The Elephant in the Room – What if Wenger Calls it a day
As the business end of the seasons rolls on, Arsenal’s weekly headlines are focusing around three main topics at the moment, and will do until the curtain finally falls on one of the most intense seasons ever.
First up of the headlines is the need to finish in the top four, securing a Champions League place and the millions of pounds which come with it.
Second is the FA Cup Final, Arsenal’s first one since 2005. Should Arsenal triumph over Hull on May 17th, they will have exactly the same FA Cup record as Manchester United, as both will sit on: 18 finals played, 11 won, 7 lost, bringing Arsenal level as the most successful FA Cup team in history.
And thirdly we come to the elephant in the room. The elephant which the press are starting to prod with their headlines, wondering whether Wenger will stay or go. And actually, when you think about it, if you forget that he’s been there for so long, if you forget how we wouldn’t know what to do without him, and look at it objectively, now could be the perfect time for him to bow out.
A new manager would inherit a squad who have so much promise but lack the final touch, both through the need to strengthen and the lack of cover in the squad for inevitable injuries. They would inherit a group of player who have come closer to winning the league than any Arsenal time in the last few seasons, and who should be winning the FA Cup this season too. They would, crucially, inherit a squad which they can really make their mark on.
And who might that manager be? Borussia Dortmund’s manager Jurgen Klopp is the bookie’s favourite at 10/1, with Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp not a bad shout on 20/1 along with Everton’s Roberto Martinez, who has impressed this season.
Arsene Wenger has said on many occasions that he will walk away when he’s lost the desire either to manage at the top level, or to manage Arsenal in particular. He’s been approached countless times by the French FA to take over the national squad, but said publically that he’d miss the day to day commitment which comes with club football.
The Arsenal manager will be 65 in October, and whilst neither that age, nor Wenger himself, is by no means past it, he may be considering his options moving forward. Wenger is a man who thinks practically when it comes to how he runs his club, but emotionally when it comes to investing himself in it. Does he feel like he’s run out of steam? Have the trophy-less seasons eaten away at his desire to continue? Only Wenger himself, and those closest to him, will know the answer to that.
And having said that now is a perfect time for a new manager to take over, there’s a feeling that it would be such a shame if Wenger was to quit now. Yes, he’d walk away and be revered as one of the best managers we’ve ever seen. Yes, he’d see his record of managing an unbeaten season last for many years, if not forever. But how fitting it would be if he might stay for another two seasons, which is the length of his contract offer, and win the league once more. How fitting it would be if he could strengthen his squad and stick two fingers up to those who’ve called for him to be replaced. How sweet that would taste.
Whatever his gut feeling, Wenger will surely want to go out on a high, meaning this season’s FA Cup Final holds extra importance for the club. But surely one final Premier League crown would be better.
It is therefore, without doubt, a turning point for Wenger. If he stays then he must strengthen the squad and get them fired up for a huge push next season. If he goes then he’ll leave behind a club, after 18 seasons in charge, who have undoubtedly become bigger than they were when he arrived. It is a summer of decisions for the Arsenal man, and whether those decisions revolve around who to sign, or around planning his retirement, Wenger’s next move will shape Arsenal for the foreseeable future.
Mean Lean's Response
Arsene's squad isn't too far away from where he wants his squad to be. Big defeats are not we are only 7 points off the top even with a large injury list in the same position during an imporant part of the season. If Wenger gets the parts he needs I think we will be back stronger next season but that said, our rivals will also be back stronger so let's see what happens.