Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger hit back at his critics on Friday ahead of facing further protests during the clash with Norwich City.
Supporter groups have arranged demonstrations at the Emirates, with fans being called on to display banners at the 12th and 78th minute to make clear their frustration over the club’s failures over the past 12 years.
Wenger has long been criticised for the club’s inability to regularly win silverware, and with just one year remaining on his current deal, is coming under increasing pressure to walk away from the Gunners and allow a new manager to usher in a new era.
Firstly, there is no excuse for the Frenchman’s stubbornness in the transfer market and in terms of his unwavering faith in some of his squad members who have let him down in recent years.
Arsenal have long needed certain players in certain positions, and Wenger simply either hasn’t acknowledged it or has done but has failed to act.
In that sense, he deserves some of the criticism he has been in line for. However, as noted by ESPN FC, he responded in his press conference on Friday by insisting that he has shown great loyalty to the club under difficult circumstances following their move to the Emirates in 2006.
For a man that has been at the club since 1996, has guided them through highs and lows, brought a style of play and philosophy that has been celebrated as one of the best ever in the Premier League and in Europe, in my opinion he deserves more respect.
However, having said that it is completely different for an Arsenal fan who pays hard-earned money each week to watch on as his/her side continues to fall short of their ultimate objectives every year.
Wenger has his faults, but if he can finally listen to supporters and address them this summer, then there is still a long-term future for him in north London.
As seen at Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, the Red Devils have been left destabilised and falling way short of the lofty expectations that they had under the Scottish tactician.
Without a natural heir to the throne, as is the case at Arsenal, it could leave the club in an even more difficult situation moving forward if they can’t identify an individual who can build on what is currently at the club rather than having to rip up the manual and start all over.
Whether or not Arsenal make a change this summer remains to be seen, but what is certain is that Wenger and the hierarchy need to change their approach and start rewarding their fans with a tradition of success befitting a club of its stature.
That involves spending on high-quality players in crucial areas of the pitch where they need strengthening, and giving supporters confidence and belief that they are willing to act to get to the top.