Arsenal Must Win A Trophy This Year For The Sake Of English Football
Arsene Wenger has had a hard time of things in the last few years. Some of the criticism he's taken was deserved, especially for some of the players that have passed through the doors at Arsenal, but English football needs the Arsenal manager to win a trophy this season. He has his flaws, but the Premier League needs Arsene Wenger in it.
In the current managerial climate in the Premier League, not many clubs would have stuck by the manager after the trophyless years that Arsenal have been through. The bizarre goings on at Fulham only serve to emphasise how quick clubs can be to reach for the panic button. There have even been certain seasons where other clubs would have sacked him during the campaign, fearing missing out on Champions League football. Arsenal stuck by him and, whilst the club are yet to be rewarded with silverware, have remained stable and in Europe's top competition. No, this can't be equated to the glory of winning a trophy, but on seeing the Arsenal financial results on Friday, it has contributed to the club being well-run and leaves Arsenal in a good position to be competitive in the future.
What made the draw with Manchester United on Wednesday all the more frustrating was that this United team are so average. Whilst their decline has been funny for Gooners, it should also serve as a warning for what could happen when Arsene Wenger leaves. The appointment of a new manager would have to be good, but the new man would be reliant on the club being left in a good state. Arguably, Sir Alex Ferguson left an ageing squad with some obvious gaps at Manchester United, making it harder for Moyes to be successful. Arsene Wenger does plan ahead well, and wouldn't want to leave his successor with a patchwork squad, but it's a concern for Gooners what could happen when Wenger leaves.
It's also important for English football to have proof that a club be successful without being bankrolled by rich owners. If financial fair play does ever bring consequences for those who don't comply with regulations, clubs and owners should be looking at how Arsenal are run and managed as the best way to progress, rather than looking to copy the structure at Chelsea or Manchester City. However, that won't happen if the Gunners and Arsene Wenger don't show that the Arsenal-way can bring trophies.
A trophy for Arsene Wenger would also stop the media's Jose Mourinho-love in. Mourinho does provide good sound-bytes from his press conferences, but some of digs at Wenger from both spells in charge of Chelsea have been needless and disrespectful. The latest 'specialist in failure' comment was particularly strange, given that Mourinho in-part agreed with Wenger that maybe Chelsea are scared of failure by his denial of them being title favourites, despite being top of the table. When faced by the media, Wenger will always answer questions, but generally does so in a manner that doesn't start any personal feuds. He'll always defend his players and often takes the flak where it should be directed elsewhere. Forget the odd Mourinho sound-byte, the media would miss Wenger's interviews if he wasn't there.
Arsene Wenger doesn't strike me as someone that is motivated by what others think of him, especially someone like Jose Mourinho, but all Gooners know that any success this season would be sweeter considering some of the criticism the manager has taken.
Wenger's current contract us up at the end of the season, and whilst a new one is widely rumoured to be forthcoming, it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that an Arsenal collapse this season could put that in doubt. If English football is to benefit from Wenger's class, footballing ideology, development of young players and faith in a self-sustaining club, it is better for the Gunners to win this season to make sure he stays.
Even though Arsenal are playing a team that pummelled them 5-1 a week earlier, the FA Cup arguably represents the best trophy chance, so hopefully Wenger won't throw it away with a significantly weaker team selection against Liverpool on Sunday. The side does need to be freshened up after picking up one point from the last two leagues games, but with Manchester City facing Chelsea, an Arsenal win and a good draw could really open up a relatively clear path to Wembley.
This season feels like a vital moment for Arsenal and Wenger. The Frenchman remains a class act and someone that stands alone in the Premier League as a manager who is trusted to manage a team without a large amount of undue pressure from an individual owner. He has his flaws, and his sometimes annoying reluctance in the transfer market, but there is no-one else in the Premier League like him. English football fans, not just Arsenal supporters, would miss him when he's gone.