The Gunners legend believes the Frenchman has done well and that the club have been affected by the loss of top players, but looks forward to an interesting transfer summer
By Khalis Rifhan
Le Professeur Arsene Wenger has once again lead Arsenal to a top-four finish in the English Premier League this season – following their final day 1-0 victory over Newcastle - ensuring an appearance in the Champions League for 16 consecutive years, although a qualifying match will determine their spot in the tournament proper.
It has been a successful tenure for the Frenchman in the turn of the decade, after his appointment in 1996. Arsenal have won three league (1997/98, 2001/02, 2003/04) and four FA Cup titles (1998, 2002, 2003, 2005), but it has been a frustrating time for the club faithful in recent times as the Gunners have gone on a barren run since their last trophy in 2005.
Although some quarters have questioned the manager’s ability to bring the club further to the next level, club legend and former England defender Nigel Winterburn insists that the former AS Monaco coach is still the right man for the job.
“I still believe Arsene Wenger is still the right manager for Arsenal and have said all along that since they have moved to the Emirates [in July 2006], there has been a lot of restrictions [financially], and we have just come out of a period where this summer might be very interesting for them in the transfer market,” Winterburn told Goal Singapore.
“Those restrictions have been started to be lifted and I think that is why Arsenal finished in a Champions League place this season, [which] will at least allow them to attract the type of players that the supporters want to see.”
The left-back, who won a league medal with Arsenal in the 1997/98 season, then pointed out that despite the limitations in the club, Wenger has been able to lead the team to the finals of several competitions, and feels that the loss of key players had also contributed to the trophy-less season at the Emirates.
“Although they have not won anything, there has been periods where they have been in finals and been leading the Premier League going into the February and March period, but they have just not managed to go through it and [they] also lost the Champions League and League Cup final," Winterburn added.
“So there has been periods where they have had chances to win things, but the last two years have been the most difficult because they have lost their top players and when that [has] happened, you can’t really replace them with the same quality.
“That has been Arsenal's problems over the last season.”
Winterburn was in Singapore over the weekend to participate in the 5th Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) Soccer Sixes and was also the tournament’s ambassador this year, taking over from fellow Gunners and former England international Ray Parlour, who was the ambassador a year ago.
Winterburn eventually went away with a winner’s medal as he helped the CLA-All Stars to a 1-0 win over SCC Strollers in Maters category finals.