When it comes to Arsene Wenger and the talk of Arsenal offering him a new deal - I’ve found that Arsenal fans are generally split into 3 different viewpoints.
The group that is grateful for everything that Wenger has done but ultimately feels that change is needed to push the club forward.
The group that feel that Wenger has done well to keep the club competitive over the Stadium change transitional years – and that he now deserves longer at the helm to see the fruits of his labour.
And the group that sits firmly in the middle.....They are grateful for Wenger and everything that he has done but wants the club to wait and see what Wenger does with his resources before committing the club to a new deal.
Obviously – I’ve summarised the groups massively and each group will have little sub groups and stuff. But you get the idea – there are three groups – now, wait or no. As an Arsenal fan myself, I find myself placed very much in the middle. Let me explain why.
There is a lot of talk that Wenger has a “warchest” to spend this summer. He unquestionably has more resources at his disposal than ever before - that much is true – but this isn’t the first summer that Wenger has had a substantial amount of money available to spend – that is the just the view that has been presented by the media.
Wenger also had money that he could have spent last summer but simply chose to make 3 (admittedly very good) signings. The problem being however - that the squad needed more than that and Arsenal ended up trophyless at the end of another campaign. Wenger either didn’t see / believe that the squad would come up short again (stubbornness) – or held too much faith in the players already at his disposal (over believing).
My feeling is that it is a mix of the two scenarios and if I’m honest - that doesn’t fill my heart with too much confidence.
Gervinho, Santos, Squillaci....For every Cazorla that Wenger has signed for Arsenal over the last 8 years there has been a player that has misfired in equal measure.
Wenger nearly makes as many mistakes in the market today as other clubs (thankfully not as many as Liverpool though) but where Wenger keeps belief in players – other clubs would cut their losses. Those 3 players should all have been replaced or had alternative options brought in at the start of last season but Wenger (perhaps through stubbornness) failed to act.
He also put far too much faith in the hope that Diaby and Rosicky could last a season. The latter made a massive impact towards the end of the season – but a player like Diaby could have changed the course of Arsenal’s season.
And before the argument arises that those 3 players were brought in as they were cheap options in a time of transition – the sad truth is that there were cheaper and better options available. Wenger’s ability to see gems hasn’t vanished – but he could do with an eye test.
Wenger doesn’t break contracts. He doesn’t believe in it. The Arsenal board will also never sack him - so when Wenger’s contract expires it could potentially be the last chance for two or three years to make a change. I’m not saying that Arsenal shouldn’t renew the contract – I just think that the matter should be approached with caution.
It’s all very well saying that Arsenal have been in a time of transition as an explanation for the barren years – but it’s often forgotten that Arsenal have gotten to AND LOST 3 finals in that same period. Transition or not – the chances have been there.
So what do I think? This is the biggest transfer window of Wenger’s career. He has to show that he isn’t overly stubborn and can be ruthless. He has to fight for players that can improve the squad and adapt with the resources that he now has at his fingertips.
He has to bear in mind that the fans won’t accept quotes on the 1st September saying that “we went looking for top players – but couldn’t find any” or excuses about Diaby returning being “like a new signing” (only to get injured the next day).
To put it bluntly – Wenger has to act. And I truly hope that he does because I certainly won’t agree with him getting a new contract if he doesn’t (and neither will large pockets of the fans).
Wenger was the right manager for the club before transition. He was the right manager throughout transition.
But is he the right manager to lead the club forward in this new period – bearing in mind that the market has changed significantly since before Arsenal started going into transition?
The next few months will tell.
Where do you stand? Does Wenger deserve a new deal?
image: © wonker