Arsene Wenger used to have a remarkable knack of spotting when players were approaching their sell-by date.
So how ironic that the manager has lost his magic touch to such an extent that he has failed to spot the decline in his own performance and is now foolishly clinging on to power.
Wenger is being destroyed by loyalty — a familiar theme running through the club which is now threatening to undermine his 21-year reign.
The Gunners’ top brass have been too loyal to Wenger.
Wenger has been too loyal to a squad of under-performing players.
And if anything, the supporters have been too loyal to Wenger.
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Arsene Wenger speaks after dismal display against Crystal Palace
It’s going to be at least 14 years between Premier League titles for the North Londoners, and yet only now are their fans really turning on the Frenchman and trying to force him out.
Social media and Arsenal Fan TV online paint a humiliating picture of Arsenal supporters, when the reality is that those who actually go to games have been incredibly loyal and supportive towards the players and to Wenger.
That is why Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace seemed such a defining moment — the away fans have turned now, and once that happens there is usually no way back.
Even talk of a revolution this summer, of the last couple of months being a “catalyst for change”, will not be enough to appease supporters who have lost faith in a manager they used to worship.
The problem is that, despite Arsenal’s abysmal run, it is unlikely to change anything as far as Wenger staying is concerned.
A two-year contract has been on the table for months and the 67-year-old is determined to stay – his thick skin and blinkered view stopping him from seeing what is in front of his very eyes: That it is time for change.
Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has the utmost respect for Wenger, and understandably so as he is the club’s greatest-ever manager, has guaranteed consistency and the Emirates is run brilliantly from a financial point of view.
Ultimately, Wenger has a hotline to Kroenke, and everyone else on the board – including chief executive Ivan Gazidis – are effectively paid employees of the club with the American tycoon calling the shots.
Gazidis is trying to drive change in the coaching staff and scouting department, and on recruiting a new Academy director.
There is also going to be a huge overhaul of the squad this summer.
But we’ve been here before.
Around this time last year, Wenger was adamant there would be a major shake-up of the squad, warned the players had used up their final chance and that he was going to ship out several of them and bring in new faces.
Arsenal then proceeded to somehow leapfrog above a stumbling Tottenham and finish in second place, but their run-in allowed for some papering over the cracks.
Once again, Wenger’s loyalty came into play, and he stuck with players who let him down last year — and have now done so again a year on.
The current squad look lost, unsure of what the future holds for themselves and the manager… and it shows on the pitch.
They are in limbo, a rudderless ship, with star duo Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez playing as if their minds are elsewhere.
Arsenal did spend around £100m last summer, but £70m of that went on Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi, who have been disastrous signings. The core of the squad remains the same – and they weren’t good enough last year, let alone 12 months later.
That is what loyalty does for you.
Wenger has also been too loyal to his merry band of men behind the scenes.
His lieutenant Boro Primorac, keepers’ coach Gerry Peyton and fitness coach Tony Colbert have all become outdated in football’s ever changing world.
When he first arrived in 1996, Wenger was a revolutionary in every sense. Diet, training methods and tactics.
The sad truth is that time has moved on – and he hasn’t.
The steamed broccoli is still on the menu, but now so are ketchup and bread-and-butter pudding.
The training, according to one former player who went back recently, has largely stayed unchanged over the past 15 years.
Wenger still allows his players to go out and play, to express themselves. Forget pressing and defending from the front, it’s all about pass, move and technique.
That is Wenger’s way, his style, his philosophy. It cannot change, because that is who he is.
So the idea that you can force different coaches and a different way on a manager who is known for his stubbornness is surely doomed to fail.
There is still a tiny chance Wenger could go — if the fans’ anger becomes even greater than we saw on Monday night, if Arsenal’s season gets any worse, then he himself might decide enough is enough. But the work has already begun for next season.
New contracts, transfer targets and pre-season planning.
And it all involves Wenger because, sadly, the one person who cannot see that he needs to go is the man himself.