The Premiership without Wenger and Mourinho

Premier League

The Kings(s) are dead. Long live the King(s). It's not over yet, but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho are surely on a trajectory that will result in them leaving their respective clubs at the end of season. The Premier League will then have to face life without them.

The Arsenal and Chelsea managers have won 6 Premier League titles, 7 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, and 7 FA Community Shields between them for their clubs, and both have made significant contributions as the Premier League has become the richest, if not the best, domestic football league in the world.

Wenger was the man who brought professionalism into the modern game, dragging football into an era where diet, proper preparation and rest, and top class medical facilities all played a part in the success equation. And for the last 19 years, Wenger built a team that won trophies (especially in the first decade), and successfully managed the club through a period which saw the move to a new 21st Century stadium.

But even the ending of Arsenal's 10 year major trophy drought, which came with the first of two FA Cup wins in 2013/14 and continued qualification for the lucrative Champions League, hasn't stopped a section of Arsenal fans questioning his refusal to speculate in the transfer market (significant funds were available for the summer window), and a team selection policy that sometimes makes little sense, and is becoming increasingly difficult for the Arsenal manager to defend. 

Arsenal's home loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League on Tuesday, after Wenger opted to play his sole summer transfer signing - goalkeeper Petr Cech - also came back to bite him on the bum. Not only were sections of the Arsenal fans in uproar, but the media appeared to be baying for blood, and Wenger's reactions during his last two press conferences have don't nothing but re-emphasize that here is a manager struggling to accept that he is accountable for his actions, and who gets paid very handsomely for living his life in a goldfish bowel. 

Having said all this, a victory at home to Manchester United this afternoon and Arsenal could go second in the Premier League. And Wenger still retains the support of the majority of the club fans and the Arsenal board. There is zero chance of Wenger losing his job. At 65, however, there are signs that the Arsenal boss might just be coming to the end of the road, as the stress, pressure and constant criticism are clearly getting to him. 

And Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is also under the microscope. With Chelsea's worst start to a season for 37 years, Mourinho appears to have lost the support of the fans, the dressing room - and perhaps the owner. The Chelsea boss is even talking openly about the possibility of losing his job, almost challenging Roman Abramovich to put him out of his current misery.

Now, while Arsenal's Wenger was always a cool, calm type, Mourinho seemed to thrive (and get the best out of his teams) by behaving much more aggressively. This season, though, with Chelsea struggling to get out of the gate, Mourinho 'cheeky boy' antics and bold justifications have become tiresome. But for all his bravado, Mourinho needs to be loved, and there's not a lot of love out there for him at the moment. The Chelsea boss, like Wenger, is behaving like a caged tiger - blaming players who he has always supported (at least in public), implying that referees don't do their job properly only where Chelsea are concerned, and suggesting that there are other people at the club who also have to look at themselves and face up to their responsibilities.

Mourinho, too, is beginning to show the effects of the pressure, and appears to be on a road that could lead to his self-destruction. Chelsea's Abramovich, of course, likes to keep a relatively low profile. He doesn't like a lot of noise, distraction and confrontation. When he is winning, Mourinho is most certainly a tremendous asset - a great leader and motivator (the man who can). But under pressure, the Chelsea boss is looking like a liability. And Abramovich knows how to deal with liabilities.

 

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