Arsene Wenger will be an impossible act to follow and Arsenal cannot count on being in the Champions League every season once their French manager leaves, the club's former vice-chairman David Dein said on Monday.
Dein reckons that even if Arsenal make an astute choice when they eventually seek a successor to 66-year-old Wenger, whose contract runs out next year, they will face an uncertain time.
"He won't be a difficult to act to follow... he will be an impossible act to follow," Dein told Reuters at the Soccerex Global Convention.
"He's been at the club for 20 seasons and every year has been in the Champions League (since 1998-99) so to anyone wanting to change the manager I say to them that the next person is highly unlikely to do that.
"I had the good fortune to have known Arsene for eight years before he became Arsenal manager so knew what he was like.
"The easiest thing is just to change – the hard thing is getting somebody better. Who could you get that is better?
Wenger has steered Arsenal to three Premier League titles and six FA Cups, including two league and cup doubles, since he joined the club in 1996. Their last league triumph in 2004 was achieved without a defeat, earning the nickname The Invincibles.
"He was ready to leave when I left in 2007 but I told him he was right for Arsenal, Arsenal was right for him and, as an Arsenal fan, I wanted him to stay," added 73-year-old Dein.
When Dein brought the little-known Wenger over from Japan 20 years ago it was a revolutionary appointment given the small number of foreign managers in the Premier League at that time.
The landscape is very different two decades on, with David Moyes's brief spell at Manchester United in the 2013-14 season one of the few occasions when a British manager has held one of the leading jobs in England in the past decade.
Dein, though, believes Arsenal should not be reluctant to appoint a British manager when replacing Wenger.
Englishman Eddie Howe has been suggested as a candidate for the Arsenal post having done an impressive job getting Bournemouth promoted and keeping them in the Premier League.
"Would it be revolutionary to appoint a British manager? Not necessarily, you must go for the best," Dein said.
"Yes, it's a global game now and there is a different approach because exposure in television has made it so different and brought untold riches to the game, compared to the pre-Premier League era. But you go for the best."