Arsène Wenger is reluctantly writing the final chapters in his thick red book. His separation from the club has become a question of “when”, unfortunately not because of age or lack of desire.
But will the statue-worthy icon leave this summer or the next? And how will it actually unfold?
It seems the club and Ivan Gazidis have been on a mission lately to either prepare for an imminent exit of Wenger this summer, or give him a last chance with a restructured set of responsibilities in the staff before his contract expires next year.
First and foremost, Wenger will never get “sacked”. The respect and reputation that he enjoys within the club, and the rest of the football world, will give him the goodbye that he deserves.
So, if he is relieved of his duties this summer or his contract not extended next year, I’m sure the club will give Wenger the opportunity to say he left on his own decision. It will be a “disguised sacking”.
I cannot see how Wenger gets a contract extension after next season unless he wins the Europa League this year and is one of the top three teams in either the Premier League or Champions League next season. A task as enormous as it is unlikely. What do you think?
Arsenal should already be evaluating potential replacements, and if Wenger “leaves” in 2018 or 2019 should come down to timing and the results for the remainder of this season.
There are of course many suitable, available and/or interested candidates out there: Carlo Ancelotti, Luis Enrique, Maurizio Sarri, Leonardo Jardim, Max Allegri, Joachim Löw, Diego Simeone and more.
If the club comes to the conclusion that one of them is the right person to refresh Arsenal, and it’s now or never, Josh and Stan Kroenke shouldn’t hesitate and risk a decision that is as inevitable as it is necessary for the club’s prosperity.
If Wenger takes us to Lyon in May and wins the Europa League, he might actually call it quits then and there, even though he hasn’t fulfilled this prophecy several times before (most memorable when we won the FA cup in 2014). But most likely he’ll want to “respect his contract” and ask for a new one in 2019.
If we don’t win a trophy this season and place sixth in the league I envisage that the Kroenke’s fully realise a change is needed. But if they can’t camouflage Wenger’s departure with the Europa League medal this summer, they can when his contract expires after next season for a less painful separation.
We have witnessed the growing apathy within the fan base increase yearly, with more and more empty seats at the Emirates. And it is true that apathy is worse than anger (last year’s protests). Especially for the people who are making money on sell-out crowds, Champions League football, merchandise and publicity, because if the fans are angry at least they’re interested.
New ideology from Kroenke?
(Photo by Stuart McFarlane)
The ultimate decider is Stan Kroenke.
The American Arsenal owner who owns an NFL, NBA, NHL, a Major League Soccer team and more, has been stated as being very loyal to his coaches in the past.
But he perhaps hinted to a possible change in his philosophy before this year’s NFL season.
Kroenke fired the five-year-going head coach of his mediocre LA Rams team. But more interestingly is that he replaced his then-conservative manager with a 30-year-old attacking-minded coach, the youngest ever head coach in the NFL. The unusual change rejuvenated the LA Rams as they won their division for the first time in 15 years, in the first year of the restructure, and the new manager won coach of the year by the “Pro Football Writers of America”.
This rewarding risk may just be an extra incentive to bring change at Arsenal for someone with fresh ideas, as there are parallels between Arsenal and the LA Rams.
I don’t want to paraphrase his entire article. So if you’re interested in reading about this great story, check out Charles Watts’ article here.