Why Leeds United Should Rescue Arsene Wenger from Ungrateful Arsenal – by Rob Atkinson


If Arsenal turn their backs on Arsène – should Leeds pounce?

Let me say straight away that I hold Arsenal in the very highest esteem; after my beloved Whites, this is the club whose results I look for first. And, before I go on to extol the virtues of a Leeds United move to employ Arsène Wenger if his relationship with the Gunners does break down irretrievably, let me confirm that I feel we already have the right man for the job of United manager. Garry Monk is the man, he’s the right age, the right type, he’s proved his worth, and his position at Elland Road should be unassailable.

But still, Arsène Wenger would be a magnificent capture for Leeds. It would be, in transatlantic parlance, a no-brainer. If The Professor became available, he’d be just the man for a club like Leeds. And Wenger, at this stage of the game, might find that a project such as Leeds United would the very thing to bring down the curtain upon a glittering career. Because the role I see for Wenger at Leeds would be one that taps into his immense knowledge of the global game and of uncut diamonds in youth teams everywhere. It would be to work as a resource for a young manager developing in Wenger’s own image, a man who wants to play football the right way, someone that the old master Arsène could help develop into a world class coach and man manager.

I would consider that, after Arsenal, Wenger might be looking for something other than a front-line position as he seeks to remain involved in football. He’s been in North London, shaping and developing the capital’s premier football club, for two decades, encompassing some glorious success and producing football at times of breathtaking beauty. The challenge at Leeds would, initially at least, be different – and yet the aims would be comparable. It would be an ideal project for Wenger, something whereby he could wield his influence over the whole culture of a football club, without having to be involved in the nitty-gritty of day to day first team matters. Sure, he might expect to have an input, and Garry Monk is far too wise a man not to avail himself of such knowledge and experience. But there can be only one boss, and Monk is the right man for a long time to come. Still, some of the best of managers have benefited from that elder statesman, that éminence grise behind the scenes. Malcolm Allison had his Joe Mercer, Brian Clough his Peter Taylor. Neither of those two legends were quite so effective as a solo act, both needed that wise presence behind them to find true success.  After Arsenal, that kind of role would be a respectable and dignified option for Arsène at Elland Road – and he could just be the difference for Garry Monk between being a very good manager – and a great one.

And what, we have to ask ourselves, of Arsenal FC? Do they ideally want to keep Wenger, or are they considering a further year’s contract for their greatest ever boss merely as an obvious stop-gap until the real target becomes available? The truth is that the relationship between Wenger and many of the Arsenal fans is verging on the toxic. It’s a distressing situation for a great football man who genuinely loves his club; it’s a shoddy way to be winding down a stellar career. So, perhaps, for the sake of all concerned, a clean break between Arsenal and Arsène would be for the best. And, in that case – though I doubt it would actually happen – an opportunistic Leeds United should pounce. They should do whatever it takes to import the wisdom and status of one of the world’s foremost football people, someone who would have the class to respect boundaries and exercise his influence from a more detached position.

Leeds United’s gain would most definitely be Arsenal’s loss – but perhaps the situation for Wenger at the Emirates, with the Spurs-loving media pack slavering for blood, is already beyond recall. So Arsenal might appear ungrateful in dispensing with Arsène, if that’s what ends up happening – but it may just be their best option, even if results and performances were to dip in the short term.

But that’s not Leeds United’s concern – they, for their part, should be looking at what Wenger could bring to the Elland Road table, without unduly rocking the boat, if I might be permitted a mix of metaphors. The answer to that question is: plenty. Wenger has presided over a revolution at Arsenal, and in the wider English game as a whole. His ideas about diet, nutrition, the maintenance of the human machine, were revolutionary but demonstrably sound. He’s the kind of influence any forward-thinking club could do with, quietly influencing the whole setup with improvement and the maximisation of potential in mind. As somebody to stand behind Garry Monk, outside of the immediate first-team picture but always available as a consultant, his value to a club on the way up, a true giant of the game like Leeds, looking to re-establish itself as a major force, could be immeasurable.

So when I say “Wenger for Leeds”, I’m not joking, I’m deadly serious. As ever, I’d be interested in the views of others – but don’t be too quick, please, to leap into a dismissive posture. Consider. The question is – if a man like Wenger were to appear on the market and prepared to accept a different role – could we really afford to overlook him?

35 responses to “Why Leeds United Should Rescue Arsene Wenger from Ungrateful Arsenal – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Duncan Massey

    I’ve been thinking something similar myself; I think it’s a great idea as long as they’re are definite parameters set at the outset of the relationship.


  2. Rob (aka “Ron” on TV?), Arsen Wenger as a mentor for Garry Monk is not a bad idea but it’s highly unlikely to be anything more. Can you imagine the owners of Leeds meeting even a fraction of the salary Wenger would command?


    • Yeah, Ron – I’ll never live it down 🙄 I think we’d be on a different planet financially, if we went up. So the major obstacle to this is the sheer bloody unlikelihood of it, rather than any fiscal considerations.


  3. Scally Lad

    It’s hopeful thinking, Rob, but we’re going to have to be free of Championship quicksand to earn even a look from Wenger. As you say, Monk is our manager of the moment, and he’s lifted us from fear of relegation and made us dream of getting into the playoffs. To fire him now would be disloyal. Cellino, I’m sure, will fire him when a manger the stature of Wenger is available, but if we’re just a leading club in the Championship, we’re not going to interest any manager the caliber of Wenger. He’ll be looking to top-level Premiership sides – and, even more likely, world-famous top-level sides in Europe or America first. And how, too, at this point, would we be able to meet his pay packet demands?


  4. It’s not often I agree with you, but I’m also very fond of Arsenal and think Arsene Wenger is an amazing manager.

    The problem is, even though Garry Monk is out of contract at the end of the season and his style of football is the complete opposite of Wenger’s, you can’t bring yourself to say Wenger should be the manager.

    For a man to have a true influence he has to have full control, so you either believe in the Wenger way or the Monk way, there’s no way they could work together.


  5. By the way, we did the same thing to Wilko.

    And we forced Wilko out, only to support the likes of Grayson, McDermott, Redfearn and Evans years later.


  6. Alan Wilson

    I would suggest you think a little deeper and also more out of the box about this Rob. Yes it is a great idea but would finance be a problem? After the twenty years of managing Arsenal a complete change of environment and responsibilities might just be what he could be looking for. The responsibilities you have suggested are sound and it could be a way for Arsene to remain in football without stress. Not only that it could be a way for him repaying football by utilizing his knowledge for the better good of the game. That is my two pennyworth but I have to say your idea is excellent and any comments I have made are not meant to be any criticism against you. Actually more in the way of encouraging you to explore your idea more.


  7. Alan Wilson

    I forgot to add that your idea is not pie in the sky because people like Duncan Massey have had similar thoughts too. Other ideas may be put forward which will give you plenty of food for thought later in the day.


  8. Oh dear Rob. You have finally lost it.


  9. Is it April 1st?
    How much money has he had and How many great players has he taken to that club with only basic results?


  10. My problem with this would be the press and the media. Even if GM had a brilliant relationship with Wenger the knives would be out. We are not liked and that’s a fact. There are those out there who would choke rather than give Leeds any credit and any opportunity to stir the big pot they would relish. Great idea Rob, nothing but respect for a gentleman in a mammoth job but have never believed in fairy tales. Might just change my mind at the end of the season though.


  11. I’m reminded of the last “great arsenal manager” we had , George graham , didn’t exactly set the world on fire rob ,,


    • Actually, that 97/98 season was one of my favourites ever, and I was gutted to see GG go. And I’m not advocating Arsène for manager – I just think his knowledge and experience would be invaluable in a background/development role. After 20 years at the sharp end, it might be the right job at the right time for Wenger.


  12. I don’t think the analogies support your case. Taylor was Clough’s partner, not mentor: Allison – Mercer’s assistant whom he groomed to be his successor. Wenger would not fit any of these roles. At most, he’d be an adviser, which begs the question of why a promotion-winning Manager, already with Premiership experience and some success, would need him. The fruitful parts of the ‘Wenger Revolution’ have become everyday practice in big clubs like ours, so what else is there left for a young Manager to learn from him ? How to succeed ? – Wenger’s record here is disputed, and Leeds is quite a different club than Arsenal, which now tends to be a club for respectable ‘cosmopolitans’. We are closer in mentality to those ‘somewhere’ Arsenal supporters who seemingly want him to retire.


  13. I agree totally rob. with wenger as backing to intelligent monk we would only go one way. Finance a big problem but maybe arsene my enjoy the challenge of proving people wrong. Its a great dream of a good young manager with a great proven man to turn to, but alas I feel mr wenger may feel such a project too great at this time in his life. Heres to dreams though, it what keeps us going mate. MOT


  14. Blimey Rob, can I have a pint of whatever you’ve been drinking?!!! Had to check the date, thought maybe I had slept through until April 1st.
    I share your appreciation of Arsenal and count myself as a Wenger fan. It is sad, therefore, to witness the level of vitriol directed towards him by some of Arsenal’s fans and media speculation as to his future is understandable if conflicting. Should he decide to head for pastures new I very much doubt that a move to our favourite part of this county will cross his mind for one moment. He would certainly represent a phenomenal coup for the club, and could help Garry Monk no end but I suspect that, assuming he doesn’t retire from football altogether, his future lies overseas with perhaps a return to France unless the Chinese decide to make him their latest high profile import.
    So, sorry Rob. I guess we’ll be disappointed – but you never know!!!!! I mean, who’d have thought Hockaday would ever be at Leeds?


  15. Duncan Massey

    I wonder if GM would welcome such a move or if he’d feel undermined.


    • I’d like to think he would feel ok about working with a man of such stature. It’s an academic question anyway, since it ain’t gonna happen – but I feel Monk is secure and grounded enough to embrace such a move, if his own first team responsibilities remained sacrosanct.


  16. wetherby white

    Interesting idea Rob though I’m not convinced. Clough and Taylor are a good example but sure there have been other examples of two “bosses” that didn’t work out. Liverpool back in the nineties perhaps, names escape me? Id hate Monk to be in any way underminded in the incredible job he’s doing. With a club who have been crippled with terrible owners like criminals, Bates and Harvey, incompetents GFH and current mob, the underinvestment and asset stripping of talent and money is staggering. Cant help feeling that although we are vastly improved as a team, mainly in defence and Chris Woods, under one of our previous clueless managerial appointments, we would still be mid table championship. Think that with the investment we would definatly need, if we do make it back to the prem, GM should be rewarded with a decent contract, cash and everyones full support from day one.


  17. Just noticed this article as I peruse Leeds news with no United game to look forward to this weekend. As Much as I like the football Arsenal play and as much as their whinging supporters are currently making me puke with their “Arsene out” rants I would say no to this hypothetical question. I’m struggling to think of any Arsenal academy players who’ve went through to the first team. Their youth system has been virtually non-existent,all their success under Wenger has been brought and bought from abroad. We’d all love to see how these Big name coaches would cope at Carlisle,Bury or Orient without the unlimited funds for itinerant mercenaries from Europe and the rest of the world. They’re certainly pleasing on the eye but on the whole I don’t think he’s been too good for English football.


  18. rob, awaiting your comments on the financial accounts for year end 2015/16. in my opinion the trading loss for the year circa £9 million in my opinion is not too bad. Imagine you have squeezed the sponge dry and you cannot get anything more out of it, in our case this is not the case.If and when we buy back Elland Rd and Thorpe Arch that will save us app £3 million per anm in rent, we took a hit on compensation to macro a one off hit, one off settlements to ex staff and court costs. All loaded into these accounts. so far in 2016/2107 figures we still have GFH repayments, the only court case to date is with the appeal with the F.A, no compensation payments due, the sale of Cooke and Mowatt, attendance increase of app 3/4k per game plus add ons with that increase via catering, programmes, merchandising ect due to increased attendances. We need to buy back our ground and training ground then in my opinion we would not be in a bad place. That is out there to be shot at just trying to be positive. MOT


    • Glenn, not sure if you work in the financial sector, but you sound far more clued up than me. Why not expand this comment to blog length, give your view of the outlook which you see as fairly rosy I think – and submit it as a guest piece, which I’d happily publish under your name. I’m simply not qualified to give a opinion on accounts etc, it’s beyond me.


  19. Rob, thank you for your reply. No I do not work in the financial sector and any loss certainly app £9 million is not a great set of accounts.The point I was trying to make is that with the points I have made in the earlier piece were that it is not as if we have maxed out our credit card. We had a rough and turbulent year in 2015/16 due to very poor leadership off the field .hence we as a club bled money we did not need to, yet with now what seems calmer waters and possibly a better set of hands a the wheel, the said confirmed sales of Cooke and Mowatt, increased attendances and all that goes with that, and year to date no sackings or our club being taken to court which would incur costs against our club.Set all that against owning our ground and training complex again that means we have the ability within our own to significantly
    if not breakeven on our accounts for 2016/17.I have not seen the full set of accounts yet by the way just a fan whose glass is always half full as far as my team is concerned. Here is to promotion then all of the above will just disappear.MOT


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