I write this, two days after Arsene Wenger informed us that he knows what he intends to do about his future, and that he will share this with us, very soon. Sadly, this leaves the football world in limbo as far as Arsenal are concerned. The press are having a field day. Fans are openly warring all over social media and radio phone ins shows are full of pundits and former players having their two-penneth worth.
I’m not sure what purpose a statement like this serves ? The only rational conclusion seems to be that it deflects from the dreadful performance, away to West Brom ? Or, perhaps it’s a cunning plan by Wenger to flush out the two sides and get a good handle on public opinion before committing himself to the new deal that’s, supposedly, on the table ?
Either way, we seem to fast approaching the end game. We are on a dreadful run and its going to be tough to get back into the top four. The FA Cup has three other strong sides left in it, so that’s another very difficult route. Even a cup win would only feel like small consolation this season.
The fanbase is very divided although the tide has definitely turned in favour of the out side. There has long been a very vocal out group, often undermining their own effectiveness with uncalled for personal abuse towards Wenger. But now we are seeing a more measured and moderate group asking for change. This isn’t the rantings of a few disgruntled fans but a ground swell of opinion.
Of those who want a new contract for Wenger, most accept that something isn’t quite right at the club and lay the blame at the door of Kroenke and the board. There is still a large number who believe Arsene’s hands have been tied and he has performed miracles on a limited budget.
There are also those who oppose the manager and the board and hold them jointly liable to what has happened to the club. They claim Kroenke is only in it for the money and that a top four finish guarantees to swell the coffers. They also insist that Wenger can do nothing to get the sack so long as the money keeps rolling in, and because of this he has taken his eye off the ball and is coasting.
I don’t want to debate the rights and wrongs and the merits of each camps arguments. I’m not sitting on the fence, my personal opinion just isn’t relevant to this article. But if everyone’s opinion has a modicum of truth the final outcome will be resolved before the end of the season.
If Wenger feels he has lost the fans and/or the dressing room he will announce his departure at the end of the season in the next week or so. If Kroenke is all about the money then he wont miss the fact that Champions League qualification is looking very dodgy. He will also be wary of rewarding an unpopular manager with a two year deal knowing that if form doesn’t turn round quickly he could be stuck with around a £20 million compensation package to fund. A hard headed businessman will be fully aware that a new manager will want to assess the current squad and bring in summer additions. He will also know that £20 million wasted on compensation could be well used in wages to tempt new blood.
It’s difficult to see any scenario where Wenger is able to sign a new deal without a backlash from the fans. Not impossible, but it’s looking less likely that Wenger will be in charge next season. One things for sure though, something has to give one way or another. I just hope the priority for everyone who loves Arsenal is the club and the whole thing doesn’t turn into a farce as its seems to be in danger of at the moment.