Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal will exist – officially – at least until the end of this season. But there’s no life there. It’s gone; all over. Anyone can see that now.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came in January but they are CPR signings. There’s no plan for them. Under this man, this club is limping along on life support. Please, someone, come in June and have enough humanity to pull the plug and let it die. Then the club can rise again.
People like Raul Sanllehi, Sven Mislintat and Huss Fahmy were originally brought to the club to ease the transition from the Wengerian times to the post-Wengerian times. But it’s too late. It’s no longer a transition. It’ll have to be a reincarnation; a ‘phoenix from the flames’ job.
The great irony, though, is that Wenger deserves all of the credit for modern Arsenal but – perversely – all of the blame. It was Wenger who delivered the trophies, the stadium, Henry, the invincibility, the history. But it was Wenger who oversaw this inexcusable decline.
He was – in title terms – always second-best to Sir Alex Ferguson, the odd double aside. But one area in which Wenger has thoroughly out-performed his Scottish rival is how to run a club into the ground.
Manchester United are five years into their post-Ferguson era and are no closer to being restored to their perch at the top of English football. Some of the blame for that decline lies with the man himself and his failure to prepare the club for the day he would no longer be there.
Most of the blame, though, belongs to the Glazers, who, for too long, trusted him to pump the club’s chest and give it mouth-to-mouth. When he walked away, it flatlined.
Well, United, if you want to see how to botch a handover, just have a look at what’s currently transpiring in north London.
Thursday night’s 3-0 loss at home to Manchester City may not mark the end of it all but it’s certainly a sign of the times. Yes, it’s cold out, yes, the roads aren’t in great shape but just look again at the number of vacant seats inside the Emirates.
This ground wasn’t built with half-full in mind. It wasn’t designed to be a cold, cavernous bowl where fans would come to abuse and make sure the team and Wenger knew how unhappy they were.
But this is Arsenal now: a total laughing stock. Opposition fans chant that they want Wenger to stay. Is there a sadder indictment on one of the most transformative figures English football has ever known?