Every day someone has their say on Arsene Wenger, every day we’re reminded via social media, journalists, or Piers bloody Morgan, that he is no longer a force in world management. His tactics are stale, he can’t motivate the players, and he has lost that edge that once gave him an advantage over every coach he went up against. His rivalry with Sir Alex is one that will live forever, we probably won’t ever see the likes of it again – and next season he faces not one challenge, but four. Chelsea have appointed Antonio Conte, Man City have Guardiola, Man United have today confirmed Jose Mourinho as their new manager, and Liverpool have Klopp, who next season will have had a full pre-season and the new players he would have bought. All proven winners, all desperate to succeed, and their recent records are quite some read. Conte won three consecutive Serie A titles before leaving for his spell with the Italian national team. Mourinho won the Premier League the season before last, and Klopp has guided Liverpool to two major finals this season (albeit losses) whilst Guardiola, who is regarded as the best manager in world football right now, has come off the back of achieving a ‘double double’ with Bayern Munich.
Arsene in comparison has won just two F.A cups in 12 years and this season had to suffer the indignity of some fans calling for him to be sacked (or in some cases, worse) and also attempting half-hearted demonstrations calling for his immediate resignation. Not exactly ideal preparation for the new season, the fans are on his back and other teams will be looking to take advantage of the uncertainty, potential bids for Alexis and Bellerin by Bayern and Barca respectively will not help morale. It is my belief that Arsene will see out his contract and then ride off into the sunset. Whether we win the league or have a season like Chelsea and finish mid table, I believe we are finally seeing the end of his reign, and those fans who are calling for change, his transfer activity so far seems to suggest change is imminent.
The signing of Granit Xhaka for a fee reported to be £30 million plus, at the end of May and before the transfer window officially opens is amazing by Arsenes standards. So often we’re used to watching other teams swoop in for players and wrap up deals quickly. So often we’ve all recognised where our fragilities lie, and watch as they’ve been ignored, but the signing of Xhaka changes that. We have genuinely bought a world class player, a player that turned down Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid last year, as Wenger had made contact and he had his heart set on playing for the Arsenal. This already gets us ahead of the pack, why or why we didn’t act this fast last year I will never know. Last season was such a wasted opportunity but it’s important we look forward and move on, and applaud Arsene for concluding this deal. Xhaka is a wonderful ball playing, box to box midfielder who will strengthen our midfield and will hopefully stop us being bullied by teams. The signing will have all Gunners looking forward to the second game of the Euro’s where Switzerland are hot favourites, led by our new signing, with 10Bet to beat Albania. Not a fixture we would all normally tune in for I suspect!!
I have a feeling we will also change our formation next season, instead of our tried and tested 4-2-3-1; I believe it will be a 4-1-4-1, a more fluid system that can adapt quickly from defence to attack and make use of our attacking talent. For too long we have forced players into positions just so we can have them in the team, a new change of formation will allow us to play Wilshere, Xhaka, and Ramsey all together whilst allowing Sanchez to get back to his rampaging best and Ozil the freedom to be the creative genius he is. If we can get that world class CB to complement our new captain Koscielny good things could happen next year.
The Changes haven’t just stopped with transfers, the training centre at Colney is in the final re-development and although it won’t be completely finished by the start of next season, the effect it will have in the years to come will undoubtedly help us. Thierry Henry has been added to the coaching staff, a move I applaud, as in the years gone by, we have let ex-players go off and gain there coaching wings elsewhere, Vieira and recently Arteta are prime examples of this. It’s important that the past champions of our club are around the current players to inspire them.
Arsene is a stubborn man, we all know this, but it seems like we are finally getting that change we have all been desperate for. A change in transfer activity, a change in tactics, the coaching staff, it seems the penny has dropped at last. Shame we had to wait until his (possible) last season for it. Oh Arsene- Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Until next time.