The disastrous season at Manchester United offers those who are tenaciously pro-Wenger an easy out. It’s the story that says any manager, without examination of his own credentials, will fail if he’s replacing a long-standing legend of a club.
The troubling state at Manchester United isn’t the rule. It’s simply the consequence of appointing a manager who isn’t cut out for life at the top of the Premier League.
David Moyes’ struggles, while a delight for fans of opposing teams up and down the country, may not be so kind in its timing, with an increasing number of Arsenal supporters growing frustrated by the same-old, same-old from Arsene Wenger each season. Even though Wenger may not need a lifeline for a group of boardroom members and an owner who remains enamoured with his principles and ideals, the situation at Old Trafford does provide an excuse, and indeed a strong one for retaining Arsenal’s current manager.
There’s always a danger of looking at football as black and white, but this completely ignores the other side of the argument. Moyes and Manchester United are wrongly being used as a guideline to tell, as fact, what will happen if a big-name manager leaves.
One point that does hold a valid standing in the argument against allowing Wenger to walk is whether Arsenal can go about the task of replacing with a competent enough figure. For arguments sake, let’s assume they do appoint a manager who is up to task of managing at the top level of English and European football.
Should we then be led to believe that whoever comes into the job can’t better what Wenger is currently doing at the club? Moyes was a respected and admired manager pre-United. Most would say he’s been found out as a mid-table manager at best, at least at this point of his career. But not everyone falls foul of moving significantly up the ladder.
Pep Guardiola, while a name far from likely to move from Bayern if the position at Arsenal becomes available this summer, was promoted from Barcelona’s B team with no further management experience. Luis Enrique followed a similar path, going to Roma immediately after his performances with Barcelona B. Jurgen Klopp, who most fans at Arsenal would have as their first-choice, wasn’t quite as spectacular at Mainz as he currently is at Dortmund. The list can go on and on. Frank de Boer, Joachim Loew, Diego Simeone, Antonio Conte, Vincenzo Montella. Even Wenger arrived, comparatively, from an unknown world and reshaped the club.
Clubs like Chelsea and Real Madrid change managers often without much regard for the footballing ideals of each of their chosen candidates. I use those two clubs in particular because while Barcelona have had three different managers over the past three seasons, and Bayern three in four, the Catalans and Bavarians’ recruitment is much more strict in terms of what they’re looking for.
Far from saying Arsenal would be better off if they were more like Chelsea, it’s simply to say that Roman Abramovich’s trigger-happy nature on the managerial front hasn’t stopped that club from bringing in trophies on a near yearly basis. Since 2004, Arsenal have only finished above Chelsea in the league once.
The line that’s being fed to the masses, that a new manager will see the downfall of Arsenal, is idiotic and irresponsible. Sure, there’s convenience to the story because of what is currently happening at the Premier League’s biggest club, but it wouldn’t be happening if Alex Ferguson had chosen Jose Mourinho to succeed him, that’s for certain.
Instead of allowing Wenger to stay on at Arsenal based on his own merits of improving the football side of the club, scare tactics are being used as a way of strengthening his position. Of course, it’s not to say Wenger is leading this campaign, but there are those are quite plainly towing this line. It’s blinkered and completely flies in the face of what sport should be: an aspiration to be the best.