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David Moyes Was The Worst Thing To Ever Happen To Arsenal

For 15 years Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson were anomalies, paradoxically united by their rivalry. 
The duo were the exception to the rule, building everlasting dynasties in the age of immediacy. But in Ferguson’s case, it wasn’t everlasting, with the Scot retiring after 27 years at Manchester United. Now, Wenger has been left as a lone anomaly, with next season set to be his 20th at Arsenal.

That’s if the Frenchman lasts until next season. This summer will see Wenger, and Arsenal by extension, reach a critical juncture. They must choose whether to stay the course, committing to at least another year of tedious monotony, or to part ways, taking a leap of faith into the post-Wenger abyss.

Given the correlation between Wenger and Ferguson, it’s only natural that those associated with Arsenal have glanced rather fearfully at how Man Utd were impacted by the exit of their legendary figurehead, and how they still haven’t recovered nearly four years later. It has left Gooners in uncomfortable no man’s land between yearning change and fearing it. David Moyes was the worst thing to happen to Arsenal.

But rather than be daunted by the consequences Man Utd experienced in hiring Moyes after Ferguson’s retirement, Arsenal should learn from them. They are fortunate that there is a precedent to draw from, with United’s struggles in recent seasons showing the Gunners how not to approach the end of an era.

If this is to be Wenger’s last season at Arsenal, they must look to move on as quickly as possible. Keeping the Frenchman around in any form could be as much of a hindrance as a help, just as Ferguson proved to be as a looming figure over Moyes. They must turn to someone who would take the club in a completely different direction. In essence, they need someone who would care little for what Wenger has built, instead looking to mould Arsenal in their own identity. 

That’s the mistake Man Utd made in hiring Moyes, a man who was all too keen to proclaim continuity as the ethos of his ill-fated tenure. The Old Trafford club attempted to find the closest thing to Ferguson in an attempt to eek out his legacy, as if that was ever going to be possible. Arsenal fall into the same trap whenever it is time to replace Wenger.

Of course, Wenger’s contract as Arsenal boss is up at the end of the season, with his future the subject of much speculation. Some believe he will leave his post this summer, while others think he could stay at the club for as long as another four years. Arsenal Fan TV might not cope if the latter materialises.

But this is where Arsenal can learn another lesson from Man Utd’s mistakes. Moyes was an improvised appointment, hired because he was the most convenient appointment, not the best appointment. Despite Ferguson telling the club in February of his intention to retire at the end of the 2012/13 season, there was no succession plan. They should have had Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola lined up, but they didn’t.

So even if Wenger doesn’t leave Arsenal this summer, they must start planning for his eventual exit. That might mean second-guessing the future, perhaps approaching Diego Simeone in the possibility that could leave Atletico Madrid in 2018, or looking even further ahead, talking to Joachim Low about his plans after his contract as Germany manager expires in 2020.

It’s true that Moyes’ failure in replacing Ferguson at United should send shivers up the spine of Gooners, but they must treat what happened at Old Trafford as the worst case scenario rather than a guaranteed eventuality. Moyes might be in the worst thing to happen to Arsenal as they consider an age without Wenger in charge, but the precedent he set could in fact turn out to be the quite the opposite.

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