Arsene Wenger, Jurgen Klopp, & the Arsenal Fandom Dichatomy

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    Updated: December 1, 2014
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    Being an Arsenal fan in recent times makes me feel more like an aspiring psychologist or a sociologist as opposed to a die-hard supporter. The reason for this is the complex dynamic that is Arsenal fandom. I’m sure years from now there will be studies, reports, essays, or something scholarly done to try and explain the peculiar interaction between Arsenal fans from the mid-2000’s to this current moment.

    As a life long sports fan I have never seen such division among a body of people whom ultimately want the same thing, success for the team they root for. For Gooners across the globe, Arsenal is our heart, our pride, our joy, and most importantly it is our club. Arsenal supporters live and breathe AFC, and when us fans are united, it’s a wonderful sight. But in the last 9 years, I’ve seen this unity of club and fandom happen just once, May 17, 2014.

    The day Arsenal best Hull City to win the FA Cup and end their 9-year trophy drought. On that day, all was right with the world for Gooners everywhere. But in the span of six months, everything is back to being like May 16, 2014, and every day before it for 9 years. And the driving force behind this Arsenal civil war is revolves around our legendary manager, Arsene Wenger.

    Wenger’s reign has reached a point where you’re either a die-hard supporter and want to see Wenger bring the club back to its invincible season prominence, or you’re fed up with the Frenchmen and want him to leave so a new manager can bring Arsenal back to the heights of English dominance. One day Wenger will leave, and when that day comes, it brings with it a new manager. A new and improved manager, we hope.

    And the man I want to be Wenger’s replacement is Jurgen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund fame. Klopp reminds me of a younger Wenger, which for me is perfect. But I’ve started to see some Arsenal supporters say they feel differently about the German coach. They don’t want Klopp as Arsenal’s next manager, and Dortmund’s current relegation battle in Germany may be strengthening their case. So it begs the question, is Klopp truly the man to lead Arsenal once Wenger is gone?


    Ready Made Replacement?…


    Last year around this same time I wrote a piece on why Klopp was the modern-day Wenger. I see a lot of similarities between the two managers. Both men subscribe to a notion of beautiful possession based football that is fun to watch. During the era when Wenger’s Arsenal was winning trophies annually, his team’s played some of the most attractive football in Europe.

    Even during the trophy drought Wenger’s teams played champagne football prompting people to refer to Arsenal as Barcelona-lite, or the best Spanish team in England. Klopp’s teams have been no different. Since he took over the club in 2008, Klopp and his young charges have run riot in Germany and across Europe. Whether it be domestically or abroad, Klopp’s men have met every opponent with the same brand of beautiful football that brought the club and Klopp renowned around the world.

    But it’s not only the playing styles I found so similar between the two men, but also how they go about discovering talent and molding unknown players into world-beaters. Players like Mats Hummels, Mario Goetze, Robert Lewondowski, Marco Reus, Nuri Sahin, Iilkay Gundogan and countless others have become stars under Klopp’s. All were talented kids that needed guidance and someone to get the best out of them, and Klopp did.

    And it’s just like Wenger bringing up players like King Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera, Robert Pires, Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and scores of others. Men like Wenger and Klopp breed greatness by molding young talent and giving them the confidence and platform to showcase their abilities. What the footballing world was witnessing with Klopp is exactly what they had been witnessing with Wenger a decade earlier. And this has not gone unnoticed by Arsenal fans.

    Klopp’s style of play, eye for talent, charisma, and love of the club who employs him reminds us of Wenger. And that’s where the love affair comes in. For me, he’s the perfect replacement. He is the modern-day Wenger. Who better to replace Wenger then the new him? But maybe I’ve gotten ahead of myself with the praise for Klopp.

    I know Klopp is a great manager, but is he as good as I think he is? I’ve spoken to and listened to other Gooners who feel differently about Klopp, and they’ve all made valid points as to why they aren’t as sold on Klopp as I am.


    Klopp is Good, But He’s No Wenger?…


    The people who are not quite sold on Klopp aren’t from any particular side of the Wenger in/Wenger out debate. I’ve spoken to people on both sides of the spectrum that are skeptical of Klopp, and I can understand why. After 13 games Dortmund are fighting for their lives and are bottom of the league. Now, there can be a number of reasons for Dortmund’s poor season up to this point.

    First, Klopp keeps losing all those players I mentioned above either through transfers or injury. Bayern Munich took Klopp’s best striker and best midfielder in successive seasons, and FC Hollywood may be back for more, sooner than later. Second, his team has been hit with massive injuries to key players like Hummels, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Reus.

    All the while Klopp is trying to keep morale up in a very tough Bundesliga with new young players, with teams around Europe wanting to beat this fantastic Dortmund side. In my opinion these are reasons why Dortmund aren’t succeeding. The people who don’t want Klopp to coach Arsenal pointed something out to me, everything I’ve said aren’t necessarily reasons, but rather they’re excuses. And they may be right. Loss of players through transfer and injury, while playing in a competitive league sums up Arsenal for the last 9 years.

    This is exactly what Wenger goes through yearly and Wenger always weather’s the storm. Also the people who are not sold on Klopp correctly point out that Wenger has never been in a relegation scrap like this under those circumstances in a far tougher league in England. As much flak as Wenger gets, he’s managed to get Arsenal into the top 4 every year and into champions league qualifications for 15 straight seasons.

    It’s too early to say whether Klopp will turn it around and get Dortmund into a higher position on the table, but Dortmund are in a downward spiral and as great as Klopp is, he can’t seem to find a way to stop the bleeding. What if that happened at Arsenal where top 4 means so much in money and transfers? Klopp isn’t building a new stadium, Wenger was.

    Klopp isn’t trying to cut cost and balance off the books to keep Dortmund from being in massive debt, Wenger was. For a club like Arsenal, missing out on the top 4 is unacceptable, unthinkable even. And it has yet to happen under Wenger. Klopp still has 7 months to right the ship, but if Dortmund is relegated or finishes near the relegation zone, then the anti-Klopp contingent will have something to back up their trepidations.

    I honestly don’t know who’s going to replace Wenger once his reign is over. I’ve heard Klopp, Diego Simeone, and a few others touted as possible replacements. I think both Klopp and Simeone would bring success to the club. I guess we will have to wait and see if it’s either man.

    No matter if you’re Wenger in or Wenger Out, or are rooting for/against Klopp becoming our next manager, there is one common bond for every Gooner, success for Arsenal FC. And the sad part of all the infighting amongst us supporters is that the greater good of the club is turning into who was right and who wrong on how the club started to succeed again, as opposed to let us all just get it right for Arsenal.

    I for one will support any manager we get, and if he’s the right man for the job, I will grow to love him like I do Wenger. And I hope everyone will have that same attitude. Come on you Gunners, and Up the Arsenal for everyone and forever. And as always, “In Arsene we Trust.”

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