Our ever-so-smooth-if-slightly-too-smooth CEO has spoken to The Daily Mirror regarding the future of our manager. As great as Wenger’s achievements have been, there is a huge split between fans on his future.
“It’s not a sense of sentimentalism, not a reward for our services, it’s a belief that we have an incredible manager who loves this club and is the best man to lead us forward.
“We’re really confident about the direction that the club is heading. We’re coming through strongly and we believe we’re really well placed.
“We hope and believe that Arsene will be a part of that as we move forward. He is written into our DNA.
“At the same time, as a club, we have to make sure that all of the things that Arsene has brought to the club are enshrined in our DNA to make sure that when the day comes when Arsene decides it’s time to hang up his boots – I don’t know what the expression is as a manager – that we are in a position to take his ideas and work forward.
“The values that Arsene has brought to the club together with the values the club had before Arsene are what will inform us – and I don’t want to give any indication that this is happening – and give us the framework as to who might take over from him in the longer term.”
There is a strong argument that Wenger is stubborn, which has led to him refusing to make substitutions when they are necessary, or refused to change our style of play even when it isn’t working. He supposedly spends little time working on defending, something that apparently Steve Bould has rectified. He hands out massive wage packets to unproven kids and doesn’t spend nearly enough in the transfer market on marquee signings. And most of all, he values profit ahead of trophies.
While all these arguments carry some weight, in varying degrees, it must be pointed out that Wenger is also one of the greatest managers in the world. He is regularly regarded as a world-class manager by his colleagues, and proves it by bringing in sensational talent on a shoe-string budget. Is he to blame for our lack of spending? Probably not, but if he is, then it is bloody impressive, not restraining. His ability to save money is the reason Arsenal will continue to be a great club long into the future. Arsenal’s fans are far too short-sighted. We need to understand that only one team will win the league each season, and we can’t expect to win it if we are up against teams that have spent half a billion pounds in the last four years. It just isn’t possible.
What is possible is staying competitive, keeping to our principles and playing decent football. That is what Wenger has achieved, and I doubt many other managers could achieve. Yes, you could say that we don’t know if another manager would do better, but why take that risk? Clubs perform best when their managers have had time to really make the team their own. Changing our manager at a time like this would be a risky decision. Wenger is still taking us through a transitional period following the stadium move.
I don’t doubt that Wenger has his problems. He is very stubborn, and spends Arsenal’s money as if it were his own. In some ways, this is a good thing – he has integrated himself so much into the club that he feels a real part of every choice that is made.
I truly believe that Wenger deserves a new contract, not because of his team’s performances in the last few years, but because he is the best man for the job. It isn’t a new deal to say thanks for failing to win any trophies, it’s a new deal to acknowledge he has the capabilities to take us to the next level. He needs a bit of luck; he needs a bit of loyalty from the players; perhaps some leeway from the board and most importantly, he needs support from the fans.