After FC Barcelona, my next favourite club is Arsenal FC. The reasons are simple – they import players from all over the world, and they try to play FC Barcelona brand of football.
Applying that philosophy, Arsenal FC have become a big European club, one of the ten richest in the world with a global followership of fans. The club is also very ambitious. It wants to become an authentic European football giant, one that wins trophies!
Unfortunately, after last Wednesday night, it has become obvious to all dispassionate football followers that Arsenal are still a long way from achieving that lofty dream. That night, they recorded their worst defeat in European competitions following a 5-1 trouncing by probably the strongest team in the world this season – Bayern Munich.
It is shocking to realize that despite the global high profile of Arsenal FC, they have never won the European Champions league. Indeed, the last time they won their only major trophy in Europe, the Cup Winners Cup, was in 1994.
It is now clear that it will take much more than having the financial muscle, excellent facilities and a massive, almost fanatical followership (all of which the club now has) to achieve this objective.
After several years of fruitless effort and justifiable excuses for falling short (once at the finals of the Champions League in 2006), it must now be clear to all that to join the truly elite European clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich, the club must take some hard dispassionate decisions, the first and most important of which is to rest Arsene Wenger!
With Arsene Wenger, the Gunners have arrived at a plateau, unable to rise above the level of always qualifying from the English Premier League, EPL. Beyond that the club never wins anything in Europe.
The statistics of Arsenal’s performance since Wenger took charge in 1996 are glaring and revealing. He has surely propelled the team to its current height and status, but the obvious conclusion now also is that he does not have what it takes technically to win European trophies. He has never won any and might never win one.
The prescription, therefore, must now be that he takes an honourable bow and gives a new coach with the right credentials and experience the opportunity to introduce a new football philosophy that can change the club’s fortunes.
The challenge for this great England club is that there is a very short list of coaches with the right credentials to choose from. I have taken a look at the possible list of coaches that can fit the bill. The list is short – Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique, Jurgen Klopp, Marcello Lippi…the list runs out quickly!
If none of these coaches is available, or is unwilling to come to the Emirates stadium, the club may take the radical and exciting step of ‘exhuming’ a coach from the past with a previous winning experience, and from the Barcelona school of football. That’s a hint!
Last Wednesday night, Bayern Munich FC demonstrated to everyone what separates the champions from the good teams. They gave a master class on how to win in Europe, completely outclassing a hapless Arsenal, making them look so ordinary, it was hard to believe it is the same team doing so well in the EPL. Could this be a measure of the standard of the EPL in Europe?
Arsene Wenger sat through that match in a stupor. He was a pitiable sight with fresh wrinkles on his face that make him look much older than his 66 years. He did not look at any time like one that had an answer to the systematic dismemberment of Arsenal FC that night. For that reason alone, I believe Arsene Wenger should go now! He has done well for Arsenal FC so far but to keep him is to continue to hold back Arsenal FC from achieving their ultimate dream of winning the Champions League.
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