Arsene Wenger is ‘holding Arsenal back’ and not taking club forward, says Matthew Syed

Journalist and author Matthew Syed tells The Debate Arsene Wenger's unwillingness to change and adapt is holding Arsenal back.

Matthew Syed thinks Arsene Wenger is “holding Arsenal back” after failing to re-invent himself and his club in recent years.

The Times journalist said Wenger’s unwillingness to adapt has left the club on “exactly the same terrain” as in the early days of his 22-year stint in north London.

The Gunners advanced to the last 16 of the Europa League despite a 2-1 home defeat by Swedish minnows Ostersunds, a club which did not even exist when Wenger took over in June 1996.

Syed told The Debate longevity such as the Frenchman’s was only beneficial for clubs if they were willing to change with the times.

“It can be a strength, if and only if that manager is prepared to adapt,” he said. “Football evolves, society evolves, technology evolves. We’ve seen tactics evolve with Guardiola.

Wenger admitted his side were 'complacent' after losing at home to Swedish minnows Osterlunds

“My sense with Wegner is he came in and was a great innovator. He brought in nutrition, he was very big on sports science too.

“When you go to Arsenal, and I’ve been a few times, there’s a real sense that is has been in exactly the same terrain, the blinkers have come down, and when Wenger is challenged internally he is a God and absolutely runs that club.

“Arsenal’s a great football club with great fans who have been on the whole loyal to Wenger and I hate to say it, because I’m a big admirer of what he’s achieved, he’s a great person but my sense today is that he’s holding Arsenal back.”

Brighton defender Liam Rosenior agreed with Syed’s assessment and said legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had reaped the benefits of remodelling his side over his many years at Old Trafford.

While Wenger has not won a Premier League title with the Gunners since 2004, Ferguson never went more than three years without a league trophy after his first top-flight championship win in 1992.

“A manager sets a culture for a club,” said Rosenior. “If you look at the ones with longevity, Sir Alex Ferguson was a perfect example of someone so successful over such a long period of time.

“If you look at his reign, he kept changing the team. He had foresight in taking older players out of the team, and bringing through for instance the class of 92.

“And having the foresight again to recycle the team, and bring in the likes of Ronaldo and Nani and Rooney. He was constantly adapting the way that he managed.

“What he also did throughout his career was bring in different voices on the training pitch. You go stale, you hear the same voices.

“When new coaches come in as a player, it’s a different challenge, all of a sudden you have to impress somebody else, and I think that’s a really important thing that Ferguson did.”