Gilles Grimandi, a former Arsenal player and current scout for the club who remains close to Arsene Wenger, thinks his ex-teammates are wrong to call for the manager’s departure.
In recent months, with Arsenal’s terrible form, many former Gunners have lost patience with the club.
They’ve suggested Wenger’s time at the club is up, and started to criticise his methods. Notably, Lee Dixon argued that the manager “isn’t a true coach” in a recent Arsenal Supporters’ Trust meeting.
Grimandi isn’t happy to see people who gained so much from Wenger’s spell at the club turning on him.
“It’s wrong,” he told Thursday’s L’Equipe.
“It makes me sad, because guys like Thierry (Henry) and Martin (Keown), I like them, I have good relations with them. But some go in the direction of debate, and I deplore it.
“They shouldn’t have a short memory, they owe a lot to Arsene. They should respect Arsene’s investment in the club, the fact that he works like crazy every day. Finally I want to tell them: ‘Get your hands dirty. Today, you are only judging, but invest in a club and you will see the role is not a simple one.'”
Then, Grimandi responded to the actual criticisms of Wenger as a tactician.
“It is true that possession used to guarantee you results in the Premier League and that is no longer the case today. It is therefore necessary to adapt. But it has long been said that Arsene is a tactician, avant-garde, because he was able to develop an identity, play a strong Arsenal. Now he would be on the street in this regard? It doesn’t make sense.”
Are Wenger’s teams too consistent tactically?
I think one of the major arguments against Wenger at the moment is that he doesn’t adapt enough. As Grimandi says, the manager has always been someone who develops an identity in his teams. He generally does that with consistent formations, team selections and so on.
Now we have managers like Pep Guardiola who set up their teams with multiple formations in mind for a single game. The Manchester City boss explained after the match against Chelsea that he chose to play Aymeric Laporte because it allowed him to switch between systems depending on whether his opponents played 5-4-1 or 5-3-2.
That allows him to counter someone like Wenger, who rarely brings any structural surprises to the table. The only exception being his recent introduction of three-at-the-back, which he occasionally still uses.
Right now, his tactical consistency is causing more problems than it’s solving, particularly as the players don’t seem very confident in the system they’re actually playing.
Wenger needs to come up with something to improve the situation on Thursday night against Milan. Otherwise you feel he won’t get many more chances.