There would have been some quarters of the Arsenal support who would have greeted news of Arsene Wenger to PSG not with trepidation, but with the hope of a new dawn for the club. And that doesn’t take anything away from what he’s done in the past or what he may do in the little time he has left with Arsenal. It’s a nod to the idea that maybe the time is right for something different.
You have to ask the question from the other side of the table, too. What if Wenger himself feels that he’s taken this club as far as he can; with the limitations in the transfer market and the consistency at losing his top players each summer, it becomes a frustrating cycle which can be hard to break. Should Arsenal fans begrudge Wenger if he decides PSG is the last realistic chance for glory before he moves away from the dugout for good? If anything, Wenger has earned the right to walk away when he pleases.
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What would a move to PSG mean for Wenger and his stance on big-spending clubs in Europe? I don’t think it will matter too much. This is a coach who has long had to hide the complications that exist behind closed doors at Arsenal, and much of that came through the belief that spending recklessly was wrong and Arsenal’s approach was right. It also played into Wenger’s hand nicely, that being his preference for developing talents, while also avoiding the bidding wars that were likely to spring up for the world’s most sought-after players. Going to PSG, however, will allow Wenger the freedom to move in the transfer market, still taking on his well-thought-out approach to new signings, but with far less restrictions.
What’s on the table now is the prospect of a big summer of spending, for both Arsenal and PSG, with Wenger unlikely to be in the Premier League beyond next summer. How does this work out for Arsenal? Maybe it’s best to cut ties now while the opportunity is there. Wenger talks about his commitment to contracts, and yet who could really hold that small detail against him should all parties agree that a change in direction is needed?
It’s not a campaign to push the manager out the door of the Emirates. It is, however, an acknowledgement that there is a world beyond what many Arsenal fans know. This is a topic for discussion that is absolutely certain to arise again next year should Wenger remain at Arsenal beyond this summer, and yet many may be more willing to accept the matter then rather than now. It’s about holding onto the safe and secure option. It’s the uncertainty that arises should Wenger look to accept PSG’s proposal for one last go at a league title. Who knows how far this Arsenal team are from challenging? Who really knows outside of the club whether this truly is a summer of increased and ambitious spending?
But it’s a question of blame and grudges being held. Many fans still believe Wenger to be the right man for Arsenal, one who most trust with overseeing the reshaping of the playing squad before he leaves. It doesn’t keep with Wenger’s principles to move on with the club so precariously placed. To elaborate, and to reiterate: who can really tell what this summer holds for the club?
There will be very little blame attached should Wenger depart this summer. Most of it will come in the form of disappointment and the realisation that not everything was done to give Wenger a proper sending off. For whatever criticisms may be had over Wenger’s management – of which there are many – the real blame lies with the board and their decision to hide behind a man who most believe to be exempt from criticism.
Should Wenger leave, it may just be an admission that he’s had enough with the faults of this club that don’t necessarily lie at his door.