I woke up today thinking it was Saturday, i swear this week has been playing tricks on my mind. It also happened yesterday when I thought it was Friday instead of Thursday. And to top it off, Le Boss granted his weekly interview on Thursday instead of the usual Friday.
At the interview he was asked about Real Madrid and the chance of an approach this summer, but he moved quickly to dispel any rumors about his departure to the Spanish giants. But it got me thinking, who could possibly replace Arsene Wenger when the time comes? His contract expires next year (2011) and no attempt has been made to offer him an extension, although Ivan Gazidis says the club will do the right thing by Wenger. Arsene turns 61 this October and has had a fine career at Arsenal, but he won’t coach forever either. I personally hope he signs an extension and sees this project through. After all, he assembled this current squad and I believe walking away would mean he failed in his attempt to take this team to new heights.
So i posed the question to a couple of my arsenal friends, who could possibly follow in the footsteps of the great Arsene Wenger? Some said Fabio Capello, Guus Hiddink and then jokingly someone uttered Harry Redknapp. I about died from laughing so hard. I don’t care how well he knows English football, but after Portsmouth going into administration, i find it hard to believe he’s not taking some of the blame. Don’t get me wrong he’s doing a fine job at Sp*rs but i don’t want to see route one football at the emirates and the thought of peter crouch in an arsenal shirt just makes me cringe. I thought long and hard then came up with Frank Rijkaard. In my opinion, I believe he is the only coach capable of taking over from Arsene Wenger should Le Boss decide to walk away from the Emirates.
I will make the case for Rijkaard but let’s take a look at the legend that is Arsene Wenger. Wenger started his coaching career at Nancy before moving to Monaco in 1987 where he enjoyed some success. At Monaco he acquired a penchant for signing young players who would go on to become superstars. George Weah, Victor Ipkeba, Jurgen Klinsmann, Youri Djorkaeff and Glenn Hoddle are just a few of the players who under Wenger went from relative obscurity to household names.
Wenger then joined Grampus Eight in Japan where he enjoyed a successful 18 month stint, taking the club from the bottom into the top 3 and winning the emperor’s cup. After Bruce Rioch was sacked in august 1996, Gerrard Houllier recommended Wenger to David Dein, who hired the Frenchman on September 28, 1996. The caption in the evening standard at that time read ARSENE WHO? His style was different from most managers in the league at the time, as Wenger preferred to win with style. Arsenal went from being a dirty team, who racked up 73 red cards between 1996-2008 to a leader on the fair play table. The only trophy that has eluded him so far is the Champions League, losing to Barcelona in 2006 who were then coached by Frank Rijkaard. His diligence in the transfer market and his master’s degree in economics have been beneficial to the club aiding in the move from Highbury to our current home the Emirates.
His youth policy has ensured that the conveyor belt of talent will run smoothly long after he’s done coaching. The likes of Kieran Gibbs, Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Sanchez Watt, Jack Wilshere, Fran Merida, Gilles Sunu, Emmanuel Frimpong, Francis Coquelin, Chuks Aneke, Cedric Evina, Wojciech Szczesny and Nacer Barazite to name a few, has left the club in good standing for the future, provided whoever takes over has a policy of infusing youth with experience.
This leads me to Frank Rijkaard, former coach of Barcelona who in my opinion wasn’t given enough time at Barcelona. At Arsenal he will get the time he needs to take the club into the next decade, while being given the freedom to instill his policies, which coincidentally enough are similar to Wenger’s. A lot of people will give Pep Guardiola credit for the current form of Xavi and Iniesta, but it was Rijkaard’s vision to infuse his current team with youngsters such as Victor Valdes, Xavi Hernandez, Carlos Puyol and Adres Iniesta that laid the foundation for Barcelona’s continued future success. He has the experience, having won the champions league and La Liga, the latter on two occasions and he aspires to the Johan Cryuff model of total football. He likes to win but also recognizes that football is entertainment and likes to win with style. He also believes that the team is above any single player which is key.
Rijkaard is currently coach of Turkish side Galatasary, but i believe should Arsenal come calling if and when Wenger decides to walk away on his own terms, he would be the coach in my opinion to continue the Frenchman’s legacy.
I’m sure many Gooners have their own thoughts on who should take over once Wenger leaves arsenal. I would like to hear your thoughts on this.
‘Til then Come On You Reds!!!