Merci, Arsene – what happens now?
Something doesn’t feel right.
As I sat in my bed at 2am and watched Arsenal lose 2-1 to Newcastle United, I joined the millions of other Arsenal fans who have been calling for Arsene Wenger to go. It’s finally happened, and I am beginning to realise that I should’ve listened to the scholarly words of Eminem when he said, “be careful what you wish for, ‘cause you just might get it and if you get it then you just might not know what to do wit’ it”.
As Arsene departs from the helm, Gooners everywhere are at a loss. #WengerOut has been replaced by #MerciArsene and fans all around the world are showing gratitude for the man that was not only manager of Arsenal, but a father figure and a role model.
Every now and again, someone comes along who shapes the future, and the Alsatian is certainly one of those people. Wenger leaves English football with new methods of scouting, a fresh hunger for ‘beautiful football’ and a higher standard for how managers should present themselves. He leaves Arsenal in financial security, with a marketable brand, millions of fans around the world and a legacy for success.
In saying this, there was a reason the French God was forced into resignation, a reason that he ‘involuntarily volunteered’, and that is because the club need to write a new chapter. Instead of trying to replace the irreplaceable, the question is, as Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis puts it, “how you find a new path forward”.
In my opinion, this is the most important period in the club’s history. Every decision during this process needs to be made with clarity, with purpose and with the long term in mind. Every signing needs to be on board and every administrator must be working to the same goal. If Arsenal fail to do this, they will head down the same path Manchester United did, struggling to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. The difference is, however, that Man U had the resources to cope with this transitional phase. Arsenal, on the other hand, cannot afford David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal failures. Luckily for Arsenal fans, the board seem to have a plan. They are looking for a:
1. Progressive manager who presides over exciting football
2. The integration of young players into the first-team, and
3. A good representative of the club. Established managers such as Max Allegri and Carlo Ancellotti would be a steady hand in transition, but don’t tick the ‘progressive’ criteria.
Luis Enrique has been touted for the job, but many Arsenal fans are nervous about the fact that no one else wants him. Former players Mikel Arteta and Thierry Henry would tick all boxes, but are surely too risky as they have no experience whatsoever.
Then there was one – Patrick Viera. He is young, bold, commands the dressing room and would represent the club with class. He is enjoying success in America and has worked at Manchester City. Most importantly, he knows what it means to win, captaining the most successful premier league team in history. In my opinion, he is the perfect fit and should get the nod, but I’m no expert.
Thank you for your service, Arsene Wenger and good luck to the board in finding a successor. The task is a daunting one and the stakes are high. If Gazidis and the board stuff this up, Arsenal will be like a kangaroo sitting on an outback road; dead. No pressure, Ivan.