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Open Letter to Mr Arsene Wenger
How are you doing today? I hope you are not fine, seriously. I hope you are not satisfied with what our beloved Arsenal FC is gradually becoming today under your tutelage?
It’s been long since I wanted to write you this letter but something had kept me back all these while. It is that undying hope that Arsenal will be better but as time goes on it is becoming so easy to see that things are moving from bad to worse. So I think now is the time.
What exactly is the problem? I am always miffed watching your young (?) boys play these days. Somehow, I always get the feeling that there is something lacking in the team.
Sir, if wishes were horses, I would have ridden my horse all the way from Nigeria to your training ground in England just to see for myself that very wonderful thing you alone seem to see in them during training which makes you to strongly believe in them because I guess that is where that dichotomy of poor showings that we the fans see during matches is most likely coming from.
What type of inspiration are these players getting — or lacking? Is it money? Is it words of encouragement? It is leadership? What exactly, Sir? I hope your players are not becoming disillusioned by your gambits? I seriously hope your players are not becoming too big for you to handle, right?
Whenever I watch your current crop of players play, I get the feeling that you don’t talk tough to your boys. I understand it could be as a result of the fatherly role you are still playing in their lives but then you have to also remember the English saying that if you spare the rod; you spoil the child. When I read a report where David Beckham revealed that he's still scared of Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer tirades even so many years after he had left Manchester United, I said to myself, that is what I call commanding respect!
Granted, I am not a football coach and I know that the coach is not responsible for what the players do with the ball on the pitch during play but you and I know that no matter what happens at the end of the day the coach takes all the blame for whatever wrong that happened during the match even though the coach is not responsible for players like Gervinho committing howlers by repeatedly missing clear chances.
Seriously speaking, I hope you are not losing it. You see coach; I have been a strong supporter of your policies. I have never liked the idea of football clubs spending exorbitant sums of money just to acquire the services of one or two players.
Similarly, I am always full of praise for you because you have shown time and time again that you are your own man by sticking to your guns. I love that streak of stubbornness you have displayed over the years most especially as you still manage to get the job done after everything by consistently guiding Arsenal into the top four finish and silencing your critics in the process.
You are also known for taking huge risks and gamble. Many coaches do not like to gamble but in your own case, it gives you the thrills, I guess. I don’t know the number of coaches in the world who will never bother to do as much as beg quality players like Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Francesc Fabregas and of course Robin van Persie not to leave the club but you did it and the club still survived.
The way you quickly concluded the transfer of Alexandre Song to Barcelona is still a mystery to me as everything was done in a manner suggesting that Song was totally useless to the team. I can bet that you are ready to allow Theo Walcott to go if the deal does not go according to your terms and you have already decided who his 17-year old replacement is going to be?
Maybe it is your subtle way of warning and showing your other players that no one is indispensable but any good strategist will tell you that sometimes you might just have to change your strategies when it becomes obvious that it is not working out as you would have wanted – unless you are satisfied with the downward movement of the club, which I will like to tell myself that you are not.
When I watch old tapes of the Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry days at Arsenal, I get the feeling that you are not the same Arsene Wenger we use to know. Are you not the same miracle worker that guided the club to an unbeaten season with your sublime wizardry - something no other coach has done in England for the past 100 years or thereabout? Are you not the same person who successfully managed big players like Tony Adams, Ray Parlour, Martin Keown, Marc Overmars, Davor Šuker, Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell, Kolo Touré, Robert Pires, Emmanuel Petit, Freddie Ljungberg, Gilberto Silva, Sylvain Wiltord, Edu Gaspar, Antonio Reyes and even our own Kanu Nwankwo who I believe, was the reason behind so many of us in Nigeria becoming Arsenal fans. You are gradually becoming less of a strategist and more of a tactician who only depends on luck these days to win any match.
But you see Sir, that luck can run out and I have a feeling yours is almost about to. Running a big football club like Arsenal as if it is a breeding facility only good for producing players who will later move on to much stable clubs is a big shame for all true and diehard Arsenal fans.
As a concerned Arsenal fan, I feel I must tell you that everyone is now watching you. But I guess you already know that. But then, are you aware that most of them are now watching and wanting you to fail? They are like hawks watching and waiting for you to raise the next wunderkid like Cesc Fabregas before the zoom in to cart away the prize just like Manchester United did with Robin van Persie while you watched and did nothing I suppose, or am I wrong?
How long do you think it will take before Real Madrid finally comes to take Jack Wilshere away? Do you think clubs like Barcelona, Chelsea, and Manchester City are not watching the progress of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs?
Of course, your failure will go a long way to prove that over spending in football is the best way to win titles. It will make mincemeat of your policy of sticking with young players. It will kill your noble idea and struggle for playing entertaining football and make football become a completely money spinning game only good for Wall Street dollar machine. It will even destroy your current crop of players career wise because who is going to sign them again if you don’t?
Please don’t be deceived by those In Arsene We Trust placards you see once in a while during matches. I believe they are just there for the purpose of window dressing and nothing more. Sometimes, I wonder if those bearing those placards even believe in that. The truth is that your supporters are not increasing in number anymore. You don’t blame them. Nobody believes in a sinking ship which is what our dear Arsenal is now becoming under our very eyes.
You might think I am wailing because for the past six or seven years, the Club has not won any silverware but it is not just that. Believe it or not, I am afraid for you!
I am afraid of how you will be remembered at Arsenal after you are gone. I hope you are aware that people are usually remembered for what they did at the end because the ending is always more important than the beginning? I don’t have to remind you that coaches are only as good as their last result and my dear Arsene Wenger; your last results these days are not so comforting.
You see, my own disillusionment with Arsenal is not because the club has won no serious trophies. I don’t even care about winning trophies that much. I am more interested in enjoying the game of football which is what our Arsenal was known for with the free flowing football and the passing game masterpiece that you artistically designed to the extent that only few club sides in the world could imitate. But all that is now in the past. The free flowing football is dead. We don’t talk about the passing games because that one is no longer our trademark too. The strength of the team is all but gone. We are now known as a club that is always hanging on the balance and can easily tip over with the slightest touch. I will never believe that a day will come when I will never feel comfortable while watching Arsenal play even if Arsenal is two or three goal up. I don’t know how you manage to survive the heartbreaks at your age but please help those of us who do not have strong heart like you by reminding your players that being focused on the job is also part of the job!
A clear example is that match between Arsenal and Newcastle where Arsenal was four goals up at half time only for Newcastle to later equalize just because Abou Diaby got himself sent off in that match. I know you might want to argue with me that Newcastle got two penalty decisions in that game but to tell you the truth, Arsenal was four goals up! Yes, four goals up! And you know what that means? And the worst was that Newcastle could have even won that match assuming your boys were not lucky enough to have earlier scored up to four. That very day was the day I started looking at Arsenal as an unserious minded club where fighting spirit is not necessary!
...Only for Manchester United to later prove it for me with that 8-2 drubbing that I believe will never be erased in your memory as it was your lowest point in your Arsenal career.
To put it mildly, Arsenal is now living in past glory!
And that is exactly my biggest concern right now. Do you know that when other fans are now discussing their teams, Arsenal fans in this part of the world just keep mum? Do you know that so many Arsenal fans in Nigeria, starting from myself, find it hard to claim they are supporting Arsenal because that is synonymous to identifying with failure?
I remember when José Mourinho tried to taunt you by saying that it is only in England that you can get coaches who can stay on the job for years without any silverware to show for it and still fear no sack. I didn't even give that statement any heed then because I had earlier concluded that José is just a loud-mouthed trouble maker.
But if you recall, he also mentioned the name of Raphael Benitez in that same speech and today where is Benitez? He has since been shown the door at Liverpool. So that will show you that anything is possible and I would be the last person on earth to wish or even like to hear that you were eventually sacked from Arsenal.
You and I know you that as the genius you are, you don’t deserve to be disgraced out of Arsenal because you are one of the persons that made Arsenal what it is today and it will not be nice to rubbish your achievements by booting you out.
In conclusion, I am not a shareholder in Arsenal. I am not involved in the board room meeting and the behind the scene activities that goes on at Arsenal. I don’t even earn a dime if Arsenal wins any match! I am nothing more than just a fan who is happy whenever Arsenal wins but now I have become a disillusioned Arsenal fan who is seriously hanging in the balance and faced with making that regrettable decision of abandoning the club that I have fallen so much in love with.
But before that will happen, I will like to make these suggestions. First, what is it that is preventing you from reenacting the Thierry Henry days of the old at Arsenal once more? What is it that makes it so difficult for you to spend the money that the Board is always claiming they have made available for you to get quality players?
Sir, we are not saying that you will buy like Real Madrid or Chelsea. The January transfer window is here again. All we are saying is that you will just get us just a few players who will help inculcate into the team, the Winners mentality that your present crop of players is currently and shamefully lacking. You might be thinking that Santi Carzola is a good deal but then it will take more than one Santi to bring us to our own El Dorado which is nothing but our past days of glory.
But if you can’t do that right now, you still have some other options to explore. At least you can openly tell the growing number of disgruntled fans why your hands are being tied by the Board, if that is the case. I also think it’s high time everyone stop hiding behind the fact that Arsenal is still repaying back some borrowed funds used in building the Emirates Stadium.
People want to know why Arsenal has become a Feeders Club. They want to know why Arsenal no longer has clinical finishers as strikers who know how to work the ball into the net.
They really want to know why you want them to believe that Aaron Ramsey is the best midfielder in the whole of England and even in Europe and the world which explains why you are always ready to play him even when it obvious he’s not the terrific Ramsey we knew prior to that career threatening injury he had. They want to know why you are not instilling the competitive spirit similar to what your rivals (?) Manchester United is doing which makes it possible for them to win matches with their ‘never say die’ mentality which other clubs have come to fear and respect!
They want to know your plans for the club with regards to where the club is headed. They want to know what you have done with the money you have realized in signing off your best players in the recent past. Seriously speaking, they want to know why you have kept on giving off the impression that you are more interested in the money than setting the club straight and getting it back to its winning ways.
They also want to know why you have decided that getting Arsenal to a top four finish for that Champions League qualification is now equivalent to winning the Premier League or any other trophy as a matter of fact. To tell you the truth, they are dying to know why the great club that once used to be so envied and called Gunners is now better described as Goners.
Monsieur Wenger, desole mais je suis triste.
If you don’t have the answers or you don’t know how you should prove to them that van Persie was not right when he stated that he does not know the destination of the club anymore, then you should humbly and honorably do the right thing which is stepping aside for another person to take over the mantle.
A Disillusioned Arsenal Fan