James McNicholas says Gooners feeling remorseful at the German's Anfield arrival have every right to do so...
When Liverpool announced Jurgen Klopp as their new manager, there will have been plenty of Arsenal fans feeling a tinge of envy. That’s partially because the Reds have secured a coach often cited as an ideal fit for the Gunners. However, it’s also because Liverpool fans will be enjoying the excitement that comes with having a new man in charge. Despite Arsene Wenger’s renaissance, there are fans who would still welcome a change.
With his love of attacking football, success in developing young talent, and relish of battles against super-rich opposition, Klopp did seem well-suited to a role in charge at the Emirates Stadium. Instead, he will take up the reins of a rival, and Arsenal will continue to plough a familiar furrow under Wenger.
Klopp’s appointment at Anfield does not guarantee success on the field. There are no assurances that he will lift Liverpool into the top four. However, you can be certain that his arrival will lift spirits on Merseyside. The garrulous German is a force of nature whose enthusiasm is infectious. What’s more, he’s new.
The duration of Wenger’s reign is both remarkable and admirable, but it’s no surprise that every setback he suffers is greeted with an outpouring of anger
There’s something to be said for that. In the next fortnight, Liverpool and Sunderland will look to harness the ‘new manager bounce’. It’s a recognised phenomena whereby a club benefit exponentially from the arrival of a new boss. Players take to the field with a renewed vigour, eager to impress the incoming coach. The fans are enthused by seductive possibility: who can tell how an unfamiliar face might transform the team’s fortunes? The consequence is a cocktail of ebullience and optimism that can revive the fortunes of the dreariest club.
Arsenal have not had a new manager bounce for 19 years. The duration of Wenger’s reign is remarkable and admirable, but it’s no surprise that every setback he suffers is greeted with anger. After all this time, the patience of even the most stoical and supportive of fans has worn dangerously thin.
It might not make for pretty reading, but a decent proportion of Arsenal fans are bored of Arsene Wenger. Their gripe isn’t results, it’s repetition
So much of the frustration that erupts every time Wenger’s Arsenal suffer a defeat is simply borne of weariness. Gunners supporters are tired of seeing the same story unfold time and time again. Football may be TV’s longest-running soap opera, but these days Arsenal’s seasons are as formulaic and predictable as an episode of Diagnosis Murder. The injection of a new leading man could be a welcome plot twist. It might not make for pretty reading, but a decent proportion of Arsenal fans are bored of Wenger. Their gripe isn’t results, it’s repetition. Their discontent comes not from Wenger’s inadequacy but his sheer longevity.
For other supporters, that attitude is nothing short of heretical. Wenger is the greatest manager in the club’s history, and his achievements have bought him undying loyalty from some. That’s fair enough, but it doesn’t excuse the infighting and accusations of treason that fly every time an Arsenal fan suggests a preference for managerial change. It’s not blasphemous to be bored.
Arsenal should beware sleepwalking. They’ve already missed out on one ideal candidate in Klopp, and could live to regret any more slipping through their fingers
‘Novelty’ has become a dirty word at Arsenal. The club have, to their considerable credit, set themselves up as a model of stability; a clear antidote to the short-termism that is so rife in the modern game. The game is increasingly impatient with managers, so any expression of a desire for change is seen as against the club’s ethos. However, this is hardly Aston Villa fans calling for Tim Sherwood’s head six months into the job. Arsenal have been entwined with Wenger for almost two full decades. A managerial contract is not a marriage, and in this instance wandering eyes are not just permitted – they’re entirely reasonable.
Hey, wake up
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Arsenal fans are regularly criticised for placing too much emphasis on the acquisition of new talent in the transfer market. However, perhaps that desire for shiny new toys stems partially from the fact that so much of the club remains locked in stasis.
Admiration for Wenger and eager anticipation of a new manager are not mutually exclusive. There was an Arsenal before Wenger, and there will be one after. Who knows – it might even be better.
It’s widely accepted that Wenger himself will choose when he abdicates at Arsenal. However, that’s not necessarily the best way to ensure a strong succession. Sir Alex Ferguson recently went public about the decision to appoint David Moyes as his heir, admitting that the unavailability of the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Klopp left him with little choice.
Arsenal should beware sleepwalking into the same scenario. They’ve already missed out on one ideal candidate in Klopp, and could live to regret any more slipping through their fingers. Appointing the wrong man would only result in the instability and chaos Moyes’s miserable tenure caused United.
If Arsenal really are committed to retaining managers in the long-term, then identifying the right individual is surely more important than the precise timing of Wenger’s exit. There may only be one Arsene Wenger, but there aren't too many Jurgen Klopps either.