So what do you do when a corporation goes through a crisis? Call an experienced hand. Right? And if that experienced hand is already familiar with the ins and outs of the said corporation all the better.
If Arsenal are a corporation – and let’s not fool ourselves, all modern clubs are money-making corporations – then they have just the perfect man to guide them out of the current crisis. Someone who has been at the outfit for more than two decades and is familiar with not just the youngest players on the club’s payroll but also the people who remain in the background, the tea lady, the ground staff and the likes.
Since Arsene Wenger, in the summer of 1996, joined the north London outfit from Nagoya Grampus Eight, the English outfit has reached the heights they were not familiar with. The club are yet to miss qualification for the Champions League since the Frenchman set foot in Highbury. He has led them to three Premier League titles and six FA Cups – as many as George Ramsay, and more than any other manager in history.
Needless to say he has earned the right to leave the Emirates Stadium on his own terms. However, the bile that is being dished out to the sexagenarian by the Arsenal fans would make one believe that his contributions to the club can be matched by just any manager. And it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Those who are calling for the Frenchman’s head should look at the state of Manchester United since they said goodbye to their long-serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson. It has been four seasons since the Scotsman bid farewell to Old Trafford but the club are still struggling for any sort of stability. They have gone through four managers since and have managed to qualify for the Champions League only once.
The playing personnel has seen a massive churn with players coming in and going out with an alarming regularity, and for mind-boggling sums. Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Memphis Depay are just three of the expensive signings who never looked like finding their groove. However, they flourished before landing in Manchester and have looked at their best since moving out.
Not just the churning of players but also the identity of the club’s football has come into question with the fans subjected to defensive, reactive football which is far cry from the days of free-flowing, attacking football in the days of Ferguson.
With Wenger still dilly-dallying about his contract extension, it is clear that the Gunners do not have a clear succession plan, and that could be disastrous. Despite his faults, Wenger ensures Champions League qualification and guarantees attractive football, and it is everything a club of Arsenal’s stature should aspire for.
In the current post-truth, alternate facts world, when managers are getting fired even after winning league titles, sticking with Wenger will only enhance Arsenal’s reputation of not being a club that takes decisions on the fly and gives players and managers their due.