The Frenchman reaches 18 years in charge at Arsenal – a real milestone in today’s modern era.
How can we replace him?
“I’m not satisfied. You need that constant pressure, that constant drive, striving to improve, get better and put everything on the table – you need that…”
You will surely have pressure, said Ivan.
On Thursday, Arsenal Holdings PLC will hold her Annual General Meeting, to discuss issues affecting the present status and future ambitions of the club. The atmosphere will be less intense than in previous years when there was still the stench of a cobwebbed trophy cabinet. We have now managed to reset the “SinceArsenalLastWonAtrophy” clocks and it will be expected that Gooners will go easy on Wenger this time.
Going over most gooners’ pre-AGM tweets, though, and you get the idea it won’t quite be as low key.
Most fans still feel quite incensed with Wenger for what some have termed deliberate negligence of duty for refusing to sign a defender, believing he has a lot of explanations to render.
The injury crisis in the team which has hit the rear hard has left us exposed and having to rely on scholars for rescue and sucour. Mathiue Debuchy has already packed for the New Year festivities, while Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal have been using the medical room as a revolving door. With the long haul of games coming between now and the coming winter transfer window, the majority of fans are of the opinion that our season would have collapsed due to an anticipated decline in the range of options available to the manager.
For them, the manager has to explain why he didn’t move to prevent this.
Then, there is the issue of refusing to sign Fabregas. Wenger has repeatedly stated that he did not need to re-sign his former captain, but the fact that he has settled quicker than expected at an enemy’s territory has added more salt to an open bleeding sore. He will, for the umpteenth time, be confronted on that issue again.
But, in reality, do we really have much to question with regard to our transfer policy over the years?
We have come through a period when we were not able to afford the kind of world class players poached by City and Chelsea, having to fund the loan taken for the construction of the Emirates back in 2006. Losing Nasri, van Persie and Fabregas to sign Arteta, Park Chu-Young and Mertesacker was not very attractive, but very necessary at the time. Now we can afford to splash close to £70 million to sign Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in less than 12 months, with the might to even attempt audacious bids for the likes of Cavani and Draxler.
Wenger managed to keep this club steady and competitive despite conditions which made it quite impossible in theory. How can most Gooners not see what the likes of Johan Cryuff, Rafa Benitez and Jurgen Klopp have so loudly applauded Wenger for? In the period within which we have consistently clung to the 4th place trophy with the likes of Djourou, Denilson, Bendtner and Gervinho, the likes of Malaga and Anzhi have big taken over by billionaires, splashed heavily but have turned out empty. Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League took them 3 managers and five years to recover from, the post-Fergie United are yet to fully recover from the David Moyes Nostrums– do these not point to the stability we have had under the One Arsene Wenger?
These are not to excuse Wenger’s obvious flaws, especially this season. Having lost Vermaelen and Sagna, he really had to sign one more defender besides Calum Chambers. The refereeing trip to Rome on deadline day oozed of complacency on his part, even stating he may not have signed Welbeck if he was around.
That said, the last person to show any complacency about anything Arsenal is Arsene Wenger. He’s one big reason why we have attracted the big players we have and if we are to sign Hummel, Reus or Khedira, Wenger’s person will still play a huge influence. As Gazidis has remarked:
“The biggest challenge we are going to face as a club is that, when that transition from Arsene to the next manager of our football club happens – and I don’t know when that’s going to be – that we come through that strongly”
While many may feel that ‘when’ should be sooner than later, questions at the AGM should focus on making sure that while he remains here, we are going together in one direction, backing him and pushing the club forward.
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