Arsenal started yet another season with a disappointing result on the opening day, but this time the club’s prospects seem bleaker than ever.
The Gunners are entering their 13th season since a last Premier League title triumph and the pressure has never been greater on Wenger.
Midway through last season, sections of Arsenal fans were staying away from games and two of the club’s largest supporter groups, The Black Scarf Movement and REDaction, arranged protests in a call for change, as reported by the Express at the time.
Banners saying “Time For Change. Arsenal is stale – fresh approach needed” were even handed out for supporters to hold aloft on 12 minutes, 78 minutes and at full-time at one stage.
The timings were in reference to the 12 years since that last title triumph.
Gunners misfiring for too long
Wenger’s side went some way to redeeming themselves with a late surge to finish runners-up last season, leapfrogging bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur along the way.
But the fact the North Londoners were beaten to the coveted Premier League crown by Leicester City only served to frustrate fans further.
Given the fiercely competitive nature of the Premier League this season – with a collection of the best managers in world football now plying their trade here – Wenger knows he will have to go some to better that second place finish.
Frugal and fragile
But it is his obsession with resale value which is holding the Gunners back, and has been for years.
There is no denying what Wenger has done for Arsenal and indeed for English football as a whole, that is all well documented.
But since moving to their 60,000 seater Emirates home, Wenger has been reluctant to spend money.
Yes he paid out big fees for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, two world class players who would grace most Premier League sides.
But every time Arsenal seem poised to launch an assault on the major trophies and add to their squad, Wenger finds it increasingly difficult to loosen the purse strings.
Obsession with resale value
The perfect example came as recently as this week.
Commenting on his compatriot Paul Pogba’s world record £89 million move back to Manchester United, Wenger said: “The value of a player is dependent on his talent, the expected strengthening of the team, his age and of course his resale value,” as reported by Sky Sports.
No Arsene, not everyone is obsessed with resale value.
Manchester United have probably not stopped to consider for one second Pogba’s resale value because they signed him in a bid to get back to their title winning ways.
The Red Devils want to win the Premier League THIS season, not in five years’ time.
That’s why they brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic at 35 years of age – they want the title here and now.
Not every club is bound by resale values. And only a selling club would truly consider that a key factor in any transfer.
team for now
David Sullivan, the West Ham co-owner, made a salient point last season when he told Sky Sports he could not afford to build a team for three years’ time, he had to buy players who can deliver now.
What makes Wenger think Arsenal should be any different? Arrogance perhaps? An unfaltering belief in the methods which served him well over a decade ago? Foolishness?
Some might laud Wenger for looking out for the best interests of Arsenal from a financial perspective.
Wenger must free himself of morals which shackle Arsenal
But the game in this country is awash with money now, so much so that even little old Bournemouth, with a stadium which holds just 11,000 fans, can spend nearly £50 million in the transfer market without the bank manager breaking a sweat.
Wenger must free himself of his moral shackles over money and resale value or the Gunners will continue to suffer.
And one season soon in the increasingly competitive English top flight they will pay the price by missing out on the Champions League place which has become the height of their ambitions.