The Problems with Replacing Arsene Wenger at Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has come under serious criticism from fans and pundits alike, as Arsenal continue to endure a miserable season. The 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park has further damaged the Gunners’ chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League this campaign, and things are a mess at the club.

There have been protests from the Arsenal fans at the Emirates Stadium, defender Hector Bellerin has been told by the supporters that he is not fit enough to wear the shirt, and club legend Ian Wright has questioned the players’ attitude on Twitter. The situation at Arsenal has reached boiling point.

Game over?

There can be no doubt that Wenger is one of the greatest football managers of all time, but his time at Arsenal seems to be coming to an end. The Gunners have not won the Premier League title since 2004, and their proud record of qualifying for the Champions League for 20 years in a row is under threat. Arsenal’s football is still pretty and entertaining to watch, but it is not effective and the defence has been leaky.

Wenger transformed Arsenal from a club that played dull football to one that has a global fanbase. The Gunners have won the league title thrice during the Wenger years; Liverpool have yet to clinch one in the Premier League era. There have been six FA Cup triumphs and an appearance in the Champions League final, but fans have grown tired of being also-rans for the past 12 or 13 years.

The Frenchman’s current contract with Arsenal runs out at the end of the season, and no new deal is in place. Many fans will hope that Wenger does not get a contract extension and goes as far away from the Emirates as possible, perhaps to Argentina.

La Albiceleste are looking for a new head coach following the dismissal of Edgardo Bauza, and they are only fifth favourite to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia, according to latest international football betting odds. Could Wenger be tempted by the challenge to work with the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero and win the biggest football competition?

Probably.

Potential problems

However, at this point, one can only speculate about Wenger’s future. After all, it is not easy to let a man go who has been at the club for over 20 years. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have become synonymous. Wenger is 8/13 to be in charge of Arsenal’s opening Premier League game in 2017-18. For someone who is under severe pressure and is having his worst season as manager of the Gunners, the odds are quite low, but one can understand why.

It is easy to claim that Wenger should go, but the immediate question is who should replace him. Can anyone achieve at the Emirates what the Frenchman has? How many managers would be able to finish in the top four consistently with a squad full of average players such as Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker? Whoever replaces Wenger at Arsenal is certainly going to ask for transfer funds to sign better players to make the team more competitive. Would the board be willing to splash the cash?

Moreover, there are not many suitable candidates around. Ronald Koeman has been mentioned but he is at Everton currently. Does he want to take charge of a team that needs considerable rebuilding? Thomas Tuchel is settled at Borussia Dortmund; for Massimiliano Allegri, it’s a step down but a new challenge. Would the appointment of Patrick Vieira work? Probably not.

Lessons To Be Learned

Arsenal should also learn the lessons from Manchester United. United are one of the biggest clubs in the world. However, since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, things have not been great at Old Trafford. David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were failures; Jose Mourinho may yet return them to the glory days. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.

Perhaps the Arsenal board will not want to take a risk. Allowing Wenger to stay on for one more season is the easy option.

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