Saturday 27 May 2017

Wenger facing last stand but Klopp can profit from having one focus

'Half their fans look at the way Wenger has run the club and wonder, who else could have made them so consistent and kept them so competitive?' Picture Credit: Reuters / Eddie Keogh
'Half their fans look at the way Wenger has run the club and wonder, who else could have made them so consistent and kept them so competitive?' Picture Credit: Reuters / Eddie Keogh

Brian Kerr

Three years ago, on the first day of the 2013/14 season, I was at the Emirates to see Arsenal lose 3-1 to Aston Villa. That was the day hundreds of Arsenal fans held up these home-made signs which simply read 'spend'.

Their crowd always seemed to be on the edge of revolution each year. They wanted change, either in Arsene Wenger's transfer policy or else simply in terms of who their manager was.

He placated them that year by signing Mesut Ozil for £42.5m before going on to win the FA Cup two years in succession. Yet after last season, when they led the league in January before falling away, patience is running thin again.

Yet with Arsenal, you always seem to get mixed messages. Half their fans look at the way Wenger has run the club and wonder, who else could have made them so consistent and kept them so competitive? Then, there is another sizeable section who would have viewed last year, when Manchester United were in year three of their post-Ferguson slump, when Chelsea blew a head gasket, and when Manchester City grew old overnight, as their chance to claim a title. They were top in January but finished second to Leicester - not a club with superior resources.

And all of this makes me think that unless they win the league this year, that this season will be his last at the club. With just one year remaining on his contract and so much disgruntlement in the stands, you'd hope that if the writing was on the wall for Wenger, that it would be handled with dignity. He deserves that much at the very least.

In the meantime, it is arrivals rather than departures that Arsenal fans are interested in. With two weeks to go before the close of the transfer window, they have business still to do and if they shop well, it could lead to Wenger (below) having a massive season and prolonging his stay in north London.

In contrast, no one can doubt Jurgen Klopp's status on the Kop. Liverpool's supporters have bought into him. They love his style and enthusiasm and having listened to all the analysis talk from Brendan Rodgers, Klopp's manner is just what they needed.

You always had the impression that Liverpool's supporters are not easily bluffed. And you also had the impression that Rodgers had been bluffing a bit. When Klopp talks about the game, he talks about it cleverly and that big personality of his has engaged the supporters. Behind the smile, there is a strong man there, who dealt with Daniel Sturridge well last season and who has signed astutely this summer and who is someone you cannot discount from doing something special this season. Remember how Leicester profited from not being in Europe last season. Liverpool are better off being able to focus solely on the Premier League. For this reason alone, they cannot be overlooked.

Irish Independent

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