Sport

Debate rages over how long Wenger's reign will last

Manager Arsene Wenger of Arsenal reacts during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Arsenal and Bayern Muenchen at Emirates Stadium on February 19, 2013 in London, England.
Manager Arsene Wenger of Arsenal reacts during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Arsenal and Bayern Muenchen at Emirates Stadium on February 19, 2013 in London, England. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

FOR as long as I have been following football professionally, Arsene Wenger has been the manager of Arsenal.

For him not to be in charge of the Gunners would be like strawberries without cream, toast without vegemite and meat pie without sauce.

But another season - an eighth in his reign - without a trophy, could spell the end for the man they call "Le Professeur".

The 3-1 first-leg last 16 defeat to Bayern Munich earlier this week might well be the final straw for fans and owners alike at the Emirates.

Of course, Arsenal could spring a surprise and make a remarkable comeback against the Germans.

But that seems highly unlikely and with the Gunners sitting fifth, 21 points behind Premier League leader Manchester United and four points behind rival Tottenham, which is in the Champions League qualifying spot, another trophyless season is on the cards.

Add to that the losses to League Two side Bradford City in the Capital One League Cup and Blackburn Rovers from the Championship in the FA Cup and you can understand why the patience could be wearing thin for supporters and the men in charge.

The debate about whether the 63-year-old Frenchman, who has been a doyen of British football since 1996, should stay in his job is certainly a live one.

Fans I have spoken to and those on social media seem split down the middle too.

Some say he should go and some believe he is still the man to lead the good ship Arsenal through the choppy waters.

Players such as Jack Wilshere, a youngster who Wenger has helped nurture into arguably England's greatest asset at the moment, said the boss was not to blame for the Gunners' failures this season.

"A manager can put us on the pitch and motivate us but we have to do it when we're on the pitch," Wilshire said after losing to Blackburn.

"But we're starting badly and getting punished for it.

"I think the players will take responsibility, we're man enough to take it.

"The boss has been here for 16 years and he's been doing a great job so you can't question him."

There is no question that Wenger has done a fantastic job for Arsenal since taking over in 1996 and the players he has had at the club, such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie are world class players.

But it's trophies that fans and owners want and another season without one could be just one to many.

Even Wenger, famous for not saying he has not seeing incidents on the pitch, might see that one coming.

Just imagine if Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United had gone eight years without a trophy or Roman Abramovic putting up with one trophyless season, let alone eight - it just would not happen.

So I suppose if you look at from that perspective Wenger is lucky to be still in charge of the Gunners.

That he had so much success early on in his Arsenal years has probably saved him so far.

But just for how long? That is the burning question.

Topics:  arsenal fc, barclays premier league, fa cup, football, soccer, uefa champions league



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