If Arsene Wenger can be criticised for one thing, it’s his neglect for the modern history of Arsenal, allowing the great players to leave and to stay well away.
Dennis Bergkamp, however, has recently said that he intends to return to Arsenal one day, citing his relationship with the club as one similar to that of Joan Cruyff and Barcelona.
Bergkamp stayed loyal even when Wenger was ruthless with his policy of one-year contracts for those over the age of thirty. Following his retirement, Bergkamp disappeared from the game, only to return in 2011 to join Frank de Boer at Ajax as an assistant manager.
The former Arsenal forward has stated, however, that management is not an interest of is and that he’d prefer to remain a coach. Ajax, also, is seen as a stepping stone to Arsenal, where it seems as though he intends to see out the majority of his post-playing career.
A problem at Arsenal is that there is arguably a lack of identity and a lack of leadership and drive towards the values of the club. It’s worth mentioning Ajax, who clearly stepped away from their traditional playing style and even went seven years without a league title until de Boer returned as manager and sought to return the club to its roots. The same is true for Bayern Munich, who have a host of former players among the club’s hierarchy, and of course Barcelona.
Arsenal need to follow a similar path. The club, at present, only have one noticeable link to the past, and that’s true Wenger. The arrival of Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and others hasn’t put the club’s values under threat by any means, but there needs to be a continuous link to the past. Robert Pires, training with the club and taking up an ambassadorial role alongside Freddie Ljungberg, is a positive start, but it needs to be far more emphatic and sweeping. Steve Bould’s addition to the dugout has also been a good appointment.
Bergkamp, of course, isn’t the only name to profess an interest in returning to Arsenal. Thierry Henry will eventually return to the Emirates in some capacity, and you’d certainly feel that in time one of the players who took up a role in one of Wenger’s teams could play an important part in the club’s boardroom. Following Peter Hill-Wood’s decision to step down, the logical successor as chairman would have been Bob Wilson. Moving forward, however, the club need to be younger and forward-thinking.
Wenger may extend his stay beyond this season, and many fans are hoping that will be the case. But at 63, that very well could be his last contract with the club. It should be down to the manager, therefore, to appoint old faces in key positions. Bergkamp has said that he intends to stay at Ajax for “at least another three or five years,” but you can never tell in football. That bond that he holds with the club could sway his decision and see him arrive much earlier.
Should Wenger go all out to bring Bergkamp back to Arsenal?
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