independent

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Time for Arsene to get his coat and go

Weird Wide World of Sport

Dave Devereux

The time has come for Arsene Wenger to call it a day at Arsenal
The time has come for Arsene Wenger to call it a day at Arsenal

Trying to get the kids out the door to school this morning was a bit like attempting to fight back the tide with a pitchfork.

An infamously uncooperative long in the tooth mule, who has broken many a spirit, would have nothing on the little imps when it comes to digging their heels in when the notion takes them.

It's amazing how quickly routine can be broken by the unpredictability and spontaneity of the weekend, and menial things like brushing teeth and getting coats on can become like a miniature Battle of the Somme instead of the simple tasks done with military precision that they should be.

Speaking of coats, and stubbornness for that matter, it's surely about time Arsene Wenger eventually agreed to toe the line like my children and zipped up his oversized overcoat and headed out the front door while some dignity remains.

A second half of the season slump in the Premier League and a last 16 exit from the Champions League are nothing new for fans of the Gunners, but their 5-1 humiliation by Bayern Munich was a new low for the manager of almost 21 years.

Arsenal continue to spout the 'business as usual' line whenever there's speculation surrounding the manager's future, but that's what they have become, a business first and football club second.

When the Frenchman first crossed the channel to ply his trade in the Premier League, his tactical acumen and eye for spotting untapped potential in a bargain buy put him up there with the very best in the football business.

Unfortunately, in recent seasons Wenger's business brilliance has been mainly reserved for the financial side of things and keeping the money men happy, but on the football field the same mistakes have been replicated time and time again for the past decade.

There's no shortage of talent in the Arsenal squad but the players continue to have a centre softer than the crap sweets left at the bottom of the Quality Street box, and the lack of leadership in the team is on a par with the ostriches burying their head in the sand kind of stuff we see in Dáil Éireann.

Despite their obvious class, the dearth of heart and fight in the Arsenal team is simply shocking, and although the players have to shoulder responsibility for their unwillingness to go that extra mile, the buck stops with the man overseeing operations from the sideline.

A manager who has watched the likes of Ian Wright, Martin Keown and Patrick Vieira fight tooth and nail for the club should surely see what's missing from the spine of the team, and it's not like he hasn't had the time and opportunity to address it.

The anger and downright disillusionment among Gooners is far greater than ever this season, and although Wenger and the powers-that-be at Arsenal haven't been swayed by such sentiment in the past, the manager has the appearance of a stressed out figure that could be willing to walk out of the white heat of the spotlight and surely the board would welcome that decision.

Wenger has publicly stated that he will be managing next season, if not at Arsenal somewhere else, and maybe a new challenge will spark a return of the joie de vivre he showed in his fledgling years in London.

Arsene Wenger has been brilliant for Arsenal, winning three Premier League titles, six FA Cups and never finishing outside the top four in 21 years, but if they want to seriously push for league and European honours they need a fresh face with fresh ideas at the helm.

Hopefully Wenger, like my kids this morning, will eventually listen to reason and march out the front door at the end of the season with his head held high before the tantrums turn to real tears and his legacy is tarnished.

If he does head to pastures new, knowing Arsenal's luck he'll have taken over at whatever team knocks them out of the Champions League at the last 16 stage next season.

Wexford People

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