He’s had time to ponder his 22-year stay at Arsenal, evaluate what happened and where he goes next but Arsene Wenger, always cagey with the media, wouldn’t be drawn on where he would go next.
In an interview with Sky Sports, he failed to disclose his intentions and was vague on whether his job would be in club management or at an International level.
Many clubs will be waiting for the Wenger green light to flash, signalling a willingness to enter another arena. But will he return to the Premiership after such a long stay with his beloved club, a club he now watches as “a fan”?
It’s extremely unlikely that he will manage on these shores for the foreseeable future – such was his attachment to the North London club, but Italy, France, Spain or Japan are likely destinations.
In fact, after the current season is over, managers of many under achieving clubs may well suffer from Alex Ferguson’s infamous ‘squeaky bum time’. Wenger has already said that he has had plenty of offers, and that is very much the case, but perhaps Wenger would be tempted by a move back to Japan and a lucrative deal which pushes him away from the constant media spotlight.
Towards the end of his reign at Arsenal, he was visibly tired of having to explain himself, his methods and tactics, so in this respect, Spain and England would instantly be ruled out. A posting in France maybe slightly too predictable and obvious. It would have to be a project involving a reasonably established club that needs an injection of la finesse, l’excellence et le style.
Italy would provide a home for his undeniable talents and there was a suggestion that he would follow Ivan Gazidis to AC Milan, but I view this as an extremely fanciful notion because of the deteriorating relationship the pair had in the final two or three seasons of his tenure.
The Spanish press are slightly more vindictive and judgmental to managers in La Liga than even the English press and Wenger may do well to avoid the stress and pressure of a top side that needs a jump start.
Jobs at an international level may prove to be an unattractive proposition because Wenger prefers to work with his players daily and not in between congested league and cup fixtures. It’s a possibility but a distant one in all honesty.
He is then either going to Italy or Japan on the evidence of what he doesn’t need or want and his success in Japan is still fresh in the mind, making that option more likely. He is multilingual but conveniently speaks fluent Japanese and the impact of his arrival would almost cause mass hysteria, not to mention attract the attention of fans worldwide and a truck load of sponsors.
Wenger is still a big wheel in football circles despite his failures over recent years but that will not prevent him securing a post and a massive deal. The Frenchman believes in attractive, free flowing, one touch, stylish football and that will bring a host of suitors to his door.
The fact that Wenger will take a managerial post anywhere will ensure talent is attracted to working alongside him. It would also promote the Japanese league and make any lucrative offer seem insignificant.
He remains as the man known for panache, with a football philosophy that has lit up stadiums in England and abroad, his stock may have floundered but he is still revered as a professor of the game.
There are so many memories of the Wenger years; years of achievement, glorious entertainment and unparalleled success throughout his career, that it’s only right that it shouldn’t end there.
He will be an asset to someone with the same views and with the same passion as himself. It has been no more than an appropriate pause in the man’s CV. Like when someone goes travelling for a year or takes time out for reflection.
January now seems like Christmas as Wenger, suitably recharged, looks forward to a future away from the Emirates