It didn’t take Arsene Wenger reaching the landmark of 1000 games in charge at Arsenal for him to be in complete control over his future with the club.
There is still speculation as to when, or indeed if, the manager will stay on at Arsenal. His current contract comes to an end this summer and most signs point to him wanting to make a decision once this season’s football is over with. Arguably a smart decision considering how delicately poised the remainder of this campaign is.
Wenger’s power to decide his own future and leave on his terms can be looked at from two perspectives. One is that he can never be forced out, even if temperatures rise to the level we saw at the start of the season against Aston Villa. The manager remains in complete control and most certainly against the wishes of the support – provided instances such as that arise again.
The other side is that Wenger brings stability. No one could argue against the idea that he will always act in the best interest of Arsenal. In contrast to fans and the media, who are known for thinking short term and acting carelessly immediately after shock results or actions in the market, Wenger looks further ahead and weighs up the bigger picture. If the decision on who should be manager were left out of his hands, the club could quite easily be worse off, with it being an acceptable stance that without Wenger, the club’s hierarchy are not in a position to replace adequately.
But those are issues which look at Arsenal’s current makeup. Wenger, in isolation, has done more than enough to decide when the time is right to leave the club. That he is yet to, standing firm against the distorted market and overall landscape of the modern game, and rejecting, you’d assume politely, a way out via clubs in Spain and Germany, speaks greatly of his commitment to building and fortifying the foundations at Arsenal.
Even when Wenger decides to move on – and few would think that this summer is that time – Arsenal will be better off for having had Wenger, perhaps even more so in these past eight years at the Emirates than the prior 10 at Highbury.
The next manager will be left with a strong squad structured around a core of British talents. If Wenger once again refuses to spend excessively in the market as the rest of Europe’s elite clubs are doing, those funds will be available to the next manager to use as he sees fit.
The stadium, the facilities, the regular Champions League football, the revenue streams from new or renewed commercial partnerships are all as a direct or indirect result of what Wenger has produced at Arsenal. No one would begrudge him his decision to walk away if he felt the time was right. Fans would lament his choice – and certainly when the time comes – but there will be nothing but gratitude for what he has done and an understanding that he deserves to call time on what have been some of the rockiest years for any manager of a top European club over the past few seasons.