When I see Arsene Wenger’s reputation getting shredded, my first thought is: why do it to yourself?
He is one of the all-time great managers, up there in English football with the biggest names of all like Shankly, Paisley, Ferguson and Nicholson. He deserves that recognition and respect, and no doubt he’ll get it when he finally quits Arsenal.
Now though, not so much. He’s being slaughtered. In some ways everything he’s done - not just in terms of where he has taken his football club and what he has made them, but also in the football he’s always played - has been tainted.
It shouldn’t be, and that’s why I wonder what the hell he’s doing. But then I have to catch myself. Because I know what he’s doing. All managers must have belief in themselves, and the great ones have almost an arrogance, and unshakeable knowledge they are right.
Wenger will believe he can turn around his situation. He knows his season has been destroyed by some unfortunate injuries and some bad management from above, with key players allowed to get far too close to the end of their contracts...which has caused so much disruption and uncertainty.
Wenger saw his Arsenal team suffer a difficult defeat at Crystal Palace
Fans have protested for Wenger to leave Arsenal in recent weeks
He also knows that players who should have been signed last summer weren’t, and that has cost them. I know for a fact that N’Golo Kante wanted to go to Arsenal, Wenger wanted him, but the deal didn’t get done. I’m not saying it fell through because of his wages. But it fell through because of his wages.
That looks a bit dumb now, doesn’t it? With him in the side, with Sanchez and Ozil settled and playing their part in creating the perfect atmosphere within the squad, things would look very different right now, and Wenger knows it.
I know these managers. I worked with Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez. When things went wrong and they didn’t think they could turn it around, they knew it. The same with Graeme Souness at Liverpool.
Wenger says he will not accept excuses for poor performance at Middlesbrough
I was only a kid when he was in charge and, in truth, I didn’t have a clue what was happening to him. Yet I knew implicitly he felt if the board backed him and he got rid of a few players, got the right players in, he’d have got the club back to where they belonged.
That’s the way it is with Wenger now. There’s not even a debate in my mind if he should go in the summer. Of course he should. Like I said, a manager with his record - and don’t forget he changed English football - should be feted like Fergie was when he bowed out at United. He shouldn’t risk that.
Wenger's time at Arsenal might just have come to an end
Crystal Palace ran out comfortable winners at Selhurst Park on Monday
Yet people think just because he’s quiet, studious, that he’s maybe not confident or cocky. Of course he is, in the sense he’ll think the critics are full of bull, and he’ll show them, alright.
Maybe he will. There’s a big job required at Arsenal in the summer. It looks pretty certain Ozil and Sanchez will leave, and that will rip the creative heart out of the team and need addressing...while the defensive side is in need of surgery (as it always seems to be).
Is he up to it? I don’t know. I said last week no one would be surprised if they lost to Palace, and in fact Big Sam’s side were favourites, and I have to say, I wasn’t too surprised even when they were walloped in such a humiliating way.