Arsenal have stopped moving forward, and the spotlight is firmly on Arsene Wenger. 13 years without a title, 7 successive Champions League round of 16 exits, and the club are now in danger of finishing outside the Top 4. Wenger is undoubtedly entering the twilight years of his reign, but all sense says that he will stay and must stay beyond this season.
Arsenal have become all too predictable – a strong start followed by a collapse over Jan/Feb ending with a strong finish. Understandably Arsenal fans are getting frustrated with this predictability and lack of progress. Whether or not Wenger leaves at the end of this season, the time is surely approaching. To think otherwise would be as foolish as to ignore the stability and consistency he has brought to the club.
Arsenal only need to look at Man Utd as a warning
Like Ferguson, Wenger will want to leave on his own terms with the club in the best position possible; not on a snap decision after a below par season. Arsenal fans would be wise to grant the club and it’s manager the opportunity to do this. A reminder of how Ferguson’s departure and succession was handled is evidence enough.
Ferguson left Man Utd abruptly, with relatively little warning and no apparent successor. Leaving after a title winning season was a fairy tale finish, but it was arrogant and short sighted. The club have since struggled with three managers in four seasons, spent over £500 million on players and still look some way off challenging for the title.
Arsenal have massively stalled in recent years, and even winning another FA Cup won’t change that. However everyone involved at Arsenal should look very carefully at how badly Man Utd prepared for Ferguson’s departure and learn from it. Change will eventually have to come, but it needs to be handled carefully, not made rashly.
Bringing in a successor must start immediately, with Arsene Wenger leading it
It is crucial the club start identifying potential successors immediately though. Then, during the summer bring someone in to work alongside Wenger over the next two years. The new incumbent should slowly combine his ideas with Wenger’s current philosophy. As he assumes greater responsibility on the pitch, Wenger should step aside and move upstairs into a board position to ensure a continuation of the club’s overall vision.
It would be an absolute disaster for Arsene Wenger to end his Arsenal career after one below par season. However it would be equally crazy to just ignore this season as a blip. Arsenal have stagnated for too many years now, and the club need to begin seriously addressing this issue. However, their best asset to achieve this is Arsene Wenger himself.