More and more Arsenal fans are calling for the end of the current management era at the Emirates Stadium, and the evidence is starting to suggest that the time is up for the longest serving manager in the country.
When Arsene Wenger arrived in England he revolutionised the game as we knew it back then. In 1996, booze culture within English football was rife, and the average diet included fried foods and fizzy drinks.
That all changed when the Frenchman replaced Bruce Rioch at Highbury. Out went the alcohol and the fatty nutrition. He then got to work on changing the style of the team.
Wenger inherited one of the best defences in English football. The famous back four of Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn were legendary across the entire nation, let alone the followers of Arsenal. They were famously labelled ‘Boring Boring Arsenal’ for their strong defensive approach to matches which often saw them pick up 1-0 wins.
The former Monaco boss kept that same defence but built on it, bringing in Premier League stars such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars among others. He won the double in 1998 and then created ‘The Invincibles’ who were the best team to grace English football until Pep Guardiola and the current Manchester City side rocked up.
Champions League football was automatic for the Gunners and while all this was going on, they moved from the outdated Highbury to the wonderful Emirates Stadium, and during the whole process they played dazzling football, the sort of style that made every neutral sit in front of the TV and watch them.
Time waits for no man though. There was a sea change in the top flight around a decade ago which meant that Wenger needed to transform himself again but this time he was unable to do so.
In came dynamic, astute and tactically aware coaches and billionaire owners ready to buy anything and everything before them to guarantee success, and as sides like Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool got stronger, Arsenal weakened.
Some of that was due to a lack of spending power, and the Frenchman was handicapped to an extent in that regard, but it should not be forgotten that Wenger too has splashed the cash, albeit not as frequently as the powerhouses of the current landscape.
He spent £33.8m to bring Granit Xhaka to the club, £35m went on Shkodran Mustafi and a further £45m was forked out to bring Alexandre Lacazette to London last summer. All three have failed to make much of an impact which is against some of the best premier league betting tips for many, including myself, expect majority of the big buys to succeed but all of the aforementioned have flopped so far.
Whereas in the early days of his reign every player Wenger signed improved Arsenal, now signings are having less of an effect. Champions League football that was almost guaranteed now looks a pipe dream, and even the style of football is being overshadowed by others in the Premier League.
A refusal to rebuild defensively has left the Gunners vulnerable on the pitch, and the manager open to criticism from those who paid a hefty whack to watch their side, and as each month goes by and the Londoners drift further away from those above them, the stronger the calls for Wenger to go are getting.
Arsenal need a fresh approach. Someone with modern ideas tactically, someone who can organise a side defensively and who is determined to win at all costs.
Wenger has been a fantastic manager for Arsenal but his shelf life has expired. It is time for him to go both for his own good and that of the club.