From just having an FA Cup winning season with fast-developing young players like Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie and Gael Clichy adding to an already glistening squad with players such as Thierry Henry in the peak of their powers at the end of the 2004-2005 season, who could imagine eight years on?
There would be a prolonged trophy drought and a lack of football superstars to really get the fans enthusiastic about the coming season and, more worryingly, for the future in general. So what’s happened? Has Wenger lost his touch? The transfer policy? The departure of David Dein?
All of them seem to come into the equation. But, to say Arsene Wenger is not a world-class manager anymore would be ludicrous in the extreme. A lot of factors have come into play for his team’s relative failure in recent years. However, some have been completely out of his control.
His use of transfers recently is what the public scrutinises more closely than anything. Players like Squillaci, Denilson, Arshavin have been poor buys for Arsenal, all brought for high fees which were never recuperated. These types of inadequate signings have been made numerous times over the past eight years which has shown in the overall deterioration of Arsenal and their inability to effectively challenge for silverware.
One important aspect of Arsene Wenger’s questionable dealings in the transfer market is the absence of David Dean, who knew a thing or two when it came to negotiation. At the heart of Arsenals successful years Dein was involved in all signings, which included bringing Dennis Bergkamp to North London for a bargain price of £7.5m from Inter Milan, when at the time there was a lack of quality flair players in the Arsenal line up. It was Dein who persuaded Bergkamp to join the revolution and the rest is history.
So David Dein’s departure has been a key aspect in the Gunners’ failure in recent years but Wenger has to take a lot of the credit also; his poor decision making has made Arsenal the unfamiliar side they are today, with no winners in the side. Whether or not they are able to land some big signings before the start of the new season could not only define their year ahead, but perhaps also Wenger’s future (or otherwise) at the club.