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Let's win the cup for Wenger

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The obvious debate over the last week or two has been over Arsène Wenger's future. After Wednesday night, most people seemed very much convinced that his 21 years at the helm were coming to an imminent end. I don't know for sure that it's a majority opinion that the gaffer's time is up, but it's getting harder and harder to find anyone who will argue that he's still the man to take the club forward.

Here's the dilemma for me though. There is no doubt that Wenger is Arsenal's greatest manager and will go down in history as a great manager and moreover a revolutionary for the game. Those calling for change (I will admit that I am now among them) cannot ignore the fact that Wenger is still doing a reasonable job. He's never finished outside the top four, whilst Liverpool have spent hundreds of millions and have mostly failed to achieve that. Chelsea and United have both dropped out of that top four in recent seasons too, whilst Wenger achieved this even in the years where Bendtner and Squillaci were starting players for the club.

Man United have already shown us, the transition from a long-term, once in a lifetime manager is not easy at all. Moyes and Van Gaal were both very unpopular with the fans by the end of their tenures as boss and with the Portuguese Trump in charge, they're still sitting outside of the Champions League spots.

In reality, Wenger is still doing a a pretty good job, he has won two FA Cups very recently and we're in the quarter-finals this year, with only Lincoln at home standing between us and Wembley. The problem has been the league and Champions League campaigns and that repetition of the same failures over and over again. We were unlucky to have to face Bayern this year having topped our group and going out to them is not a disgrace. Not even being slightly competitive in the second leg is unacceptable though and to a lot of people it shows that whilst Wenger is still a very good manager, he is unable to compete at the very top level.

Again though, you have to consider that changing things will probably make them worse for a while. A new manager is no guarantee of success, Wenger said it himself, Arsenal will still lose games, no matter who is in charge. We want change because we want to win the really big prizes in football, but there is much more chance of us struggling for a few years as we adjust to life without Wenger than there is of us suddenly sweeping to glory.

Now I'm not arguing that we should definitely keep the faith in Wenger and give him a new contract, but I certainly won't lose my mind if he does stay. Apart from the tremendous amount of respect, gratitude and love I have for the man, his numbers back up what I've said. The points totals, win percentages, average league finishes and all those stats show that he's doing a steady job. Stats like that don't win you titles, but they are a good measure of competency.

I would like, ideally, for Wenger to win the FA Cup this year, finish as high up the table as possible and bow out the way he deserves to, with grace and with a trophy in his hands. Fairytales and good fortune haven't really happened for him though, otherwise the Invincibles would have won a couple more titles and that night in Paris would have had a different outcome. Eduardo's leg break wouldn't have derailed our title bid at Birmingham and the league cup final against the same opposition a few years later would have ended the trophy drought well in advance of 2014. Through it all though, he has been dignified and done his best for the club.

wenger fa cup

Every manager has flaws, for example handing a new contract to a player who doesn't know that Robben quite likes to cut in onto his left foot and shoot. I'd rather have a manager that has too much faith in his players than one who likes to gauge the eyes of cancer sufferers and abuse female physios.

The boss also deserves a lot more respect from the fans and the media. In particular, this applies to the Arsenal Fan TV crowd. In principle, Arsenal Fan TV isn’t a bad idea, fans are all opinionated, passionate and want a chance to say their piece. People like to watch these videos too, so it has an audience.

What I can’t abide is the circus it has turned into. The culture of the celebrity fan has taken over AFTV and it’s become a hate watch. People tune in to see a recurring cast of characters yelling and fighting and abusing the players, manager and each other. It’s nothing to do with fans voicing their opinions, it’s a vehicle for a select set of individuals to be controversial for attention and for a warped kind of ‘fame’.

People like DT are the absolute epitome of these shallow, attention hungry ‘fans’. He shouts abuse at the manager, players and fans and offers to fight anyone who calls him out. He has every right to his opinions and to do what he likes as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, but his whinging when anyone challenges him on his sensationalist nonsense is pathetic. DT’s only response to people who disagree with him is to ask if they’re ‘brave enough to say it to his face’. Everything he and the rest of the characters on AFTV do reflects badly on us as fans and the club as a whole.

Two things are apparent to me though. First, Arsenal fans must be prepared for some rough times when Wenger does leave. No matter who takes over, the club is set up in Wenger's image, which is to be expected given the two decades he's spent in charge. Secondly, history will be kind to Arsène. When we look back and see the six FA Cups (maybe more at the end of the season) and three League titles he won for us, the countless wonderful players he brought to the club and the legacy of the stadium and financially stability he's delivered, he will rightly be remembered as the greatest Arsenal manager ever.

 Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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