Sir Alex Ferguson became one of the greatest ever managers for many reasons.
His slew of Premier League titles and his two European Cups are the first things that jump up from his glittering C.V, but the bucketload of trophies aren’t what defines his career.
What really made him one of the finest exponents of management was his ability to repackage his team every five or so years.
Players such as Kanchelskis, Ince, McClair, Bruce and Pallister started his reign of terror upon English football, then there was the golden generation of Beckham, Butt, Giggs, Scholes and the Neville brothers that brought about another era of success. Then came Jaap Stam, Van Nistelrooy, Cole, Yorke, Ronaldo et al.
His eye for finding the perfect player was one thing, but he could almost smell when a player needed to be replaced. Like whipping off the top of a milk carton, his nostrils were able to decipher if a player had given his all and was passed his best.
Wenger now has a self-made miasma on his hands, and we will find out if he can do the same.
This does a little bit of a disservice to our current manager. Wenger has proved countless times in the past that he knows exactly when is the best time to get rid of a player. Vieira, Pires, Overmars, Petit – they all never reached the heights they did when wearing our shirt. Wenger knew, but what faces him now is a far tougher challenge.
Our defence in its current state is nothing short of a shambles for a team supposedly setting out to fight for top honours. We’re conceding to all manner of teams – relegation candidates, top4 chasers, european minnows, Championship teams. No matter what level teams are playing at, they go into a match with us confident they can cause us problems.
This is far from good enough, but why?
Personnel isn’t the issue. Injury woes or not, Laurent Koscielny is still one of the best defenders in the league. Shkodran Mustafi may need to improve his decision making, but he has all the cornerstones you need from a top defender, and Nacho Monreal is nothing short of a footballing marvel and severely underappreciated by experts.
The problem we have is they are not future-proofed.
Laurent Koscielny is 32 and will be 33 this year. He has missed a fair amount of games this season as his troublesome tendonitis problem rears its ugly head a little more often than before. It requires kid gloves and more recuperation than ever before, and the problem will only worsen.
Then there is Nacho Monreal. At 32, the Spaniard is only on a downward curve physically. He’s proved he’s adept at centre-back as well as at full-back, but in terms of playing on? We could maybe get one more quality season out of him.
We have Calum Chambers and Rob Holding waiting in the wings, and if they’re going to make it at Arsenal, then next season will be their litmus test. they will have more games to hone their skills, but they can’t wait for a more experienced partner or blame inexperience. They need to show they’re ready now.
If we don’t persevere with these two English lads, then we need to buy. There are plenty of talented centre-backs out there that have shown they could fill the considerable void left by Monreal and Koscielny, but what will Wenger decide?
Wenger’s biggest problem is that he shows far too much faith to players. Our defenders in question deserve a little to be fair, but football is a ruthless game, and they shouldn’t be playing if they will present a weakness. Can we honestly say that Wenger will replace them?
Our defence has nearly run its course and we need to be looking to replace them. If we don’t then the gap we see between us and the top will only grow. This summer is the time to do it.
Ferguson never rested on his laurels, no matter how much a player had achieved. If they were past the crest, then he would dispense of their services. Wenger must do the same.