It’s difficult to put into a short amount of words just how much of an impact Arsène Wenger has had not only on Arsenal Football Club, but also on the overall modern game of football. Across his twenty year tenure as manager of Arsenal, Arsène Wenger has completely revolutionised the club’s philosophies, reinvented the way English managers treat dieting and training and also highlighted the significance of giving attention towards new young talent apart of a club’s youth system.
Regardless of your stance on the current Arsène Wenger predicament, it’s clear that the Frenchman deserves the utmost amount of respect for what he has done across his time at the North London club. However, with ‘Le Professeur’s’ current Arsenal deal coming to an end by the end of the 2016/17 Premier League season, there has been no indication whatsoever of whether or not it is finally time to say goodbye to the Arsenal legend.
With ongoing reports revealing that Arsène Wenger has continued to reject proposed contract renewal talks until the end of the current season, is a brand new deal for the Arsenal manager actually the best solution possible for Arsenal Football Club?
For years, the Arsenal fan base has remained undecided on a final conclusion on whether or not Arsène Wenger should remain manager following the end of the 2016/17 season. Whilst many are calling for the legend to finally end his reign as manager, others continue to show their support towards the man who turned Arsenal into one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are all clear examples of world class managers who have all began new management jobs in the last eighteen months. Should the Frenchman leave his position come the end of his contract, it’s evident that a world class manager could very simply not end up managing the North London side. Whilst the prospect of managing a club as big as Arsenal is certainly one that will appeal to a significant majority of managers in the game, most of the names listed above, as well as many others not specified, still have unfinished business to complete at their respective club before thinking of starting fresh at a new club
Regardless, the potential manager that is chosen to succeed Arsène Wenger will certainly face a lot of different complicated tasks at hand. Since his arrival, the current Arsenal manager has consistently favoured fast-paced, attacking, possession-based football to ensure the greatest possibility of victory. In order to achieve this style, Wenger has used a few different formations across his tenure at Arsenal, most famously the: 4-4-2; 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1 formations.
Nonetheless, if a manager whose footballing philosophy contrasts that of Arsène Wenger, they could have a difficult task at hand; as noted above. Should an accomplished manager such as Diego Simeone or Massimiliano Allegri find themselves as the new manager of Arsenal Football Club next season, they will be faced with the challenging task of building a world class squad that fits their philosophy using both current players as well as signing others. Regardless, it’s inexorable that more than a season will be needed for a manager of either listed, or another, before a team fit enough to properly utilise the respective philosophies is built.
Following the conclusion of the complications from the stadium debt in early 2013, life for Arsenal Football Club has significantly improved for the fans, the players and also the club in general. Whilst league triumph has yet to be achieved, the consistently faulted trophy drought has finally reached its conclusion with consecutive FA Cup wins in 2014 and 2015. Taking into account that Wenger has been building a squad capable of winning the league for the past few years, you could argue that it would be an unfair to not offer him a new contract as he would unfairly not have the chance to complete his final goal as a manager.
After years of fans begging the club to finally make some world class purchases, Arsène Wenger has also finally made some much-needed changes since the exclusion of stadium debt, spending big sums of money to bring talented players to the club in: Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Shkodran Mustafi, whilst maintaining his previous ideology and signing talented youngsters in: Krystian Bielik, Rob Holding and Jeff Reine-Adelaide for smaller fees.
As noted, with the financial restrictions from the stadium debt no longer an outstanding problem, Arsenal are finally in a position once again where they can keep their best players at the club as well as not having to deal with the ongoing threat of maintaining a positive cash flow. Taking this into account, for years Wenger has developed a strong bond between all of his players, allowing for morale to stay high with all players having their faith in the Frenchman, and vice-versa.
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Consequently, should the Arsenal manager finally wave goodbye to North London after more than twenty years of loyal service, the relationships and squad union could be tarnished depending on the new manager that joins the club, and potential departures could also follow. For years at the Santiago Bernabeu and Camp Nou, star players in Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were forced to play football without their manager and teammates having a lack of respect or faith in them. However, as soon as Wenger granted 100% faith and motivation to the two respective players, they quickly pleaded to join the North London side. Should the next man to follow Arsène Wenger share similar beliefs and opinions in regards to star players former counterparts, they could both seek for a new club to play for.
Nevertheless, whilst this is a potential possibility, it most certainly isn’t inevitable. A new manager at Arsenal could, in fact, build on player relationships for the better, and make some much-needed changes to transform the way certain players view the club. Aaron Ramsey is the perfect example for this, who has hinted in the past at his anger towards Arsène Wenger’s training sessions as well as how he occasionally negatively treats players in regards to their health – demonstrated in Arsenal’s disappointing 3-4 loss to Liverpool.
First and foremost, at half-time between the Premier League opener between Arsenal and Liverpool, Ramsey continued to tell Wenger that he did not feel 100%, but he insisted he carried on playing. Soon after stepping back onto the pitch, Ramsey was forced to come off as a result of a hamstring injury, which has only recently seen him return from injury.
In addition to this, in recent years the Gunners have been plagued with ongoing injury troubles. Whilst there are a variety of reasons as to why these problems continue to occur, many claim that Wenger’s training sessions play a serious impact in regards to ongoing injury troubles. Former Wales assistant manager and fitness expert Raymond Verheijen has launched criticism in regards to Wenger’s training methods, going on to say the players are trained “like marines” and are “out-of-date.”
To refer back to the previous point made, player relationships and morale could actually be improved upon should Wenger depart at the end of the season and a new manager comes in. If certain faulted areas are improved by the new manager, certain players will feel better about playing for the Gunners. To extend on the previous example, if new training methods were implemented and players got injured much less, key players like Aaron Ramsey would no longer have to complain and could enjoy longer and successful periods playing for the club.
Finally, whilst many have praised the tactics and philosophy of Arsène Wenger, others have continued to doubt him in recent years. Whilst vignettes of the beloved ‘Wengerball’ have returned this season, the same “beautiful” football that the manager has tried to produce has in fact been invisible for many years before. Should a manager with far more experience with tactics succeed at the Emirates, much better results and success on the pitch could follow as well as significant improvements in certain players.
For example, new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has found recent success in his Juego de Posicion, seeing his new team currently lead the Premier League table. Additionally, under the Spaniard, unnoticed players such as Raheem Sterling and Aleksandr Kolarov have experienced some of their best football in years under their new manager. Appointing a manager just like the Citizens did with Pep Guardiola could lead to significant improvement overall at the club.
Regardless of who follows in the Frenchman’s footsteps, it’s more than obvious that much-needed changes will occur for either the better or worse, resulting in either positive or negative implications for each respective player at the club. New training methods, a new attitude and a new philosophy will all take shape soon after a new manager is appointed. Considering a decision is yet to be made thus far, it’s time to continue to support the team altogether as well as Arsène Wenger until the very end of the season when a final decision has been made.
John Smith is a lifelong Arsenal FC fan from London, England. He admires players such as Dennis Bergkamp and has a passion for writing.