Whether Wenger leaves or stays, it would be the ‘wright’ decision

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/13 23:23:39

Arsenal legend Ian Wright caused a bit of a stir when he claimed that Arsene Wenger might be retiring. According to Wright, Wenger had said to him during the week he might be "coming to the end." Wenger quickly refuted this by ­saying that he hadn't said anything about his future. But nobody would blame him if he is indeed planning to retire at the end of this season.

There is a chance that Wright may have misheard Wenger when they spoke, but his comments that Wenger looks tired and that the players have let him down do ring true.

Some observers and hopeful fans had thought this might have been the year for Arsenal to win the Premiership, after finishing second last season and third the one before. Key players were returning while vital positions like striker and center back had been reinforced. For a while, the Gunners were really in the chase. But with recent losses to Watford and Chelsea, as well as Everton and Manchester City in December, Arsenal have surrendered any valid claims to the league title. The same criticisms from previous seasons of a lack of leadership, mental frailty and defensive naivety were seen in these losses.

Even victory over Hull on Saturday could not disguise Arsenal's labored form. A lucky deflection off Alexis Sanchez's hand and a last-minute penalty were Arsenal's two goals. Arsenal were nervy at times and were lucky to avoid a red card when Kieran Gibbs took down a charging Lazar Markovic who had a clear path to Arsenal's goal.

While the team aren't doing as well as how many had hoped, Wenger has tried to improve the squad with careful acquisitions, rotating players and even dropping starters for underperforming. There is little more he can do. It wasn't Wenger's fault that Granit Xhaka earned a straight red card against Burnley in January and a four-game suspension, nor that ­players missed chances and gave up leads in their losses to Everton and City in ­December.

With all that he has done, Wenger ­deserves the chance to go out on his own terms. If he retires, he leaves Arsenal with a fairly strong squad with impressive young players.

When Arsenal step out against the mighty Bayern Munich on Wednesday in their Champions League round of 16 first-leg clash, not many will give the Gunners a fighting chance. The players will need to prove everyone wrong if they want to give their manager at least one reason to stay.

The author is a Hong Kong-based freelance writer. hcpyip@gmail.com


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