Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Realisation Dawning Too Late That Arsenal Empire Is in Decline

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Realisation Dawning Too Late That Arsenal Empire Is in Decline

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Evans @tonyevans92a

THE best argument for Arsene Wenger to remain at the Emirates in recent years has been stability. Arsenal were predictable.

They would have spells in the season when they looked like potential champions, get knocked out of the Champions League at the knockout round and any title bid would fizzle out as spring arrived. But a top-four finish was inevitable.

Stan Kroenke was the invisible owner and the boardroom was quietly complacent. There were even a couple of FA Cups in the trophy room to assuage any supporters who were old-fashioned enough to want to win things. All was well at Arsenal. No one seemed to notice that the empire was in decline.

The realisation is dawning too late. Wenger came out fighting yesterday, claiming that he needs to keep this squad together because they are potentially a titlewinning team. The Frenchman is delusional.

Things are unravelling at the Emirates. The board, who have for so long allowed the manager to rule the club unchecked, are beginning to wonder whether they took the policy of "in Wenger we trust" too far. The minority shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, has made a very public offer to buy the club. The timing is crucial. The Uzbek's power play is an indication that Arsenal are no longer stable. Yesterday, the fans sang "Kroenke, get out of our club".

Things were a lot more simple when it was just "Wenger out". The manager has been let down by his board. The 67-year-old has had an almost free rein and the club has come to exist in his image. The only infrastructure is Wengerstructure. It is a dangerous situation and one that is rebounding on the manager. Thoughts about a succession plan have only begun to germinate recently.

The majority of decisions even those about his own future have been left to Wenger. When things were going well the manager enjoyed this status. …

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