Arsenal‘s not-so ‘Fearless Leader’ and figurehead in perpetuity Arsene Wenger was recently highlighted by The Guardian as revealing two interesting insights into the inner workings of ‘Le Professor’s’ mind.
Firstly, the shocker. The longer he remains manager of Arsenal, the harder it will be to say goodbye to the North London giants. This will come as no surprise to the many, including myself, who are expecting him to become the third manager to pass away while in the role.
However interestingly it is the 66 year old’s first revelation that he may be stuck in the job until if and when the higher-ups say enough is enough. Which is sad. A legend of the club and the Premier League should know when it is time to say goodbye.
It is unfortunate that this perfect time has eluded practically everyone. When someone grasps it, like Phillip Lahm following Germany‘s World Cup triumph, people inevitably cry out ‘too soon!’ and the snobbish ‘he’ll regret it’.
In cases like Peter Schmeichel, they’re inevitably right, and the former great returns, and moves to a rival, and gets injured…
For a manager, success being the fleeting business it is, this time is so rarely eventuating that there is barely any truth in treating it as an option.
Fergie got it right but comparing Arsenal and Manchester United during this period is a bit like comparing the relative successes of Clough and Ranieri. Similar, sure, but ultimately confusing and pointless.
Secondly, hidden away behind the attention-grabbing headline, deep within the article is the truth that Arsenal fans have all realised but have all too often been scared to admit. It’s not Kroenke, or Gazidis, or the Emirates draining Arsenal’s funds. It’s Wenger’s fear of signing a flop.
There have been times throughout the Wenger era that Arsenal have been unable to compete financially. This is no longer the case. However Pogba’s recent £89 million fee shows a world class player will break the bank like a gambling addicts worst nightmare.
Unless you’re Man U, and your fans expect ridiculous amounts of money spent every season, a 90 million pound flop would surely just about be your legacy right there. Or so thinks Wenger. He’s signed flops before, plenty of them, but he still retains that aura for being able to pick a talent.
Everyone’s heard, or seen the memes, a billion times of how he could have signed Messi. Or Ronaldo. Or Zlatan, etc. It obviously means a lot to Wenger that he can pick a talent.
That’s why the obscure coach of Nagoya Grampus was lured to the club that would beseech his golden years in the first place.
This is why he’s scared to take the plunge on a player like Shkodran Mustafi. Relatively untested but at a top club means an expensive gamble. Let alone Arsenal have to sign young players, remember, just in case we want to sell them to Barcelona when they get good.
But he desperately needs a centre half, a striker, a defensive mid, a pacy winger. Arsene Wenger is going to have to pick his battles or else they will eventually pick him.
If he wants to emulate the great Herbert Chapman or Tom Whittaker, get the state funeral and the open casket burial at the Emirates with the procession of grieving mourners like the benevolent yet beholden ‘Supreme Leader’ he is, he’s going to have to channel a little Kim Jong Il and make some enemies, spend some money, take some risks.
I mean this with the greatest respect, of course. All hail.