It has been a desperate spell for Arsene Wenger and his men. Over the course of the Frenchman's 15-year reign, expectations have been raised greatly. Now, as each season goes by with nothing to show for their efforts, the pressure heightens.
Listening to a radio phone-in on Sunday morning, I was intrigued to hear the varied opinions of Gunners fans on their manager. A large portion of callers said they had become disgruntled with Le Professeur, claiming that he, and the club, are prioritising profitability over on-field success.
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In January, these supporters wanted to see some new additions to help ease the pressure on the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie. Can you see where they are coming from? After all, reporting record profit margins is all well and good, but if there is money there to spend, why wouldn't you use it in order to strengthen particular areas of the team?
Because, as far as Wenger is concerned, shedding out funds during the hustle and bustle of a mid-season transfer window would be criminal.
It is quite clear how much of an influence the former Monaco and Nagoya Grampus Eight boss has when it comes to protecting the finances of the club. Therefore, he was never going to see recruiting players for over-inflated prices as a viable option. Over recent years, nobody would have blamed him had he splashed cash left, right and centre in an attempt to end the north London club’s trophy drought.
While Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool continue to spunk millions and millions of pounds without much afterthought, Wenger refuses to conform. He has always seen the bigger picture. He has always stuck to his beliefs.
During what has been a prolonged transitional period, he has managed to keep Arsenal competitive both domestically and in Europe. Knee-jerk reactions are uncalled for. Sure, the disappointment of a wasted opportunity at Wembley, crashing out of the Champions League to Barcelona and exiting the FA Cup at the hands of rivals Manchester United are hard to take, especially in such quick succession. Yet, like Wenger, Arsenal fans must see beyond these recent frustrations.
Without a fixture pile-up or any further distractions, the Gunners are still in with a real chance of taking the Premier League crown. But, if they do fail to end their barren, trophyless spell this season, patience will be required from the supporters more than ever. It is vital they stick by Wenger and continue to buy into his way of thinking.
In the next few years, Arsenal will have paid off the huge debt they incurred in constructing the Emirates Stadium. In the next few years, they'll have begun to generate a clear profit. In the next few years, they'll be in a position to invest vast sums of money on playing personnel. In the next few years, they'll be a step closer to becoming one of the leading clubs in the world.
Wenger is on a long-term mission to transform Arsenal - you can guarantee he will do everything within his power to finish the job.