Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes that Arsene Wenger has the right to be given the opportunity to decide his own future amid major concerns over his capability to stay in his current role at the Emirates. The north London club are likely to endure yet another season without the title and patience is running low with the supporters, who are showing their dissatisfaction by bringing in banners to the stadium, asking Wenger to leave the club.
Keane believes that it is difficult to set a particular age at when a manager should retire as unlike a footballer, whose physical ability starts waning after he is 30, there are innumerable instances of managers who have been successful at a late age. Wenger will complete 20 years at Arsenal later this year and Keown believes that he may still be given a new contract after the one which expires next season.
"Arsene Wenger decides when he leaves Arsenal. The topic of Wenger comes up all the time and I think we should allow the great man to decide when he goes. He's got one year left on his contract. You can be certain that he'll be all out to make sure that in his last year he's going to be successful – and I wouldn't bet against him signing a new deal. If Wenger does sign a new contract, then succession planning has to begin. Steve Bould is either nurtured into the role, or they identify who would be the next person to take over," Keown told the Daily Mail.
"What I think Arsenal will do is only look for a replacement when Wenger wants to go. They won't tap him on the shoulder and say 'We're bringing in Simeone'. Wenger is 66 and doesn't seem like an old 66. Most players don't get much beyond the age of 30 but there isn't a set age for a manager to be past their best. Just look at what you're seeing. I don't see any less desire in Wenger – if anything I see more desire than when he first arrived when you see him on the touchline," he added.
When asked if Diego Simeone could be a possible replacement for the Frenchman, Keown believes that decision should be for the upper management to make on how they see the managerial situation at Arsenal panning forward. The problems faced by David Moyes at Manchester United and the current appointment of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City should be used as precedent by Arsenal to pave the path for whoever comes to replace the manager in the future.
"Simeone is quite an animated figure and has done an incredible job at Atletico Madrid – it takes something special to be crowned champions in a league with Barcelona and Real Madrid. If Wenger steps aside I'm sure he's someone they would look at, but the directors have a unique situation of a manager who will decide when he goes – and we must not forget that," Keown continued.
"Just look at what's happened at Manchester United. If we look over the road at Manchester City, there seems to be the makings of a plan with Pep Guardiola and Patrick Vieira. Guardiola typically only does three years. Vieira is now plying his trade in New York and it could be he's part of the plan to take over from Guardiola in the future."