And so it finally happened. After 22 years at the helm, Arsene Wenger admitted defeat to Wenger out brigade. The stats don’t lie and Arsene Wenger is undoubtedly the most decorated and most successful Arsenal manager in history, by quite some distance. However, his tenure has left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of many an Arsenal fan.
Arsene Wenger pulled off the unthinkable. He created THE “invincible” team, something even the only Premier League manager more decorated than Arsene in terms of games and points won never did. Sir Alex never achieved that feat, Jose Mourinho never achieved that feat, and even “Super” Pep hasn’t managed to achieve it.
An entire Premier League season, without suffering a single league defeat. But much like Tony Hadley of Spandeux Balet, he found out you can’t live off a couple of number ones and a small amount of Gold (Gold) forever.
Yes, 10-15 years ago Arsene Wenger was the dog’s doo dah’s, and that’s nothing to do with him being in Asia for a while. He was a nice hot soup on a cold winter’s day, with a little bit of moist crusty bread to go with it. However fast forward all this time, and the soup has been left on the side, mould has started growing in it and the bread is stale enough to be used in the MLB. And it is this decline that has left the bitter taste.
For years Arsene has battled with the Wenger out brigade, pulling out FA cup after FA cup, whilst everyone else focused on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Arsene snuck in and stole some caviar from the Leprechauns house. Yes, it’s valuable, yes, of course, you wouldn’t say no to it. But it just isn’t as good and year upon year of this has left a massive portion of Arsenal fans with less patience than Dr Harold Shipman.
But what exactly went wrong at Arsenal, how did the invincible club, the team that didn’t lose for an entire season, the team that was challenging Manchester United for titles, fall away into obscurity?
Was it the fact that the club’s coffers have been tighter than the lips of Bill Cosby’s closest advisors? Compared to the other clubs that have come along, Arsenal just haven’t spent the money needed to compete at this level. Since the invincibles, Chelsea have come along with Roman Abromovic’s ill-gotten gains, Manchester City have come along with a seemingly never-ending chequebook and all this time Arsenal have been crimping together change like a man at a train station vending machine.
Did Wenger simply get too comfortable? Did he think he was untouchable, was he making some cushty money for very little effort? 4th place was always enough, so why strive to achieve more, and this led to a horrible cycle of achieving less and less.
Did he simply focus on the wrong things, was he happy with the FA Cup wins, was he happy getting beaten around by various Europeans like an older Amir Khan?
But what is next for Arsene Wenger? Here we have a manager who used to be excellent but will now settle for mediocrity and a lack of trophies.. Tottenham already have a manager so who knows?
Already everyone is talking about the obvious question. Who do we get to replace Arsene? As Manchester United have proven, it can be a very difficult task finding someone to replace a manager of a legendary stature who has remained at the club for decades and the thing Arsenal will want is stability. They won’t want to reenact Manchester United’s forgettable few years after Sir Alex.
Luis Enrique has been touted as one of the favourites to replace Arsene and has even come with a glowing recommendation from Arsene himself because we all know how well that panned out with David Moyes.
Despite being relatively young, Enrique steered Barcelona towards winning a treble and a double during his tenure there, the proposition of which I’m sure will make Arsenal fans drool with temptation. However, there is reported interest in him from Chelsea if Antonio Conte goes, so it will be interesting to see who beats who to the signature.
Another name touted for the role is Patrick Viera, quite a surprising choice due to lack of managerial experience and the fact he is currently managing in the MLS. For me, this choice screams insanity. An inexperienced manager taking charge at a club that considered him a legend when he played for them? It sounds like we’ll be seeing him as a presenter on Match of the Day very soon alongside big Al.