It’s not been an easy few months for Arsenal fans.
On the field, Chelsea’s incredible form means a Premier League title challenge will have to wait minimum another year, while losing 10-2 over two legs to Bayern Munich in the Champions League was a monumental mental collapse fans could have done without witnessing, leaving just the FA Cup to realistically play for now.
Off the pitch, things aren’t much better, with Arsène Wenger’s future still up in the air, and an important chunk of his backroom staff deciding to take jobs elsewhere instead of remaining at the Emirates to work under the Frenchman.
Of course, you can hardly blame them, considering the job offers they received, yet there is a feeling that this exodus of those close to the 67-year-old could suggest his time at Arsenal is finally coming to an end.
It all started back in July, when Wenger reportedly gave then U18s coach and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry an ultimatum regarding dividing his time at the club with his role as a pundit for Sky Sports News, leading to certain conflicts of interest.
The former France international subsequently left the club to continue working in television, and was then offered a job as Roberto Martinez’s assistant manager for the Belgium national team.
Then came a double exit towards the end of February, when both Andries Jonker and Freddie Ljungberg left Arsenal to team up at Wolfsburg together, where they have, so far, overseen a 1-1 draw against Mainz 05 and a 1-0 away win to second placed RB Leipzig.
Jonker was offered the reins of the Bundesliga side to try and help them avoid relegation, and offered Ljungberg the assistant role, having already worked with the former winger, who had been managing the Gunners’ U15 side since 2016.
While these three exits could be filed in the ‘understandable’ folder, considering neither had been in their respective jobs for more than three years, news emerging on Tuesday that first-team coach Boro Primorac could be leaving to manage Turkish side Konyaspor at the end of the season certainly doesn’t.
The 62-year-old has worked as one of Wenger’s most trusted staff members for around 20 years, and his departure would certainly be a big loss for the Arsenal manager, creating a gap he would find hard to replace.
Since the news broke, Arsenal have addressed the situation directly, describing the story as ‘wild speculation’, adding they were ‘completely unaware’ of Primorac’s intention to quit the club at this moment in time.
Naturally, considering the original source of the article, Fotospor in Turkey, claimed the Bosnian Croat coach wouldn’t take over until the end of the season, quitting now would make very little sense, and it certainly is in Arsenal’s best interest to keep another possible staff departure quiet.
Furthermore, recent reports suggesting the club are also looking for someone to become the club’s next director of football are doing nothing to quell the rumours of a Wenger exit, as it seems a restructure of the club’s organisation could be underway as Arsenal prepare for life without their trusted manager since 1996.
As we explained on Monday when suggesting Sevilla’s Monchi for the role: “Whoever succeeds Wenger at Arsenal will have big boots to fill, and it makes complete sense for Arsenal to hire someone capable of easing the transition, especially on the transfer front.
“Thus, letting the new director of football deal with negotiations would help the next manager focus on the task at hand: getting this team filled with talent to compete once against England’s, and Europe’s, best.”
A new manager tends to mean new staff members, and if Wenger’s successor wants to bring his own men in for the job next summer (or whenever the 67-year-old steps down), it would certainly make Arsenal’s life a lot easier if the roles were vacant come the end of the season.
Does all of this mean the Frenchman will definitely step down once the 2016-17 campaign comes to an end?
Probably not, but for a club currently embroiled in a mixture of on the pitch underperformance, fan unrest and managerial uncertainty, a recent backroom exodus and the creation of a new role to take over a job Wenger has himself partially overseen since his arrival certainly isn’t going to help the negative buzz surrounding the Emirates these days.