Wenger – Time has come to open up or shut up

The Arsenal manager is serving only to hurt himself by protecting those who are truly responsible for the north London club’s demise

By James Goldman

“Honestly, I could write a book about the summer,” remarked Arsene Wenger about the tumultuous close season of 2011 which saw the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

Nearly 18 months on and with answers still in alarmingly short supply, the truth is what Arsenal fans now crave the most, almost above and beyond the interminable wait for silverware.

The truth behind the motives of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke. The real reason for Robin van Persie’s defection to Manchester United? The truth behind a reluctance to spend heavily during the most recent January transfer window. Indeed, is there really any money to spend at all?

Wenger undoubtedly holds the answers to all of these questions, yet, out of loyalty to those who employ him and those who serve him, steadfastly refuses to shed light on the thought processes of a club that, from the outside looking inwards, appears so intent on self-harm.

Commendable though his devotion is in one sense, in truth it helps nobody. Not the players who continually let him down on the field of play, not the board whose frugal ways need not change while Wenger continues to deliver regular Champions League football.

And while it is far from his priority, nor in any way does the company man attitude appease the fans who were actively encouraged to chant for Wenger’s removal – even if it led to them suffering physical harm – by the editor of the club’s leading fanzine following Saturday’s abysmal defeat against Blackburn.

Moreover, when that commitment to those who are truly responsible for Arsenal’s current state of flux manifests itself in a bizarre, flawed, illogical and frankly unedifying attack on the media, who contrary to popular belief on the whole still maintain the utmost respect for the man and his achievements, it is hard to feel anything other than almost patronising levels of sympathy.

Experts in pop psychology will no doubt offer the suggestion that Wenger was seeking to create a siege mentality ahead of what could potentially be his final Champions League game at Emirates Stadium in charge of Arsenal – one that could be rendered a deeply unpleasant and humiliating experience should Bayern Munich play to form.

Sadly, Tuesday’s mini-meltdown represented not the actions of a highly intelligent man aiming to protect a fragile group of players, but those of a weary, fatigued and frustrated old warhorse who, try as he might, can no longer fight the good fight alone.

Wenger does not deserve ridicule but he continues to open himself up to it while he refuses to embrace change and would seemingly rather drown than cry for help.

Watching this sad, almost tragi-comic demise play out is as painful to witness as any reversal against lower league opposition in cup competition. The truth might hurt, but Arsenal fans are strong enough to handle it – they’ve dealt with worse in recent years – and none would begrudge Wenger protecting himself at the expense of throwing others to the baying masses.

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