Wherever Arsenal finish in the league this season, there would likely be a majority of their fans who would agree that they are approaching the end of Arsene Wenger’s time at the club. Destined to finish without a trophy once again, a record that now stretches to eight years, people have tired of Wenger’s methods and tactics, as the results they have led to are no longer deemed acceptable.
Last summer might have seemed like more of the same, as two of their best players left – Alex Song to Barcelona, and Robin van Persie to Manchester United, but there did seems to be a change in their own approach to signing players, as Wenger shelled out big money on three men who had shone in their respective leagues the previous year.
Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski represented a departure from the rough diamond mould that Wenger is so often associated with, and perhaps indicated that the manager realised he needed a substantial injection of experience and quality into his squad. However this still hasn’t been enough to turnaround Arsenal’s fortunes, and worse still, it could be suggested that in bringing in these players, Wenger has demonstrated that he himself has lost faith in the system of nurturing talent at the club.
If it is time to move on, then Michael Laudrup could be an excellent choice to replace Wenger. Although he hasn’t even completed a season in the Premier League yet, and has a questionable record in his management career prior to coming to Swansea, Laudrup has shown plenty of qualities that could make him well suited to Arsenal.
One of these is his knowledge of the transfer market. Looking at Swansea’s summer clearly Michu stands out as an incredible piece of business, but he was far from being the only well-judged purchase Laudrup made. Jonathan de Guzman, Pablo Hernandez, Sun-Yeung Ki and Chico Flores were all brought in for relatively small fees, with each impressing on the pitch this season. Laudrup has also shown nous in the way he has promoted talent from the Swansea youth system, with Ben Davies now established in the club’s first team.
Both of these qualities are very much reminiscent of Arsene Wenger during his finest years at Arsenal, when he was a major factor in changing the face of how scouting networks were used and young talent was developed in the Premier League. It might be that other sides have caught up and overhauled Arsenal in this regard, but there might also be an element of Wenger losing his edge. The transfers he made last summer were not rough diamonds perhaps because he doesn’t have the knowledge of European football to find those kinds of players anymore after so long in the English game.
Whenever Wenger leaves, it will be a huge gamble for Arsenal whoever they appoint at the club. Drafting in a big name might seem like the way to go, but Arsenal enjoyed a huge amount of success under Wenger because they allowed him the time and opportunity to build his squad, and they should take a similar approach with their next manager. Michael Laudrup’s approach to the job at Swansea City, and the success he has enjoyed as a result, mark him out as a man who could succeed at Arsenal.