If you stand still long enough, you’re going to be left behind.
That is true in every aspect of life, whether it is your personal life, your career, or that one dream you had your whole life.
As you get older, it’s easier to find excuses, to blame wains, to blame work, and to just say there’s not enough hours in the day.
‘I’ll write that chapter tomorrow’, ‘I’ll go running at the weekend’, ‘I’ll go to New York next year’.
Time waits for no one, and the differnce between the successful and the apathetic is simply desire. Desire to achieve.
Such is the turning point facing Arsene Wenger now.
At 64 years of age, he doesn’t need to do it anymore. He has finally brought a trophy back to Arsenal after nine years, so he can end on a high. Like Sir Alex Ferguson, he can go out a winner, with his head held high.
But will he choose to? The obvious answer seems to be no. But if he does sign an extended contract at the Emirates, then he has to ask himself a question.
Does he want it enough?
If the club commits to Arsene and vice-versa, then they have to go all in. There cannot be any more half measures from the Gunners.
They are a beautiful team to watch, at times scintillating, at times mesmeric, and there has not been a better team to watch in the Premier League for years now. But before Saturday they had nothing to show for it, except Champion’s League qualification.
Until Aaron Ramsey stroked home the winner in extra time against Hull, Arsene were the equivalent of a journeyman boxer, who talks the talk and who has some good moments. But when it came down to it, against the best, with titles on the line, they weren’t in contention.
Arsenal have bottled it on an annual basis, and they came so close to doing so again here.
In this day and age of managers getting sacked at the drop of a hat, it is without doubt that Wenger is a genius. He is almost the perfect manager. He doesn’t mouth and court controversy like Mourinho, he doesn’t throw strops like Mancini, he doesn’t lose it publicly like Benitez, nor does he headbutt opposition players like Pardew. Instead, he focuses on developing young players and making them superstars. And he has succeeded, by and large in doing that. He has also done it by hardly spending a penny. From a business point fo view, he’s a dream.
But this is football, and from a footballing perspective, he has been found wanting. Mourinho was harsh when he called Wenger ‘a specialist in failure’ earlier this season. But it had an element of truth about it. The last nine years have brought memories of Arsenal bottling it when it mateterd as much as the years before that were littered with memories of Wenger lofting trophies.
Even this past season, Arsenal bottled it in the big games. They were hammered by Liverpool and Man. City and how can we forget his 1000th game in charge at Chelsea; a 6-0 defeat, for supposed title challengers.
So, if Wenger stays on, he simply muct act decisively.
Not until Aston Villa turned his team over on day one of last season did he act, then spending 40 million on Mezut Ozil.
He cannot bide his time again.
United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham will all strengthen signifcantly this summer. Arsenal must do so, or it will be over before it starts.
Arsenal finished seven points behind champions Man. City this time, this after leading the table for 128 days. They came close, so they don’t need wholsale changes.
What they need is a machine in attack. Giroud is about as reliable and efficient as cheap kitchen roll. What they need is someone who will score goals, ugly goals, tap ins, headers, bobbles, anything and everything. They don’t need a pretty boy who’s more concerned with his looks like Giroud. They need a poacher, someone who feeds off scraps in the six yard box, and they need one desperately.
They also need someone with a set in midfield. When the chips are down, as they were at Anfield and Stamford Bridge, they need someone to grasp the game by the scruff and say ‘We’re not having this’.
Wenger must deliver here.
The FA Cup win could be the catalyst for success, as the League Cup was for a young United team featuring Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2006. Winning is a habit, but only if you enciurage that habit.
Wenger must encourage it by buying winners now, rather than by buying players who might be winners ten years down the line.
His future and Arsenal’s depends on it.
If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email [email protected] or [email protected] at any time.