11 March 2013

Wenger is On His Way to Bayern

So it seems that Bayern's president Uli Hoeness has told The Sun that he and Bayern have tried to bring Arsรจne Wenger in as manager, saying, "even before [Wenger] went to Japan, Franz Beckenbauer and I went to Nice and discussed with and everything was clear, but he decided to go to Japan....Over the years, whenever we were looking for a new coach, Wenger was always one we considered."  He goes on to talk about how fantastic Wenger has been and is generally warm and complimentary; however, I don't see why this has to come out ahead of Wednesday's match. It's not like Bayern is looking for a new manager after having signed Pep Guardiola for next year. What's the point? On one hand, it's nice of him to say because it does remind the critics that Wenger was and remains a highly respected manager and that big clubs seek him out. I'm sure his name featured prominently in their pre-Guardiola discussions, especially when calls for Wenger to step down or be fired reached near-hysterical levels. On the other, it's just a pointless distraction It's not like Bayern is so afraid to play us that they're resorting to silly mind-games. At first, I was annoyed. Now, I'm just amused.

It does provide a convenient reference-point, however, for revisiting what had once been a streak of rather petty yellow journalism earlier in the season when it seemed that one could barely open a newspaper I mean visit a website without being greeted by headlines shrieking "Once Wizardly Wenger Wished Away by Fans!!!" or "Furious Fans Vent Fury at Feeble Frenchman" and so on. Look, I know that Wenger has made mistakes and bad decisions. At the same time, he is still one of the best managers in football. He is absolutely to blame for allowing the departure of various players and for failing to adequately replace or upgrade afterward. Is there more going on behind closed doors between him, Kroenke, Usmanov than we know? Yup. Do we have a right to know more? Yup. In the absence of knowing more, should we stop baying like hounds for Wenger to leave? Again, yup. It's not for nothing that we're still where we are despite losing the players we've lost. I submit that most other managers would have seen their teams plummet, simply plummet, to the bottom of the table and beyond. In my eyes, astigmatic as they might be, our current form and position is remarkable. Is it good enough? No, not nearly. Should I stop asking and then answering my own questions? Maybe.

All I'm saying is that we should be careful what we wish for. If and when Wenger does step down, it's hard to identify someone good enough to take the reins. I'll admit that I fancied Guardiola and may even have been a touch disappointed to hear that he had signed with Bayern. Don't even ask me about Mourinho. He's a great manager, but I just can't stand him and would have a very hard time seeing his arrogant smirk every single week. I am aware of his track record, so don't bother reminding me. My feelings might change if he were to deliver results, of course.

I would hate for Wenger to leave now. We'd probably then find out how many other clubs have sought his signature in the past 12 months. He's alluded to it, but I'd be willing to bet it includes most, if not all, of the following clubs and plenty more: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus, Chelsea, Man City, Paris Saint-Germain. This in and of itself is not reason enough to keep Wenger, hoarding him away out of jealousy, but it is a suggestion that we have one of the world's best. Should he leave, he will most likely land at a club like one of these, be given a bottomless pool of money (not to mention talent), and go on to win all sorts of things while we see just how quickly things utterly fall apart under whoever we find to replace him.

At a minimum, there is a lot of football to be played between now and whenever any kind of decision should be made. If we fall out of the top four, maybe it's time to take a hard, unsentimental look at what this means for the future. I'd prefer that we focus all of our energies--fans, staff, players, coaches, manager--on winning.