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Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal

Friday 20 April 2018

With Arsene Wenger announcing he will leave Arsenal at the end of the season, Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sports Enterprise at the University of Salford Business School looks at what's on the horizon for Arsenal.

Long-serving managers both deliberately and unintentionally help to create a club culture that can be difficult to understand or get to grips with.

In simple terms, culture can be defined as 'the way we do things around here'. However, if the incumbent manager is 'not from around here', it can take years for him to come to terms with the club or else to successfully instigate cultural change. This immediately raises an important issue: succession planning.

Have they planned for this?

If Arsenal's directors have been diligent in identifying a prospective managerial candidate (who is perhaps someone already at or associated with the club), then the transition may prove to be a relatively smooth one. Even so, adapting to someone else's processes and procedures can be a formidable task, even for a person well-versed with them.

For a manager coming from outside the club, this person will need to be a highly accomplished manager or coach, with a proven track record either in high-level success or in turning around under-performing teams.

Gaining the trust of people embedded in the club's culture will be a significant challenge, as will the job of internally remodelling the way of 'doing things around here' that has become enshrined within contemporary Arsenal. Such matters need to beset in the context of a club ownership model that we are led to believe is somewhat fractious.

Hence, the appointment of a new manager and his induction into the club is likely to be set against a back drop of conflicting expectations, different management styles and, dependent upon internal views of the new manager, the potential for some hostility towards the incumbent. Indeed, one wonders whether the club's owners will agree on a way forward for Arsenal and its new manager.

Transition and instability

This all rather suggests that Arsenal is set for a period of transition and instability; clearly, all of those involved with the club will be hoping that the former is short and the latter is not too disruptive. Whoever becomes the new manager, one assumes they will immediately want to stamp some of their own authority and identity on the Arsenal team.

Remodelling the squad is likely to be the most obvious consequence of this, which implies that there will be several signings during the summer. In turn, this is likely to inflict significant cost pressures upon Arsenal, a club that typically has been conservative in managing its finances. As such, there will be an imperative to further build commercial revenues.

Ultimately, one wonders where 'Arsenal the organisation' goes from here; there have been on going rumours about the club adopting a more continental structure, specifically influenced by Franco-Germanic approaches.

Perhaps this will mean that, just as Arsenal's recruitment of Wenger in the first place instigated revolution, the Frenchman's departure could herald the start of a new revolution in North London.

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Harrison Taylor

0161 295 4779