Given our all too predictable self-imploding demise this campaign we have seen our manager’s future come back into question. The Old Trafford debacle and Swansea shower seemed to break more straws on more camel’s backs than ever before. Then in the aftermath of such collapses comes the usual concerns with changing Le Prof. People voice no one better available, look what’s happened to Man U, the style of football or we don’t have the structure in place to recruit a new manager. I’m not going to take ten to twenty minutes out of your days for you to read me sticking the boot in to our most successful ever manager instead I’m going to try and dispel what I see as mostly wives tales.
Let’s start with the easiest and what I find the most annoyingly stupid argument. ‘Be careful what you wish for, look what’s happened to Manchester United’. Arsene Wenger is a great manager, been one of the best in British football, a footballing evolutionist. But unfortunately he doesn’t even dine at the same table as Sir Alex Ferguson in terms of legacy. Not a massive slight on Arsene because no managers can match up to old whiskey noses achievements, the man took Aberdeen to a European trophy. And created an era of success at one club that were never likely to see again, he won as many league titles as Arsenal have in our entire history, 13, in the space of 26 years. He’s arguably the greatest manager in the history of sport so it’s a completely different set of shoes to walk into. Also if ‘doomsday’ were to happen at the end of this season.
The situation with playing staff is also very different. The squad Ferguson last won the league with was ageing. Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Scholes, Giggs and RVP were all approaching the end of their careers. Whereas our current crop is nowhere near in those kind of dire straits. If Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky all leave it means we’ll only have five 30+ players, one of them being Petr Cech. So it’s nowhere near comparable as a situation. Needless to say league title or not any manager would feel he could improve on this squad and get more out of our current crop.
Another bit of hearsay I always hear is we need a high profile name to come in and their all now bound to or already at other clubs. Yes a Klopp or Guardiola would be wonderful but a big names not the be all and end all, we only have to look at our own history to realise that’s not the case. George Graham came from Milwall, where all he’d done was save Millwall from relegation and then got them promoted to the old second division. Then at the helm of ‘the Arsenal’ he won six trophies in nine years, including a Cup Winners Cup and two league titles. Also lets not overlook ‘Arsene who’. Plucked from the Japanese league, admittedly he did win a Ligue 1 title with Monaco but still definitely not the Carlo Ancelotti of his day. We don’t need reminding of the teams and successes he’s given us over the years. Look at Pep Guardiola he’d only got Barcelona B promoted from Spain’s fourth division before reinventing football when getting the Barca job proper. And don’t give it ‘he had it easy because he had the best team in the world’. A manager sets the tone for a football club top to bottom and they were the best I’ve seen. So don’t fear a smaller name or a lesser known quantity of a manager cause it really means nothing.
Then there’s the concern that our beautiful ‘Wengerball’ football won’t be retained with a new manager. Well if nobodies noticed the footballs been turgid this year. I know old boys who have stopped watching it’s gotten that bad this season at times. Of course aesthetics are each to their own, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder and all that. Personally I think any manager will struggle to play a boring brand when you have the likes of Ozil, Sanchez and Santi in a team. I personally find organisation sexy, watching full backs going forward in tandem, pressing in the final third in rotated packs and such. Let’s be honest the teams looked in need of instruction and more structure during games a lot in recent months. We’d be on a much higher points total if the team had an emphasis on defending and structure.
Then there’s the concern I agree with on the most part, our club doesn’t have the structure in place for a new manager because we’ve got the last great dictator in charge. Arsene is the club, the power vacuum at the fulcrum of Stan’s favourite cash cow. Since David Dein’s departure Wenger has been the only real football man at the club. The selection process for the next manager is going to be a concerning one given our boards made up of what seems to be country club old boys and American businessmen. Who’ve turned ‘the Arsenal’ from a football club with values and traditions into a sports franchise in an American tycoon’s business portfolio. But that said I was impressed with Gazidis’s appointment of Andries Jonker as head of youth development it seemed a fresh diligent approach getting a man of such coaching pedigree. And perhaps just maybe a new manager would demand these changes be made. Managers today don’t want all these other non-footballing tasks to do therefore forcing the clubs hand to move into the 21st century and increase delegation of day to day tasks.
This is all of course conjecture and I don’t think Arsene’s leaving whatever happens this season. Even though personally I think the time would be right given the way this seasons already gone because for once I don’t think he’s getting the most out of the players at his disposal and the same tactical naivety is being shown in games again and again. This is all regrettably written because I honestly do love the man. He’s all I’ve ever known and has given me some of highest highs in my life and shaped my football brain. The players he’s brought me to witness over the years from Overmars to Sanchez have been idolised by me. But in the words of Bob Dylan ‘the times they are a-changin’. And in an increasingly competitive premier league I think we need a new man to take us forward. From press conferences to games everything just feels a little bit stale. So let’s not fear the change Gooners lets embrace it when it comes.