Arsene Wenger should have left Arsenal years ago
Most probably thought Arsenal could not descend any lower under Arsene Wenger in 2018. With an 8-2 bashing at Old Trafford and a 6-0 lambasting from Chelsea in his past, failing to win the league for 13 years, missing out on a 20th consecutive Champions League appearance, and setting up the two most lucrative talents he's had during his entire tenure to leave on the free, how could it get worse? Then-managerless Nottingham Forest set the record straight.
Many pundits and fans felt Wenger could have left the club on top after defeating Chelsea in the FA Cup last season. It was as close to Sir Alex Ferguson's stylish bow as the Frenchman would get. Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey condemned Chelsea. Arsenal played with heart, focus, and spirit not always evident in recent years. Perhaps the squad was trying to send him off in a fitting manner. To at least Sanchez's dismay, Wenger took it as a sign he should continue.
The boss couldn't be on the touchline for the FA Cup collapse against Forest. He had been banned after his comments about officiating in the recent draw at West Bromwich Albion. At least such complaining was nothing new from the man.
The 67-year-old is just six months into a new two-year contract no one dreamed the club would offer. Not after he had elected not to sell unsettled stars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. To Wenger's credit he'd always kept an eye on the bottom line prior to this situation. Surely he'd heard or read that Neymar was just sold for €222 million and Kylian Mbappe for another €180 million. Even the Dalai Lama knew. Closer to home Manchester United broke the €100 million mark for Paul Pogba then nearly a second time when signing Romelu Lukaku. He had to know transfers are a seller's market like never before. Yet he chose not to sell. Wenger had been beset by a teenager's naive faith in his hope the pair would re-sign. Needless to say, the Frenchman is not going to the prom.
In 1996 Wenger arrived on English shores via a circuitous route that included the JLeague. No one expected he would give United a run for its money, let alone revolutionize football in this country. Once he had, no one dreamed it would be followed by more than a decade of what-might-have-been.
He has rebuilt his reputation somewhat with three FA Cup titles in four years. On the other hand he once rated top-four finishes as "trophies" when the title was beyond him. Now the Champions League is out of reach and he is left to glorify the competition he helped marginalize.
A club of Arsenal’s stature should be doing more. Wenger seems to have lost grips with the methods and techniques for winning trophies in this era. He could have bowed out on a winning note last summer. Now the Europa League, with Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Napoli all involved, is his only lifeline. Wenger is a man grasping at straws. His players don’t trust him anymore. They're weak mentally. Too many also lack the talent to compete.
When he finally leaves it may not be on his own terms. It will be with a legacy of failure. He has stayed too long. It is shameful a manager of his ilk can sink so low.