champions League and not the likes of Yaya Sanogo, a player who may take years to turn into the world class player Wenger imagines him being. Will Wenger be prepared to do that?

This weekend's defeat seems like a turning point in our relationship with Arsene Wenger. I hope which ever way it goes, the interests of Arsenal Football Club are first and foremost in everyone's mind.

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