I reckon it’s quite a long shot nowadays, however I was thinking about one specific question raised during last AGM about Arsène Wenger succession at the club.
The person asked whether or not the club was already planning for life after Arsène Wenger, seemingly more and more plausible that the Alsatian signed his last contract as Arsenal manager last summer.
Assuming that Arsène Wenger won’t be the Arsenal manager at the beginning of season 2017-2018, how soon should the club start to build its own future?
It’s not going to be an easy transition, that’s quite obvious, so in my view the board should start its quest for the Chosen One (not even funny…) as soon as possible: the man who lands it will have a hell of a job on his hands, that’s for sure.
No matter how good the team will be when Arsène Wenger leaves, comparisons will be there every minute of every game of his first couple of seasons in charge of the Arsenal football club.
Ideally, we would all like to avoid the kind of adjustment phase that Manchester United went through last season – but I must admit that it is going to be very hard.
Please allow me a little digression to explain you why – in my opinion – David Moyes failed miserably at Manchester United and why he was definitely destined to fail.
Obviously the fact that the squad was ageing and quality-wise was not exceptional surely played a big role in David Moyes’ terrible time as Manchester United manager. However a bigger problem was Sir Alex Ferguson’s undeniable influence on his former players despite not being their manager any longer.
Every time something went wrong, David Moyes was confronted to his predecessor’s methods, approach, tactics, men-management style, inspirational speeches etc. etc.
No man on Earth can handle that, I hope you agree.
David Moyes did some great things during his time at Everton but he was playing on a different league compared to Manchester United and the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra never failed to put this card on the table each time something did not go as expected.
He never had senior players on his side, he never managed to win their trust hence he was destined to fail from day one.
A manager needs time to impose his own style and David Moyes never had any, considering the fact that players were bigger than him since the beginning.
Some poor decisions by the manager himself and even poorer results made the rest but I felt David Moyes never stood a chance to be the Manchester United manager for long time.
End of my digression, thanks for your patience.
How can the Arsenal avoid all of this?
Well, in my opinion the first step to prevent that chaos would be not moving Arsène Wenger upstairs.
It sounds harsh but as long as Arsène Wenger will have any little influence on the team, no other manager will have “his” team.
I can’t imagine Arsène Wenger being part of the board without any implication in football matters therefore I am definitely against his involvement in the club, once he will retire from management.
In my opinion, it would be hugely disrespectful towards the man who took an already glorious club and turned it into something known worldwide, and whose reputation is immediately associated to the best values in football, to ask him to sit on an armchair and raise his hand to vote this or that point of an agenda.
Arsène Wenger does not deserve to be the Sir Bobby Charlton of the Arsenal, with all the respect due to that great player and Manchester United iconic character.
If he’s allowed to have his word in the recruitment of a new manager, we could really see history repeating itself – and I would really like to avoid that.
Unless the board hire a manager whose pedigree speaks for itself, anyone sitting on the bench that has been Arsène Wenger’s for 19 years will face serious struggles to impose himself.
To make it simpler, none will ever be able to wear a coat like Arsène Wenger did, no matter if the zip never gets stuck with the new manager.
On the other hand, if Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti or even José Mourinho (not funny neither…) will be the next Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger’s role upstairs would be emptied of any meaning seen the very little impact he could have on day to day football matters.
I repeat myself here, he doesn’t deserve that and I am quite sure he would accept it, neither.
Any manager coming to any club after a very successful and/or influential one is destined to fail; history taught us that the job is too difficult to handle and often time is not given to the new gaffer.
It happened when Matt Busby ended his career as Manchester United manager; it happened when Brian Clough tried to replace Don Revie at Leeds and happened, as said, when Sir Alex Ferguson decided to step down as manager of the Red Devils.
It could not work and if it doesn’t, none will come out of that as a winner.
Every story, even the most intense one, deserves to come to an end and both the Arsenal and Arsène Wenger should make sure they mark the event in the most delicate, elegant way for what has been (and still is!) one of the most perfect binomials ever created in football.
When the time will come, hopefully we will simply turn the final page and close the book, for good.