Why Manchester United should be Arsene Wenger's next destination
Five and a half months after leaving Arsenal, Arsene Wenger is ready to return to football. A plethora of jobs are already on the table as clubs around the world seek his signature. Among them Paris Saint-Germain. One club who aren’t in the conversation are Manchester United - but they should be...
That may seem like a strange idea to most. After all, Wenger is arguably the club’s greatest enemy over the past two decades. The animosity between the two was evident throughout his rivalry with Sir Alex Ferguson.
Time, though, heals old wounds. Sometimes your greatest enemy can become your greatest friend in times of need. United are in such a period and they need a man like Wenger to help them turn things around.
Appointing Wenger as their new Director of Football would be a masterstroke for the club, primarily because they need a real football person in that position. Edward Woodward currently occupies the role as part of his duties as vice-chairman but it is clear that he is ill-suited to the role.
His time in the job may have seen the club excel in its commercial operations, no club has partners quite like United, but on the pitch, things are not so great. Woodward’s lack of football knowledge has cost the Red Devils over the years.
In their pomp, real football people led the club. Sir Alex was such and so was David Gill. The latter knew how things were done in this industry. United were always on the front foot, planning ahead and dominating the market. They rarely overpaid for transfers or wages. They were always planning ahead. They always got their man.
Since his departure, that has been eradicated. These days, United are well behind and struggle in the transfer market. They overpay for players, look at Alexis Sanchez, and are a club seemingly under the control of agents. Woodward’s lack of football knowledge is the cause. He may be a smart banker but agents such as Mino Raiola have taken advantage.
United need a real football person back in the role. Wenger would be the ideal person. There are few who know as much about the game. There is a reason he is called Le Professeur. His extensive knowledge of European football, and the Premier League too, would help push United back towards what they used to do best.
Chief among that would be helping the club return to their focus on youth. Old Trafford used to be a breeding ground for young talent. These days it is like a graveyard. Youngsters are used to score political points more than anything.
Wenger, though, is a man who values youth. It may have gone wrong in the latter days of his Arsenal reign but he likes to focus on signing and developing young talent. With him as the driving force in the director of football role, the youth would be propelled back towards the top of United’s priorities.
The days of signing players for multimillion deals on ridiculous wages with little view for the future would be replaced by the old strategy of planning for the future. It was what Ferguson and Gill did so well to establish United in the past and what is needed moving forward. It may not make the signing hungry fans happy but it’s a plan to turn their fortunes around. Wenger would be happy to deliver it.
He has oversee the shamble at Old Trafford for too long and has been horribly out of his depth on football matters since day one #MUFC
Not only that, as one of their greatest rivals, Wenger knows how things should be done at United. He knows they want to see football played a certain way and what kind of players the club should be signing. He knows there is a standard; it is one he fought against for the majority of his managerial career. He knows the meaning of the United Way.
These points overlook the personal point scoring for Wenger himself. The Frenchman left the Premier League something of a broken man. A tough second half to his time at Arsenal had gone some way to eradicating his legacy. Many believe he is finished. He has a point to prove to everyone in England, particularly those at Arsenal. A man with a point to prove is a man worth hiring.
There are caveats. Would Wenger want to work with Mourinho? That’s extremely unlikely. Woodward is also unlikely to be willing to give up his role any time soon. If the PSG rumours are true, also, that will be very tempting for Wenger.
But if the time for change comes at Manchester United, and they may sooner rather than later, Wenger would be an ideal appointment. He has everything in his locker to make a great Director of Football. Old Trafford may seem a strange destination to realise that but it could prove to be an unlikely partnership that works out best for all parties. Stranger things have happened.