Is Arsenal Boss Arsene Wenger doing a Brian Clough by staying too long?
WHEN Brian Clough turned Nottingham Forest into European Cup winners, among other things, he could do no wrong. However, with loyalty can come a price.
Brian Clough stayed in Nottingham too long, going from all conquering and refreshingly out-spoken, to a manager out-of-step with football’s changes, eventually seeing Forest relegated.
And so to Arsene Wenger, who himself has done outstanding things with Arsenal, winning all manner of trophies and, of course, creating The Invincibles – one of the greatest teams to ever play in English football. He also revolutionised the way football clubs ran their teams, turning a hard-drinking Arsenal team into a squad of sophisticated footballing gurus.
However, things seem to be moving on and away from Wenger. Of course, he’s still a very capable manager, but you get the impression that Gooners are tiring of the Wenger At All Costs philosophy which hangs over the club. No Arsenal fan is ungrateful, but the mutters of discontent are getting rather loud.
Alisher Usmanov, who owns 30% of Arsenal, has claimed that Wenger is holding Arsenal back, thanks to his ‘restrictive principles’.
Of course, Arsene doesn’t take criticism lightly and ahead of the Gunners’ Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, Wenger hit back at the catcalls.
“First of all, the 18 years I have been here I have shown that I can take criticism and everybody has the right to have an opinion,” he said. “Having said that, we have values at this club. The first one is when we go through a difficult patch, we show solidarity. That is a very important one,” said the Arsenal manager.
“The second one is that, when you have something to say to each other, we say it face-to-face. We don’t need to go to the newspapers.”
So what’s the problem? Well, Usmanov thinks that Arsenal need to spend money to strengthen, which is surely something more in the board’s hands than the managers?
“Wenger added: “I don’t take it personally at all. It is an opinion that I respect but when you’re from this club, you’re from this club. You’re in or out, you cannot be both. What is important is how close we are together inside the club and how much we can respond to people who question our quality.”
“I personally feel that there’s a very strong bond inside the team and the club, and that this team will have a very strong season. I am ready to bet with you on that.”
So which is it? Is Arsene the right man to steer Arsenal through a sticky patch – a sticky patch that 99% of the rest of English football would willingly have. Or is Wenger, like Clough toward the end of his career, now out of sync with the way things are now, and destined to make Arsenal the ‘always the bridesmaid’ of English football?