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Arsene Wenger faces replacement rumours on 65th birthday

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Arsene Wenger's sizeable pension is finally available to him as the Arsenal manager reached the ripe old age of 65 on Wednesday. But while many of the same age would be settling into retirement, Wenger is facing two-and-a-half career defining years of hard work.

The Frenchman had once claimed that he would walk away from management by the time he was 64, but put those plans aside when he signed a three-year contract in the summer. His aim was to usher in a new era of success before walking away to the standing ovation he deserves. Six months in, it is already looking like an unenviable task.

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Changing game

There a grand plans underway at Arsenal. Ranging from transfers to training, Wenger is looking to justify Arsenal's tagline of being "always ahead of the game". While Arsenal were indeed ahead of the curve in the first half of Wenger's reign, an refusal to adapt has left the former revolutionary looking more like a stubborn old man refusing to accept modernity.

Football is now completely different landscape. Bright young things like Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are thriving in this new environment, where technical directors and false number nine's reign supreme.

Left behind

Wenger had earned the right to stick to his guns. Three Premier League titles and four FA Cups will do that for you. But it almost cost him his job in a nine-year trophy drought. There is a general consensus that he would have left had Aaron Ramsey not completed the now famous comeback in an FA Cup final against Hull City.

Wenger now knows that his current contract will be his last and is looking to build a team based on homegrown talent and exceptional signings. So far, it's not going to plan. Arsenal have won just two of their opening eight Premier League games, virtually ruling themselves out of the title race.

As a result, the Wenger-out brigade are finding their voices once again having sung his praises from May through to August. With retirement looming, talk of a potential successor is gaining momentum.

Successor

One name that appears prominent at the moment is Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian was dreadfully unlucky to lose him job as Chelsea manager and has been one of a few to have lasted more than a season at Real Madrid.

Always calm in the face of pressure, the comparisons with Wenger are easy to make. Despite that, there are enough differences to suggest that Ancelotti can bring a new flavour to Arsenal.

Another name currently doing the rounds is Jurgen Klopp. The German seems to be the modern version of Wenger. He promotes youth at Borussia Dortmund, wins titles on shoestring budgets, yet understands modern tactics such as high pressure defending and the need to neutralise opponent's main threats.

Adaption

Wenger is looking to end his career at Arsenal on a high by leaving behind a strong squad, an updated training facility and a team of world-class coaches, but he will have to adapt if he is to outlast his new contract. Sir Alex Ferguson went on until he was 70-years-old but only lasted that long because success was so easy to come by at Old Trafford.

Had the Manchester United legend not won a title in over a decade by the time his 67th birthday rolled around, he may not have stayed. And that is the mammoth task facing Wenger. Winning the FA Cup was an important landmark last season, but he will need more than that if he is to convince fans he can lead Arsenal into his eighth decade.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Arsene Wenger
Premier League
Football

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