Replacing Wenger’s Gunner be hard

Arsene Wenger will be a hard act to follow
Arsene Wenger will be a hard act to follow
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Succession planning is on Ivan Gazidis’ mind as the Arsenal chief executive admits replacing Arsene Wenger will be a great test for the Gunners.

Wenger this month celebrated 18 years as manager at Arsenal, who need look no further than Manchester United and life after Sir Alex Ferguson to see how difficult it is to replace such a pivotal figure.

The Frenchman, who is 65 next week, signed a three-year contract extension in May after ending a nine-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup.

Gazidis said: “So much of the attention on a football club is around an individual and that’s very understandable at Arsenal because we have a giant who’s managing us.

“Arsene has been a fantastic driver and has put the club in a great, great position.

“The biggest challenge we’re going to face as a club is that, when that transition from Arsene to the next manager of our football club happens – and I don’t know when that’s going to be – that we come through that strongly.”

Gazidis, who has been in post for six years, is optimistic for the future and wants Arsenal to join the world’s elite. He said: “I wouldn’t be doing this job if I didn’t believe we could compete at the very top level. I know Arsene feels exactly the same way.

“Where we are currently is off the shoulder of the world’s top teams.

“I think the best teams in the world are in Europe and you think about the great names in world football like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich – I don’t think we’re at that level yet but that’s where we’re aiming to get to.

“It’s one thing to say that and it’s another thing to be able to deliver it.”

During Arsenal’s long slump without silverware it seemed they might struggle to rediscover former glories, despite reaching the Champions League for 17 successive seasons.

“It has been incredibly frustrating not being able to be where we want to be these last few years, so winning the FA Cup was a fantastic moment,” Gazidis said.

“But I don’t come out of that feeling satisfied like we’ve achieved what we need to achieve. The hunger for success is immediate.

“The moment you get away from that euphoria 
of the moment, the next question is, ‘How do we have more of that’?”