Arsenal need serious improvement despite FA Cup triumph, says John Salako
Arsenal may have won a 'fantastic' FA Cup final but John Salako insists Arsene Wenger has 'lost his way'.
Last Updated: 18/05/14 10:38am
The Gunners ended their nine-year wait for a trophy in a stunning Wembley showpiece comeback triumph over Steve Bruce's valiant Hull side.
However, despite recovering from two goals down to win 3-2 in extra-time, Salako says the current Arsenal line-up needs serious improvement if they are to compete for more prestigious honours in the next few seasons.
"I'm delighted for Wenger and those players, but especially for him," the pundit told Sky Sports News.
"He's been there for 18 years and for the last 500 games he hasn't won a thing. Year after year he's been rebuilding with the financial fair play rules in mind, he's had faith in the youngsters and it's come good.
"But, despite this win, I think Wenger has lost his way.
"Wenger has got one foot in the boardroom and one foot as a manager and you can't do that. He doesn't seem as passionate and as convincing as he did and I don't think there's that drive. And I think that's coming across to the players.
"He hasn't replaced the spine of the team - Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright. I'm watching and this isn't Arsenal. I loved it when they had Marc Overmars, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg with Sylvain Wiltord coming off the bench. But the quality of player isn't there now.
"It showed when they bowed out to Bayern Munich in the Champions League they really weren't good enough. They didn't have the calibre of players, as simple as that.
"He has to go out and spend money. They were only seven points off the championship but it was a big seven points. They were in it until February but then they went six games, losing five drawing one, and it wasn't good enough. Some of the games they lost - 5-1 at Liverpool, 6-0 at Chelsea - just isn't good enough.
"Olivier Giroud isn't brave enough or strong enough or good enough to play that lone striker role and Yaya Sanogo is as poor as I've seen in the Premier League.
"You can't win the Premier League with Sanogo and Nicklas Bendtner on the bench. The squad was left wanting and that was because of that bit of stubbornness from Wenger.
"Jose Mourniho, Brendan Rodgers, Manuel Pellegrini and Luis van Gaal are going to spend this summer and Wenger has to as well.
"They've got a trophy in the bag but they're going to get caught out if they don't progress."
Wenger confirmed after the game he intends to stay on as Arsenal boss but Salako says that should only be on a short-term basis while the club search for his successor.
The Gunners, he says, need a younger man in charge who is hungry for success.
"This is a great time for Wenger to bow out," he said.
"He's Mr Arsenal, he's got class, dignity and has been a great manager but perhaps they need a younger hungrier manager with new ideas.
"Now he's won the trophy he has to look at who is out there, go and get him and then step upstairs."
Salako also paid tribute to Hull, who, after a superb start, eventually wilted under the pressure from Arsenal.
"It was incredible. We've seen everything. It's been a fantastic final; from Hull being 2-0 up and Arsenal bouncing back," he said.
"Arsenal have been the better side. If they had strikers they would have buried it because they've got a better midfield.
"But it was a barnstorming start from Hull. When they got one I thought 'game on', when they got two I thought 'wow' and they nearly got 3-0 and you thought Arsenal would have been dead and buried.
"Commiserations to Steve Bruce and Hull because they gave everything.
"It's the best cup competition in the world and that's why, it's what dreams are made of. The Hull fans have had an incredible day."