• Wed
  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Updated: 9:07am
Column
PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 9:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 9:20pm

Why Arsenal must stand by Arsene Wenger

Win or lose against Wigan in the FA Cup semis on Saturday, fans who want Wenger out should be careful what they wish for

BIO

Peter Simpson is a China-UK based journalist and the SCMP’s former Beijing 2008 Olympics news editor. He has covered major international news and sporting events, most recently the London 2012 Olympics and Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Peter is a Premier League season ticket holder at newly promoted Southampton FC.
 

Arsenal face Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday - and a cup final might stop the clamour and growing consensus among fans that it's time for manager Arsene Wenger to abdicate, calls which grew louder after the 3-0 away crushing last week by Everton which put the Champions League in jeopardy.

Yet even if Wigan add to the misery, the club's hierarchy should not consider sacking their longest-serving, most successful manager.

Terrace anger will view this as misguided loyalty. But unlike some Manchester United fans, the Arsenal faithful should hold off from hiring a protest plane, picketing with "Wenger Out" banners and venting spleen on radio phone-ins.

The Arsenal faithful should hold off from hiring a protest plane, picketing with 'Wenger Out' banners and venting spleen on radio phone-ins
Peter Simpson

The heavy ennui and depression swirling around Wenger after the Everton defeat indicated a weary man who had perhaps already made up his mind to quit once this campaign, his 18th in charge, is over (he might give notice by Monday if Wigan triumph and the club are forced to endure a 10th year without a trophy).

Arsenal fans should welcome his air of resignation over a lost cause and remain patient.

Why? Look at the statistics. Allowing your poorly performing manager to leave on his terms rather than by brutal sacking heralds success, it seems.

Eight EPL clubs have replaced their managers this season but only one team has improved, Crystal Palace. Last October and with Palace lying in 19th place, Ian Holloway departed by mutual consent after less than a year in charge at Selhurst Park. He admitted he was not up to In came Tony Pulis and battling Palace are now 14th with the top-flight mega bucks almost assured for next season.

Contrast Palace's improvement to the clubs that fired their managers.

Fulham sacked Martin Jol last December off the back of five straight defeats which left the club 18th in the table.

Jol, who had been in charge since June 2011, reacted to his dismissal graciously, saying: "I'm disappointed but there are better days ahead for Fulham."

He was replaced by head coach Rene Meulensteen before Felix Magath took charge in February. The south London club, however, remain 18th and still seem likely candidates for the drop next month.

At sorry Cardiff, Malky Mackay was fired by Malaysian billionaire owner Vincent Tan in the same month. The newly promoted Blue Birds were lying in 17th place, which was not good enough for Tan. The spat between the two became public when it was revealed Tan wrote to Mackay on December 16 asking him to resign or be sacked.

Mackay rightly stood his ground; it was only halfway through the club's first EPL season, after all. Impatient, profit-obsessed Tan finally swung the axe, insisting he was acting to be fair to the club and the fans.

He appointed ex-Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, assuring the fans - already seething over his team-kit colour change - Mackay's dismissal was "regretfully necessary" and the club was on the up.

Cardiff are 19th, one off the bottom, and heading for a quick return to the Championship.

Pre-Christmas is the perfect time to sack your manager, it seems.

Tottenham fired Andre Villas-Boas in December with the team in seventh spot. Former player Tim Sherwood replaced him, and he admitted it was a risky decision by chairman Daniel Levy. "It's a gamble because I've never done it before," he said.

The gamble is so far inconclusive. Yes, Spurs have gained a place and are in sixth but the much-desired Champion League spot is arguably farther away than it was under AVB.

December also saw West Brom, then lying in 16th place, sack head coach Steve Clarke. Pepe Mel took over and the club remain 16th.

You can see the pattern, and it continues.

Swansea City waited until February to sack Michael Laudrup and replace him with club captain Garry Monk. The Swans were in 12th and had just recorded their sixth defeat in eight games, leaving them only two points off the relegation places.

"It is a decision we have taken reluctantly," Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins said. "But it's a decision made in the best interests of Swansea City football club and our supporters."

Of course it was, Huw. Swansea are now 15th.

Last October Sunderland sacked firebrand and divisive manager Paolo Di Canio and replaced him with Gus Poyet. The Black Cats are currently bottom.

Norwich fans will be hoping the sacking of Chris Hughton this week - for which they called for - and the instalment of youth coach Neil Adams as his replacement.

The Canaries are 17th and are still to play Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Not so much a shrewd move, more high stakes.

So, rather than call for your manager to be sacked it might be more beneficial of fans to call upon them to do the noble thing and resign in their own good time. Of course, the other option is the unorthodox approach adopted by Manchester United. Stand by your man for at least a season.

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