The Future Is Some Time Away
Arsene has been talking to French TV about his future. His current contract ends next summer, some eighteen months away which does not necessarily mean a great deal.
Following on from the Q&A with shareholders where he felt the squad was underappreciated, for the first time in his career he came close to breaking his contract, admitting to talks with Real Madrid. There is no evidence to suggest that this summer will see a repeat.
I am giving myself a bit of time to think. What is important is that the club is in good hands, whether they are mine or someone else’s.
Ivan Gazidis dropped a hint last week that the club were keen to tie the manager down for a longer period but Wenger does not necessarily renew with this much time in hand. Much will depend, I suspect, on how the squad continues to develop, whether he retains his enthusiasm for the quest for silverware.
There is no doubt that he truly believes in this group of players, his defences are too consistently staunch for it to be bravado. The squad is reciprocating, in touching distance of Chelsea, the next phase of the Champions League and 4th round of the FA Cup. It is a decent performance, statistically; a good position to be in during January. The next step is whether they can go and win one or more of the tophies.
Whether I personally leave on a positive or negative note is a little bit less important
From his personal perspective, I have no doubt he would prefer the former since there is a world of difference between the two scenarios. He may not be concerned with the difference between the two so long as it is right for him, which from his point of view is all that matters.
The nuance is not that he is concerned for his future though. It is that constant criticism from the stands does not bother him. Nor will he stay to be abused in circumstances where others might do so.
Having 60,000 people believing they can do the job better comes with the territory; the reality is that another manager may do so but he is pretty safe in the knowledge that he could count on the fingers of a non-existent hand how many of the Arsenal crowd can.
Football is based on opinions and Wenger knows everyone who follows the game has one. We may think on occasion we could do better; we cannot otherwise we would be in situ rather than he. And we are not. That does not mean criticism cannot be aired nor should it be stifled. It should be constructive and not abusive.
One aspect will be crucial to him. He must feel that the support is with him on this journey; it should be. Having been hamstrung by an inability to command transfer kitty’s comparable to others, he has kept the club at the top end whilst the squad is rebuilt.
Some who want the club to borrow to fund extravagance should look at Old Trafford this season. £80m from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo has not been reinvested, used instead to pay-off interest on their loans, the outlay increasing every season.
Those who want Arsenal to go down this route have an interesting contradiction which they have not settled – in some cases even realised. If borrowing is the policy for growth that they want, why oppose Usmanov since his credit rating is as good as Kroenke with the banks.
At all clubs, success is the yardstick by which managers are judged. Each club has different benchmarks. Having put the squad back into contention, the possibility to land the first trophy to adorn the new boardroom mantelpiece is at hand.