Arsene Wenger will be the last long reigned Arsenal manager.
The current manager of our football club has been in charge since 1996. 17 years is a long time in football but that’s how long Wenger has been with us in the same capacity. Alex Ferguson is the only one in the Premier League era to have lasted longer than Wenger with David Moyes a little behind in the list. However, I think that the French “professor” will be the last Arsenal manager to last that long.
When I say that, I don’t mean that we will not be able to find a successful manager to replace Wenger. There’s a 50% chance that Arsenal would be able to appoint someone who can bring success and glory to the club. Yet, I don’t believe that the next manager or even the subsequent ones will stay as long as Wenger did.
First, let us examine why managers stay as long as they do in one single club.
The most obvious one is to establish some sort of a legacy. Legacy that will ensure that his name is etched into the history books of the club forever, for propelling the club to a higher level.
- A level which covers being an elite club, one that is capable of challenging for titles and trophies on a yearly basis.
- A level of commercialism that enables the club to reap benefits from its brand name and provide for the capital needed to compete in the transfer market and/or salary bracket.
- A high level academy in which the club is able to produce continuous line of technically and mentally ready players.
It’s fair to say that Wenger has achieved all 3 points during his reign at the club with varying degrees of success. Much of it, owing to the success of the team in the first half of his reign. While the last few years have seen a drop in the brand name due to our inability to win trophies as well as the emergence of Chelsea and Manchester City as footballing force, we are undoubtedly still very high in the pecking order of a brand power list. One could easily point to the success of overseas tours to see how that line still stand firm.
The legacy of our playing style is also present. Far removed from his predecessor, Wenger has completely altered the style of play of the team and we are now associated with aesthetically pleasing football style. If any football fan is asked who are the most entertaining teams in the world, we would surely be somewhere in the list of top 10 teams. The coaching at Arsenal is watered down from the top and you will find that from the under-12s and above, we play the same type of football (though, I’m hoping minus the defensive errors and poor corner kicks).
What is left is to achieve footballing success, which reads as simple as winning. A new manager* will be entrusted with winning titles and trophies for the club. Plenty have looked at Swansea after their League Cup success on Sunday and there’s plenty to learn from there. The system is in place to ensure that the team plays in a certain manner. The manager (in this case, Michael Laudrup) only has to come in and ensure progression with minor tweaks here and there. The foundation has been laid for him and even the succession of managers from Martinez to Rogers to Laudrup has not disrupted the progress of the football club.
That is what is available at Arsenal, a structure in place where in future, the manager’s spot might not be a constant.
If the new manager achieves success immediately, there won’t be much challenge to look forward to. Although, if that happens, I’m sure the club would be looking to tie him down for a few more years. In which case, I don’t expect it to be up to 10 years, let alone 17 years. If the new manager doesn’t succeed then I’m sure his contract could be torn up before the designated end date. Despite our shortfalls in recent times, the new manager would still be under tremendous pressure and have a big Wenger shadow looming over his reign at the club.
From another perspective, does it matter to fans that a manager stays for a long period? As long as we achieved success, surely there won’t be any rejection to a revolving door at Arsenal in terms of managers. As long as we do it with reasons and not like what Chelsea are doing with their appointments.
*As and when it happens. Please do not take it as a proposal or movement to get Wenger sacked.