Trust in Wenger

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Most of the time Arsene Wenger talks sense, writes Frank Malley.

That might not be a popular notion among some supporters of Arsenal, who believe the club has been on an eight-year trophyless slide to mediocrity.

It would certainly not go down well with those fans who want any thoughts of a new contract for the Frenchman put on ice until after the transfer window closes early next month.

Many of those believe Wenger has run his course. In football parlance, taken the team and the club as far as he can. They want a change and they want it now.

That would be wrong. Ten days or so away from the transfer window closing is not a time to doubt Wenger. It is a time to trust him.

There is good reason Wenger has so far struggled this summer to attract top players to the Emirates Stadium despite having at least £70million to spend and apparently acquired the will to do so.

Top players want to play in the Champions League. They want to spend their winter nights fulfilling their dreams at places such as the Bernabeu and the Camp Nou nd the San Siro.

Until Arsenal went to Istanbul and defeated Fenerbahce 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying match there were serious doubts about whether the Gunners would be taking their place in the group stages of football’s most prestigious club competition this season.

The job, of course, has yet to be completed in the second leg but there was a ruthlessness, a desire and a determination in the trip to Turkey which suggests there is still mileage in Wenger as Arsenal manager.

“The transfer market starts for me now and a lot of activity will happen between now and September 2,” Wenger said.

“It is like a poker game. People hold their cards as long as possible and see what is happening out there. In the end, they go for decisions.”

That does not mean Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez, pictured above, two players linked with the Gunners throughout the summer, will end up at the Emirates. Those ships look to have sailed and Wenger has publicly admitted as much in the case of Suarez. But it does mean that Arsenal fans can expect significant arrivals in north London before the transfer window closes.

Wenger is not stupid. Stubborn, yes, but not stupid. He knows his squad is light on numbers, especially with injuries to such as Mikel Arteta, Thomas Vermaelen and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

He recognises the need to bring in a striker and every goal former Gunner Robin van Persie nets for Manchester United must feel like a stab to his footballing heart.

For the first time in a long time Wenger appears to be on the same page as many of the Arsenal faithful fed up with so many years in the shadow of United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

And yet there was one phrase after the triumph in Istanbul which still grated.

“Quality-wise we don’t need [reinforcements] but numbers-wise we are short,” said Wenger.

It suggests Wenger still has not bought fully into the core complaints of his most ardent critics. Namely that Arsenal require world-class reinforcements, not just supporting cast members. They need a central defender to replace the limited Laurent Koscielny, plus a top-notch ball-winning defensive midfielder and a striker capable of delivering more than Olivier Giroud.

That will take all the £70m Wenger has at his disposal. It will also take an admission that developing young talent alone cannot bring back the glory years.

The next week could prove to be the most crucial in Wenger’s managerial career. If he means business then he must do business.

The signs are he will. He talks sense. Which is why it is not a time for fans to doubt.

It is a time to trust.