While the Champions League Round of 16 continues, early exits just might be the nail in the coffin for two club managers. Each club has high expectations for their team, and their losses this week have been nothing short of embarrassing. To be fair, both men were on a short leash heading into the current competition, but the extent of the losses would seem to create a headwind for managerial replacement once their current campaigns wrap up in May.
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) – While out of contract by mutual consent at the end of the season, the Frenchman has said he will make his decision at that time. That might be true, but after 20 years in charge of the Gunners, many fans have felt for a while that his time has passed. Arsenal is unlikely to overtake Bayern Munich’s 5-1 scoring advantage in the second leg of competition at the Emirates, and would then exit the Champions League in the round of 16 for the seventh straight season.
In the English Premier League, their title drought will likely reach 13 years as they are 10 points behind league-leaders Chelsea. The Gunners are still alive in the FA Cup competition, and play non-league Sutton United on Monday, but even hoisting the FA Cup would not erase the failures of the larger competitions. It is thought that a fourth-place finish in the EPL would be enough to meet the club’s financial obligations, but after two decades at the helm, it might be time for Wenger to move on. While an announcement is not imminent, expect Arsene Wenger to leave the Gunners after the current EPL season ends.
Luis Enrique (Barcelona) – With a front line of forwards named Messi, Suarez and Neymar, success would seem inevitable for the Blaugrana. While they compete with Real Madrid for first place in La Liga, 2nd place is not really an option for this club. Yet that is where they currently find themselves, with their chances to overtake the Galacticos fleeting at best. Having been thoroughly outplayed by PSG in their Champions League match on Tuesday, a four-goal loss without scoring an away goal makes a second-leg comeback at the Camp Nou highly unlikely.
While they have qualified for the finals of Spain’s Copa Del Rey competition in May against Alaves, more success (and silverware) is expected from this Barca team. With several key players signed on for the long haul, the team is negotiating with superstar Lionel Messi to extend his contract beyond 2018. This would leave manager Luis Enrique exposed for team failures, in spite of winning eight trophies in 2 ½ years at the helm. The squad seems to have lost faith in their manager, and it showed on the pitch against PSG. After the game, Enrique yet again blasted the press for their recent reporting while a few of his players (notably Sergio Busquets) aimed their frustrations back at the manager. With replacements already being mentioned (Jorge Sampaoli, Mauricio Pochettino), expect Luis Enrique to be riding his mountain bike in the Pyrenees once the current campaign ends in May.