Loyalty is a word that is going extinct in football at the moment. Fans and club administrators turn on managers and players when these individuals fail to meet expectations. Football nowadays is a game of fine margins and many managers tend to burn bridges when they depart their clubs.
The Arsenal board is in a quandary, as there have been calls for Arsene Wenger to be sacked at the end of the season, just a year into the 2-year contract he signed at the end of last season, following the FA Cup victory over Chelsea.
Wenger should have left Arsenal long ago, but he is risking his legacy by staying for far too long than many thought he would. Names such as Thierry Henry, Mikel Arteta and Antonio Conte have been rumoured to be on the shortlist for the Arsenal manager job, though Wenger has stated that he sees himself honouring his contract. The board must place value and ability above loyalty to Wenger in a bid to make the club great once again.
Few would forget the impact Wenger had at the club when he arrived back in 1996. The Frenchman has overseen two doubles, the first in 1997-98 – his first full season in charge – the second in 2001-02 – when the title was secured with a win at Old Trafford.
Added to that, Wenger has inspired perhaps the greatest ever campaign in English football history in 2003-04, when Arsenal went 38 games unbeaten en route to the Premier League title. The subsequent 14-year fall from grace though, has led to pressure from every quarter.
Eight of those years saw Arsenal fail to win a single trophy, during which Wenger’s supporters could point to his ability to keep his side in the Champions League. Now though, even that record is in serious jeopardy.
Arsenal are 13 points off fourth place and face AC Milan in the Europa League Round of 16, in which a loss would confirm their lack of Champions League football for the second consecutive season. Arsenal need a new and younger manager as the fans, former players and even the current players all have the feeling that nothing can work under the current regime.
Wenger is naturally stubborn, but the board must prove they are bigger than the manager, despite his former glories.