I don’t think so….(really I don’t….)
So it’s been decided. Wenger is leaving.
I’ve been Wenger out for a while now.
But then I hold strongly mixed emotions in this context.
I’m both surprised and unsurprised. It had to happen, but I didn’t anticipate it at this time.
Moreover, whilst the latter years were pretty much stale, the earlier years were excellent.
I will forever miss him and wish him the best in whatever he does in the future.
Nonetheless, it’s often said that now Wenger is leaving, we will follow the same path that Manchester United followed from 2013 to present. It’s only now that United are moving away from this malaise, with them getting second and a possible FA Cup under Mourinho.
I believe this thinking is premature.
Yes, I am biased. And I cannot see this, as a Gooner, in a purely objective fashion.
All the same, however, I believe there are key differences between Arsenal in 2018 and Man United in 2013.
- Fergie controlled everything.
Wenger is losing (or more accurately has lost) control over the totality of footballing affairs. He is one of the last football dons, as it were, who controlled tactics, training, transfers, and medical matters. Fergie was the same, as this model was the core in 1986 when he first became their manager. Moreover, Sir Alex was a strong figure and personality, and the players, staff, and owners/board all knew this. He was able to use his boldness to be the boss of all. Wenger, whilst not as forthright as Wenger in his manner, shares this similarity with Sir Alex at the least.
Wenger, at least in this current season, is losing his grip on all footballing matters, and the drop cannot be that bad.
- Sir Alex left at the top and the only way was down, by definition
Sir Alex took a team of many good players, some ageing players, and some young up and coming talent (including our own Welbz, no less) to win the league. The only way was down.
As of the time of writing, we’re 6th. This is not champions, naturally.
So in essence, the only way can be up. Players who were old at the time, such as Ferdinand, Scholes, Giggs, etc. were all pivotal in them winning the league. As was our “old boy” RvP. It really was a hotchpotch assembly, and once the genius left, it fell.
- Manchester United didn’t anticipate nor plan for Fergie’s departure
This was their critical mistake, in my honest view. Man United is the biggest club in the UK and possibly second only to Real Madrid in terms of global scope/size. They are also led by experienced business people, such as Woodward and the Glazers. Surely business people of their experiences and tenure should have been more primed to adopt succession planning, which is a must in any large firm.
Moreover, Sir Alex was old in 2013. He was 71. This alone should prompt change or at least the anticipation of it. The appointment of Moyes, supposedly handpicked by Sir Alex, did not help matters. But for me, the overall picture of weak succession planning was crucial to them not following up on their 2013 title success. It’s only now that they are getting back to their place, and they could with Mourinho. Even if their intra-city rivals are now the champions.
It looks like we’re not making the same errors. The appointments of Mislintat and Sanhelli are positive steps, and we’ve seen that Wenger’s pervasive scope in the club has lessened. An additional facet is that we have not been performing as well as we should have been. Granted, the three FA Cups (especially the Chelsea win) were glorious. Other clubs in our vicinity have gone decades without any decent trophies. But we’re acknowledging our state, and have been commendable in our efforts to change our condition.
Man United thought “well, OK, what now?!” when Fergie left. We’re looking towards the future, and should be commended again for planning well.
To continue the Man United theme, even his nemesis, the current United manager no less, offered immense praise to him on the news of his departure.
Gazidis, like Woodward, has a great deal of corporate experience, is utilising this towards a better end. Sometimes in life, we need to learn from others’ mistakes and triumphs in order to succeed. Everything we have and do is in some part based on the works and deeds of others. The computer you’re reading this on now could not exist without US military personnel inventing the Internet, or in turn they could have done that without learning off the WWII Alan Turing machines. It’s a continuous process, but we’re at least acknowledging there is a problem and that it needs to change.
This comparison is pretty superficial. It’s only because Sir Alex and Wenger were rivals, and two long-standing managers, However, when analysed on a deeper level, the comparisons are slim.
I’m not stating that we will succeed, with certainty, post-Wenger. There is no guarantee of anything. But then all one can do in a situation is act on the facts, and come up with a plan based on how one thinks those facts will pan out.
Man United also made an error in appointing Moyes, despite his good work at Everton prior. Everton is a big club, but not on United’s level. This, coupled with Sir Alex leaving, was a perfect storm waiting to strike. Nonetheless, I do believe that the nature of the appointment will be the major factor post-Wenger, but this is mitigated in that Moyes had to handle the champions and a winning team. Whoever succeeds post-Wenger won’t.
At best, our post-Wenger experiences will be different to those of post-Sir Alex at United. We cannot make superficial comparisons on whimsical grounds, and we have to wait and see how things unfold.
We wanted change, and now we have it. Let’s ride the wave since it’s exciting and new times now.