He has revolutionised English football, and brought success to a club that fans couldn’t have ever dreamed of prior to his arrival in North London, but those ‘In Wenger we trust’ banners are becoming a rare commodity around the Emirates these days, and you can see their point.
As a Manchester United fan, I know what it means to have a manager whose longevity at the helm has brought stability to one of the biggest clubs in the world, and with that, success comes more easily.
There were calls for Sir Alex Ferguson to step down when we went through a ‘barren’ run, of three seasons without really challenging for the league title.Thankfully we stuck by him, but at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger has not won a trophy since their F.A Cup success of 2005, which for a club of their stature, is simply not good enough.
Unlike many of my fellow Old Trafford regulars, I am a huge fan of Wenger and what he has brought to the beautiful game.
Before his arrival from Japan, as a relative unknown to even the most avid football fanatic, players were regular drinkers, even smokers, and had very little regard for their diet.
The Frenchman brought with him a team of advisors, and put much emphasis on the player’s health and well-being, even appointing a dietician.
Paul Merson, Tony Adams and other old-school types at Highbury, who weren’t adverse to the odd pint or ten, were perplexed by Wenger’s regime, but some came round to his formula.
To this day, having been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford for 16 years, some of the most exhilarating football I have seen played live has been by Wenger’s Arsenal sides, especially the ‘Invincibles’ of 2003/04.
However, as the years have gone by, this standard of play has dropped, but we have still been treated to the odd glimpse of the flamboyance the former Monaco boss has tried to implement, with Monday’s rampant attacking display at the Madejski a prime example.
I was in the Millennium Stadium the last time Arsenal added to their trophy cabinet, with Paul Scholes missing the decisive penalty, allowing the Gunners to clinch their tenth FA Cup triumph.
That was seven years ago, and I was in my late teens. Since then my life has evolved a lot, Arsenal on the other hand have gone considerably backwards.
After last week’s shock Capital One Cup exit at League Two’s Bradford, and unless something miraculous happens before May, Arsenal look set to make this their eighth successive season without adding to their honours list.
It hasn’t been easy for the Frenchman. He has seen an array of talented individuals come and go, and was powerless to prevent players he turned into world-beaters leaving for pastures new.
Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri are players bordering on the irreplaceable, and if all three were to still be plying their trade at the Emirates, then this season may look a whole lot more tantalising for their increasingly impatient fans.
Replacements Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, and Monday’s hat-trick hero Santi Cazorla are excellent players in their own right, but to replace such influential players that Fabregas and co. were, is a near impossible task.
We all know the money is there to spend (with match tickets of anything up to £125 you would think so!). The only issue being whether the Arsenal chieftain will be willing to change his transfer policy which has served him so well over the years.
Wenger has made his name unearthing talent from all corners of the globe, in the reserve teams of European giants, and paying next to nothing for them.
Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry are just a few examples of players Wenger has turned into superstars, after arriving in North London relatively unknown to the masses.
When the Frenchman has reluctantly dug into the Gunners’ coffers, it hasn’t really worked out.
Francis Jeffers, Jose Antonio Reyes, Andrey Arshavin, Aleksandr Hleb, and Eduardo all arrived at Arsenal with much expected of them, with substantial fees shelled out by the Gunner’s hierarchy and all flattered to deceive to put it mildly.
Today, Wenger does have some talent amongst the ranks, but enough to mount a serious title challenge? No.
Several high profile ex-players have been vociferous in their damnation of the longest serving manager in the club’s history.
Ex-Gunners midfielder Stewart Robson labelled Wenger a ‘dictator’, claiming his tenure should have come to an end a long time ago and club legend Ian Wright, who spent much of his prolific Arsenal career under Wenger, has said that the Frenchman is lucky to still be in a job.
Personally, I am not suggesting relieving a man of such prestige from his position now, but it is time for an ultimatum.
Make the funds available, and do the utmost possible to get the illustrious Frenchman to spend, and spend big, and get the Gunners back to where they need to be, contesting at the top of the league.
There is no need for a mass-overhaul, but there is a need to add players who have experienced success, and know what it takes to lift the club.
Two or three big name stars will add that extra quality that will make the difference between scraping a Champions League spot on the final day of the season, to mounting a serious challenge to the Manchester stronghold.
I don’t want to say it, as don’t the majority of football lovers who appreciate what Wenger has done for our beloved sport, but this has to be his last chance.
Wenger has more than proven his worth over the years, but now he has to show ruthlessness that he hasn’t had to in the past.
It will take him out of his comfort zone, and force him to adopt a transfer policy he has built his reputation on avoiding.
Who he signs, will be key to whether his beloved Arsenal can avoid making the most heart-wrenching, unthinkable decision imaginable.
Pete Hall is a freelancer for Sky Sports and TEAMtalk.com. Follow him on Twitter @Pistolpeteh86