Wenger In? Wenger Out? Those are the questions. It has been the one subject exercising the minds of Arsenal fans and the media for much of the season. It’s been quite the soap opera. When, if ever, will it end though?
Arsene Wenger, Arsenal Manager, promised he would announce his decision regarding whether or not he’d be staying on past the expiry of his current contract in March/April 2017, but like some politicians and quite unlike Mr Wenger to be fair, he did not make good on his promise and even with TV and press interviews as recently as last Friday he still chose not to give an answer.
This appears to be wholly unsatisfactory from a fans and PR perspective and is not what we’ve come to expect from such a professional, well run club like Arsenal. This is something of an anomaly and phenomenon in modern day football as it’s so rare to have such a long serving manager in post (21 years … and counting?) and so you have to presume there is good reason for this impasse. It would of course have made logical sense to announce a decision in good time – be it to stay on or leave and if leaving, arrange an orderly succession. The lack of this happening and absence of rumours of Arsenal sounding out other managers points to the fact there will be no orderly succession, meaning Wenger is set to stay on. It is what it is and so we can just leave it be … or have some fun speculating on the reasons why Wenger and Arsenal Football Club have not announced a decision and not parted company. To me this points to one or more reasons, so as we’re approaching the final round of Premier League matches to conclude the 2016-17 season here goes:
10 Reasons Why Wenger Will Stay on
- Wenger is an honourable man. He is a stickler for honouring contracts. It appears clear Wenger views a legal contract of employment as akin to the sacred covenant of marriage. “In sickness and in health. Till death do us part” seems to be his modus operandi and he therefore will be staying on forever just like the Queen!
- He loves Arsenal so much he cannot bear to leave and unless pushed will not go. The feeling from the Board is reciprocal.
- Maybe Wenger is a “secret”, silent Director in the club and therefore has a major say in determining if and when he leaves.
- He is convinced that on merit he deserves to stay. Not only for his past achievements but specifically he expects to yet again secure a top 4 finish as he consistently done during his 21 year tenure. I expect this as well. To be fair few fans would have thought this possible earlier in the season during a particularly poor run of results so to be in with a shout on the final day is some achievement and no less than he expected. Remember Wenger always says judge him at the end of the season.
- He is very confident of winning the FA Cup, the 2nd most important trophy in English football. He is not in the business of losing FA Cup finals. His record: Won 6 Lost 1. He does face his sternest challenge in Chelsea next Saturday 27th May who are also unaccustomed to losing FA Cup finals. In winning 7 they never have lost a final and Since Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996 they’ve Won 6. Lost 0. If Wenger wins his 7th final he will feel justified that he has earnt himself a contract extension. It might well be the case that the Board have agreed that an extension of contract is dependent on winning the cup and/or securing a Top 4 finish. Furthermore, both parties may well have decided to keep this criteria to themselves to allow room for manoeuvre if results don’t go to plan.
- Wenger knows best. It may well be that after 21 years there, he believes that no one else can be a better job than he can. He will feel very much part of the furniture there and that this new Emirates Stadium era is just beginning, free of the financial constraints imposed in financing the new stadium and needs time to re-build his side into genuine title contenders.
- His massive salary. Would you voluntarily walks away from a salary of £8.3 million per annum? Wenger should though be wealthy beyond belief by now and I suspect would not be short of highly lucrative offers if he sought a new club so I’d be surprised if this was the major reason for his determination to stay on, but it could be a factor.
- He’s been promised a huge cash investment from the Board to spend on players to strengthen the squad. A top striker is required who can guarantee them 20+ goals a season. Theo Walcott should be moved on now.
- Wenger’s made a private bet and thus can’t announce a decision or even countenance leaving anytime soon. I understand he’s said he’s not a fan of gambling and would ban it so this is highly unlikely … unless he’s a specialist in poker and was bluffing!
- None of the above. He actually really wants to call it a day, but gets more of a kick out of staying and tormenting Piers Morgan and the small but vocal army of Wenger Out critics!
Has the Wenger Soap Opera Run It’s Course?
You can certainly make a results based argument to retain his services if he wins the FA Cup and/or attains a Top 4 Premier League finish. It will be interesting to see if there are still calls for him to go if they secure both. You can also make a good argument for extending his contract regardless of whether or not he achieves either based on his success to date including this season, which has still been a very good one. However in the grand context of things I think it would be wise for Wenger to call it a day and look for a new challenge.
Though most clubs would kill to be in Arsenal’s position and from the outside their fans can appear highly ungrateful to their manager. However they are not “most clubs” and the club and their fans expect them to be challenging strongly for the premier league title and going a lot further in the Champions League. They have been unlucky in regularly drawing Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the quarter finals. You can’t discount that. Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear a Top 4 finish and FA Cup will not satisfy their supporters and I do believe there is little to be gained by staying on and his reputation will be maintained, even enhanced by leaving after this season.
Now is the time to announce he will be leaving this year. He has been a wonderful servant to the club and has created a great legacy that will go down in history. This fascinating soap opera has run its course and many supporters and neutrals alike would prefer not to watch the repeat next season.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
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- Result review – Football Play at Pleasance, London N1 – 29th May 2015