Arsene Wenger slashed in the Sack Race after woeful week

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 02 March 2018, 12:32

ARSENE WENGER is acting like the fighter that goes on for too long.

He is starting to look like it too. That’s unusual for a manager more like a bespectacled professor than a heavyweight champion.

On Thursday night there was a haggard, war-weary expression of a once conquering giant who stood over floored opponents, having knocked them down with his intelligence; punchy football if not the physical kind.

Wenger will not quit Arsenal this summer. That is a certainty.

Wenger has been slashed from 33/1 to just 4/1 in the Premier League Sack Race following thos painful back-to-back drubbings to Man City, but while he may not be the first team manager come next season, he will not resign.

It is a sign of his cussedness that the man who has ruled Arsenal since 1996 as a bookish dictator will have to be gently ushered out of the door, probably under the banner of ‘mutual consent’.

Lots of boxers have dark back stories. Raised among mean streets they usually have a weakness for women, drink or gambling.

Wenger is not immune to this either. He can’t resist having a punt. Not the financial kind of course but with his tactics, with his team, with one of the biggest football clubs in the world.

It is also a symbol of his stubbornness that Wenger wanted one more throw of the dice this season to try to build a team capable of challenging at the very top.

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He risked it all by believing he could keep Alexis Sanchez happy – and lost. As soon as Chile missed out on this summer’s World Cup finals there was nothing for him to play for.

Sanchez could see form the inside out that Arsenal is a lost cause while Wenger refuses to quit on his stool, still insistent he can go one more round with the new titans of English football at Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool.

Wenger is now as synonymous with Arsenal’s decline as he is with their success. The last title triumph in 2004 a fading memory.

Pretty soon we’ll have the first Arsenal player in the first team who was born after they last won the league.

Wenger took the decision to sell Sanchez last January firmly on the chin. He counter punched by signing Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and at first it looked like a winning shot with the 5-1 destruction of Everton.

One goal in that game has been Aubameyang’s only one so far and he missed a penalty last night against City in what looks like becoming a watershed week for Arsenal. It’s looking like another false dawn already.

On Sunday Arsenal go to Brighton – not an easy ground with the hosts fighting for their lives in the lower reaches of the Premier League.

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It has already been pointed out that in terms of points Arsenal have more in common with the bottom half of the table than the team at the top.

But don’t expect Wenger to take any notice of that. He is going to carry on swinging wildly until the end of the season, until the latest dismal campaign fizzles out.

It’s going to take a brave person to pull him to one side and like a good trainer, or cuts man, put Wenger down on his stool in between rounds and persuade it’s best for everybody if they throw in the towel.

What Arsenal want then is a young coach who will adapt to the new business model of having a head coach and a director of football overseeing transfers.

It’s the system Chelsea have in place with Antonio Conte happy to tell the world that he has nothing to do with buying players.

There’s going to be blood on the carpet at the Emirates Stadium but it’s a job that must be done this summer and then begin the long term surgery to revive Arsenal once more.

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