I don't think any of the themes about Arsene Wenger that Simon Kuper covers in this article will surprise any of the readers of this blog. I'm mostly posting this link (free sign-up required) because one of the most (the most?) respected pundit writing about the beautiful game has echoed the sentiments that I/we have been writing about Wenger.
The comparison with Billy Beane (of Moneyball fame) is an apt one as is the conclusion that even the most successful and pioneering among us have a tendency to fall in love with what has worked for us in the past. Detroit continues to love muscle cars. Microsoft still relies heavily on PC-based programs and still hasn't really figured out the web. Big media companies continue to focus their operations on print with digital secondary rather than the other way around. The lesson is that most great innovators don't have a second act. Even Google with all of its resources is still struggling for a second big hit.
As such, it is not at all incompatible to say that Wenger has been the most influential manager of his generation (not the best mind you, SAF has that salted away) AND that it is time for someone new to bring in the next innovation at Arsenal if they are going to continue to compete without the benefit of spending beyond their means.
An interesting question to ponder if you agree that Wenger has peaked is "If a manager or management team exists that can deliver the next level of innovation, would they have any motivation to choose to work at Arsenal?" Depending on your answer to that question you are also answering the question "Have Arsenal peaked as a club at the same time that Wenger peaked? Or can they find a way to have a second act under different leadership?"
Just something to think about as I get ready to start in on the Player Picks column