When Arsene Wenger agreed to manage Arsenal back in the summer of 1996, it was a huge huge gamble for the club and for Arsene himself.
Dr Joseph Venglos had already shown what difficulties could arise for a foreign coach in England during his short and disappointing stint at Aston Villa, so the pitfalls were obvious.
But Arsene pulled off a stroke of genius, a move that won over the fan base in one swoop, a move that succeeded beyond even his wildest dreams: he signed Patrick Vieira, probably the most successful and productive transfer in his entire career.
That one transfer not only convinced the fans that we had a guy who knew what he was doing, it also transformed a team that was gradually winding down despite the additions of Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt a year earlier.
Wenger also had the common sense to listen to the coaching staff when he arrived, to trust in his own judgement and basically spent his first season watching the players before deciding who he could work with and improve and those he could not.
It showed a very analytical way of team building, not rushing in and tearing everything apart. Not worrying that it was basically still George Graham’s defence even if they played with more freedom and élan under Wenger.
The following summer, in came Overmars, Grimaldi and Petit and the rest, well you all know the rest…
So now we move onto the homme nouveau this summer, what will he do, who will be his Vieira moment, who will he keep and who will he move on?
By common consensus Arsenal need strengthening in certain areas, the goalkeeper, a defensive midfielder, a centre-back, two young full-backs, a right winger, the list is endless, the new man will certainly have his own ideas for sure. But I would hope that he will maybe take his time, safe in the knowledge that Arsenal are not a sacking club and will give him the time he needs, as will the fans (I hope).
We might see a shift in style, players who maybe aren’t major constituents of the present team may become the next Ray Parlour, from obscurity to main player?
Players who we think are indispensable might be moved on to make way for new players, may become the next Paul Merson?
This won’t happen overnight, we’ll probably see a few changes, a few tweaks, evolution rather than revolution, well I would really hope so.
I don’t think we have a bad squad, our home record proves that, our home record is second only to the runaway champions, that’s better than Man Utd, better than Liverpool, better than Chelsea and better than that other North London team who always manage to never win anything, despite the media telling anyone who will listen, how wonderful they are.
This Arsenal team has also succeeded in reaching a major domestic cup final and a European semi-final.
Only the away form has been a problem and that’s a tactical issue.
So what does the uomo nuovo do and who does he keep this summer?
The players who I think will form the basis of the squad for next season are:
Aubameyang, Bellerin, Cech, Chambers, Elneny, Holding, Iwobi, Kolasinac, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Ozil, Monreal, Xhaka, Mavropanos, Welbeck, Wilshere, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles.
You could supplement the above squad with youngsters like:
Macey, Osei-Tutu, Willock, Nketiah, Nelson, Nwakali, Dasilva, Dragomir, Bielik and Smith-Rowe.
The players who I think could be leaving this summer are mainly youngsters, many have been out on loan like Akpom, Asano, Jenkinson and Mavididi. David Ospina is probably the stand out departure from the senior squad who I can see going.
Now onto the ‘Question Marks’, those who could as easily stay as they could easily go over the next few months, for differing reasons like contracts or fitness:
Perez, Bramall, Reine-Adelaide, Sheaf, Martinez, Campbell, Cazorla, Koscielny and Ramsey.
I hope so, now what do you all think?