Should Wenger Go, When & Who Will Replace Him?
The subject of the position of Arsenal manager is a touchy subject. The loudest voices seem to come from those well-known groups, the WOBs and the AKBs and both will try to convince you that their opinion is the correct opinion to hold.
I sit firmly on the fence and have the splinters in my ass to prove it. I’m not a WOB nor am I AKB although I admit to my right butt cheek drooping a little more to the AKB side.
The media (ahem, The Mirror) will have you believe that 96% of Arsenal fans want him out and that Arsenal are doomed to mediocrity as long as he is at the helm. For what it is worth, I don’t think any one group can claim or have the media claim on their behalf that they speak for the entirety of the fan-base because they don’t.
So whilst some believe Wenger’s time was up long ago others believe that he is still the right man for the job but that he is being held back by the board and it is the board that needs to change.
A quick thought on the board; do you really think that if the board left and Usmanov took over that he would actually support Wenger? Wenger would be out at the first sign of a Stoke long ball or a Vermaelen forward drive when both fullbacks are attacking and Arteta is in the oppositions half, ie within 2 games at max.
I’m an Arsenal supporter first and foremost, I do not support any one man over the club however I do worry what will happen to Arsenal if Wenger leaves or is sacked.
Wenger is coming towards the end of his tenure as Arsenal manager whether it be at the end of the season or at the end of a contract extension (if he extends) but it is coming and it’s not far off. The future after Wenger is foggy, some say it is bleak and others say it is green but it’s not, it’s foggy. All future is foggy because we just. don’t. know.
I think the ideal situation would be for Wenger to leave on a trophy because otherwise it sullies his legend and let us not make bones about it, Wenger is a living legend at Arsenal football club and what the man has achieved for the club is immense. I think all Arsenal supporters and Wenger himself don’t want him to end on a barren spell.
That situation looks less and less likely the more the years go on and the more the papers exaggerate our situation/signings/out-going transfers/rivals signings etc etc.
Despite the last 7 years Wenger is still a great manager and still a great man. Something is holding him back and it could be the board, it could be money-clubs or it could just be a lack of fresh ideas. We just. don’t. know. We should be careful what we wish for because we might just regret him leaving too soon.
So who could realistically replace him? For me, that really depends on the circumstance of the club at the time of his departure.
If he left on the back of a few more titles/cups and the fans were reasonably sated then we could go for a young, fresh manager who buys into our philosophy and who can continue providing us with the attractive football we have become accustomed to.
If he leaves with no recent trophies then we need a “big name” manager to take over to sate the fans who would be baying for blood if we signed a “nobody”.
The big name managers are really limited to Mourinho and Guardiola but I have my reservations about both.
Mourinho as we all know is a great manager, a massive git if you are a rival supporter but someone you cannot deny is good. The issues surrounding him would be wages, Wenger is well paid but Jose already earns about £5m more per season, and style of football. Mourinho is a top manager but would Arsenal fans take to his brand of football? Sure, he might make us winners again but can we all honestly say we would take to a less stylish brand of football if we could compete and win in style with someone else? That said, Arsenal have no chance of getting Mourinho.
Guardiola is the other big name but I have my reservations about him too. He is an excellent tactician, there’s no doubt about it, but could he handle the type of management that would be required in the Premier League (basically running the club) or rebuilding a club? I’m not entirely convinced although do not mistake that for a slight on his brilliance.
Pep is regarded as the best manager in the world by some because of his astronomical achievements with Barcelona but I think his brilliance is sometimes exaggerated or at least crucial facts are left out of the equation. Pep inherited a squad blessed with 8/9 of the finest players at the time and many of those players are still considered to be the best of their generation. He then spent over €200m “improving” that team. Can Arsenal offer him a team full of superstars and €200m to work with on his first day? No we can’t. What Pep gave to Barcelona was a discipline and a style of play that was unmatchable and breathtakingly efficient. He could bring that to Arsenal but would it be enough? Maybe if Wenger stayed on and had more time to identify players and maybe take on a baseball-esque General Manager’s job and left the coaching to Pep it might work and that is something I’d be a huge fan of.
However we also have to be realistic. Can we get Pep? Financially, probably, as even though he could earn more at City, Chelsea or United I don’t really see him as money-motivated and may see Arsenal as a better challenge but the lure of United might be too much for him. And then there is the possibility that he may return to Barca.
If Wenger left on a winning high and the fans were sated enough to afford a young manager time to grow then there are other managers to consider and probably more realistic targets. The first is predictably Klopp and others such as Stojkovic and Moyes have been mentioned as well, even AVB before he went to Spurs, how one name that doesn’t come up often but I think is worth a mention is Martinez of Wigan.
Klopp, is a fantastic manager in the Wenger mould who has proven he can win with a limited budget and a team full of promising talents. He is an astute tactician and plays attractive football and brings a winning pedigree.
Stojkovic is the man they claim Wenger has hand picked as his successor. His philosophy is supposedly identical to Wenger’s so maybe a “clone” would be good for continuity but do we want a carbon copy or the best of the man with a few fresh ideas of his own?
Moyes is an outside bet and a manager I would not be entirely opposed to. He has proven over the years that he has an eye for quality talent at reasonable prices such as Jagielka, Baines, Fellaini, Jelavic, Arteta and Lescott. He has also shown that he is not afraid to blood a youngster if they are ready and that fits well with Arsenal. He regular keeps Everton at or above their level with next to no money and whilst that’s a positive it can also be a negative as it raises the question “can he still do it if he has money or is he at his best when limited?”. Not really top level for me.
Villas-Boas is a complete no-no now that he has been stained by not only Spurs but Chelsea as well.
Martinez is actually my secret favourite for the job if, and only if, Wenger retires on trophies (plural). He is a good manager, plays attractive football but knows how to change it up when required. He has also blooded some decent players and has picked up a few bargains. He does well with a limited group of players, talent-wise, yet still manages to keep them up every year. Some will argue that he fights to stave of relegation every year but that is probably above the level of the club he manages. I really like Wigan but I don’t think they are a “Premier League club” so I think Martinez performs above his level and could be the young, fresh manager we are looking for and he has experience in the league which is always a bonus. If he managed a mid-table team I think he’d be on the radar of many bigger clubs and could be a future great.
I think most supporters are in agreement that Pep should be our next manager and my only reservation with him is that he hasn’t proven he can do it from scratch the way the other managers have. I think many would also like the next manager to be British and Moyes ticks that box and whilst it would be nice to have a Brit manager I’m not overly concerned with their passport. In the right circumstances it would be Martinez for me but I’m aware I am in the minority on this one.
For me the clear winner for next manager is Klopp. He is intelligent, a good tactician, has fresh ideas, a winning pedigree and decent connections in Germany which I feel will be the next rich scouting ground for Arsenal FC.
The only question for me now is when do you replace Wenger? I’m happy for him to see his contract out but if the opportunity arose to get Klopp or Pep in the summer and Wenger was happy to move upstairs (I think it would be sacrilege to remove him from the club completely unless that is what he wanted) then I think we should do that.
In the mean-time though I am fully behind Wenger and the players because I’m an Arsenal supporter and it’s match day and that is what supporters do.
What do you think? Agree/disagree? Would you choose someone different? Please leave a comment and share your ideas.
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