Being at a single Premier League club for two decades is a remarkable achievement, but even that isn’t enough to stop some Arsenal fans complaining about Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman has transformed the London club from a defensively-minded outfit into a team that plays one-touch football with flair.
However, for all the success Wenger has brought to the club, he still has his detractors. A lack of action in the transfer market when it counts coupled with a lean spell in the Premier League and Europe over the last decade has hurt his credibility. But, even though his recent spell has been something of a disappointment, there’s no denying that his first ten years at Arsenal were impressive.
Time Will Force a Change of the Guard
With time waiting for no man, there will come a day (and possibly soon) when Wenger will wave goodbye to the Emirates Stadium faithful and sail off into the sunset. In fact, with Wenger’s clock starting to run low, the odds makers are already offering betting lines on his potential replacement. Sun Bets, the official bookmaker of football-mad newspaper The Sun, has already got in on the action.
According to its team of experts, Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe is currently the betting favourite to replace Wenger, at 5/2. Despite having only moved away from his position at Bournemouth for a year to coach Burnley, the weight of public opinion seems to suggest the 39-year-old is the man for the job at Arsenal. Of course, given Arsenal’s history of giving relative unknowns a chance, we could see a surprise appointment in the form of Thierry Henry. Currently priced at 10/1 behind Ralph Hasenhuttl (5/1) and Joachim Low (8/1), Henry could solidify his legendary status at the club by taking the current crop of stars to new heights.
Of course, whoever replaces Wenger will have a tough act to follow. Regardless of how you feel about his lack of signings or major trophies in recent years, the stats suggest that Wenger has been a proverbial talisman for Arsenal, and life after he leaves could be tough. OK, so in his first ten years at Arsenal, Wenger oversaw 566 games and won 327 of those. Those wins include the infamous unbeaten 2003/2004 season.
Trophies, Wins and a Whole Lot More
That first decade yielded 11 trophies, including three Premier League titles. Following this, decade two has seen the Frenchman take charge of 563 games (to the end of September) and win 320. Although trophies have been sparse in that period (four in total), he’s still well on the right side of the win/loss divide.
Beyond the cold hard facts, Wenger has also turned rough diamonds into international stars during his time at the club. Although he’s often failed to lure the “big names” to North London, Wenger has picked up the best unknown talent and rising stars and used them to good effect. Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie are just some of the players Wenger has brought in for a relative pittance.
Essentially, if anyone wants to follow in Wenger’s footsteps and keep pace with him, they need to be smart with the club’s budget, have a knack for finding hidden talent, and importantly, get the tactical best out of players. Wenger, for all his faults, is a managerial great. When history tells the story of the best Premier League managers of all time, there will be a chapter on Mr. Wenger. With this being the case, the next Arsenal manager will have to work extremely hard if he wants to avoid the post-Alex Ferguson slump Manchester United are currently experiencing.
So, whoever the next manager is, good luck to you sir, you’re going to need it.
Daniel Smyth is a freelance writer with interests in the sports and betting worlds. From football and boxing to poker and MMA, Daniel now produces articles for a range of games, sports and betting discplines.