There comes a point in a manager’s career where he looks to make a team that can carry on his legacy or at least leave behind a team that any manager would gladly inherit. While Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United a couple of seasons ago at the age of 70, Arsene Wenger became the longest serving manager in the Premier League. The Frenchman who is 65 now, was under immense pressure to deliver a trophy last season and to his credit Wenger delivered the FA Cup. Then what is the problem at the Emirates? Why do ardent Gunners fans still persist on looking forward to replacing Wenger as soon as they can? After all, he did write their names in English Football folklore masterminding ‘The Invincibles’ barely a decade ago.
Confidence of the Board
The Board at Arsenal Football Club clearly trusts Wenger and have left it to him when he decides to call it quits. Why is that? A manager who delivers a guaranteed top-4 finish while building squads around the young talent the clubs Academy possesses rarely ever diving into the market to spend big and above all is controversy-free; Wenger is every Board’s dream manager and its understandable that there would be hesitancy to part ways with a figure who has epitomised the Football Club in the past decade and half. He performs the roles of a Sporting Director and handles most signings hands on; something very rare in today’s rapidly European setup at Football Clubs.
After having lost his crown jewels season after season to the big spenders, Wenger finally began splurging only a couple of seasons ago. The purchases of Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck have not only made the fans happy that Wenger is buying big names but that he is ready to go toe-to-toe for players in the market with the big-spenders. However, the ‘Wenger Out’ campaigns continue to exist in North London.
The Blueprint gone Wrong
Having successfully gone an entire season unbeaten, it would seem to every neutral that Wenger has got the blueprint to dominate the league for years to come but it wasn’t so. Somewhere down the line in the seasons that followed the former AS Monaco boss strayed from his very own hugely effective and successful philosophy to aspire to play pretty football, so to speak. Replicate the Barcelona ‘Tiki-Taka’ style in England. While the new system worked wonders for the technically-gifted attacking players at Arsenal eg. Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott etc it left them vulnerable to counter-attacks and simply getting outmuscled in the middle of the park.
Back in the Invincibles season, physically outplaying the likes of Patrick Veira and Emmanuel Petite was unheard of; a stark comparison to the Gunners defensive midfielders of the current season which include Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. With the French-duo marshalling the midfield forming a physically imposing base in midfield the Gunners let loose in attack with Pires, Ljungberg, Hleb, and Henry ripping teams to shreds. While Wenger has got the attacking ammunition in the last couple of seasons with the signings of Ozil and Sanchez it’s the bare-back of the midfield that simply fails to help the defence out that has been the cause of their downfall eg. Stoke away and Liverpool away (last season). The need of a defensive midfielder similar to the likes of Nemanja Matic and Fernando is a must for Wenger if he has to turn this season around.
So, What next for the gradually impatient Gooners?
Its understandable that the Arsenal faithful are clamouring for a new manager sooner rather than later as for everything Wenger has done for the North London club, he is not the future of the football club. Not only are the results worrying and Wenger’s stubbornness testing the fans patience, the league has seen Gerrard Houlier struggle to keep up with the demands of managing a Premier League club in Aston Villa during the end of his managerial career not too long ago. While names like Jurgen Klopp, Roberto Martinez and even Diego Simeone have been whispered with a lot of optimism around the Emirates, its only when Wenger decides its time will the Arsenal Board accept the resignation of their greatest ever manager.