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Where next for Arsenal without Wenger?

One suspect that for most of the people who have been waving “Wenger Out” banners or pontificating on Arsenal Fans TV, these last couple of years, the mere fact that Mr Wenger is on his way out is enough.  Their view seems to have been that anyone would be better than Wenger.

Of course they don’t actually mean that; or at least I doubt that they do.  How would they feel about Sam Allerdyce, for example?  Or Mark Hughes?

But for now let’s assume that such choices are not made and either the board find another unknown or they take on a suitably qualified and experienced coach able to take on the club.  What then?

The first thing I think we have all learned is that expectations are incredibly high.  Mr Wenger was chased out of the club with a last five season cv that reads

  • FA Cup: won three times
  • League Cup; one final
  • Europa league; one semi-final (could be more).
  • League positions: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th (probably)

Now I am not too sure that many managers will be foolhardy enough to come in and say, “employ me for five years and I will deliver more than that.  Or at least not without saying, “if you give me £150m to spend.  A year.

Which is a bit of a problem.  For there is no way the board at Arsenal are going to give the new man £150m to spend in the summer transfer window.

And yet each day we see headlines proclaiming that half the first team need to be kicked out.  Which is fine if you have a thoroughly deep squad and a couple of years for the new members of the team to integrate with each other and the rest who are left.

On the other hand Mr Wenger has kindly left his successor quite a promising group of youngsters who I suspect he will be very sad to say goodbye to: Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Willock, Eddie… it does look to be rather a good harvest that someone else is going to have the good fortune to reap.

There is however another problem too.  Those who proclaim that anyone would be better than Wenger not only don’t really mean that, they also assume that almost everyone is available and would want to come to Arsenal.

But there’s a problem with this view.  Although the anti-Wenger fans don’t think much of Wenger at all, most football managers seem to rate him incredibly highly, and I have the suspicion that a feeling is emerging among those in the trade that if Arsenal supporters forced Mr Wenger out, who could possibly survive?

Of course a younger less experienced manager might take this project on, but that is not what those who forced Wenger out have really signed up to.  They expect – one might say “demand” a top coach from a club such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus, PSG or Chelsea where very large amounts of money are laying on the table just waiting to be spent.

Yet really, would a coach who has succeeded at one of those clubs really come to a club like Arsenal where far less money is available?

Indeed at this juncture there is no point saying “Kronke should put more money into the club,” because quite simply he isn’t going to do that.

So we have what we might call a vigorous protest movement, a group of top managers who wouldn’t touch Arsenal because of the lack of money that they would be able to lay their hands on at other clubs, a consensus among managers that Wenger didn’t deserve to be treated by the fans as he was, and managers at the top of their game who have the choice of going to a dozen other clubs.

So which of these is going to come to the Emirates?

Not many I think since as they well know, if they don’t go out in the summer and buy lots of new players the “Wenger out” mob will hardly give them time to settle in, and if they do go out and buy lots of players this summer, they will have spent all their money.

In short, if the team doesn’t settle and produce results at once, the “Wenger out” move will be on their backs.

Now I have heard it said that the new man will be given time.  And yet I wonder.  The whole anti-Wenger thing included creating a scenario in which the FA Cup wins were discounted because that trophy wasn’t important, progress in the Europa League was discounted because it isn’t the Champions League, and coming second in the league a few years ago wasn’t thought worthy of a mention because “we didn’t actually win it.”

Are these people going to give the new man time?  I’m not sure that is the case.

Manchester United have much greater resources than Arsenal, and yet in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson left they have come 7th, 4th, 5th, 6th and probably 2nd.  That is worse than Arsenal’s run.  And they’ve got through three managers just to get to runners up spot and a couple of cups (which are derided in terms of Wenger’s achievements).

I think this is going to be a very rocky period of Arsenal, unless they can find a manager who can pull rabbits out of hats as fast as Mr Wenger did when he first came to town.

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