What an exciting year it has been for Arsenal, not!
What we are seeing right now is the cumulative effect of years of willful ignorance about the problems at hand. The division amongst the fans seems to have resolved, but not in a favourable manner to Wenger’s future - ahead of him wanting to sign for two more years.
The fans want change. They want Arsenal to challenge the big clubs.
Let’s see how this can happen. What could the board and Wenger do to appease the fans? Here are some suggestions:
1. Appoint director of football
That Arsenal have been on a downward slope since David Dein left the club in 2007 is now unarguable.
Dein and Wenger had a close and well-defined working relationship. Dein was the man responsible for the club’s transfer dealings. His departure left a huge hole in the club as the difficulties with the dealings on the transfer market testify.
To remedy this, the board needs to appoint a new man to take the load of signing new players off Wenger’s shoulders. As it stands, Wenger either unwilling to give away his power at the club or is the company employee who is willing to do extra hours for free - not that Wenger works for free...
2. Keep Sanchez
Do I need to say it? Sanchez is a player who could have been a regular in the Invincible squad, easily. His hunger to win is what the rest of the squad are lacking. He seems like a FIFA Pro player, covering every blade of grass on the pitch in his desire to play with the ball. It’s easy to imagine the possibilities of surrounding him with five or six people with the same desire to win games.
It is vital for Arsenal to extend his contract, even if they have to submit to his wage demands of an excess of 300 million a week. Just give him the money. He will get you places.
But not without help.
3. Sign two or three world-class players
Even Wenger said it: “The team needs to be strengthened.” Alexis Sanchez is by far the best and hungriest player at the club. He obsessively seeks for ways to win games and challenge for trophies. But one swallow cannot make a spring. At least two or three more players of similar quality and ambition must be signed. Unfortunately for all of you that drooled at the possibility of resigning Lord Bendtner, I’m sorry to say, the club only costs an excess of a billion – not nearly enough to sing him.
Fortunately, there are others, although difficult to find. Look no further than Chelsea’s signing of N’Golo Kante. Some names that pop up are Marco Reus, Kylian Mbappe, James Rodrigues. One holding midfielder who can build the game up and break it and one excellent centre back to partner Laurent Koscielny.
4. Sell deadwood
Another spring cleaning is needed. Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal, Matheiu Debuchy, Yaya Sanogo and serveral others need to go. They are sucking money out of the club and are providing quality is nowhere near the standard a club of such stature demands.
Players who need to be given a second chance are Mesut Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi, and Hector Bellerin.
Ozil can be the team’s asset if he is given the right support – on the pitch and off of it. People have been quick to judge him but have failed to understand that. He needs confidence to be play his best football. And that confidence must come from the fans and manager supporting him. It’s just the way he is.
Coquelin has something to offer but with the right partner in centre midfield. Bellerin is still young and learning. Mustafi has not been long enough at the club and needs to be given time to adapt to the Premier League. Lucas Perez needs a proper chance too.
5. Change formation and way of playing
Wenger has heavily relied on 4-2-3-1 in recent years. The idea behind this formation is stability, but the key in its effectiveness lies on the two holding players, which at the moment are not good enough. Trust me, use the same formation with players such as Kante and Coquelin and the results will be dramatically different.
In the scenario where world-class holding midfielders are hard to find, Wenger would do well to change the formation completely. Arsenal have an excellent well of creativity to draw upon. The problem is giving the creators a stable backbone which to provide them with freedom to express that creativity.
I suggest a 3-2-4-1 – an offensive formation, but with two wide players who can track back and even cut inside to help out the three centre backs and two holding midfielders.
Whatever the formation, Wenger needs to spice up his tactics as they have become predictable for his Premier League rivals.
6. Use year without Champions League to challenge for title
The current fan upheaval has been building up for years, so it is unlikely it will disappear completely even if the points above come to fruition. A season packed with success will be needed. And I, for one, believe Arsenal will benefit from not playing in the Champions League next season.
This is will give them a much-needed trampoline environment – more time to recuperate and challenge for the Premier League title, and easier opposition on the European front. It’s a win-win, but not financially. But many, including me, have become sick to the stomach of talking about Arsenal’s finances. Give us the Highbury feel back.