Wednesday 21 February 2018

John Giles: Transfer window has exposed Arsene Wenger as a lame duck manager

Read John Giles every week in the Herald

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger
John Giles

John Giles

THIS has been a revealing transfer window for the top Premier League clubs and managers and nobody has been exposed more than Arsene Wenger. He’s now a lame duck.

This window has confirmed that his career, like many stellar managers before him, will end in the worst possible way.

Across town, Antonio Conte soldiers on while his employer at Chelsea buys and sells. They threw him a bone when they gave him Olivier Giroud instead of Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch.

Of course, the big winner this month was undoubtedly Jose Mourinho who signed Alexis Sanchez, the kind of player who could win a title for you if you give him licence and offloaded Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the same deal.

This was a spectacular signing and one that will pay off for Manchester United in a very big way over the coming months and years.

But the big loser was Wenger (right). The Gunner’s decision to sign a player who admits himself that he is “crazy”, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang amounts to the removal of responsibility for the acquisition and sale of players at the Emirates from the manager.

Arsenal’s new middleman Sven Mislintat, who brought Aubameyang to Borussia Dortmund and was brought in to take over “Player Recruitment”, is clearly the reason why this player was signed.

He fits none of the criteria which Wenger has always insisted on.

None of the other top clubs made a serious attempt to sign the lad, who is 28, will be paid upwards of £200k a week, is clearly talented but has major disciplinary issues.

Throughout Wenger’s time at Arsenal, he had a formula for buying players which insisted that they be young, ready to play for relatively low wages and with no baggage.

The club was adamant that Mislintat was not employed as a Director of Football but I’m 100% convinced that this was a fig leaf to save Wenger’s blushes.

Whatever title you want to give him, Mislintat has taken control of transfers and that should be the end of the line for Wenger.

Remember, Wenger said last summer that he would quit if he ever had to work with a Director of Football. What he meant was that he would walk if his control of team affairs was diminished in any way.

Well this window has convinced me that his authority has been fatally undermined but he is still sitting at his desk, still going through torture on the touchline while his woefully inconsistent team staggers through the season.

The performances during the defeat by Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and then Swansea in midweek were about as bad as I’ve seen from Arsenal all season.

Ultimately, I’m sorry to say that Wenger will not go willingly and that there is a good chance that the hierarchy at Arsenal will have to force him out.

I find this deeply sad and it follows a pattern over the decades in which great managers were so fanatical about football and their job that they couldn’t walk away when the time was right.

The fact that he is still the manager is also evidence of a club which is in a state of flux and unsure about the next steps to take.

As a result, the good habits which Wenger has always pinned his faith in are being abandoned in favour of a “modern” approach to management which requires a committee to make decisions.

Mislintat is shaping the Arsenal of tomorrow and when you travel that route, you end up like Chelsea.

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