Arsenal must back new manager with funds
Its no news that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be stepping down at the end of the season, following 22 years of meritorious service at the Emirates stadium. The 68-year-old has come under increasing scrutiny from a section of club fans and hierarchy. He has now decided to leave come campaign's end. He may not get the perfect sendoff he craves after Thursday's draw with Atletico Madrid in their Europa League semifinal first leg. The Spaniards are favoured to advance despite going a goal down and playing a man down for 80 minutes.
The unfavourable result exposed a deeper malaise. The squad lacks quality and needs a new manager to breathe life into it. News broke last week that the Arsenal board will be giving the new coach £50 million to strengthen his side. On the evidence of this underwhelming season, he'll need more. Luis Enrique, Carlo Ancelotti, Thomas Tuchel, Rafa Benitez, Max Allegri and two Arsenal legends, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, have all been linked to the position.
Anyone from that group would be refreshing on the Arsenal team. At this point so would Boris Johnson. But presence and managerial acumen won’t be enough to get Arsenal on track. The board's argument is that they have provided more than £100 million in the last two transfer windows to sign Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The recruitment in the last year has been commendable but if Arsenal have ambitions to match the other top sides, they must spend big on more new arrivals.
The best players cost money. If the Gunners are to win a first league title in 15 years come the end of next term, money is what it will take. Wenger is a manager who trusts too much. This has given many players the opportunity to remain mediocre. The current Arsenal roster doesn't exhibit the mental strength and fortitude required to play for a club of such magnitude. Those players need to be shown the exit door. There are too many average players at the Emirates, players who are not good enough and won’t be able to make the bench of other top-six rivals.
Improvements are needed in the goalkeeping department. Petr Cech is no longer the player he was. David Ospina doesn’t always inspire confidence. Defensively, Chambers and Holding should be shipped off. Bellerin needs decent competition at right back. The same goes for his opposite number, Nacho Monreal. A player in the mould of Steven N’Zonzi or Wilfred Ndidi is needed to add solidity to a midfield that is often overrun. The attack needs direct, pacy wingers that can take on defenders and whip in crosses.
The Arsenal job is an attractive proposition to any manager. On the evidence of Wenger's long tenure, he can expect to be given time to build the team in his image. But providing £50 million is a tad unrealistic for the project's nature. With players needed at several positions, the prospect of dividing the sum up to recruit two or three players even makes it counterproductive.