It is almost unbelievable that only a month or so on from the apparent chaos at Arsenal that we are now talking about a desperate bid from the club to keep hold of Arsene Wenger, football is a mad sport isn’t it?
Since the aftermath of defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, the club have been riding the crest of a wave. Playing the brand of football we all associate the club with, Arsenal have taken the Premier League by storm. Toppling North London rivals Spurs amongst a series of eye-catching displays, they now sit pretty at the very top of the table going into October.
Such an unbelievable turnaround in fortunes has seen the board move quickly to secure their French manager on a longer-term deal. The Daily Mail reported the following in relation to a prospective contract:
“Arsenal are preparing formal discussions with Arsene Wenger over a new three-year contract worth £8million-per-season.”
“The new contract – that would see the Frenchman net a £500,000-per-year increase – would take Wenger beyond 20 years at the north London club.”
Just as fans begin to ditch their “Wenger Out” banners is it not a bit soon to totally change their opinions of the man?
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It isn’t as if Wenger has somehow changed overnight. He bought one big money player, it doesn’t mean he has changed the habit of a lifetime. Those that were concerned about his spending back in August have every reason to continue with their pessimism even now. Nothing has changed.
Now of course Ozil has been a revelation so it is difficult to criticise Arsenal’s transfer policy that aggressively. However, the point is that Arsenal are still very much a team in transition and if fans are concerned about Wenger’s aversion to spending then they have no reason to change their opinion.
However that said my belief is that tying Wenger down to a new deal would be a major coup for the club. Arsenal’s main divisional rivals have all undergone mass change in one way or another this summer and are currently paying the price in the short term for it. Take a club like City who have a new manager, new signings and an altogether new way of playing and you can really gauge the advantage Arsenal have here.
Arsenal know what they are getting with Wenger, and a settled squad regardless of its arguable inferiority in comparison to others, is consistently able to punch above its weight and deliver the results that fans desire.
The other point is that if Arsenal were to let Wenger leave who could they really get? There really is a small pool of experienced, European pedigree managers to choose from. Arsene Wenger is an experienced and masterful tactician who continues to get the very best out of the players at his disposal. £24m to keep arguably one of the best managers in World football at your club is small change in my opinion.
Continuity is important in football and for me change at Arsenal should not be in the managerial department. Instead the club should be looking towards the way in which they divide the workload between staff. Arsene Wenger has always been keen to maintain his control over all aspects of the club and for me this is the bigger issue that needs addressing. Rather than bringing in a manager with a different view on the game, they would be better off seeking out a Director of Football to ease the transfer burden off of Wenger’s shoulders.
For one reason or another football is dominated by knee jerk short-termism and a yearn for constant change. The reality for Arsenal and Wenger is that his availability would mean a huge queue of clubs lining up for his services. Just because you know what you are getting and that he isn’t quite the breath of refreshing air that many desire isn’t to say he isn’t the right man for the job.
This isn’t a deal which will be concluded overnight, Wenger is usually keen to work things out towards the very back end of his contract. A fact which probably suit both parties with the club having a better idea of how the season is likely to pan out by then.
Few would have predicted that it would be Wenger holding all the cards come contract renewal time, but as it stands the club need and want Wenger now more than he probably does. Familiarity may well lead to unrest from fans, but at Arsenal I think they have the manager that most other clubs can only dream about.
As other clubs face tumultuous upheaval, Arsenal fans should feel comfortable in the knowledge that they are able to depend on the work of their tireless French tactician.
Will it be £24m well spent by Arsenal?
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