SO, what are Arsenal waiting for, what, even, are they scared of? Why don’t they end Arsene Wenger’s agony and relieve him of his job?
For, right now, management is more than painful for the Frenchman. It has become an ordeal, a trial, and when his own fans boo him, it is a shocking reminder of the way his reputation has been smashed to smithereens.
Very soon, unless the Gunners can pull out of their tailspin, Wenger will become a laughing stock. This proud, intelligent, driven man may well be forced to walk away from a job he loves with a intensity that rules his life.
How can he stand by and turn the other cheek when his own fans are reduced to frustrated punch-ups with each other – some for Wenger, some against – as happened at Stoke on Saturday, when Arsenal lost 3-2? This is almost unheard of in the Premier League.
It wasn’t as if it was a top quality side who beat them, City are a physical, hard-working team who enjoy becoming embroiled in muscular football.
They thrive on mixing it and love it when they play Arsenal, because they know there will not be the same level of commitment.
Wenger has virtually stamped his own personality all overThe Emirates, but his team are suffering and he has only himself to blame. Eighteen years is too long at one club, too long to remain respected when results are not forthcoming.
Unless things change, everything he does and believes in is in danger of imploding. The most innovative manager the game has seen could end up a broken man, disfigured by the dreams he has pursued with such passion.
But, for years now, Arsenal have overplayed in Wenger’s search for the perfect goal, the most eye-catching result. When they were kings, it reflected Wenger’s own desires, but now they are a shadow of the side that were once the best in the country.
He cannot escape from it. His defence is poor, but then it has been for over two seasons. In that time, it has become apparent he needed a central defender and a goalkeeper. But Wenger knew best. He toiled on with what he had and convinced himself he could make them a great unit. He has failed.
He swapped strikers around and agonised over an injury list made worse by his pace and power routines that were designed to encourage players to train flat out.
Is it any co-incidence that Jack Wilshere has spent almost two years of his career so far out injured?
Wenger, ever the perfectionist, had a say in the design of Arsenal’s new Emirates stadium, and personally supervised the new training ground to the extent that he carefully drew up instructions for the benches in the dressing room to be of a certain height in centimetres. For him, how a player sat down was as important as how he moved and ran.
But he could be absent-minded, his mind elsewhere. In the lunch queue at the training ground, more than once he would take a sweet off the trolley, turn to speak to someone and tilt the plate. The food would slide off and Wenger would march off, stopping to look amazed that when he sat down, there was nothing on his plate.
He started to be called Clouseau after the comic French police inspector made popular by Peter Sellars.
Now, sadly, fans have other names for him, and when the insults come from his own, surely it is time for Arsenal to take a closer look.
But do they have the guts to take him on, explain that perhaps it is time to move into national management with France when the job becomes vacant? He has shown interest. Or, can they not bear to hurt him, traduce the reputation of the man who set new standards and levels of football in this country?
Remember, this man has revolutionised the game with his approach to it. But time waits for nobody. Wenger, for all his brilliance, is in the results business, but when your own start brawling among themselves over them, isn’t it time the pearl-handed pistol was handed over?