Feature: The curious case of replacing Arsene Wenger
The football world was blown away when Arsene Wenger stepped out to the public and stated that he would be leaving the club at the end of this season. This was quite shocking considering that Arsene has claimed to have respected all his contracts as a coach and he is currently on a 2-year contract that expires next season. This leaves us with a lot of questions as to why the legend just decides to go at the end of this season. Could it be that he faced the reality that the club was ailing in his hands instead of progressing like he thought he could make them? But this was just one of the stories that were in the headlines on this day. Many people had their thoughts on Wenger’s decision as well as his legacy and replacements.
Mesut Ozil was the first player to share his sentiment on Arsene Wenger. It is well known that the former Real Madrid star swapped the tremendous Spanish club for Arsene in a £42.5m move. He has since claimed that Wenger was a significant influence in him moving to the English side ahead of other big offers from clubs such Bayern Munich in Germany and the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United who were interested in his services. The player has said that he is proud to have made that decision and come to Arsenal and play against a manager of Wenger’s stature. The coach believes in an attacking team that allows the midfielders to dominate the game in possession and splitting the opposition with some timely passes.
Another player who played Wenger shared his thoughts on Wenger’s imminent departure. Lukas Podolski acknowledges that 22 years at the helm of one club is quite a feat but leaves a lot of marks now that he is going. The German played for Arsenal for 2-and-a-half years before moving to Galatasaray. He is also curious to find out which direction the club will take after his former boss’ decision. He is quoted as having said, “It's a question of whether they want someone with experience like Arsene Wenger, a guy like Carlo Ancelotti, or maybe a young, hungry coach.” This is something that is on everyone’s mind because this is the first time the club is on the market after 22 years.
Arsenal Chairman, Ivan Gazidis, had a lot to say about Wenger’s legacy. He is obviously grateful to the manager for the legacy that he leaves at the club. He also took the opportunity to reassure the fans that the club will be on the hunt for a manager who will take Arsenal to the next level. Gazidis said, “The process begins today. I want to keep that process in-house. This club has to rise to the challenge. You don't find a replacement for Arsene Wenger. You find a new path forward.” The club has to be bold in making that decision when they eventually have to choose from a pool of options because they have made a lot of mistakes in the past when other great managers like Klopp and Guardiola were available. Could they go for the experienced Ancelotti like Podolski mentioned?
We also looked at what Ancelotti thought about the idea of joining Arsenal. The Italian has been out of a job since last September when Bayern Munich sacked him. The manager refused to rule himself out of a job saying, “I can say I would like to work again, but that depends on me. If I find the right possibility, the right project I would be delighted to continue.” We take hints from his message that he is referring to Arsenal because they are a club who have been well run and have a great crop of talent that lack motivation. He is known for bringing the best out of a player and it would be interesting if the club decides to go for him.
Spanish football expert, Guillem Balague also had this opinion on who should come to the Emirates Stadium and replace Wenger. He looked at the prospect of former Barcelona coach Enrique leading the Gooners with his attacking mentality which suits the way the club has been playing under the current coach. Balague believes that Luis Enrique is interested in the job after having a season out of football waiting for the right job to appear. It is quite sad that everyone is now focused on who will be leading the club next season while the Frenchman is still left with less than two months.
Jamie Redknapp has come out and stated that no one should feel sorry for the Frenchman. This is because the manager has had an opportunity that lasted for 22 years. What is sad is seeing a coach being sacked after one year and never having another opportunity to coach another top club ever again. Everyone should instead respect the Frenchman and celebrate his legacy which leaves fond memories for the Arsenal faithful. Redknapp thinks that the club is now ready for someone who has a connection with the club like Thierry Henry. He believes the former Arsenal captain has the hunger that the club needs if they are to maintain their status as a top club in Europe.
What next for Wenger you may ask? Some believe he still has a lot to offer in football but not at Arsenal. Arsene has had control at Arsenal for so many years and probably should not be appointed as the Director of Football as it might bring conflict with whoever comes in to replace him as a coach and fails to agree with him on certain things. Instead, Wenger can lead a club like PSG who are on the lookout for a top manager, and he is undeniably that and more. With the right players, he can deliver.