Arsene Wenger’s contract extension at Arsenal has become a hot topic in recent days. Though due to the team’s good form and position at the top of the Premier League table, the news of an impending extension hasn’t been greeted with the fury it would have generated last season.
But has Wenger done enough to earn another contract at the club? The misconception is that fans wanted him out. The overwhelming majority of support want Wenger to stay, as long as he changes or even slightly alters his ways. We’ve already seen evidence of him adapting to his immediate surroundings, such as focusing on the team’s defensive strengths last season as a means to take fourth place. The £42 million signing of Mesut Ozil is the most obvious sign that he’s willing to shake some of his self-imposed restraints.
Arsenal’s position in the league and the good feeling at the club would make it seem as though now is the right time to announce a contract extension. Wenger and Arsenal’s hesitancy to make any deal, which will happen one way or another, public is right. There will be a time to announce it, but that time is not now.
A contract extension, even one that most are expecting, can become a distraction. Even more so, it can act as a safety net for the manager or even the team to take their foot off the gas slightly. The club are not in danger of losing Wenger, despite continued interest from PSG. But the positive results mean that there is little need for comforting news. The opportune moment to announce a new deal for Wenger is when the club need a lift.
A number of Arsenal players have spoken of a renewed energy in the manager. Wenger himself has apparently looked to abandon the youth project that required patience in the hope that something tangible would be achieved in the future. The club, however, now with the backing to compete in the upper tiers of the transfer market, simply can’t afford to wait any longer. Wenger has an urgency about him now, regularly patrolling the touchline and feeding a hunger in his players to force results.
What we’re seeing from Wenger this season is what fans have been hoping for, and it’s not just that the team are well-placed to capture silverware. The change is that Wenger is taking action to bring positive results, where in the past it seemed as though he would wait and hope that the wind would change in his favour.
Arsenal have noticeably moved forward. No longer is the club happy to stagnate and accept fourth place in the league. If this season and the signing of Ozil is the marker of an improved attitude, then Wenger has earned a stay at the club. But for now, the focus should be on picking up maximum results from matches. Talk of contract extensions can wait.