Arsene Wenger needs to leave to save his legacy

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on April 10, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on April 10, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /

With his contract expiring this summer and a two year contract extension on the table, Arsene Wenger would be wise to turn down the offer and leave Arsenal this summer to protect his legacy.

Sixth in the table and with another loss in the Premier League, Arsenal’s 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace on Monday night has most likely just ended Arsenal’s bid for a place in the top four and the pressure around the club is growing every day.

The unrest within the fan base which has seen supporters arguing amongst themselves as to whether Arsene Wenger should stay on or if he should leave and the unrest has been slowly growing for years with the boiling point reaching the fan base sending out planes with banners reading for Wenger to leave and for him to stay, fans physically fighting each other in the stands and an outrageous fan channel being the go-to-watch for every non-supporter of the club to see the over-the-top reactions of a small but vocal section of the Arsenal fan base.

The problems for Arsenal have been there for years now with the team being the most predictable club in the league – starting well before eventually collapsing towards the end while being knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 with failure to strengthen the team in the transfer window every summer with the club desperately crying out for a world-class striker to replace Robin Van Persie who departed nearly five years ago along with a capable defensive midfielder, it seems like everything has finally caught up with Arsenal.

It’s hard to imagine that Arsenal will reach the top four spot now with so little time left and the teams they have to play and the prospect of playing next season in the Europa League with no Alexis Sanchez and potentially no Mesut Ozil is becoming a daunting reality. With Arsenal’s current form which has been poor for months now and has only seen them beat West Ham and two non-league sides in Sutton United and Lincoln City in the FA Cup in the last two months, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be able to win the FA Cup with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City all left to play.

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It’s hard to imagine how this season will end with any kind of positivity for Arsenal and a major problem for them is that the five teams currently above them will all strengthen this summer as they look to establish themselves in the top six while Arsenal will certainly be losing their best player and possibly another one of their best players in Ozil in the summer – and Sanchez could be staying in London but trading in his red shirt for a blue one at Stamford Bridge.

It’s up to Wenger whether he decides to stay on for another two more seasons or if he opts to leave the club this summer when his contract expires but if he does decide to stay, the pressure on him will only grow more and more.  Whoever is at the helm this summer will have a rebuilding job on their hands as replacing Sanchez will be no easy feat and there are far too many mediocre players in the Arsenal team that shouldn’t be in that team.

Is Wenger really the man to change all of this? Can he rebuild an Arsenal team to this extent? His recent history would suggest not with many poor signings recently such as Lucas Perez, Mustafi, and Gabriel and while it could change – Granit Xhaka has been very poor as well. It might be better for Arsenal if a newer manager was to do the job as offering a fresh perspective in terms of a playstyle and players coming in.

But should Wenger stay on? Most likely no he shouldn’t. Every season that passes by seems to only worsen the legacy of Arsene Wenger, a man who when he arrived to London with the infamous headlines of ‘Arsene Who?’ to being the man who revolutionized English football with new methods of fitness to being the man who was a true rival and competitor to Sir Alex Ferguson.

But for the last few years, Wenger has now become the man who football has left behind. Wenger has been tactically outclassed in nearly every major game over the previous seasons and his records against the top six is shocking, compare him to Ferguson who in many ways was a tactical magpie who managed to take different things from other managers and club and surrounded himself with people who wanted to learn and helped Ferguson reinvent himself several times over which Wenger has proven incapable of doing.

Wenger tried moving Arsenal away from the fast, powerful Arsenal team of the late 90’s and early 2000s to a team who could keep the ball and became Barcelona-lite in a time period where possession football was all the rage. Arsenal don’t have any particular style to their play now but rather a mess of disorganization all over the pitch with no leaders on the pitch and this is the team that Wenger has built himself. When he looks at the team that he built and looks across the road to Tottenham and he can see that what Tottenham are building under Pochettino is everything that he wanted to do with Arsenal.

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Tottenham have a young team filled with English players, players from the youth academy with Harry Kane and bought rather cheaply like Dele Alli with a fantastic defence and midfield who play a very attractive style of football with a chairman who is very reluctant to sell any key players. It looks far more likely that Tottenham will win the league under Pochettino than Arsenal winning the league again under Wenger.

Really, with every loss that happens the problems just continue for Wenger and the pressure for him will continue to add up. Whenever he does decide to leave Arsenal and most likely retire, he’ll be always be regarded as one of the greatest managers that the Premiership has ever seen along with Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho but how close he is them slips further away each passing game.

It’d be wise for Wenger to leave at the end of this season no matter what happens and allow somebody else to take over and try anew with the club but it seems that Wenger’s pride and his ego will mean that he stays around for a further two years because he believes that he can fix the mess that Arsenal currently find themselves in.

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If he does, he only stands to hurt his own legacy at Arsenal even more as it becomes hard to imagine that Wenger is the man to rebuild this team – he struggled to rebuild the team after the Invincibles left and it’s hard to believe that he can do it now.