Més Que Un Column

Mes Que Un Column: Big Boots to fill and a big Task at hand for Arsene’s Successor

“It’s a way of life, it is caring about the beautiful game, about the values we cherish”.

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece on Arsene Wenger, and how in recent years he’s become more of a figure of fun rather than an innovator of the beautiful game or a natural winner. As I said then, my generation never saw the Wenger glory days and don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about.

However, his post-match speech to the Arsenal faithful on Saturday showed a different side to the Gunners boss of 22 years, a side that he hasn’t really got a chance to show in recent times while continually dodging questions about his future, about poor results and about whether or not they’re ever going to sign Karim Benzema. (Spoiler: They don’t).

I, along with surely many others realised this man isn’t naive nor was he ever out of his depth, and he doesn’t look like a man who gave even the slightest of shits about the endless criticism aimed at him during the last decade or so. We can talk until the cows come home about the level of class this man possesses, or his humility in a pampered and vain world of modern-day football. But we won’t do that here, not while there’s some uncreative jokes to be made for a few cheap laughs. Just thought it was important to point out that patronising banter such as #WengerOut really belittles the work of an Arsenal legend, even if he should have left a few years earlier.

He seemed quite un-emotional during his speech for a man who has spent almost a quarter of a century there (Probably as sick of it all as the fans are to be fair). There was also some nice symbolism to it all. It started off really well before slowly going downhill, with Wenger’s mic failure near the end of his monologue representing his record at the club post-2008. It could’ve been better though.

Now, I’m not into ArsenalFanTV myself, mainly due to the banter culture that surrounds it. But fuckin’ hell, it would’ve been brilliant if they had brought out Claude to do the equivalent of a graveside oration for Arsene. Did you see him after the match on Sunday?

Can you imagine it? Gradually getting more worked up, and in front of 60,000 people as well.

“No, no, no, no, no Arsene. Hold on a minute. I’m not going to be a hypocrite…”

In life though, there are no ends, only new beginnings. Arsenal’s elimination at the hands of Atletico Madrid on Thursday doubles the size of the mountain that the Gunners’ new boss will have to summit. A top-four finish next season will have to be done while playing Thursday-Sunday football, before a likely onslaught of games by February due to that weird extra round they have. With big changes also needed at the back, next year will be a huge tester for Arsenal, and will likely be dubbed as the dreaded “Transition Season” by the new boss (In other words, “We’re a bit crap”).

Out of the blue, bookies have made Jurgen Klopp’s former assistant Zeljko Buvac as favourite to take over. He’s the lad who week on week I am now beginning to worry was the real reason for Liverpool’s success this year, and maybe Kloppo is just a weird bearded-man from Bavaria who likes shouting at fourth officials.

Details emerged this weekend that Buvac left Liverpool after not revealing to the German that he had received an approach from Arsenal. Part of me would love to see him go y’know, just for the needle of when the two managers meet next season.

Our mate Claude’s pick for the job, Diego Simeone can be found as far out as 66/1 with some bookmakers. And although he’s very much yer da (Claude, not Diego), even yer da is right once in a blue moon. Simeone embodies everything that Arsenal haven’t been for 13 years. He doesn’t take any bullshit. He will get those Arsenal players to scrap until the bitter end, while getting buy-in from the supporters, and Lord knows the next Arsenal manager could do with a bit of backing from the terraces.

I mean did you see him last Thursday?

It’s not blind patriotism or passion, while being clueless about the science of the game. This man’s a winner, and Arsenal need winners. This man has a backbone. Arsenal need a backbone. If he thinks he’s going to be able to rile up a good atmosphere at the Emirates though then he’s got another thing coming to him. He’s only a manager, not the Messiah.

Allegri, similarly, would be a good fit at Arsenal. Another winner. You can dream and eulogise over a young, English, forward-thinking manager who’ll have a 5-year plan all you want, but you’ll just end up going through 4 managers during those 5 years. Constantly taking a step back for every step forward. The task that faces Arsenal’s next manager is a BIG one. Nothing but the best will do.

Then again…

All the best.