If Matt Law isn't careful, he might get a Paul Hayward-esque reputation around these parts. Fellow writer Thomas Wachtel already did an excellent take-down of Law's transfer article. Today, Law has written another article, advocating that it's time for Arsene Wenger to leave.
Before you read this, read Thomas' article to get a sense of how I'll do things. Then read Fire Joe Morgan, and report back with enough review for a popquiz.
Note: Law's article is in bold.
Au revoir Le Boss? Has the time come for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to go?
Ooh, French in the title. Nice, Mathieu.
La réponse est non.
Arsenal will most likely be nowhere near the shake-up for major honours and Wenger seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it. He deserves respect and admiration for what he has achieved - but not immunity.
Ok. First things first: unable and unwilling are two completely different things. Here's an example: "Matt Law is unwilling to not write bad articles because he's a hack", and "Matt Law is unable to not write bad articles because he doesn't know how to." Unwilling implies that it's a conscious choice; unable implies that it's out of one's hands. So are you seriously arguing that Arsene Wenger, who went unbeaten for christ sakes, is unwilling to win?
Arsene Wenger told Arsenal's shareholders: "If everybody is devastated when we finish third, I promise I won't be here when we finish 15th." The statement was intended to remind disgruntled fans exactly what manager Wenger has given the club and warn the grass is not always greener.
Nope, it isn't.
Arsenal take on Schalke in the Champions League tomorrow night, a tournament they have competed in for 15 successive years.
Pretty impressive record, right? And Arsenal fans like the Champions League, no? It's a lot of fun, most of the time, isn't it?
But for seven of those years, Wenger's Arsenal have not won a trophy and the latest defeat to Manchester United suggested the Gunners are as far from major honours as they have ever been.
Seven years? Check! Taking a viewpoint based on a single performance? Check! And, yeah, ok, the performance away to Manchester United was horrendous. I'll give you that. But based on Arsenal's performance against Manchester City, they were title contenders. Based on United's performance at Everton, they were Europa League contenders. I can prove anything with one-game examples. Hell, Wigan beat Spurs at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Does that make them Champions League contenders?
The supporters who made the trip to Old Trafford directed most of their frustration at chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who stands accused of putting the balance sheet ahead of the team sheet. But it is time to at least accept there are grounds for a debate over whether Wenger has become part of the problem, rather than the solution. The fact Wenger is one of Europe's highest paid managers on £7million a year also prompts the question: Is he still worth the money?
Ok. Can Wenger sometimes harm the team with his insistence that they sort solutions out for themselves? Undoubtedly, yes. Can he be a better tactical manager? Probably. Is he worth the money? Um, yes. 15 straight years of Champions League football. The lowest Wenger has finished is 4th. Arsenal finished 12th in George Graham's last season, 5th in Bruce Rioch's only season. This is Arsenal's best ever era of success, period, and it's mostly down to Wenger. This whole "7 years without a trophy" shtick? They went 8 years, between 1971 and 1979, and then another 8 between 1979 and 1987. Imagine that: one trophy in 16 years. That's Spurs territory!
Chelsea, Manchester City and possibly even Manchester United will seriously consider whether to tempt Pep Guardiola back to work at the end of the season. Why not Arsenal? They may never have a better opportunity to replace Wenger with somebody who could genuinely do a better job.
Yeah, Guardiola is probably the only man who could genuinely do a better job. But he could also be a catastrophe. We don't know how good a manager he is without Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. His faffing about with a back three last season cost Barcelona the title. Oh, and he spent lots and lots of wasted money; in fact, I'm not sure if Guardiola has ever gotten value in the transfer market. Wenger undoubtedly has. As Thomas said last week, we can't afford to make huge mistakes unlike the Barcelonas and Chelseas of the world. There's no writing off of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at this club.
Certainly, it was Wenger and not Gazidis who must take responsibility for the lacklustre performance and defeat against United.
God dammit, Wenger, why the hell did you kick the ball straight to van Persie! HOW COULD YOU BE OUTJUMPED BY PATRICE EVRA, WENGER, YOU'RE 6'4. SORT IT OUT!
The Frenchman's team selection was baffling,
No, it wasn't. Walcott was exhausted, he played 120 minutes on Tuesday.
his tactics were poor,
Debatable. Could've had Arteta change positions and supported Giroud a bit better.
his decision making was ineffectual and his actions supported some theories he has lost his edge.
It was bizarre to see Wenger share a friendly embrace with Robin van Persie as he walked off the Old Trafford pitch at half-time with his team 1-0 down.
should of poked him in the eye, like Mourinho did. Cause that's what REAL WINNAHS DO!
Wenger used to be United's biggest rival, the man they feared and secretly respected the most. Now, it appears, he's simply happy to still be in their company.
Andre Santos should have been dragged off for a woeful first-half performance and after asking for Van Persie's shirt as a souvenir at the break.
It's really starting to look like the media decided to pick on Santos, before the match happened. He got a 1 in the Times report. Match of the Day took him to task. John Cross tweeted this. For a backup left back against Antonio Valencia, he wasn't that bad. Valencia burnt Cole the previous week; should Roberto Di Matteo have taken Cole off after 45 minutes? Santos wasn't great, but he wasn't by far the worst.
But Wenger decided against a shake-up or sending a message to his players that they must possess a winning attitude. He hoped things might improve, rather than taking the initiative.
Two things: One, you were not anywhere near the Arsenal dressing room, so cut the "winning attitude" crap you clichéd-laden fool. Secondly, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY THAT WAS ACTUALLY POSSIBLE?
This seems to be a problem that runs through Arsenal. They live in hope, more than expectation. They would rather wait to see if Financial Fair Play gives the club a boost, than take the initiative and try to instigate improvement.
Stupid Arsenal, running their team responsibly. SPEND SOME FUCKING MONEY! WHO CARES IF YOU CAN'T ACTUALLY SUSTAIN IT!
Wenger was right to highlight the fact he has done a wonderful job in keeping Arsenal in the Champions League, but his suggestion the club will flounder without him was incredibly arrogant and not necessarily true.
If Alex Ferguson said it, you'd be creaming your pants about his "refreshingly honest attitude." Also, the 3-4 years before Wenger came in suggested that he's right. Y'know, 12th. 94-95.
Arsenal won trophies before the arrival of Wenger and will win more long after he is gone. They may not qualify for the Champions League for 15 successive years, but they may not go seven without silverware.
Yep. They could go 16 years with only 1 trophy, like they did in the good old days! WE WANT OUR ARSENAL BACK!
Wenger has got his approach to the Theo Walcott situation horribly wrong. It is costing the club on the pitch and may well result in the forward leaving the Emirates - whatever the contract offer.
But Alex Ferguson has got it right with Nani, right? Also--in what sport, or job should you give a big role to a person who might be leaving in two months?
Following Walcott's hat-trick and match-saving performance against Reading in the Capital One Cup, Wenger described the forward as being "extremely professional." Wenger also continues to insist Walcott is a "great player" who will be a top-class striker. He has denied the England international's failure to sign a new contract is influencing his team selection. Unfortunately, Wenger's words do not add up, as was proved by Walcott's omission from the starting line-up at Old Trafford. It is becoming pointless to take anything the stubborn 63-year-old says on the subject seriously.
HE PLAYED 120 MINUTES ON TUESDAY AGAINST READING AFTER BEING OUT FOR THREE WEEKS WITH A BRUISED LUNG. IT'S NOT THAT GODDAMN DIFFICULT, IS IT?
Either Wenger is leaving Walcott out because he has not signed a contract or the Frenchman does not rate a player who has scored seven goals, despite starting just three games. Whatever the reason, it does not reflect particularly well on Wenger. The faster he accepts he has got it wrong, the better it will be for Arsenal.
Or, because, you know, until West Ham, those goals came against powerhouses Coventry and Southampton. And then Walcott got injured on International duty.
There are other problems, too, that can only be attributed Wenger.
You're missing a "to", there, buddy.
He has signed a striker in Olivier Giroud who looks designed to play in two-man partnership, but the Arsenal boss will not change his tactics.
Giroud played as a lone striker all of last season for Montpellier, and mostly has for France. Did you actually watch him last year?
Thomas Vermaelen's performances have suffered for being given the responsibility of the captain's armband and having to simultaneously act as centre-back and left-back when Santos is in the team.
So that's somehow Wenger's fault?
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson substituted Tom Cleverley after the midfielder's final warning from referee Mike Dean. Wenger left Jack Wilshere on and the tiring youngster made one lunge too many.
Ferguson was controlling the game and arguably had a better player on the bench. Wenger did not. If Arsenal had got a goal earlier, you would've slaughtered him for taking off a significant creative threat.
Wenger started the season hoping Abou Diaby would avoid injury, hoping his goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny would play every game, hoping Gervinho could somehow succeed as a striker and hoping Van Persie's goals would not be missed. But what did he really expect?
I'll give you Diaby. I won't give you Szczesny; most teams have crap backup keepers. Have you seen Brad Jones, Hilario and Ross Turnbull?
And what was he supposed to do? Say that "we're doomed, we'll always miss van Persie's goals". Of course not! The last time Arsenal replaced a talismanic striker, Thierry Henry, it worked out rather well. They replaced Ian Wright with goals from all over. There's no reason why they couldn't here; hell, they signed a German international with 40 goals in 100 caps, and the leading French goal-scorer from last season. You advocated Arsenal signing Grant Holt.
The smart money is still on Wenger securing a top-four place and Champions League qualification for Arsenal yet again.
CLUB IN CRISIS
But Arsenal will most likely be nowhere near the shake-up for major honours and Wenger seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
We've been over this, Matt.
If that is indeed the case, then there must be a serious debate over whether this should be Wenger's final season as Arsenal manager.
It's not the case.
He deserves respect and admiration for what he has achieved. He does not deserve immunity.
No, he doesn't, and he'd be the last person to say that he does. But he also deserves the shot to rebuild, without the threat of some knobbish player demanding to be involved in his transfer policy. Also, when that debate comes around, it should be based when Arsenal actually have lots of problems, not a bad run of form. I mean, hell, you and the rest of Fleet Street's Finest were creaming over them after they drew against Man City. So pardon me for viewing the media as a bit of a joke, because articles like this do nothing to disprove that theory.
P.S. Of course. Of course.