‘TOMORROW’S MAN’ at Arsenal Football Club – ‘STILL’ Arsène Wenger?

As many who follow football will know, a football Manager’s job is unbelievably ’unsafe’ – they ALL end-up getting sacked, you see? Now sometimes that is even within a timescale counted in days from appointment, though of course that is quite unusual, though NOT unique! Terminations happen at EVERY bleeding club, BIG or SMALL, whatever is the set-up there, or wherever the football club plays, however rich or poor it is, whether the owner(s) are local or foreign, or any other difference in type that one might think of, indeed?

If a team’s results are ‘less than’ the expectation, for the particular club in question (either in the management-board’s eyes or the turnstile paying fans’ opinions), then the hired manager is likely to become the fired manager, in very short shrift? Now, many people might think that is all a bit unfair, because in all but a few clubs, the manager himself (well, we are talking men’s football here), doesn’t actually play in the matches, does he? No, he simple picks what he judges is the best team from those ‘uninjured’ players currently employed by the club, he dictates on-pitch ‘tactics’ of course (if there is any flexibility to be had?) and oversees their ‘training’ (but ‘normally’ others are the prime paid trainers or fitness coaches and the like), he might or might not even have a say in what players are recruited or ditched by the club and how of when? But he will certainly NOT have very much say on the funds that are made available to get better players in, nor how much they are actually get paid to play or what bonuses they can top-up with, when they or the team are successful.

Now, there is no question about it, but the managers at the biggest clubs do these day get a tidy sum to do the job, but in reality that is small beer compared to the more enormous sums forked-out to the players themselves (paid week-in and week-out, whether they are in good or bad form, whether they are selected to play or not, whether they are fit or injured, whether they are allowed to play or are suspended for misdemeanours by the authorities, and indeed whether they are committed to the club or are personally desperate for new pastures?).  So, surely it is in reality the players who are actually collectively responsible for unacceptable performances, isn’t it?

So that is ignored and the axe falls on the guy supposedly at the top of the team tree – and that would be the poor good ‘ol manager wouldn’t it, so he is the one who’s dispatched in vitriolic retribution, isn’t he?

Now, most of the time, that doesn’t make a ha’penny of difference, because in fact it turns-out that the problem with the team’s performances wasn’t really down to the failure of the manger to ’motivate’ the players, or the tactics employed and all that, which were wrong, but simply it was due to the glaring fact that the players weren’t really up to the job in hand. A new manager is appointed (often at a substantially more money, it should be said), but the team fares no better, and the club have to get-in some new players instead!

However, there is a conundrum at Arsenal just now, because its long standing manager Arsène Wenger’s name is in the frame to bite the dust isn’t it? There has been a section of fans clamouring for his dismissal for quite a few years now, and it is a growing band [with some football pundits now joining in (plus former captain Tony Adams, a failing manager himself!), to say he is finished – too set in his ways, eh?]. The background reason for all this though, is that the club haven’t won the Premiership in donkey’s years and furthermore they get trounced by the big shark clubs of the Champion’s League [possibly because Wenger indeed lacks the tactical astuteness and adaptability required in that competition, even if the quality of the team was high (but their fighting spirit, less so?)].

Notwithstanding that, Arsenal is a really good team, play good football, came a credible 5th in our top league this season (albeit, needing a strong finish to do so, eh?) after a magnificent (monotonous some would have it?) top four finish in every other year of Wenger’s tenure, plus this season AGAIN playing in the Final (next Saturday) of the prestigious FA Cup (which they have WON twice in the last three years, no less?), where they are matched against this year’s Premiership Champions, Chelsea. However, Wenger has a unique role at this club, where he IS Mr Arsenal, and at 22 years there, he is by far, the longest serving manager at any professional football club in the UK (92 teams), or other big club anywhere in the world, for that matter? [All but one of the other current managers in English senior football has been in place less than 7 years].

Manchester City and Liverpool had gone-out on a limb for high profile, copper-bottomed reputation, managers (at vast expense as well) in a vain attempt to win the Premiership this season, only to demonstrably miserably falling short in the process, failing to sustain any credible challenge for the league title [albeit getting ahead of Arsenal but only just – a poor 3rd and 4th respectively, and even being far behind Tottenham (who were a well ‘off the pace’) who got second place], while Manchester United who equally brought-in a mega-star manager to revive their fortunes, languished a place behind Arsenal (and indeed they lost to the Gunners in the semi-final of the CUP, to boot?).

Meanwhile, Chelsea had made-do with an “un-fancied” (though experienced) manager, but then went on to romp home to secure the Premiership title, didn’t they? [Man City also failed to progress very far in the Champions League (only the group of 16), whereas with previous teams he controlled, their manager is used to getting to the ‘semi-finals’ at least].

It is in such a climate then that Arsenal, and indeed Arsène Wenger himself, decide (after the Cup Final), whether they will now part their ways or stick with it for another couple of years. The odds are probably in favour of him staying and trying to strengthen the team with some new top signings this summer (to the ire of the resolutely unfaithful “Wenger Out” ers, no doubt?).


[English football is a great leveller when it comes to managers, as track record doesn’t account to much at times, because fate, good & bad luck, as well as player injuries all play a major role here (and the English Premiership is the hardest league to win, they say?)].

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