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Arsenal – Short Term Pain for Long-Term Gain

Firstly, I am not an Arsenal fan but find myself both saddened and annoyed by the personal character sleights by all sections of the media towards Arsene Wenger. Here is a man who has exhibited extreme loyalty to Arsenal when more lucrative and challenges opportunities have been presented to him. A man who is the most successful manager in Arsenal history, who led a team throughout a full season unbeaten, a feat that eluded Shankley, Clough, Chapman, Revie, Paisley, Ferguson and even the special one. It is worth remembering that Alex Ferguson didn’t win a trophy for 4 years and that Shankley went 7 years without silverware and Clough went 9 years. Do Arsenal fans remember the style of play under George Graham, successful yes but Wenger has been successful and attractive. As Johan Cryuff says “Football is a simple game but the hard part is to play simple”. Arsenal made a business decision to build a new stadium to compete financially in the long term with the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid. A decision which placed Arsene Wenger in a financial straitjacket with regards to team building. Unlike certain managers who would have upped sticks and left Wenger accepted the situation and adjusted his requirements accordingly placing greater emphasis on Arsenal’s youth academy and the purchase of younger players who in time would develop into better players.

The financial straitjacket was further tightened with the purchase of Chelsea by Roman Abramovich and Man City by Sheikh Mansoor. Prior to the purchase of Chelsea by Abramovich Arsenal had never finished lower then 2nd in a full season under Arsene Wenger. He was lauded as a tactical genius, a shrewd innovator and clever in the transfer in the market, remember that he purchased Nicolas Anelka for 1/2 million pounds from PSG and sold him to Real Madrid for £23.5 million. FastForward to 2013 he is now referred to as a Dictator, a coaching non-entity, a tactical flop and yet Arsenal have never started a season under his stewardship in a position to NOT compete for the 4 biggest honours in domestic and European football. In the current climate of social media and the WE WANT IT NOW mentality Arsene Wenger is a shining beacon of calmness, intergity and loyalty and when the dust finally settles on  his time at Arsenal I have no doubt that the last laugh will reside with him.

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