Roy Keane: Replacing Arsene Wenger will be easier than Sir Alex Ferguson

by Leo Nieboer

Roy Keane believes that Arsenal’s task of replacing Arsene Wenger will be easier than that of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

The transition into the post-Fergie era was spectacularly poorly handled at Old Trafford, with Ferguson and David Gill leaving a void that Ed Woodward and David Moyes, both in the market and on the pitch, miserably failed to fill.

Arsenal chiefs will be keen to avoid a similar fate when Wenger finally steps down at the Emirates this summer after 22 years in charge.

But Keane believes the transition away from Wenger will not serve as the same kind of detrimental shock to Arsenal as it was with Man United.

“I think so,” he said. “A touch easier. There was a lot of pressure on David Moyes going in at United and he didn’t get a chance, I suppose enough time, particularly with the recruitment side of things.”

“The problems at Arsenal, it’s still a great job. A lot of managers out there would love that job and to get them back to competing to win league titles.

“When you look at it, the way it’s been the last few years, [there has been] a lot of frustration from the supporters, particularly with their league form.

“As brilliant a job he has done for the club, it probably is the right time [for Wenger to leave]. In my time, particularly at United, when we played Arsenal we always knew it was going to be the toughest game of the season.

“Bottom line is Arsenal teams then, they had a lot of pace, power, characters and a lot of leaders and quality. They were producing brilliant football, winning football.

“Whereas you look at the Arsenal teams over the last few years, still a lot of pace but no real characters, no real leaders and they’re missing out on all the big prizes so it’s been tough going for them.”

The key difference, of course, is that Ferguson left United while they were on top, setting in motion a painful slump into mediocrity that nobody knew how to reverse – least of all Moyes. They were a humungous hot air balloon flying high, only without the man who got them up there in the first place.

At Arsenal, however, their balloon burst and descended towards the ground some time ago. Crowds have diminished, the rage has intensified, the soft touch label has only become more and more suitable for the North London side.

Surely, then, the only way is up. There will be at the very least a different mood about the Emirates next season. Something new, something to hope for.

But nobody can predict just what impact his departure will have. He ran the club like it was his own for 22 years. And for him to suddenly be out of the picture, just like that, is likely to be a shock to the system to some degree.

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