SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: A manager well past his sell-by date

Arsene Wenger is a has been.
Arsene Wenger is a has been.
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Knowing when to retire with your sporting legacy intact is a skill.

Sir Alex Ferguson knew the time was right to get out of Old Trafford, while Rocky Marciano bowed out with a perfect record in the boxing ring.

Mesut Ozil has been a waste of money.

Mesut Ozil has been a waste of money.

Darren Ferguson hung around at Posh for 18 months longer than was sensible, while sadly Muhammed Ali was still fighting well after his mental and physical brilliance had deserted him.

It’s a shame Arsene Wenger appears to have been treated like an untouchable dictator at the Emirates Stadium. He’s needed someone brave enough and strong enough to tell him he was well past his sell-by date years ago.

Someone with footballing credibility rather than someone like (excitable Gunners fan) Piers Morgan.

It’s been quite sad to see an outstanding legacy become so tarnished by increasing fan unrest, media criticism and pea-hearted players.

Granit Xhaka is hopeless.

Granit Xhaka is hopeless.

But sympathy is diluted by Wenger’s stubborness in refusing to accept his powers have diminished.

His all-too-knowing press conferences when he looks down on those he believes are inferior (everyone in the room basically) have become a tough watch.

Mediocrity has become acceptable at the Emirates.

This is a team who have been known to celebrate a fourth-place finish in the Premier League with cringeworthy, on-field jogs of joy.

This is a team who beat Leicester City at home last season, to close the gap at the top of the table to one point, and promptly recorded a momentous 2-1 win with dressing room selfie shots of topless players who believed they had achieved a decisive victory.

Leicester went on to win the title by 10 points. In a season when Arsenal managed to finish above Chelsea, two Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Spurs, they still couldn’t win the title.

They’ve essentially stagnated. Wenger has been among the highest paid managers in the world in every year since 2004, the last time Arsenal managed to win the Premier League. No wonder he’s been reluctant to give up a gravy train organised by a board of directors who couldn’t be any more out of touch with their fanbase.

Wenger’s judgement is shot. He wasted £42 million on Mesut Ozil, a midfielder who disappears at the slightest hint of a big-game atmosphere. Last summer he flushed £34 million down the pan by signing midfielder Granit Xhaka, a slightly better version of Vinnie Jones.

Arsenal may well finish in the top four for a 21st season in a row (Spurs look like they have been found out, Liverpool remain flakey), but they can no longer be looked upon as realistic title contenders.

If that’s the limit of the club’s ambitions they may as well stick with Wenger.

But if they want to progress they need to gamble. Actually with the riches at their disposal it wouldn’t be that big a gamble. They can afford anyone they want.