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'Arsene Who?': Flaws of a Genius

By Osama Rahman

When Arsene Wenger was introduced to English Premier League as manager of Arsenal FC, The Evening Standard greeted him with the headline 'Arsene Who?'. The relatively unknown manager had already built a reputation in Asia and Ligue 1 as a shrewd coach, but the depths of his talents were about to meet their sternest test. From the creation of The Invincibles to the unearthing of the Henrys, Anelkas and Fabregas' of the world, Wenger has come a long way. Now with a brand new contract, the wily coach has a few more years to take a shot at glory forgotten and longed for. Will Arsene Wenger finally deliver or will the flaws in his legacy come to the fore once more?

The brilliant tactician is indeed a victim of his own philosophy. In the pursuance of the purist method of football, Arsenal have produced some of the most entertaining brand of football in recent memory. The Professor's belief in the youth has also produced some world class players who may otherwise have never been found. Though Arsenal fans sing praises of Wenger for this very reason, the achievements may help to explain Arsenal's trophy drought as 3 titles in 14 years is really nothing to write home about for a team in contention for the title for that many number of years.

Arsene delivered the EPL title in his very second season but then he already had a very strong defensive line up set before his arrival. Some shrewd buys led to another title and Arsene's knack for talent saw the emergence of The Invincibles. But that's where it really stopped. Since then Arsenal have always been considered serious title contenders for the early part of the season, only to fizz away towards the second half. Wenger's first flaw is his policy to offer one-year contracts to players over 30. Though he keeps youth in mind, it still doesn't make sense to discard the likes of say Robert Pires for Jack Wilshere. An eye on the youth is a good strategy but a blind eye for the veterans is a recipe for disaster. Arsene can take the example of his bitter rival Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scot has continued to build his squad keeping in mind the presence of veterans such as Ryan Giggs and Scholes. Though both can be said to be past their prime, they still have the experience and mental strength to change the game and dictate play. Ferguson blends in youth such as Nani and Valencia with his statesmen instead of replacing them. In this way Ferguson's team maintains its core while the newcomers learn from their elders. Arsene Wenger should consider something to this effect. William Gallas and Andrie Arshavin can both be labelled as 'old' by Arsenal's standards and the Frenchman should take heart from the fact that many games have been won due to the mentality and experience that these two players bring. It's time to blend the youth with experience, which is indeed the way to success.

The next consideration should be Wenger's transfer policy. Arsenal FC is not a youth academy and neither is it short of funds. However, Emirates have become a famous poaching ground for top class clubs such as AC Milan, Barcelona and now even Manchester City. Arsene has failed to retain the core of his squad over the years and this has resulted in disaster. Liverpool will forever rue the sale of Xabi Alonso but Arsenal sells such a key player on almost a regular basis. Imagine an Arsenal, which still had the likes of Aleksander Hleb, Flamini, Ashley Cole and even Emmanuel Adebayor. That would be a potent team, sure of a substantial victory. The current team, though boasting numerous stars, is not exactly fearsome. Arsene needs to hold on to his players and give in to certain demands such as Adebayor's desire for higher wages. Arsene needs to be more convincing for his players, a fact further emphasised by Cesc Fabregas' near exit. The Spanish midfielder's departure next season is now imminent and Arsene needs to consider replacements soon. Here, another error in his transfer policy comes to the fore. Arsene needs to spend on experience rather than youth. Arsenal have enough young talent to open a school, now the focus should be on experience. A player in his prime will have more to add at a quicker rate than young players who will spend years developing only to be sold for a hefty profit. Where did all the profit Wenger made go? That is a question for another day.

Finally, Arsene Wenger needs to toughen his team up on a mental level. Arsenal are inconsistent against big teams and their lack of mental strength is evident most of the time. For all their flair, the side still lacks leadership and confidence. The young Gunners are prone to crumbling under pressure and this has been highlighted by various Big Four clashes over the years, notably the 3-0 thrashing Manchester United handed out. This toughness needs to be boosted in two particular slots; Goalkeeper and Striker. Arsenal lacks a world-class keeper and this is undeniable common knowledge. If Schwarzer is in fact available then Wenger should move quickly. In addition to that, Robin Van Persie's role as the central forward should be scrutinised. The striker's lack of physical presence and limited aerial threat are concerning weaknesses. Regardless of the brilliance or goals coming from your midfield, your striker needs to be more potent. Whether Chamakh fits the bill remains to be seen.

The fact that Wenger is one of the best coaches is not debatable. He is as good as it gets. But like all geniuses he too has flaws, mostly owing to a diet of strict principles and an element of stubbornness. If Arsene decides to re-evaluate his own position first and the squad later, Arsenal may become the formidable threat they have so long been touted as. Until then, we can only expect self-destruction and an ability to flatter only to deceive.

Graduation Ceremony at Sir John Wilson School

IT was the tenth of August, we knew that this would be the last time we would see our teachers and friends together at one place. The day was quite special for us it was our graduation ceremony. We always thought our graduation ceremony would be held at school. However, to our utter amazement, it was held at Gulshan Club. The hall was nicely lit and to help us tie our graduation sashes some students of class nine obliged. After the arrival of the Chief Guest, Mr. Azim Udin Ahmed, Chairman of North South University, the programme began with a slideshow of memories. Photographs from Early Years, from School Field trips, from all kinds of extracurricular activities, swept our minds back over the years. Anam Tabani and Tadmir-bin-Chisti, past graduates introduced a cultural programme that included songs, dances, recitations and a piano recital. Then Ms Morjina and Ms Fahmida spoke about the highs and lows of our particular batch and wished us well for the future. Later we were called to the stage one by one and handed our graduation certificates with a graduation booklet by our respectable chief guest. After inspiring words from the Chief Guest and the School Principal it was time to cut the cake and start the party. We then spent some valuable time with our teachers, thanking them for all their contributions and taking countless photos with them. It was time for us to bid farewell. Our hearts didn't want to depart but our minds knew we had to, because a brave new world was waiting for us.

By Shabab and Sarfaraz
(O'Level Graduates)


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