You’re probably aware of this by now, but rumours have been rife these past couple of days that the club are preparing to offer “Le Professeur” a new contract. *Insert Colon-Caps Lock D Smiley here*
You can probably gauge from the words within those asterisks that this news pleases me.
It brings the same smile to my face that Thierry Henry’s goal against Leeds brought. Arsene Wenger has had a much maligned past few seasons, as Arsenal’s prolonged quest for silverware continues. The initial assessment of the job Wenger has done at Arsenal during the 7 years (Has it been 7? Wish the media had mentioned…) of no trophies would be he’s done a bad job. However, I am not of the same opinion.
Y’see, being a manager is tough. It’s not like Football Manager. You can’t reload the game, or go on holiday whenever you feel necessary. No. You’re there for every single exacting moment. Of course, 7 years is disappointing, and you can’t continue to take it. But football isn’t as easy as ABC; it’s as difficult as PMT (or cope with someone having it, in us males’ case).
There’s money, for example. To keep banging on about money is undoubtedly tiring and without question, annoying. But there is a point within the discussion of this subject. Manchester City and Chelsea have spent £1Billion (apparently) – just to win the league! ONE-BILLIION. It’s absurd. Arsenal built a new stadium and have remained competitive ever since.
The new home of football cost £400M and to still be up there with the moneybags after such an astronomical pay out, is extraordinary. Why is that? Wenger, obviously. The ambition of the club has been called into question as has the integrity of the board. For one, I don’t doubt our ambition. I believe the signings made are ambitious and the value for money of those signings is huge.
Spending truckloads of money cannot be associated with ambition, although some do have that idea. The board just wants profit? So? With the stadium debt profits are needed. Profits mean more money being paid for the stadium. More money being paid for the stadium means the debt clears quicker. The debt clearing quicker means more money will be made available for the kitty, thus more investment in the team.
Whilst in this predicament (paying off stadium debt) you cannot afford to be stupid. I will only bemoan the lack of trophies when we’re in a position to demand them. As of now, I don’t believe we are. When the debt clears (and FFP is hopefully successfully implemented) there should be no more excuses. Touch wood.
When defending the past 7 years one of the usual reactions is the success of Tottenham/Liverpool to name 2. They have both won trophies without a sugar daddy owner and without a manager of Wenger’s stature and competence, you could argue. My general reaction to this is: they’ve not dealt with a new stadium. And it’s true- Neither have had a new stadium. And they both want one, so the club’s success after those proposed moves will be intriguing.
Liverpool spent £100+ Million last year so they had no excuses. And it’s not like they won anything special. The Carling Cup, albeit still a trophy, is underwhelming. And they only beat Cardiff on penalties. Tottenham? They also only won the Carling Cup. Neither team dominates the league. Anyway, I’ve gone off topic.
Ivan Gazidis explains: “When you look at what Arsene has done, within the overall constraints, he has outperformed our spending every single year he has been manager. It is extraordinary.” He adds, “It’s not a sense of sentimentalism [a new contract], not a reward for services, it’s a belief that we have an incredible manager who loves this club and is the best man to lead us forward.”
It is incredible to think Arsene has outperformed the financial output by the club and this, in my opinion, does merit a non-sentimentalism contractual reward.
So when do we concede that Wenger’s time is up? I feel there are reasons beyond Arsenal’s control which are preventing the club making the natural next step (trophies) and as I explained, I think right now we are in no position to be demanding anything. We as fans want to see our club succeed, but we NEED to be patient.
The financial constraints are beginning to wear off now and theoretically the near future will be very fruitful. However, we can’t afford to be sentimental and as much as I love Wenger I do feel that the next 2, 3 maybe more years are going to be his last, trophies or not. Sad face.
And that’s another reason to keep him on as boss: in a time of rebuilding (effectively) we shouldn’t disrupt our management. What we need is to assure all is in place for Arsene’s successor to come in and continue where he leaves off. Disruption will NEVER be ahead of continuity in the thinking of a logical club. The thing with Arsenal is they’re living in reality. We can go and spend £30M on a player and give him £250k p/w if we wished, I’m sure, but that would be naive and counter-productive.
I believe the new contract will be positive news. We need a settled club as we head into the fog of uncertainty that is the upcoming years of no excuses. They say no man is bigger than the club, but Wenger comes pretty close. If he wasn’t here during the past 7 years, contrary to popular opinion, we still wouldn’t have won anything. We probably wouldn’t have even reached the top 4, at all. But people won’t accept this.
People say ‘No other club would accept 7 years without a trophy’ and again, I point you to the words written above: there are reasons for the lack of trophies. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but in some peoples’ cases it needs drumming in. So, STOP DEMANDING TROPHIES UNTIL YOU ARE IN THE POSITION TO DEMAND THEM! Supporting a team should NOT be about trophies. They should only be a bonus.
You hear all the time of the ‘under-achievements’ of Wenger, but if it wasn’t for his previous achievements the bar wouldn’t be so high that claims of ‘underachieving’ would seem fair. For me, we have the best manager to lead us forward. He is ‘part of Arsenal’s DNA’ and if there was no such thing as financial doping we would have won something as the team would’ve stayed a team. Other clubs wouldn’t have the power to pick off our players and break up a promising squad.
There will be a time when Wenger has to leave, and I do not look forward to this day. I was born in ’95, so I obviously only know Wenger’s reign (Rioch’s year was before my knowledge of football arose) so an Arsenal without Wenger is like toast without butter: Yes, it will still be enjoyable and do the job, but there’s always a strong sense of something missing. I want my toast with butter on it.
He will leave, but that should not be now. The last few years have been an unfair basis to judge Wenger on. He’s made mistakes, I will not deny that; no one is perfect but when the air is clear for us to start succeeding again, that’s when the reality of our self-sustaining philosophy really kicks in. I look forward to it. And I look forward to it with Wenger as the butter, and Arsenal as the toast.
So, Wenger, sign him up! Wenger, Wenger, sign him up!
Thank you for reading.
Written by Ryan Goodenough
Follow him on Twitter @RealYoungGunner
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