#Arsene Wenger celebrated 20 years as manager of Arsenal in 2016 by placing second in the Premier League. Arsenal was the invincible of English football and the only team to go undefeated in the modern game in 2004.

Times changed for the London Club after a quest for an ultra-modern stadium, funds were cut, and Arsene Wenger was made to work with the funds available. Four trophies have come since the invincible era, and these are consecutive English FA Cup titles in 2013/14, 2014/15 and FA Community Shields of 2014 and 2015.

After Wednesday’s defeat to Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, many fans and pundits which include ex-footballers have put Arsene Wenger under the gun, criticizing him for facing elimination from the UEFA Champions League again.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has said that “We’ve now got to understand that Arsene Wenger has one remit: to finish in the top four.” Former Gunner Martin Keown also said, “Wenger should consider his future.”

Football only understands one language and that is win, win and win. Arsene Wenger decided to stay at Arsenal when he had offers from other clubs, and therefore the problem cannot be borne by the manager alone, but past dealings has shown that he has suffered a string of loyalty issues.

Arsene Wenger has lacked a strong team in the Champions League in the last ten years

When Arsenal faced FC Barcelona in the final of the UEFA Champions League in 2006, it was at the back of a Patrick Vieira exit.

In 2009, the team made it to the semi-finals of the competition and in 2010 lost to an unstoppable Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona in the quarters – the farthest they have been ever since.

In 2010/2011, the team had one of the cohesive units ever assembled in world football with a trio of their own. Francesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, and Robin Van Persie were players that could have rivaled the best players on any day, but they fell off in a controversial tie against FC Barcelona over two legs.

At the end of the 2010/2011 season, Fabregas left for FC Barcelona, and Nasri stayed in the English Premier League with Manchester City.

This left the 2011/12 campaign on the shoulders of Robin Van Persie and Alexander Song who clearly needed the support of the two departed players. Arsenal exited the competition to a new era at AC Milan, but the services of the two would have seen a tighter game at the San Siro – a game Arsenal has chosen to forget.

Alexander Song and Robin Van Persie, two players who formed the crux of the team in 2012, left with Song following Fabregas to Spain’s La Liga and Van Persie following the footsteps of Nasri but this time to the red side of Manchester.

In the space 12 months, Arsene Wenger lost the four best players in his squad and had to rebuild from scratch debunking the theories and sayings of fans that players and managers come and go but the fans always remain – that is loyalty. The players went searching for titles, and although they all won league titles at their respective destinations, none of them won the UEFA Champions League.

Players loyal to Wenger

If Arsene Wenger had the loyalty of players like the way Xavi Hernandes, Lionel Messi, and Andres Iniesta committed themselves to FC Barcelona for a decade, the players who left Arsenal for the glory of winning the UEFA Champions League would have won the Champions League for Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger would do his very best just as he did against AC Milan in 2012 in the return leg of the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on March 7. Francesco Totti has played for AS Roma throughout his career with the 2016/17 being his 25th, but he has won just five trophies for the Capital club just because of loyalty.

Fans and pundits can offer constructive criticism to Arsene Wenger because we are all stakeholders in the game but he has so far achieved what few people achieve and still believe in the game of football, and that is loyalty.