Reports in this mornings papers indicate that the board are ready to give Arsene Wenger a new contract. This does not come as a surprise. Two months ago, he was reported to of agreed an extension, however the contract talks were put on the back burner as fans attitude to the manager was on a downward spiral.
Imagine the out roar had he, back in August, signed a new 3 year deal on his £7.5m a season wages, whilst not having yet signed a single player. It would have been the straw that broke the camels back for most fans.
“Wenger more interested in lining his own pockets then buying top players” would have been the cry. The noises of ‘Wenger Out’ would have grown. The boycotts would of increase. The protest marches would have been at every game.
However, with the signing of Mesut Ozil and a North London derby win, the world of Arsenal is a bit more positive, so were they to announce a contract extension it would be taken a bit better then were it done 2 months ago. In the world of politics, there is often good days to bury bad news. They will often release news about controversial legislation, or a scandal, when either public sentiment is high, or more likely, when there is a world disaster. I will always remember when 9/11 happened and a Labour aide Emailed:
“It is now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors expenses?”
Crass, yes, but he was right. Hiding bad news on a bad news day means that bad news will get less attention. Likewise, announcing bad news when public sentiment is high leads to less criticism. And that is what the board look like they are going to do. Using the positive vibes throughout Arsenal to announce Arsene Wenger’s new contract.
The issue here is Arsene Wenger has underperformed over the last few years. No trophies in 8 years. And even with the signing of Mesut Ozil, he has had a poor transfer window, and at times, made the club look foolish (along with his partners in crime Gazidas & Law). For me, at the moment, he does not deserve a new contract.
There is, however, a key factor we now have to take into account. Manchester United. There transfer dealing’s this summer have been worse than ours. Only securing Marouane Fellaini in the closing stages of the transfer window, after bidding millions for every other top central midfielder in Europe.
Why do I say it is a key factor? Well it is very easy to get rid of a manager. What is not as easy is replacing him.
There are reports that Moyes has already lost the dressing room. That his training methods are draconian. He does not command the respect of the players as Alex Ferguson did. And he does not have the reputation around Europe that is key to attract players.
You have to wonder, had Fergie been in charge of Manchester United, Would Cesc Fabregas have been so quick to turn them down? Would Bale of become a realistic option? Would they of come in late and snatched Mesut Ozil out of our hands? Not only do players want to play for top clubs. Earn top money. They also want to play for top managers. Be developed by top coaches.
Parents do not send their kids to top fee paying school’s such as Eton or Harrow because they have a big reputation, they send them there because they have the best teachers. If Eton sacked all their teachers and replaced them with a bunch of recently qualified, their admissions would drop dramatically. Manchester United are suffering from that. They have lost one of the best managers in the world, and replaced him with someone who is under qualified for the job.
When you hear that a key factor in the signing of Mesut Ozil was a phone call from Arsene Wenger, it shows the Frenchman is still very well respected on the continent. Players from Europe would still want to come to Arsenal to play for him. There are very few managers who command the sort of world wide respect Wenger does.
Guardiola, Ancelotti, Mourinho. That is probably it. Whilst Jurgen Klopp’s stock is very high, he is still on his way up. He garners respect throughout Germany, and would be able to attract a lot of German players. But would he be a key factor if he wanted Benzema? Or Di Maria? Or any non-German player. Probably not.
And that is where Moyes is struggling. He is a fairly unknown quantity throughout Europe. Yes, players will naturally be attracted by Manchester United. But if you were a player from Europe and had 2 identical deals on the table, one from Manchester United and David Moyes, the other from Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, you would probably pick the later.
And that is what is important, and why Arsene Wenger may well get his new contract. If Manchester United struggle this season, if the moans from the dressing room continue to increase, if he can still not attract top stars, it will make the board think ‘Better the devil you know.’
Another example of this is the fiasco Liverpool have been in since sacking Rafa Benitez – another manager who players seem to want to play for. In came Hodgson. Then Dalglish. Now Brendan Rodgers.
Bar Luis Suarez – who at the time was not the established star he is now (the next Kezman?) – Liverpool have failed to land a top player. A collection of average and overpriced Englishman, mixed in with some very poor signings from the continent. Whilst not having Champions League football does not help their cause, not having a top manager is surely a key factor. After all, why would anyone want to play for Brendan Rodgers? He would be a non-factor when it comes to a player making their decision.
Pellegrini at Manchester City is another one. He is well respected throughout Spain, but will he struggle to attract top players from elsewhere in Europe? Does he have the same sort of pull as Roberto Mancini did? It is a case of wait and see.
Would a Michael Laudrup be able to attract star names? Would Roberto Martinez? Would Remi Garde? Would Steve Bould? The answer is no. A Mesut Ozil would not come and play for these managers. A Marco Rues would not. A Cesc Fabregas would not return to Arsenal. And even with in the club, get a poor manager in who does not garner respect of the players would see the likes of Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott looking elsewhere.
Another good season with Dortmund would see Jurgen Klopp’s star rise further. Enough to make him a key factor in the signing of players. A manager is key to a players decision (after money) and it is important then when Wenger does go, we do not take a step down in his replacement.
Whilst Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal is coming to a natural end. He should still go at the end of the season. But it is important we get his replacement right.
We need to move forward as a club. Buy better players. Get a better manager.