After drying our tears after an emotional Sunday, it’s time to look ahead to who will be our next manager. Current manager Arsène Wenger had his well-deserved send-off. Although two games are still to go the wild guessing about his successor are now in full swing.
Wenger’s final goodbye
What a great way last Sunday was to say goodbye to an absolute legend. Because that’s what he is, whether you like him or not. Arsenal are where they are because of him and they play in a stadium that he built. I could not be more grateful for anything than that he can now leave through our front door with his head held up high. I think I would not be able to cope had he been sacked after over two decades of complete dedication.
Who will be the next Arsenal manager?
The bookies are changing their favourite candidate everyday. Last week Zeljko Buvac – Klopp’s assistant at Liverpool who suddenly did not show up for work – was the favourite. Today it’s Carlo Ancelotti, as he has been quoted that he wants to manage a club and not a country. Other names that are often mentioned are Massimiliano Allegri and Mikel Arteta. But will any of these be able to succeed Wenger? It’s quite a task if you ask me. To replace the most successful manager at a club he’s been with for 22 years.
It will be pretty hard to perform better than him. Also, times have changed. During most of Wenger’s tenure it was always Arsenal or Manchester United at the top of the league. Chelsea joined that duo after Abramovich took over at the Blues. In recent days, Manchester City are also competing, albeit mainly because of their huge spending power. But still: even Leicester City managed to win the league in recent history. What I am trying to say is that the opposition became stronger.
The current squad needs rebuilding
The next manager will be handed a tough task to strengthen the team and keep together the core of the current squad. Although the negative influence on the team that Alexis Sanchez seemed to have has been taken care of, there’s still work to do. Fan favourite Jack Wilshere is yet to sign a new deal and Santi Cazorla’s deal is also expiring this summer. Also a number of current first team players have contracts expiring after next season. Among them the most notable are Aaron Ramsey, Petr Cech and Nacho Monreal. If Arsenal would decide not to extend them they will have to sell them this summer to avoid the risk of losing them on a free next year. It will also be very interesting to see how the current team will deal with the departure of Wenger. A number of players have been quoted in the past that they joined Arsenal because of him. Mesut Özil is one of those players. Although the new manager will bring a fresh boost of energy into the team, it’s not a given that everyone will be happy with the next person that walks into the dressing room.
The current team does well in attack
At the moment of writing all teams have played 36 or 37 of the 38 games in the Premier League. Looking at the stats, Arsenal are sitting in third place behind Manchester City (102 goals in 36 games) and Liverpool (80 goals in 37 games) in terms of goals scored. With Lacazette and Aubameyang in the team we have two great options for the forward position.
Defence is our Achilles-heel this season
Meanwhile we’re ninth in terms of goals conceded. Even Newcastle United (46 conceded in 36 games) and Brighton (47 conceded in 36 games) have conceded less goals. Our defence has turned out to be a weak spot this league campaign. Strengthening is needed. Our goalkeepers have not been at their best this past season, and our defenders are also performing very inconsistent. It would also be a clever plan to start playing with a true defensive midfielder again. A new kind of Patrick Vieira would be nice, haha. Although we have some interesting young prospects, we could really do with one or two good signings at least.
Expectations will be at an absolute high
Wenger joined Arsenal as a fairly unknown manager and got the club to huge heights. After 20 consecutive years of finishing top four the current season marks our second season since Wenger was appointed that we’re finishing outside the top four. Whatever happens next, our next manager absolutely has to finish inside the top four. But when you look at our competitors, that will be quite a massive task.
Anyway, the next manager will need to have quite some balls to take on this job. But if he would be able to get Arsenal back on track, immortality awaits. I will be following these developments with the great interest. Also, if no-one would turn up the Arsenal board can always call me… 😉