This week both the Gunners No.1 Wojceich Szczesny and club captain Thomas Vermaelen have called for the French coach to remain at the Emirates and whilst that it perfectly normal and reasonable for players to back their manager, is there some concern in the dressing room about what would become of these players if the boss left?
Wenger is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League but the Arsenal players and fans alike only need to look at what happened when the former longest-serving manager in the English top tier stepped down from his post.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement from Manchester United was unexpected but understandable – what few could have predicted was how shockingly poor the Red Devils would be without him this term. It was never going to be an easy task for David Moyes to fill such giant boots at Old Trafford but even the Scot himself would have hoped for a better debut season in charge.
Meanwhile, back at the Emirates, Wenger has done a fantastic job over the course of his 18 years as coach, through financially difficult times no less, to bring through and nurture some of the finest young talent in the continent as well as getting the best out of his experienced and seasoned stars.
Despite Arsenal’s trophy drought in recent years, I certainly can’t imagine any other coach in the world overseeing the kind of development we’ve seen in the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, and Robin van Persie.
Can you imagine any other manager turning Alex Song into a defensive midfielder Barcelona would be prepared to pay £15 million for? Can you imagine any other manager turning Robin van Persie into a striker capable of winning two back-to-back Golden Boots in the Premier League?
Can you imagine any other coach having the faith and patience in a youngster like Aaron Ramsey or the guts to turn Olivier Giroud into a Premier League centre-forward just a season after he was playing in the second tier of French football, let along the years he put on the careers of Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn, and Ray Parlour when he first arrived.
In 18 years Arsene Wenger has turned unknown players, underachieving players, alcoholics and young prospects into World Cup winners, Champions League winners, Premier League winners and Ballon d’Or prize-winners.
Sir Alex Ferguson turned what critics are now calling an ‘average’ squad of players that requires a complete overhaul this summer supposedly into title winners last term who had the Premier League in the bag by April last year – now that he’s left they can barely pass wind.
When Szczesny and Vermaelen back the manager I have no doubt its down to their respect for him as a manager and a man, as well as coach, a footballing father and a club legend but they must also know full well that without him, Szczesny probably wouldn’t be Poland No.1 and Vermaelen could well be an Ajax left-back.
That British core could well have been at Championship clubs, Giroud, Sagna, Kosicielny, Mathieu Flamini, Abou Diaby, and every other player Wenger brought over from France would probably still be applying their trade for mid-table Ligue 1 teams.
In fact, the national coaches for France, Spain, Germany, England, Ivory Coast, Togo, Cameroon, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Cech Republic, Russia, and Holland can count Wenger as the man who nurtured some of their best players.
As we have seen at Old Trafford, and Anfield this term with the insurgence into the title race of Liverpool, coaching and man-management is the most important aspect of a player’s career – it can make Jordan Henderson look like Emmanuel Petit and it can also make Robin van Persie look like Marouane Chamakh and the players know better than any fan at the Emirates that if Wenger leaves Arsenal, so does the inspiration.