Another “early” Champions League exit should be hastening the exit of Arsene Wenger from his almost eternal Arsenal managerial job. But will he? Can he? Should he? It’s not that simple.
Sticking with Arsene Wenger isn’t terrible. The man has turned Arsenal, along with other figures in different positions on the board, into a huge club. Financially. It’s profabillity. It’s marketability. It’s the club’s popularity around the world. It’s the perception of its footballing style. It’s the new stadium, still waiting to host a championship ceremony. Everything a club needs to succeed, except for an owner that doesn’t give a f@#% about financial fair play.
But sticking with Wenger means a manager that is slightly behind tactically and according to more and more people, also in his training methods. Someone who is willing to spend money, but somehow doesn’t create a winning mentality within a club that almost always loses to its main rivals, and usually manages to wake up late in a season in order to finish in that luxurious fourth place leading to the Champions League.
Just a little reminder: The English clubs are doing so poorly in the Champions League over the last few years and who knows, maybe they’ll lose that fourth spot. Arsenal haven’t been past the round of 16 in five years. Only one English club has won the Champions League since 2009, and it wasn’t exactly an uplifting campaign.
Change isn’t always good, but Arsenal have solid enough foundations to survive the shock of someone else managing the club initially. Manchester United are still in some sort of turmoil since Alex Ferguson left, but the conditions were different. He went out on his own terms, as a champion. Wenger hasn’t won a league title since 2004, and without any substantial achievement in the Champions League since 2006.
David Moyes was pushed out before the end of the season because of the complete and utter mess Manchester United looked like during his tenure. Manchester United weren’t going to settle for lowering their standards. They want championships. They want the Champions League. They want big moments and big names, although that strategy might need a little tweaking. Arsenal, through its manager, need to show the same ambition. Wenger doesn’t mean ambition. He means a comfortable form of stagnation, and a big club can’t afford this kind of stagnation.