sports: Arsenal's next manager faces poisoned chalice
The Arsenal job should be one of the most attractive managerial positions in football. Instead, when Arsene Wenger walks away from the Emirates after this season ends, he'll bequeath a poisoned chalice to his successor.
The scale of the problems the new man will face were illustrated once again by Wednesday's 3-1 defeat away to Leicester City. Arsenal are the only Premier League team that have not taken a point on the road this year. The squad lacks fight and direction. Wenger's tenure has reached a painful end, yet the agony is unlikely to end with the manager's exit.
Wenger leaves behind an unbalanced squad whose star player, Mesut Ozil, seems incapable of living up to the money the club have invested in him. The new boss will have to galvanise the players and restore the confidence of an uncertain fan base. After all, the empty seats at the Emirates in the second half of the season helped seal Wenger's fate.
The 68-year-old's departure creates a vacuum at the club, and it is hard to predict how it will be filled. Power has been centred on Wenger for too long, though Arsenal have attempted to build a framework behind the scenes in recent months. Sven Mislintat arrived from Borussia Dortmund as head of recruitment at the end of last year. In February, Raul Sanllehi was appointed head of football relations after spending 14 years with Barcelona, yet it is too soon to assess whether the new setup will work. Both men come from clubs that have been lauded for producing players and success, but will the Gunners lean toward Dortmund's methods or those practised at the Nou Camp? And how will the next appointment fit into this untested structure?
There are too many questions hanging in the air in north London.