After 12 years without a Premier League title, Graham Ruthven wonders if this is the final pre-season with Arsenal for the club’s most successful manager ever Arsene Wenger.
There’s been plenty to catch the eye this summer ahead of the new Premier League season. From Pep Guardiola’s philosophical revolution at Manchester City, to the world record pursuit of Paul Pogba, England’s top flight has never been so compelling before a ball has even been kicked. But in all the fuss a rather significant storyline has been overlooked. This could be Arsene Wenger’s final season in charge of Arsenal.
The Frenchman, who has come to define the North London club over the past two decades, is in the final year of his contract, and at 66-years-old could feasibly retire when the 2016/17 campaign comes to a close.
Arsene Wenger’s farewell tour could start with Sunday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool, leaving just 37 league games left for him to shake as many hands and kiss as many babies as he can. He is a true great of the English game and his retirement would be a watershed moment, not just for Arsenal, for the Premier League as a whole.
Perhaps it’s time to start considering what Wenger’s legacy would be. His arrival in the late 1990s modernised the English game, imposing a new culture on a sport which had become grossly outdated in the country. More recently, his influence has been less profound, with others passing him by, but nonetheless, Arsenal in its current form is a creation of Wenger’s. It’s therefore difficult to envisage a day when he won’t be in the dugout, fidgeting with the zip on his jacket.