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Anyone But Arséne Wenger

How long must we suffer under the tutelage of a manager who is clearly so out of touch with the mechanics of modern football?

18/01/2017 04:56 SAST | Updated 18/01/2017 06:45 SAST
Toby Melville / Reuters
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Dear Arséne,

As I sit at my desk this morning, at the start of the new work year I have to admit that I'm in a toxic mood. Not because of the many work emails and tasks that need attending to or that I was late because Durban traffic never loved me.

No, instead my chakras are all over the place because I have woken up to the news that you've offered £56m for 23 year-old Torino striker Andre Balotti. Last week as Julian Draxler, one of the targets we have been scouting for years signed for PSG I tried to act cool. But honestly I must ask what witchcraft is this? What logic allows you to offer over 50 million pounds for an unproven player when you offered 40 million and 1 pound for Suarez. (In a press conference held last week, Wenger dismissed the Balotti rumours, saying, "That's what today you call fake news." - blogs editor.)

Julian Draxler is the latest in a long list of players that we almost signed. At this point, to have almost been signed to Arsenal is a rite of passage. The list of signatures we almost got over the years but pulled out of is depressing. From Zlatan and Drogba to Alonso and Ronaldo. Instead we have Olivier "He scores when he wants" Giroud.

Years ago when Thierry Henry left the Gunners to play for Barcelona we labelled him a traitor and a sell-out for wanting to be part of a team that would surely win the Champions League. What Henry knew then and what the last twelve years have taught us is that Arsenal lack the necessary conviction and gumption to compete among Europe's elite both in the transfer market and on the field. Last year in December we were promised a very active January transfer window, we only signed Elneny and the rest is history. Remember that time we sold the top striker in the league to Man United and he scored against us and celebrated all the way to the title? Those were the days.

On the first game of this season as Liverpool played with gusto and menace and had us by the throat in our own backyard, I was left feeling worried about what is in store for us as the season unfolds. And so far I have been proven right. Despite qualification for the last 16 of the Champions league and slaying Chelsea, it has been a frustrating season that seems like it's yet to really get going.

We have to accept now that like Liverpool we can no longer regard ourselves as a big club.

After that game against Liverpool you said, "We're just not physically ready," a week after saying 'We are physically ready.' This is the perfect summary of the comedy of errors known as Arsenal under Wenger and that has left legions of fans arguing among themselves outside stadiums and on the internet game after game.

We have to accept now that like Liverpool we can no longer regard ourselves as a big club. On the balance sheets we are but in footballing terms we are far from big. Twelve years without a league title and years upon years of being happy to qualify for the Champions League yet being chucked out before we can even get going is no way to live.

What can we offer players to attract them? At the very least we can offer them intent by making legitimate bids, but we are not even willing to even do that. Mancini, Jose, Ancelotti have all come, won the title and gone yet Ivan Gazidis is busy telling us about how our values will attract big players. Miss me with that BS.

Meanwhile across England swift and necessary changes are being made as clubs get ready for the business end of the season and as Arsenal fans we might put on a brave face but we are scared. The number four is the source of great anxiety for us.

The 12-year scam of having the highest ticket prices, building new stadiums, maximising profit and then telling fans there is no money to spend must come to an end. We all know where the problems are. Arsenal need a world class attack-minded midfielder to help Ozil with his work load. Preferably someone who is good with free kicks cause we don't score nearly enough from those. We need a right winger that can score and assist regularly. If I see Theo Walcott run the ball out of play one more time, I cannot be held accountable for my actions. And a world class striker with a proven track record of scoring a minimum of more than 20 goals.

During the December fixture list, Arsenal were praised for coming from behind to claim a point away to Bournemouth. But for those of us watching with eyes unblinded by sentimentality it was heartbreaking the way we were celebrating a point against Bournemouth that only recently was promoted into the EPL.

The 3-3 draw with The Cherries was the culmination of a long-form failure. A failure of tactics and most of all a failure of philosophy. It is my hope that when your contract expires Arsene we will not display a failure of common sense by renewing it.

How long must we suffer under the tutelage of a manager who is clearly so out of touch with the mechanics of modern football? Often my Man United and Liverpool-supporting friends ask me who I would want to coach Arsenal should you and the club decide to go your separate ways.

Jurgen Klinsmann with his brand of pacey attack, or perhaps even Diego Simeone because he knows how to grind out results when it matters. But at this point after 12 years in the wasteland of English football, anyone will do. Anyone but Wenger.

Sincerely Sihle Mthembu,

A lifelong Gunner.