5 things the next Arsenal manager should look to do
After 22 years of being at the helm of affairs at North London's premier club, Arsene Wenger's announcement yesterday that he would step down at the end of the season has brought relief and sadness in equal measure.
The early part of Le Professeur's time in English football was one of innovation, new ideas and technical improvements that have now become commonplace among footballing institutions. His focus on technique, improved diets, and physical training was second to none and gave what was a staid, lifeless footballing culture new life.
The second part of his tenure following the move to the Emirates Stadium was less brilliant, as a failure to win or even mount a credible title challenge in 14 years saw the eroding of his legacy, even leading to the shameful "#WengerOut" campaign.
The new manager will have a lot of work to do to recalibrate the team and given the standards that Pep Guardiola has set in the Premier League this season and the fierce nature of European football, he will need to hit the ground running.
Here are five things that will need fixing at Arsenal next season:
#5 Get the defence to work again
The strong, powerful and difficult-to-penetrate defence of Wenger's heydays at Arsenal have become a distant memory that, sadly, even the great man fails to remember. This is one of the explanations for why, as a defensive unit, the Gunners have seemed to get worse as the seasons have gone on.
The lack of a coherent plan for defending has become more glaring as the seasons have gone by as the togetherness in defence of the Invincibles era has been replaced by shoddy, scatter-brained actions which have gone on despite the not inconsiderable spending on defenders since 2004.
The new manager will need to take a good, hard look at his defensive options. Too many players in the defence: Shkodran Mustafi and Callum Chambers, for instance, have not shown enough to be worthy of playing for such a revered club and will need to be shipped out.
The formation: either 3 centre-backs or a conventional 4-man defence will need to be chosen and worked on. Some additions will need to be brought in as well, with chief scout Sven Mislintat already said to be looking at players like Freiburg's young Turkish centre-back Caglar Soyuncu.