The Arsenal fans had a look at their future on Saturday and it must have been worrying. Not the immediate outlook, that appears glorious. Their young team is at the top of the Premier League playing football as beautiful as it is effective, and a spanking new stadium is banking unprecedented income.
Eventually, however, Arsène Wenger will leave. Not soon, and certainly not for Soho Square, but eventually. He is 58 today and said he could not imagine managing at 65. Pity the manager who has to replace him, however rich the inherited resources.
Sammy Lee must have thought he was on to a good thing when he took over from Sam Allardyce this summer. Not many managers get their first shot with a club that finished in the European places.
But Sam Allardyce built the modern Bolton Wanderers as surely as Wenger created 21st century Arsenal. Following Allardyce proved impossible for Lee and while the board searches for a man who can measure up the team has slumped to the bottom of the division.
"If we can't turn it around it would be atrocious," said Kevin Nolan. The captain was recalled by the caretaker Archie Knox on Saturday having been one of several players to fall foul of Lee. He was not, however, admitting to relief at Lee's departure.
"We're all disappointed. Sammy Lee has been a major part of this club for the past three years," said Nolan. "I think we have to realise that it's always going to be difficult to step into Sam Allardyce's shoes. It's probably the toughest job outside the top four.
"The success Sam had at Bolton, on the limited budget he had, makes it hard for anyone to follow. But we've got to get away from talking about Sam Allardyce.
"I'm sick of people talking about him. It was always going to be tricky for whoever followed him but he's gone now. We don't want to know what he's doing, how he's doing at Newcastle.
"He's gone. We just have to get on with it and go up to Newcastle and shove it up them when we get the chance. We want to prove it's about us as well as Sam Allardyce. It's about this team and the new manager who comes in, proving everyone wrong and climbing up the table.
"The players take full responsibility for what's happened. We go out on to the pitch. But you can't replace 22 players in four days like you can a manager. It's always the manager who gets the bullet."
Nolan added: "I just hope they get the right manager in. It's important that we get a new manager in quickly, but it's more important that we get the right appointment."
With Knox reverting to the "Allardyce" way Bolton resisted for 67 fractious minutes. Then Kolo Touré drove in a free-kick and Tomas Rosicky turned in Theo Walcott's cross.
With 11 wins on the spin Wenger can celebrate his birthday in style. Instead he will watch Newcastle v Tottenham on television. He said: "It's a day like any other day, but I may have one glass of wine."Reuse content