The Premier League’s longest-serving manager took the heat from all directions this term after another frustrating and disappointing season without silverware at the Emirates.
Back when the Gunners were knocked out of both the League Cup and the FA Cup by lower league opposition in Bradford and Blackburn respectively, Arsenal fans took to Twitter with the hashtag ‘WengerOut’ to demonstrate their feelings on the matter.
Later on in the season, when the boss took off the squad’s only recognized striker Olivier Giroud there were away fans chanting ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ and frequently the cry of ‘spend some f***ing money’ has rung out around the Emirates this term.
However, the boss delivered yet again a top four finish and a subsequent Champions League qualification place for the Arsenal and the club’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis insists the club are prepared to spend big this summer to present a stronger challenge and show more ambition to win titles next term.
Meanwhile, the Frenchman’s contract expires in less than a year’s time and there have been whispers emanating from his homeland that he’s wanted in the capital to take charge of Paris Saint-Germain in the future.
So, then, what would be Arsenal fans’ preference? Wenger himself must be wondering along the lines of the Clash song Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Let’s break it down rationally and reasonably then – positives and negatives.
The positives of keeping Arsene Wenger would be the continuity of the philosophy and ethos of the club – the whole ‘we don’t buy stars, we make them’ and ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ mentality and attitude. It would also mean the Gunners would keep their style, Wenger’s brand of football most aptly demonstrated by the Invincibles circa 2003/04.
Of course, there will be some who will see some of those positives as negatives – there are those who are sick of the philosophy and ethos. There are fans who want their club back from Wenger.
There are those who want to see Arsenal buy stars rather than continuously developing youngsters to be sold off to rivals at their peak. There are those who are sick of the club operating like a football farm or ‘feeder club’, selling off the cream of the crop each summer for profit.
But have those fans considered what the alternative would be? If Wenger was to leave at the end of his contract, Arsenal would lose a great servant of the club, first and foremost. For all his faults, the old man is still one of the greatest minds in the game and there are very few managers who could adequately replace him. In fact, that’s exactly why PSG probably want him in the first place.
In France he’s regarded with much higher esteem than he is here – oftentimes I don’t think he receives the respect he deserves from the media as I outlined when he had his ‘meltdown’ in front of the press earlier in the year.
I have a sneaking suspicion that those Arsenal fans who think they would like to see ‘Wenger out’ will miss once he’s gone. ‘You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone’ sang Joni Mitchell and I think Arsenal fans should consider seriously the outcomes if and when Arsene Wenger either leaves or retires.
Who on this Earth could come in and do better? Really. Realistically. Pep Guardiola? Is he going to leave Bayern Munich? Is Sir Alex Ferguson going to come out of retirement to take the reigns because he’s decided he likes the restaurant better in London? Would Arsenal even want a narcissist like Jose Mourinho even if they could ever get their hands on him?
I doubt it. The possibilities are remote. Arsenal have one of the greatest managers in the game – he adores the club, he’s achieved success and wants to achieve more, he’s one of the most intelligent and considered figures in the sport and he has developed some of the best players in the world in to just that, the best, for the last decade.
Whatever songs Arsenal fans have sung this season, the good, the bad and the ugly, I have no doubt that if Arsene Wenger were to leave Arsenal, which he will eventually, his name will be sung around the Emirates that he built for many many years to come.
image: © dyobmit