4 major tasks the next Arsenal manager must complete
On 20 April, Arsene Wenger announced he was leaving Arsenal. The news sent shockwaves through the footballing world. Having practically run the club single-handedly for the past 22 years, the Frenchman won't be there next season.
It is not the time for sadness, though, it is the time for positivity. Arsenal fans must embrace the future.
Wenger's Arsenal reign is a tale of two decades. After untold success during his first ten years, he entered his dark period. The 68-year-old will leave the Gunners in a poor state. A big rebuilding job needs doing.
Whoever Arsenal's next manager, the following actions must take priority.
Sign quality players
Arsenal's squad needs a massive overhaul. There isn't enough world-class talent. The Gunners struggle to master any system.
A solid defence is the foundation of all title-winning sides. Wenger once realised that. On arriving in 1996, he built Arsenal from the back.
The Gunners currently have the potential to reach new heights. A weak base is holding them at a standstill, though. They have conceded 48 Premier League goals in 36 games this season. It is the worst record among the top seven sides.
Petr Cech was once a great goalkeeper. However, the Czech is past it. This campaign, he has made seven errors, six of which led to goals conceded. It is simply not acceptable for a top club.
David Ospina is not elite. The Colombian is a decent backup.
If Arsenal have ambitions to bring back the glory days, a formidable keeper is required. Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak, Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Leno, and Burnley's Nick Pope all fit the profile.
Arsenal's defensive woes further increased after Laurent Koscielny suffered a long-term Achilles injury last week. The French centre-back is expected to miss 6-8 months.
The Gunners now have no reliable options in central defence. Shkodran Mustafi continues to disappoint in every game. Per Mertesacker will retire this summer. Callum Chambers is only suitable for a backup position. Konstantinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding are both exciting prospects but remain works-in-progress.
Arsenal have space for one or two quality centre-backs. Borussia Dortmund's Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Roma's Kostas Manolas and Freiburg youngster Caglar Soyunku would all add defensive strength.
The Emirates outfit may also search for new full-backs. Nacho Monreal is consistent but at 32-years-old, Arsenal should look for a younger model. Sead Kolasinac, meanwhile, has failed to deliver last season's performance. Hector Bellerin, though he could thrive under new coaching, remains inconsistent, too.
The Gunners have lacked a top defensive midfielder since Patrick Vieira left 13 years ago. Francis Coquelin showed glimpses. He couldn't cut it, though, and was shipped off to Valencia in January.
Arsenal desperately need a ball winner. A real powerhouse in the middle. Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey would all thrive playing alongside a steady presence. Although the three are good in the opposition's half, their defensive weakness has been highlighted this season.
N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic, both excellent holding midfielders, make their teams much more formidable. The Gunners need a similar player. Sevilla's Steven Nzonzi and Leicester City's Wilfred Ndidi are both potential targets.
Arsenal's board must show ambition by sanctioning a large budget. A measly £50 million, as some reports suggest, isn't sufficient in today's transfer market. For the Gunners to challenge on all fronts next season, at least £200 million needs spending on new recruits.
Cut the dead wood
Wenger had a clear out last summer. It was a progressive step. Yet, some players survived. Cech is a prime example. As are Mustafi and Koscielny.
Jack Wilshere's contract is up at the season's end. The English midfielder hasn't impressed in the past few months. Although he plays with heart and desire, his ability has failed to match up.
At 27, Danny Welbeck should now be in his prime. He isn't. The attacker has never reproduced his Manchester United form. Arsenal's next manager should sell. Carl Jenkinson and Lucas Perez need to leave, too.
Give youth a chance
Rather than solely spending extravagant amounts on new players, the Gunners' next boss should look toward the academy.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has made the transition from reserves to the first team this season. The versatile Englishman is making the most of his opportunity. He performed well in the big games against Chelsea and Man United.
Rob Holding is a player for the future. Another central defender, Mavropanos was Sven Mislinat's first signing at Arsenal. The Greek looks a special talent. His skill set was on full display at Old Trafford just over a week ago.
Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah are fearless attackers. If groomed correctly, both can help create special moments at the Emirates.
Arsenal must introduce some youngsters into the first-team squad next season. Others can be sent out on loan to gain experience.
Breathe new life into the club
The protests have finally stopped. Fans are reunited. Wenger has only two more games in charge. After that, his replacement will arrive at an environment full of optimism. With the correct backroom staff, the new manager can make Arsenal an elite team once again.
First, however, the dressing room attitude needs to improve. Whoever takes over the Gunners must be fearless, implementing their own style of play, training methods, and work ethic to produce a winning mentality.
Wenger put his own stamp on Arsenal. Jose Mourinho did similar at Chelsea after arriving in 2004. Pep Guardiola has also been single-minded at Man City. All three managers set multiple records while building legacies at clubs. Neither was ever afraid to implement their own ideas.
Although the Gunners may not challenge for the Premier League title next season, they can take a step in the right direction. The Wenger era is over. It is time for something new.