Saturday, 15 March 2014

Arsene Wenger hasn't signed a new contract... yet

On 27 January, when Arsenal announced a new financial deal with PUMA, it became clear that Arsenal were no longer a debt-ridden club. The deal meant that there are now £100m+ reserves for Arsenal to spend in the summer, a figure almost every EPL club could only dream of. Yet, Wenger's poor record of buying players meant (for me, at least) that one could not trust him to hold these chunks of fortune.

In addition, my premature feelings of dreading the next season were compounded when Gazidis said:

"We have always supported Arsene, the board has always been completely behind him as has [owner] Stan Kroenke, and Arsene has always been committed to this football club. Arsene will be extending with us. And at the right time we will make that announcement."

I thought that was confirmation. I was all, "There you go, prepare yourselves for a future of top four struggles and mediocrity." And while I expected an official statement of Wenger's contract to be renewed within the next month, the fact remains that the situation hasn't changed. Wenger's contract, as of today, still remains three months from expiration, irrespective of Gazidis' quotes.

I think I've made it very clear that Wenger should not have a future at the club. Winning the FA Cup will not change that - he will still remain the same lying, deluded, power-hungry, egoistical, arrogant, procrastinating, tactically crippled, inept man managing penny-pincher that he is.

Worse, winning the FA Cup might further delude him into thinking that his deeply flawed method of managing was right all along, and we might witness another decade of failed youth projects and struggles for success.

I had resigned myself to the fact that Wenger would stay regardless of trophy droughts or fan mentalities, and I stuck behind the players of the team, for I believe in them. I had known that the board were either too clueless or too frightened to sack a manager who is consistently performing below par, and I was prepared to support the club irrespective of the manager's incompetence or the board's inaction.

Until now. The board have surprised me this season, which could perhaps mean a change in character in the backroom. Gazidis underlined the superb working of the board by saying clearly that the club had and has money to spend, making Wenger 100% accountable to successes/failures in the transfer market. Furthermore, they've (apparently) put Wenger's contract talks on hold with only 3 months remaining, highly unusual of their nature.

I can derive three possible conclusions from this behaviour, namely:

  1. Wenger has already signed a new contract, and the club are waiting for a good time to announce it. If this is the case, then I reckon the contract deal will be announced if Arsenal capitalize on the positive-ish mood around the club by beating the Spuds, and possibly getting a good result against Chelsea. However, if the season continues and ends in misery, then the club will be forced to announce the deal at the end of the season, only increasing the negative mood around the club.
  2. The club were planning to extend Wenger's contract, but are having second thoughts now. Maybe they're unsure how the crowd will react to this deal, or they're waiting to see how the season unfolds before negotiating a new contract with Wenger. Either way, they aren't sure how to proceed and this season would clear a lot for them. If this indeed is the case, then it's safe to say that it's make or break time for Wenger.
  3. The board want to sign a new deal with Wenger, but Wenger is stalling talks with them. Maybe it's because he isn't sure that he is the right man to lead Arsenal anymore, or maybe he's just holding out for a larger and juicier deal; I don't know. In this scenario, I just hope it's the former.

I don't know what's happening behind the scenes, but it's certainly not in sync to the board's activities. I must confess that all of these possibilities are, well, possible, and I can't rule any of them out. I have a hunch that it's the first one - however, I wouldn't put my money on it.

I live in constant hope of Wenger getting the sack at the end of the season, and it seems a real possibility since the disastrous summer of 2011. If, IF Arsene Wenger is to be removed (completely) from the club, I'd consider it a greater achievement than signing Mesut Ozil. Sure, fans would leave the club and the season to follow may be rocky, but I'd gladly compromise that for an Arsenal without Wenger.

Arsene has been holding Arsenal back, I am certain of it. I have my reasons (and boy, are they a lot!), but I feel that it's futile to express them now, when Wenger's job is in doubt. In all likelihood this matter will be sorted in June. If Wenger stays, I'll put in a series of blogs during the summer transfer market saying why it's a bad idea, but if he leaves, all that would be unnecessary.

Do I want the FA Cup more than I want Wenger out? I know I can't get both, because if Arsenal win the FA Cup, Wenger's extended deal would be announced the next hour. So, it's a hard call, and I don't have a response to it, I'm afraid. However, if there ever was a guarantee that a disastrous end would chuck out Wenger, then I'm all for it.

There, I said it. I would torment a sickening end to the campaign, but only if it means that Arsene Wenger leaves Arsenal. Yes, I'm also okay with Arsenal wining the FA Cup and Wenger staying for 3 more years, but I don't want Wenger at Arsenal if he doesn't win a trophy. I wouldn't want him at Arsenal either ways (ideally), but I know that a contract to him would be guaranteed if we win a trophy this season.

An end of season disaster will NOT break me, but only if it means the end of Wenger. Let's hope (don't we always?) that the board grow a backbone and stand for what's right.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )