If nothing else, Arsene Wenger’s career at Arsenal has shown that he is both considerably patient and extremely loyal.
It’s fair to say his long reign in the Gunners’ dugout has been far from a comfortable ride, and there’s been frequent smatterings of periods wherein it looked as though he would leave the club on bad terms. However the Frenchman has remained rigid on the way he has managed his team, has admirably stuck to his principles and the benefits have been there for all to witness; Wenger is one of the most well-respected managers in the world.
However for a man so highly-regarded within the world of football, there’s been plenty left to be desired from his endeavours in recent seasons. The sport is a results business. Results win you trophies. Wenger has struggled to win trophies. There’s a variation of excuses which can be thrown out by Arsenal fans as to why their manager hasn’t tasted success in his last 500 games, despite the fact that it was plentiful during his first 500.
At the end of the day though it comes down to one simple fact - the teams Wenger has assembled since 2004/05 haven’t been good enough to achieve glory. They’ve come close, they’ve threatened and they’ve certainly played nice football, but whenever it’s come down to the crunch they’ve faltered time and time again.
Unfortunately their league campaign this term looks set to be only the latest example of such a happening. Though surprisingly rampant in the early stages of the season the Gunners’ results against the best teams in the league have been nothing short of appalling. Coincidentally it’s these outcomes which will ultimately cost them the title. Yet again the side that Wenger has constructed, though unmistakably affluent in terms of creative talent, is primed to fall short of the mark. A betting man would probably put his money behind the same thing happening next year.
For me, as drastic as it sounds, Wenger’s time at Arsenal is coming to an end. Le Prof’s influence at the club has overseen an unparalleled period of stability for the north London giants, but all good things must come to an end, as they say. One glance at the papers this morning will allude to the fact that Arsenal are already said to be eyeing potential replacements for when their 64-year-old coach does call time on his career at the Emirates, and it’s only fair to assume that it will be with the intentions of a new man coming in and offering a fresh approach that the team has been devoid of for almost two decades.
When Wenger does leave, there’s surely only one other side in world football which would appeal to him. Never having been one who centres his style of management around the outlay of substantial funds, nor the idea of the ‘quick-fix’ which seems to appeal to many outfits in the modern game, the likes of PSG, Real Madrid and Monaco are all ill-suited to his approach.
Barcelona, on the other hand, couldn’t be more perfect. Already established masters of his pass and move mantra, the Catalans are to Arsenal what Jose Mourinho is to Andre Villas-Boas; similar, but far better at what they do. Not only would Wenger be able to comfortably pick up the reigns of a side which wouldn’t have to be broken down and rebuilt, but he’d do so safe in the knowledge that his tactics and playing style could be implemented with the realistic ambition of achieving a sizeable end goal. By that I mean simply that they would win.
Moreover, at the Nou Camp Wenger would effectively be in charge of La Masia - one of the most productive and famous footballing academies in the world. His abilities to develop home-grown talent and expose them to first-team football carefully and concisely are world renown, and at Barca he’d have access to some of the brightest young talents in the game.
It may be a theory which breaks the hearts of Arsenal fans the world over, but Wenger is going to leave sooner rather than later. When he does, Barcelona will surely be waiting.
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