You die when you stop growing Mr Wenger

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 03.04.2017 23:17
Updated 03.04.2017 23:18

In a press conference this weekend, Arsene Wenger was asked if he was considering retirement after four consecutive defeats in the Premier League. Wenger's response was a peculiar one, he said "Retirement is for young people, for people who are at my age, retirement is dying". Surely, for a coach who dedicated his life to football it is almost impossible to focus on something else after 67 years. Nevertheless, I believe that death, metaphorically of course, comes when you stop developing yourself in the field in which you seek to excel. In the everlasting pursuit of excellence, being at the same spot after years is equivalent to death for people like Wenger. Thus, even though I believe that no one can suggest that Wenger should retire immediately, given there is simply no better option than him, at least he should acknowledge that he has been stuck in same the problems for the last five or six years.

First of all, the team that I watched against Manchester City this Sunday was organizationally weak, offensively dull and defensively panicked. Although City did not come up with great offensive or defensive tactics for the most of the game, Arsenal's game plan was totally unrecognizable. To me, Manchester City is still an unprepared product, and that is why I will start seriously criticizing them next year. Nonetheless, Arsenal have been playing with the same squad and same tactics for a long time, therefore every Arsenal fan has the right to ask for results at this moment.

However, before coming to Wenger's strategic problems, I want to talk about the obvious mental weakness of Arsenal, which is the trademark of the team. Despite the fact that players like Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal have been playing for Arsenal for a very long time and are experienced enough to prove their quality, they still make reserve team players' mistakes that look very amateur. Due to Wenger's progressive attitude that aims to develop young players rather than buying them prepared, the team is full of potentially successful kids who are in their 30s. The players who made up the main structure of the team simply do not possess the right spirit for a championship run.

On the other hand, Wenger's tactics are still the same as they were in 2009, but needless to say football is completely different than what it was in 2009. At that time thee pass-heavy style clearly dominated football and Wenger's team was very promising compared to the teams who struggled against domination. However, for the last eight years coaches have developed new strategies, most importantly counter-pressing, and found new ways to utilize time and space to find opportunities. But Wenger still has not find a repeatable, effective pattern to find opportunities in the final third. Although the team theoretically satisfies the requirements of domination at the back of the game, the offensive build up is totally up to Alexis Sanchez's and Mesut Özil's individual talents.

Against Manchester City, Arsenal displayed again that why they failed to win the championship in the last decade, and there is no evidence that this situation will change. Thus, it is time for a paradigm shift for Arsenal, but this does not have to mean that they should sack Wenger. Rather, Wenger and the executive board may change their financial policy, even though I praise the club's player development policy. To sum up, Wenger's current strategy proved to be wrong, and Arsenal has to catch the soul of our times again, as they did in 2004.

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