Why Arsenal need Arsene Wenger's upgrade to fill the hotseat
Arsene Wenger has decided to end his 22-year reign as Arsenal manager. The footballing world is in shock. North London's red half, meanwhile, has mixed emotions.
Since 1996, Arsene Wenger's name has been synonymous with Arsenal. He held court, both on and off the pitch. Club and manager became one. The Frenchman showed love and admiration to the Gunners. No matter how big the pressure, he always endured. Until now. The tight bond will break at the season's end.
Wenger has been made Arsenal's scapegoat over the past decade. A mistake from Petr Cech, Le Professeur gets the blame. A poor display from the Gunners, ‘Wenger Out’ overshadows social media and the Emirates Stadium. The 68-year-old is familiar with the routine, though. When something repeats often enough, one tends to grow resistant.
As well as his undoubted ability, Wenger's endurance has kept him at Arsenal's helm up to this point.
Wenger was an idol during his first decade in English football. In fact, when a child I called him 'Arsenal Wenger'. He won the Premier League title in only his second season. Yet, his third triumph will always remain the most memorable. The Gunners went unbeaten throughout 2003/04. 'The Invincibles' were born.
After going the first 22 league matches undefeated this season, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City looked like they could replicate Arsenal's feat. Pep, however, can't maintain invincibility. Only Wenger can.
Wenger has won 17 trophies at Arsenal. He is the most successful manager in FA Cup history, having lifted the trophy seven times. The Frenchman is also the Premier League's longest-serving manager since its introduction in 1992. The legendary Sir Alex Ferguson falls two years short.
Hiring Wenger was without doubt the best move Arsenal's hierarchy has ever made. Granted, results dipped. That was down to the players, though. They have been average, soft and inconsistent. The Premier League's current top five teams all possess more quality. The Gunners sit sixth. No other manager could drag them as high.
With a semi-final against Atletico Madrid coming up, winning the Europa League is within reach. Champions League football next season remains possible. Wenger deserves credit, not condemnation.
Wenger is impossible to replace. The North London club must search for his upgrade. Arsenal need a manager to continue and improve on the values instilled by Le Professeur.
The new boss must persist with an exciting brand of football. He must also sign top quality players - Wenger's major weakness was a refusal to spend big - as well as give youngsters an opportunity to thrive.
Is there a manager who can succeed all criteria?
Joachim Low possesses the attributes to manage Arsenal. He's performed miracles while in charge of Germany, winning the 2014 World Cup and the Confederations Cup three years later. Low's expertise to build means Die Mannschaft are among the favourites to defend their crown this summer in Russia.
Although it won't prove easy, the Arsenal board must go all-out to obtain Low. His tactical ability is of the highest order. The German can drag the Gunners to their zenith, challenging Europe's most formidable teams.
If someone other than Low replaces Arsene Wenger, however, expect to soon see Arsenal listed among AC and Inter Milan as the fallen kings.