Arsenal supporters who remember the glory days under Arsene Wenger may have believed the Frenchman could end his career with the club on a high. The more cynical among the Emirates faithful will have seen this coming a long time ago. The close-but-no-cigar nature of the latter portion of Wenger’s Emirates tenure meant that a Europa League exit at the semi-final hurdle was written in the stars. Now, the 68-year-old will skulk out of the north London stadium at the end of the season, leaving a monumental mess in his wake.
Diego Costa once again proved to be a thorn in Arsenal’s side when his late first-half strike for Atletico Madrid at the Estadio Metropolitano sent the English side crashing out of the Europa League. The 1-0 win for Diego Simeone’s charges gave them a 2-1 aggregate over the two legs and wiped away any chance of Wenger going out with his head held high. The result also means that Arsenal will spend another year out of the Champions League. This is something that could really hurt the summer recruitment prospects for the new manager.
It could be argued that Wenger’s Arsenal have been coming up short ever since their last Premier League title win in the 2003-04 campaign. That year, the Frenchman was the mastermind behind the Invincibles, one of the greatest teams ever assembled in top-flight history. It’s perhaps due to this amazing achievement that Wenger was given so much time at the club to try to turn things around.
Wenger believes that whoever takes over is inheriting a strong squad, but the problems with these underachieving players are plain to see. At the time of writing, Arsenal are 25/1 in the football betting to win the league next year. This highlights the fact that the new manager will have a huge task on his hands at the Emirates. Whoever steps in will be expected to have the Gunners immediately challenging at the top of the league again, but the reality is that this may take a few seasons.
The Wenger philosophy has failed to reap rewards for many years now and drastic changes are required at Arsenal. The hierarchy need to bring in a completely fresh tactician with new and workable ideas. Perhaps the reason why Arsenal have been linked with Jürgen Klopp’s assistant manager Zeljko Buvac is down to the fact that they want to try to emulate Liverpool’s blistering and direct attack. This could be a good idea given the fact that the Gunners have some seriously speedy players at their disposal. But the Bosnian’s lack of experience is worrying. There is also the fact that having an unknown entity at the helm would dent the club’s chances of recruiting major stars.
It’s a sad end to Wenger’s career with the Gunners, because the manager of twenty-two years did bring some happy times to north London. Unfortunately, most of the glory was long ago, and Arsenal now face a hard rebuilding process in order to get back to where they were.