In Arsenal’s case, the cycle has reached its eighth phase, the one where, presumably, the line between tragedy and farce becomes so blurred that is almost undistinguishable. The defeat against Blackburn -a club that has embraced tragedy and farce of its own since the Venky’s takeover- in the FA Cup on Saturday has left the club staring down the barrel of a gun, into the abyss of an eight consecutive trophyless seasons.
Defiant as usual, Wenger has refused to throw in the towel just yet, something he’s entitled to do for Arsenal are still in the European cup, even though the Gunners’ chances of progressing to the quarter finals have shrunk considerably without a ball being kicked.
Arsenal’s season so far has been an all-to familiar tale for those whose allegiances lie within N5. It has followed on from another summer of discontent, with Wenger yet again unwilling to spend money on the big names that his team desperately needed. Add to that Alex Song and, more importantly, Robin Van Persie being the latest to exit through the Emirates’ revolving door, is it a big surprise Arsenal find themselves in this position again?
With two thirds of the season gone, Arsenal sit fifth on the table with 44 points, a walloping 21-points behind leaders Manchester United and their worst return after 26 games since the 2005-06 season that saw the Gunners finish fourth.
Fourth place was then seen as a relatively unsuccessful season, considering the high standards Wenger’s men had set in previous years, yet they still manage to reach the European Cup final, losing to a Barcelona side that boasted Ronaldinho at his peak.
Far more importantly, that side contained the likes of Ashley Cole, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Sol Campbell. With the exception of Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott, it’s hard too see which members of the current Arsenal squad would have found a place in that team.
“It is a good opportunity to show that we have character and are men who can fight for each other. That is all you can do. You take a distance in terms of what people say and show how strong and good you are in the next game,” said Wenger after the loss against Blackburn as he demanded a reaction from his player ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Bayern Munich.
The players, though, aren’t the only ones from whom a reaction is being sought. Arsenal fans have demanded the same from their manager for their past eight years, but their demands have never been met in the form of him delivering silverware.
As reports surface of Wenger being offered a two-year extension and a transfer kitty worth around £70m being to circulate, many are left wondering whether Le Professeur is the right man to take Arsenal forward.
Wenger, who for so long had personified innovation and forward-thinking, has been jaded in his own persona for too long now, his stubborn refusal to reconsider his handling of the club proving to be just as detrimental as the hemorrhage of talent such policy has dictated.
The Alsatian’s believes that footballers should be nurtured from a very young age rather than bought at ridiculously inflated fees is a correct, romantic yet unpractical one for football, like it or loathe it, is a business and as such a result-driven environment.
Some traits of Wenger’s stubborn approach to the transfer window resemble Sir Alex Ferguson’s, another advocate of the lack of value in the transfer market. Yet compare how Sir Alex has tweaked his approach when the situation and the circumstances required him to do so, with Wenger’s intransigent approach.
It’s no wonder that the league’s best player in the last two seasons has decided to swap the latter manager for the former, nor it is a coincidence that Wenger considers a top-four place an excellent result, while Fergie would probably be disgusted at the thought.
Wenger’s approach has translated onto the pitch as much as it has off it, with the club recently running an online poll in which fans were asked whether they’d prefer a top four finish or winning a trophy, even if that meant missing out on a Champions League spot.
The Arsenal of old wouldn’t have had to choose, today’s Arsenal can’t choose for a Champions League spot is crucial to keep the club floating amongst the Premier League’s big boys.
Are you a Arsene Wenger supporter or have you changed your opinion of Le Professeur and think it is time for him to go? Will Arsenal qualify for the Champions League come May? We want your opinion, as lets be honest, it is you that counts.