Arsene Wenger is nearing the end of what has been a long, and at times turbulent, career as a club manager. After Arsenal, it is unlikely he would choose to go to another club side.
But what about a national team? The Frenchman has long been recognised as one of the men who revamped the English game at the turn of the millennium; could the England national team return the favour and give him the perfect managerial send-off?
Signings? What signings?
Let’s be frank: Wenger could do without the hassle of the transfer market as he nears retirement. Le Prof has endured a torrid time in the window throughout his career, losing Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in an emotionally scarring summer of 2011.
Think of the luxury of being blameless for having a terrible team – all that, and more, could be Wenger’s, watching on with a shrug and a cheery smile as Jordan Henderson shoots high, wide and not at all handsomely.
No stadium drama
The Emirates Stadium has defined Wenger’s career in the sort of way Voldemort defined Harry Potter’s childhood. Imagine the Frenchman’s delight then at being offered a job with a state-of-the-art stadium ALREADY in place?
No on-site visits, no evenings studying a bank statement, and plenty of time to ponder how to get the best out of Kieran Gibbs. Imagine what Wenger could accomplish with a clear mind.
The meaning of success
With fewer trophies to win, and years to prepare for each one, Wenger’s nine-year spell without a trophy would be viewed in an entirely different light as an international manager.
Furthermore, his fourth-place finishes would be held in high regard at St George’s Park these days. That’s a semi-final, and something the Three Lions haven’t achieved for 20 years. They wouldn’t be laughing any more, Arsene. They wouldn’t be laughing any more.
Tiny shoes to fill
The standard set by former England managers leaves the bar so low it’s almost laughable. Roy Hodgson’s tournament nous was shocking, Sam Allardyce lasted 67 days before tripping on his own shoelaces, Fabio Capello bored England fans to booing, and Steve McClaren failed to qualify for Euro 2008.
There’ll be no booing for Wenger then; while Arsenal fans have come to demand success, England fans weep for dignity, and while the pressure is always on as England manager, the bar has never been lower.
There was a period of time when it looked as though Wenger was to be remembered as a laughing stock, his three Premier League titles lost among years of falling short. Two FA Cups and a few top signings later and Wenger’s legacy seems secure, but what a way to retire: on an open top bus parade, holding the World Cup in his arms.
And while it seems likely the Frenchman will finish his career with a Champions League trophy missing from his collection, international honours are even harder to come by. They’d build statues of you, Arsene.