In yet another attack by a player-turned-pundit who seems to believe that the Emirates was delivered overnight by the stadium fairies and thus doesn’t need to be given any sort of consideration when discussing the current state of affairs at Arsenal, former Chelsea man Tony Cascarino has been having his say on what is best for Arsenal and he believes that Arsenal should sack Wenger before he goes the way of Brian Clough.
Speaking to the Times (paywall) he said
Arsène Wenger is one of the game’s greats. He changed the face of English football when he took over at Arsenal in 1996, but we should be discussing him in terms of being a former Arsenal manager.
Big clubs sack managers, and Arsenal are a big club. They have the best stadium in the division and a fine history, but cannot call themselves a big club if they are prepared to hang on to Wenger out of sentiment.
A great many Arsenal fans cannot bring themselves to say that Wenger must go. Instead, they say let’s keep him, but insist or hope that he changes his philosophy. But I just cannot see him changing.
When I look at him, I see a guy who believes in a philosophy based on simplicity. He won’t change. He was an incredible manager and gave us entertainment of the highest order. He was a genius, but that genius has had its day. Football has caught up with him and he remains in the job because of sentiment— but the biggest clubs have no sentiment. If Sir Alex Ferguson fails, he won’t be allowed to hang around.
In a piece which ran to 527 words, he references the stadium only once to say that it is the best in the division. Not once does he mention how Arsenal ended up with the best stadium in the league nor the impact building one would likely have on any other club in the Premier League, many of which want to build a stadium but can’t even get the plans of the ground yet still finish behind Arsenal every year.
In a break with tradition, Oliver Holt wrote a very insightful piece in the Mirror where it was finally acknowledged the impact that the stadium has had, saying
What we do know is that in the last 20 years, Arsenal are 15th in the list of biggest net spenders in the Premier League. They are behind Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool. That’s a given.
But they have also spent less than West Ham, West Brom, Stoke, Everton, Fulham and Sunderland.
That is the reality that Wenger has to work with. The simple truth is that, financially, Arsenal simply will not compete with the teams considered their direct rivals.
The reality is also that those teams are only still considered their direct rivals because, somehow, Wenger has kept Arsenal within touching distance of them.
While his competitors have wallowed in an ocean of splurge, Wenger’s success built a new stadium for Arsenal.
And once it had been built, he abided by a policy of fiscal prudence to help pay off the debts incurred in the construction.
Not everything that has gone on recently can be laid at the door of the stadium build, I know this. But those who cry about it being xxx years without a trophy need to ask themselves could any club in the Premier League build a stadium from their own cash, locked in to poor commercial deals which were needed at the time to help finance the ground, and still have stayed in the Champions League?
Short term pain for long term gain and it irks me greatly that the majority of pundits act as if it is simply not an issue. As I said in this piece, things were always going to get worse for Arsenal before they could get better.