What can you say about what we witnessed at Bournemouth?
For the first time in around 10 years, Arsenal fans were united once again as they called for Arsene Wenger to leave the club. People who had said they wanted him to go but wouldn’t ask for him to be sacked were calling for just that.
I should know, I was one of them.
To me, Wenger had earned the right to go out on his own terms. But that was a few years ago. Now, it’s hard to look at what’s happening at Arsenal and see anything other than a board too weak or clueless to remove a man who is letting his own arrogance and stubbornness blind him to what the real problem with this football team is – him.
Speaking after the match, Wenger could see little wrong with what had happened at the hands of the Cherries. He said the team spirit was fine, while pondering what could possibly be causing his defence to make mistakes as if this was the first time he’s seen it happen.
“We were 1-0 up and then we made two very surprising mistakes. They weren’t forced errors, just a lack of decision making. We come out of the game and think how did we lose,” Wenger said in all seriousness.
If he can’t even see the problem, how can anyone think he can fix it?
After each embarrassment, Wenger acts as if this is the first time this sort of thing has happened. Each game seems to be taken in isolation with no awareness of the bigger picture that has rotted around the edges so badly there’s barely a fragment of Wenger’s original philosophy left to hold.
Calls for Wenger to go are not new. They started over a decade ago which was far too soon. His early success earned him grace and the stadium move and financial restrictions earned him time.
But in the 10 years or so that have passed, as Wenger struggled to keep Arsenal competitive on a shoestring budget while selling their best players, he forgot what is needed to win a league as football moved on to a new era.
A man who won the league undefeated with silk and steel woven through his team like an intricate footballing tapestry now tries to fashion his wares using players constructed solely of tissue.
He is the Emperor with no clothes, while the owner, if not the chief executive, continues to tell him what a lovely suit he’s wearing.
At Arsenal, Wenger has had total control over everything – including his own future – and he has allowed power to corrupt him as people are wont to do when given supreme leader status. Why should he listen to those who were deemed to know less than him for so long?
It seems clear at this point, with Wenger saying just this week he has every intention of seeing his contract through, and believing no one result should ever result in a manger’s sacking while refusing to see the overall picture of the last four or five years, that he will not leave of his own accord.
No matter how many times he says he has the best interests of Arsenal at heart, and I still believe that to be true, he is hurting the club now.
This is the time for the board to step out of the shadows and show us what they are made of. For too long they have hidden behind Wenger and allowed him to protect them.
Now, like the manager, they must stand naked in front of us and show us they have what it takes to make this right.