Why Arsene Wenger can thrive on the international stage
Arsene Wenger's managerial career shows how much football has evolved and how cruel it remains. A player can't always be 100%. The same principle applies to managers. A manager is always expected to be on top of the situation, however. If you don't, the sack awaits.
Wenger involved himself so deeply in other aspects of running the team; he created job security the typical boss never enjoys. Given his contribution, he deserved a better farewell. On the other hand, it's his fault he stayed too long.
His managerial career didn't begin with the Gunners. Wenger was well-travelled. He managed AS Nancy and Monaco in his native France. He won both the Ligue 1 title and Coupe de France with Monaco before moving to Japan and Nagoya Grampus. His talent shone even brighter in the JLeague.
In just a year, he won both the Emperor's Cup and Japanese Super Cup and was named 1995 JLeague Manager of the Year.
Hiring Wenger in 1996 is the best decision the Arsenal hierarchy has made. He shaped the Gunners into a European power.
Despite his powers fading in his second decade in London, his CV is impressive. Seven FA cup titles, seven Community Shields and three Premier League titles make him the club's most successful manager, surpassed only by Sir Alex Ferguson in the Premier League era, rivalled only by Jose Mourinho.
Reluctance to spend and address defensive deficiencies were his flaws. The transfer market now impacts competitions more than any other force. Fans saw other teams spending to win and couldn't understand why Wenger didn't. You can't just ignore the elephant in the room. It isn't leaving.
Wenger's reticence in the market contributed to Arsenal's decline. One could argue whether they are still a top-side. Wenger wouldn't adjust his philosophy to the changing Premier League landscape. Pep Guardiola refused in his debut season, as well, but then went out and spent to acquire the talent that suited his style.
Unai Emery is not spending madly. At the writing, he had spent £70.4 million for five players, including Stephan Lichsteiner's arrival on a free transfer. No one can say he hasn't been active in the market. On the other hand, he hasn't completely rejected Wenger's conservative philosophy.
When he left Arsenal, Wenger insisted he wasn't retiring. While he stated he wasn't interested in a long-term project, His frugality might attract penny-pinching owners, but it won't allow him to turn around a struggling side. His best bet would be an established club, which limits his prospects in club football.
Managing at the international level may be a better option. Countries don't buy and sell players. Wenger can scout young talent and coach it. Those are his greatest skills. He made world-class players of Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, a healthy Jack Wilshere, and even Samir Nasri. If he chooses the right country, he can do that again. Best of all, his players won't leave once they've benefitted from his teaching.
His JLeague experience, though a long time in the past, could be an asset. Both Korea and Japan boast young squad's that would benefit from a master tactician's influence. Similarly, taking over a club in the Chinese Super League might interest the Frenchman. The CSL has been rolling back its clubs' lavish spending to encourage them to develop homegrown talent.
The important thing is that Arsene Wenger still has something to offer the game.