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Arsene Wenger has two years to define a legacy

Wednesday 31st May 2017
Arsene Wenger has been awarded a new two-year contract at Arsenal, following the Gunners' F.A. Cup triumph over Chelsea. The much-maligned manager tactically outclassed his opposite, Antonio Conte - a rare moment of brilliance that provides a glimpse of promise for the upcoming season.

Please Arsene, no more of the same.

Arsene Wenger has been awarded a new two-year contract at Arsenal, following the Gunners' F.A. Cup triumph over Chelsea. The much-maligned manager tactically outclassed his opposite, Antonio Conte - a rare moment of brilliance that provides a glimpse of promise for the upcoming season.

For the next two years are absolutely crucial for Wenger. He needs to build on this cup success and define his legacy in his own terms, and not those of his critics. Now is the time for Wenger to change, to be aggressive, assertive and unapologetically ruthless.

Indeed, the last few months of the season saw his Arsenal team switch to a 3-5-2, coinciding with an upturn in form. This tactical change suggests a new-found acceptance to alter his philosophy and to adapt. His team, whilst also playing better, appeared to be stronger mentally. The F.A. Cup final existing as a perfect example: it would have been no surprise had Arsenal folded after Chelsea's equaliser, but minutes later the Gunners would score the decisive goal. This mental resilience must continue into next season.
Arsene Wenger has been an admirable servant for Arsenal; overseeing the transition to the Emirates, constant Champions League qualification, unprecedented F.A. Cup success - not to mention the way in which he revolutionised what was a big club into a global one with Premier League success during his earlier years. This is why some of the criticism has been so repugnant. Some of the views on Wenger have been misguided and vitriolic, attacking a man that has, essentially, put Arsenal onto the contemporary footballing map.

But, whilst assaults on his character have been undue and lamentable, criticisms of his tactical naivety have been well-founded. This needs addressing in his next two years, and as previously mentioned, the last few months indicated that such a change is occurring. Wenger also needs to spend. Without Champions League football the task of bringing in the best talent in European football will undoubtedly be a tough one, but Wenger should still try to lure targets to the Emirates. He needs to be ambitious in his recruiting, daring in his targets. And yes, Arsenal need a marquee signing, preferably a striker. Defensively, too, Arsenal need reinforcements - Laurent Koscielny has been playing on injections and painkillers all season and will need replacing. The left-back position is still uncertain: Nacho Monreal always presents risks. The Gunners will also need a battling central midfielder, the Granit Xhaka project so far failing.

Rather than seeing the next two years as a write off for Arsenal, one needs to see it as an opportunity and a chance for change. A period in which Wenger can truly cement his legacy. He needs to instil a mental toughness and a winning mentality that pervades not only the dressing room but the whole club. He should not settle for top-four and a cup but should set his eyes on the title. No Champions League football might be a blessing in this respect; the last two Premier League winners have done so without Champions League football.

So please, Arsene, change: evolve and determine your own story. Create history in the next two years.

 
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97


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