Arsene Wenger has put pen to paper on a fresh contract extension once again as Arsenal manager, due to keep the Frenchman at the club until the summer of 2019. The Arsenal boss has been in charge for 21 years which, in the modern era, is nothing short of incredible. But Wenger now has the job of a large rebuilding project, this includes his squad and more importantly, his relationship with the Arsenal fan base.
The 2016/17 season could have been seen as a huge disaster for the Gunners after finishing below fierce north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur as well as failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 20 years. But Arsenal ended their campaign with an FA Cup final victory over Chelsea, making the club the most decorated in the competition’s long history. Arsene Wenger has now won over half (seven) of the FA Cups (13) at the club.
Winning the cup has paved over the cracks of a poor season much like the previous year. Leicester won the title and Arsenal pipped Spurs to 2nd place on the final day. Many supporters feel as if it’s going to be the same old story next season when Arsenal fail to sustain a realistic title challenge.
It has been 13 years since the Arsenal boss last won a league title and patience around the club has worn thin. The dissatisfaction has been telling through repeated protests from supporters amid failure in the league and Champions League year after year, making the same mistakes over and over.
Arsene Wenger needs to cut out the dithering in the transfer market. Patience can sometimes benefit you but it can be very risky; it worked back in 2013 when the Gunners signed Mesut Ozil on Deadline Day but you have to rely on other deals taking place, creating a domino effect of transfers. Arsenal cannot afford to adopt this strategy this summer or they will be at risk of falling even further away from the top four.
For years, Arsenal have had an awful tendency to let their players’ contracts run down until the final year which puts them on the back foot. It happened with Robin van Persie most recently, who left to join Manchester United and in turn won the league. Unfortunately, it has happened again. Wenger simply has to put pressure on the club in the future to ensure the players he wants are tied down, so there aren’t additional distractions throughout the season regarding contract negotiations. The first thing that needs to be resolved is the futures of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as they all now have only one year remaining on their current deals.
Arsene Wenger has witnessed a split fan base this season, some who back him and some who don’t. This is the first time in his 21-year reign at Arsenal that he has experienced such a hostile atmosphere and has had to manage his team through this difficult environment. To his credit, Wenger has come away with a trophy and a spot in Europe, albeit the Europa League. The frustration of Arsenal supporters is understandable and it is now very important for Wenger to attempt to rebuild their once healthy relationship.