Arsene Wenger could be season’s first major story
Arsenal manager has been a storyline for some time in English football – a league that likes a story
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has so far this summer only recruited one player, a 20-year-old striker from Auxerre called Yaya Sanogo on a free.
May 19th, The Hawthorns, West Bromwich: the end of an era, the start of another. After 26½ years in charge of Manchester United, during which he not only dug up the landscape of English football, but redesigned it and cast an enlarged Old Trafford shadow across it, Alex Ferguson named his last XI.
He then watched on bemused as United and West Brom somehow conjured a 5-5 draw.
Ferguson was none too bothered that sunny day as he limped on to say a final farewell to his public, just as Paul Scholes dropped a shoulder, skipped goodbyes and burrowed into retirement.
United were already England’s champions – for the 13th time under Ferguson. The crowd roared, they knew this was a special afternoon.
And in the away end, as they hailed the past and the present, they also addressed the future.
United’s travelling support is known for its volume and it made the future sing. To the tune of Slade’s Cum on feel the noize, United’s fans belted out, over and over: “Come on feel the Moyes, play like Fergie’s boys, we’ll go, wild, wild, wild.”
Everton conceded fewer goals than United in the league last season, and the idea of Moyes going wild, wild, wild, will require visualisation techniques for some; but if this terrace chant becomes a soundtrack to the season, then David Moyes will be a contented man. United’s transition from legendary Glaswegian manager to very good Glaswegian manager will have been smooth, and possibly better than that.
The 50-year-old Moyes embodies the novelty and noise of this new Premier League season, a sentence he may not wholly enjoy. Ferguson has departed United, Moyes left Everton as a result, Jose Mourinho has returned to Chelsea, replacing his famously ‘interim’ predecessor, Rafa Benitez, and at Manchester City a man nicknamed The Engineer, Manuel Pellegrini, has been appointed to succeed the sacked Roberto Mancini.
If you add Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham and Roberto Martinez at Everton, then of England’s top seven clubs last season, only Arsene Wenger at Arsenal has been in post for more than a season.
The Manager has been a storyline in itself for some time in English football, and the Premier League does like a story. Sometimes they outweigh the football – what does it say about standards when United won the title last season by 11 points despite their worst defensive record since 2001- 02?
Forget that, though, the hullabaloo stomps on and what will occupy us over the next 10 months is not just the newness of managers, but goal-line technology for the first time, a south Wales top-flight derby, controversies and sackings – Newcastle’s Alan Pardew is favourite to fall first – and as ever, money, money, money.