The Premier League’s longest-serving manager Arsene Wenger has come under increasing pressure at Arsenal and with his contract at the Emirates set to expire next year, the club’s fans have issued a call for the club to hold off renewal talks.
Meanwhile, Gunners legend Tony Adams has put himself forward as a possible candidate to replace the French boss. Whilst it seems unlikely that the board, chief executive Ivan Gazidis or owner Stan Kroenke would rock the boat by allowing Wenger to be sacked or to leave at the end of his deal, it is food for thought – who would the fans want to replace him?
Tony Adams is one of the club’s most valued servants – he spent his entire career at Arsenal from the age of 14 until the age of 36 when he retired in 2002. He along with Martin Keown, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and current assistant manager Steve Bould were considered the finest defenders the in the country and certainly best Arsenal have ever had in a backline protecting goalkeeper David Seaman.
They saw the club through some of their most successful years upon the arrival of Arsene Wenger in 1996 when he inherited that famous backline from George Graham.
However, undoubtedly one of the greatest signings ever made by the club was Bruce Rioch’s first signing in 1995 for £7.5 million, Dennis Bergkamp was another crucial component of the team Wenger inherited at Highbury.
The Dutch ace made a total of 423 appearances and scored 120 goals for the Gunners in his 11 seasons and Arsene Wenger once described him as the most intelligent footballer he had ever had the pleasure of working with.
What Wenger achieved with Arsenal (discounting the last eight years) was success in terms of trophies and titles but it was the style and the elegance of the football that won hearts across the world.
Arsenal is now a huge global brand and Arsene Wenger’s football philosophy is a large part of that brand image – I would suspect that if a former defender and an English one like Tony Adams took over, that style and elegance would change and perhaps even be lost.
Meanwhile, Bergkamp, now 44, is understudying former Netherlands teammate Frank de Boer as his assistant manager over at Ajax. The Dutch have always been held in high esteem on the international stage and Ajax on the continent for their flair and elegance – ‘total football’.
I would suspect, due to Bergkamp’s position at Ajax and his subsequent suitability for the position, that he would be a better replacement for a manager as unique as Arsene Wenger.
I imagine that Bergkamp would be the most obvious replacement and would make the transition more natural than if a club legend like Adams took charge. Adams is a fans’ favourite, he loves the club dearly, he spent his life at Arsenal but I don’t believe he has the relevant credentials that Bergkamp does.
He’s managed Wycombe Wanderers, Portsmouth and Gabala but in terms of a top-flight, elite club like Arsenal are still and hope to be in the future, he would make a much better coach than he would manager. As far as food for thought goes, I can’t imagine a better partnership than Dennis Bergkamp as manager and Tony Adams as assistant or head coach.
That would be a force to be reckoned with – combined they would keep the continuity and the history of the club, the passion and faith of the fans, and, crucially, the style and elegance that Arsenal have been associated with under the best years with Arsene Wenger.
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