In the midst of an avid English sacking culture, where short managerial stays are as frequent as a 60 yard hopeful pass in a Palace shirt, Arsene Wenger has relished, achieved and endured a 21 year stay with the Arsenal.
Cast your mind back to 1996, Arsene who? Arriving from Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, an ambitious football mind entered the English game with no status. The transformation that took place from the training facilities, nutrition, dress-code through to the style of football was staggering under Arsene Wenger, no more “boring, boring Arsenal”.
In his first full season he took Arsenal to an EPL title and an FA Cup trophy, a famous double seeing off Manchester United twice in the season to find victory a point from the grasp of the Sir Alex. In 2002, another double - encompassing a 21 match under beaten run and lifting the trophy at Old Trafford coupled with a famous victory over West London affiliates Chelsea in the FA Cup final. An unforgettable invincible year, a world-renowned playing style, a successful transition from the Arsenal Stadium (Highbury) to the Emirates Stadium increasing Arsenal’s match day revenue from £37.4m to over £90m, securing 20 consecutive seasons in the UEFA Champions League... The list goes on.
What he has achieved in the game is truly astounding.
Arsene's economic prowess hasn't gone unnoticed; considered as an owners’ delight or a fans worst nightmare. Famous escapades of the Luis Suarez negotiation spring to mind. But let's look at the facts. Here are the transfer expenditures (gross) in the last 5 seasons with the Top 6:
As you can see - Arsenal have spent just over half their rivals output. I then calculated the average league finishing position of each of the Top 6 in the last 5 seasons:
There's a steady correlation between player purchases and league position for most club in the EPL - bar Arsenal. Arsene has been keeping up with the Top 4 with smart recruitment, philosophies and blooding youth academy players into the senior team. Remember, unlike the Top 6, all of this was in the midst of a monumental stadium move and high pressure to attain Champions League football which is a mighty cash injection that was seriously needed. An exceptionally difficult task.
In my opinion, Arsene is a 360 degree football manager unlike Jose Mourinho - who "successfully" became the first manager in the history of the game to surpass a total spend of 1 billion pounds on the transfer market. We've seen many clubs sell their sole to the new football era, namely Manchester City and Manchester United. Not Arsene and Arsenal.
Where now, Arsene?
A phrase for the Arsenal faithful, and most of the media chasing self-obsessed onslaught of ArsenalFanTV, is... be careful what you wish for. I feel Arsene will reject his 2 year deal and will depart at the end of this season. I also feel he will be one of the most sought after managers in world football the moment he decides to end his reign. There is one club that I feel is perfect for Arsene, and Arsene for them.
After what is surely an early exit from the Champions League, the Spanish Giants are at a cross roads. Head coach Luis Enrique has been brought into the spotlight as a result of a 4-0 drumming at the Parc des Princes, but there is more on the horizon for Barca.
With plans for extending the capacity of the Nou Camp ready for 2020, President Josep Maria Bartomeu has indicated that the money is likely to be spent internally as opposed to disposable transfer funds in the coming seasons. Furthermore, he has insisted that this re-development will not affect the performance on the pitch... But how can he be so sure?
In a current Barcelona squad that doesn't need much tinkering, which manager has the most impressive stadium transition experience, without compromising too much on performance and achieving successful financial status, on their resume? A manager that has similar footballing philosophies to Barcelona. A manager who is renowned for successful youth academy transitioning, imagine what he could achieve if he inherited that youth generation of footballers in La Masia - the best youth academy in world football. Barcelona have the number one social media force on the planet, maybe a daunting statistic for some and probably a deterrent, but Arsene is extremely versatile and well versed in social media handling. Albeit, more of an interim manager to effectively make this transition… Arsene Wenger has all the credentials, and then some.
Could be the perfect fit?
Arsene Wenger is one of the best football managers of our generation, and he still might have much more to give.