Tuesday 20 August 2019

John Giles: Fanatic Arsene Wenger could win the Premier League again

Arsene Wenger lifts the FA Cup after victory over Chelsea
Arsene Wenger lifts the FA Cup after victory over Chelsea

John Giles

ARSENE Wenger had a chance to walk away from Arsenal with his head held high, a winner again and his reputation intact but he could do it because he’s a fanatic.

He should have gone. I think he has made the wrong call for Arsene Wenger and I’m fascinated by the fact that he cannot let go, cannot see anything else in his life but this job.

Tony Adams had a nasty dig at Wenger when he spoke about the fact that he has no friends which may be true but didn’t need to be aired like that.

It’s his life and he has chosen a certain path, just as he chose a certain way to manage Arsenal football club.

It has been a successful path and he is now the most successful manager in the history of the FA Cup and Arsenal the most successful club.

That means something, even these days.

Most wrote him off but I didn’t and I don’t know. He could win the Premier League again. Why not?

I said a month ago that I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he pulled off another great escape by winning the FA Cup and finishing fourth.

They didn’t quite make it into the Top Four but he delivered the Cup and I knew that the fans would never demand his head if he gave them a day out in Wembley.

Now, he has another two years and from all the evidence I’ve seen, an instruction to spend as much money as he can, which is a rare thing in football and must be making the Arsenal owners and directors uncomfortable.

There’s a great irony here. Alex Ferguson’s approach was to spend, spend, spend as Manchester United went further and further into debt. The team won everything and the Glazers, who gave Ferguson the money, took the hit from the fans.

Wenger’s approach was to save, save, save and as a result, Arsenal fans have a wonderful new stadium and no debt but when the bullets started flying, they were all aimed at him.

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The lesson from this is that fans are fickle and that winning hides a multitude.

Wenger’s careful budgeting leaves Arsenal with a big war chest and he will spend this summer.

Just as I was cautious about writing him off before, I would not rule out the possibility that in 12 months’ time, Arsenal will be Premier League champions.

Throughout the years after his purple patch, Wenger always had a team. Often, he had a team which went on long winning runs and made us think that this might be the year.

Now, freed from any restriction and in the remarkable position where his employers are effectively telling him he has to spend to stay in a job, we will see if he can fill in the gaps.

It’s all about defenders. I have never rated Per Mertesecker on my list of all-time great stoppers but he was outstanding in the FA Cup final against Chelsea and showed what is possible.

If Wenger can at last find a couple of proper defenders, who knows what might be possible?

Equally, we could arrive a crunch point before Christmas where new signings are not working, Arsenal are trailing in the table and the clamour to remove him would spread from the minority who did abuse him over the last year to the majority.

That would be terrible and I’ve no doubt, very bitter for everyone involved.

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