Football

Arsene Wenger has to choose his Arsenal successor

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Jose Mourinho claimed Arsene Wenger had the best job in world such was the time Arsenal have allowed him to bring success to the club. It was the kind of dig we have come to expect from the Chelsea manager, but like many things that comes out of the Special One's mouth, it was laced with ignorance.

Mourinho is far too intelligent to look past the great work Wenger has done with the Gunners, transforming their culture, their history and their future in equal measure. His success is not just measured in trophies, of which he has many, but the hugely impressive balance sheet Arsenal now produce every year and the 60,000-seater arena that is likely to keep them head and shoulders above their rivals for decades to come.

Wenger has earned the time he has been given, but it seems that the job for life is almost done. Many expect the Frenchman to depart at the end of his current contract in 2017.

Now Arsenal are reaping the benefits of Wenger's decade of book balancing, he has two-and-a-half seasons to build on his legacy and will be aiming for at least one Premier League title or a Champions League triumph. Arsenal can expect Wenger to make more additions like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil as he tried to supercharge his way to success, but a big part of his job must not go amiss.

Evening Standard correspondent James Olley claimed Wenger had told the Arsenal board that he had no intention of being involved in the selection process for his successor.

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If true – Mr Olley is usually a reliable source of information – then it is a significant decision from Wenger. Indeed, it is one that the 67-year-old will have to change if he is to give Arsenal the best chance of continuing their success at the top end of football.

A dynasty

if he sees out his latest contract, and it proves to be his last, then he would have been at the club for over 20-years. When he arrived the Arsenal players would still enjoy a pint after training, chips for dinner and Mars bars for dessert.

He will leave with Arsenal as one of the biggest clubs in the world at least three Premier League titles richers, a world-class training facility and a renowned youth academy. None of which was there when he arrived.

For him to ignore the future direction of the club, to take a side-step when the search begins for the man to take them forward, will be a disservice to his legacy. However, the argument to do just that is a compelling one.

A poor track record

Plenty believe Arsenal are in need of a clean break from Wenger when he does decide to depart. Just like a divorce after a long marriage, it's only healthy to cut them out of your life completely and move on. But this does not need to be a divorce, a revolution. What it needs to be is an evolution.

Unfortunately, the best example of how not to do it happened to the biggest club of them all in 2013 when Sir Alex Ferguson departed Manchester United and chose his mate David Moyes to replace him.

Unfortunately for Moyes, Ferguson set him up for failure. He left an ageing team ripe for a big descent, ready for transition. Wenger won't be doing that. This squad is young, talented and hungry. It's set to peak just about the same time as Wenger's contract ends.

Peak time

Alexis Sanchez, 25; Mesut Ozil, 26; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 21; Jack Wilshere, 23; Aaron Ramsey, 24 - you can see where this is heading. All these players are likely to be reaching their peak around the same time that Wenger leaves.

it has the potential to be a great team and Wenger will have at least a clearer idea of how he sees it shaping up in years to come. To wash his hands of the selection process for who will take charge of it when it reaches it's peak will be a baffling one.

Wenger is far too knowledgeable to not help the Arsenal board, one that has frequently looked to the manager to build a bridge to disenchanted fans, decide who is best to take the team forward, or at least keep it at the same level.

He will also have the influence to convince a bigger name to take his throne. Imagine Ivan Gazidis trying to coax Pep Guardiola to the Emirates without the blessing of Wenger.

As previously mentioned, Wenger must be worried of following a similar route to Ferguson, a man who has damaged his legacy by hand-picking his replacement. But by not picking his replacement, he could be accused of not caring about what direction the club he has built takes next. It will be a big decision, but one that he must have a say in.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Arsenal
Arsene Wenger

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