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What Should Arsenal’s Direction Be After Arsene Wenger Eventually Leaves?

As another season with the familiar hollow ring of no silverware lags to a close at Arsenal, the question of what’s to be done after Arsene Wenger eventually retires needs to be asked; driven largely by unrealistic whispers of Arsenal’s board showing him the door on the summers dawn. The odds of Wenger being sacked by Arsenal are remote. However one day he will need to be replaced and there is little doubt that the longer his team (and more importantly the structure it rests upon) fails to deliver results, the question becomes more complicated for Arsenal.

The greatest problem presented to Arsenal is that the Premier League’s landscape has altered so dramatically since Wenger created his template for Arsenal’s future. The unforeseen scale of outside investment at Chelsea and Manchester City, added to the already competitive structures at Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham has meant that Arsenal are not able to attract or retain the level of player they once could in a more financially competitive marketplace. Regardless of stadium repayments etc with Chelsea and Manchester City’s endless wealth added to the larger fan base and stronger international branding of Manchester United, can Arsenal’s model now ever reap the successes it could have a decade earlier?

Arsenal’s fertile youth system, rapid player development and extensive global scouting network is almost removed from criticism. However with rival clubs now regularly taking advantage of Arsenal’s lack of spending power and success, taking their best players before they have peaked or before they reach their peak value could become a permanent theme in this new atmosphere. With a recruitment policy based on showing patience in youth and playing a heavily technical style that demands a high level of player ability, Arsenal’s model clearly resembles that of Barcelona and Ajax, clubs that enjoy a historical domestic dominance not shared or realistically obtainable for Arsenal, within a more competitive climate where they now struggle to attract/keep hold of their major assets. Can this vision of the future succeed?

Would Arsenal’s board be wiser to consider a future after Wenger driven by a transfer guru in charge of player recruitment in the manner of many of Europe’s top clubs? Working on a more short-term view building successful teams for 3-year cycles, complete with a manager willing to amend his tactics to suit the opposition and the squad at his disposal to maximise results. The utopian possibilities of Arsenal as a perpetual force would be unlikely with this model, but with the correct people in position, the club could achieve a sporadic success seemingly out of the current team’s reach.

Alternatively with the onset of financial fair play and safe in the knowledge of their large income and strong youth development record, will Arsenal look for a manager to carry on working within the parameters of Wenger’s plan? Sure that despite sacrificing short term success, in the long term Arsenal have a structure to climb to the top of the English game in future years and stay there. It’s a big question for Arsenal; one that all their fans will hope is answered correctly when the time arrives.

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  1. JerZGooner

    March 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

    The intelligent response to this article is entrenched in economics. Success is defined above by winning and transfers but the mention of debt (the cost of such success) is nowhere to be seen. Football is a business and these are companies that are running these clubs. Arsenal is one of the few clubs mentioned in the piece that is actually financially stable. Most of the other clubs are built like a house of financially leveraged cards. Do you think Wenger doesn’t go on excessive contract shopping sprees because he is a miser that doesn’t like to buy quality? His job is to execute the management philosophy of the board and execute it to the best of his ability. They have little stadium debt left and should be in better position to compete financially in the market without having the albatross of ridiculous sums of money owed around its neck. AFC’s philosophies need tweaking more than anything else. They aren’t a small club riding the back of a thrifty genius, they will spend.

    • Gaz

      March 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      If football we’re really about debt, then Arsenal would be top of the league.

      Contrary to what you say, however, football is about winning trophies. If they don’t start taking some calculated risks with their funds, Arsenal will alienate their players, investors, and supporters. At that point, it doesn’t matter how great your debt ratio is because you will have a different kind of hole to dig out of.

      • jdoe

        March 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm

        It’s a fine line….as Leeds.

        • jdoe

          March 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm


  2. Efrain

    March 9, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Axe AW hire Pep.

    • raok

      March 11, 2012 at 1:20 am

      Pep is sh|t…. He’s got a world class squad and still spends around 30 to 40 million every season, arsenal can’t afford this guy…

      • Sam

        March 11, 2012 at 3:03 am

        only hire pep if he brings messi along in his carry on luggage.

  3. RA

    March 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Considering Arsene is 62 and Fergie is 70, retirement doesnt even makes sense, the question is Wenger and Arsenal can look to see how Man U cope with Fergie retiring and learning from that if anything.

  4. Todd

    March 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

    AVB needs a job??? Just kidding.

  5. Nonsense

    March 9, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Author – do you have an opinion on this?

    • Nonsense

      March 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

      Guess not

  6. John Adongo

    March 9, 2012 at 9:47 am

    We don’t need this sort of rubbish story around this time.

  7. Brian B

    March 9, 2012 at 9:06 am

    You never want to me the man AFTER the man.. be the 4th or 5th man after the man then you have a shot. Same goes for whomever follows Sir Alex… Unless there was a younger Wengerian understudy to drop in, then you need to start over. I bet the RVP contract negotiations are also requiring firm guarantees from AFC that Arsene will be there through Robin’s next deal.,

    • Patrick Starr

      March 9, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Dont forget Moyes

      • RBP

        March 9, 2012 at 11:27 am


    • Jose H.

      March 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      Totally agree with Brian B.

      Just look at chelsea after mourino.

      Even the players have had no respect for any of the replascements and have gotten every coach sacked since jose left.

      I’d rather think about it when it actually happens.

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