The call for a change of manager at Arsenal is getting louder and louder, as more and more fellow Gooners feel that Arsene has no longer got what it takes to win us silverware. Arsenal are seventh in the table and trail the league leaders by 12 points, which is obviously very disappointing.
However, how much can Wenger be blamed for this and is replacing him the solution? And who would want to do Arsene’s job in the first place?
Wenger builds teams inductively: he has a general vision of the sort of football he wants to play and works hard with his players – often young or raw diamonds rather than established stars – to develop them slowly but steadily into a top-team. Arsene is fantastic at building teams bottom-upwards and his approach is a world away from the here and now – spend as much as you want – team gathering philosophies of the likes of Madrid, the Manchester Clubs, or Chelsea.
The one thing that is required, though, is not to sell the cream when it finally rises to the top.
Fabregas, Clichy, Song, van Judas should still be playing in our team, but, for various reasons, Wenger was not able/allowed to keep hold of them. As a result, Arsenal are in constant transition, and I doubt any manager could have put up with the amount of change Arsene had to deal with over the last few years.
The team that Arsene built around Fabregas had such great potential. If Cesc and Clichy had stayed and Arteta, Mertesacker and Gervinho had nevertheless still joined us, how much stronger would our team have been last season? The same goes for this season: if van Judas had not deserted us and Song had not been sold to Barcelona, and Podolski and Cazorla were still added to the team, how much better would we be doing now?!
Now, we could discuss forever whether the club could have prevented the sale of our finest players, or even whether Arsene himself is to blame for this to some extent, but the fact is they are gone and Arsene has to build a top-team once again. Obviously, this takes time and we, the supporters, whipped up into a continuous frenzy by the media, are unhappy with the lack of progress and not adding anymore silverware to the trophy cabinet recently.
At least in the short term, it looks like Arsenal will be unable to hold on to our top players easily; and I have little doubt that Walcott is the next one to be creamed away. Luckily, more funds are now available for Arsene to buy ready mate, experienced replacements, and some very good young players are starting to make their mark now as well. All is not lost, and it takes an experienced and patient manager to deal with the need to keep rebuilding, or at least adjusting, our team on a more or less constant basis.
Other than Wenger, which top manager could work under these circumstances successfully; and moreover, who would be crazy enough to do it?
Jurgen Klopp, I hear you say. Maybe: he is no doubt talented and has had to deal himself with the loss of key players. But, in Germany he does not have to deal with two oil-financed clubs; his main competitor is the (naturally) mega-rich Bayern Munich, but he has been able to outfox them for the last two years – just like Arsene used to do in his early Arsenal career with Manchester United.
Klopp also has the luxury to replace the one or two players he looses every season from the rich, and yet affordable, German recruitment pool. At Arsenal, he would find himself under considerable more constraints, and pressure at the same time: I doubt he would want to swap with good old Arsene right now!
Pep Guardiola, is the other name that is shouted from the rooftops as the ideal replacement for Wenger. Why would he want to take over from Arsene? The first thing he is likely to ask for is assurances that nobody is sold unless he agrees to it. Just like Arsene, he would want to build a team around Wilshere, Ox, Theo, Szczesny, Miquel, Eisfeld, Cazorla, Giroud, Gibbs, Koscielny etc. He would also like significant funds to bring over a few more talented Spaniards. Would he get what he wants from the BoD? I doubt it very much. Guardiola is a man who can pick his next club out of almost anyone, and he would be daft to choose ours, given the constraints he would have to face.
I have heard other names: from Mourinho to the more top-club-inexperienced managers such as Moyes, or the latest hot-shot, Michael Laudrup. Mourinho is very unlikely to ever join a team again where he has to compete with limited means, and he also has very little staying power: definitely not the sort of manager to build the future of Arsenal around.
It would be best for us to realise that it is unlikely any of the top-managers would jump at the vacancy Arsene would leave behind. Furthermore, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spuds have shown us time and again that a change of management is more likely to make things worse than better.
A promising but unproven manager is far more likely to want to join Arsenal, and maybe they could do better than Arsene. But that is a big risk to take, and this could easily go horribly wrong. I do understand, though, that some fellow Gooners just want a change, as they are getting tired with Arsenal’s seasonal blips and all the associated negativity: and don’t we all?!
However, for me it is clear that Arsene is still the man for Arsenal. If I was his friend, I would tell him to jack it all in.
As an Arsenal supporter, I hope he’ll stay and somehow gets the best out of the predicament in which he has to operate, and by hook or by crook make us win silverware again.
Arsenal can change the manager, but for the time being, we are unlike to change our predicament. Best thing to do is to adjust our expectations a bit, and to keep giving Arsene our full and passionate support.