Friday, 2 June 2017

Wenger Stays As Arsenal Move On

In the end it didn't really come as a shock when Arsene Wenger signed up for another two years as Arsenal manager. Despite everything we heard for the past few months it's difficult to believe the outcome of the FA Cup Final didn't have a bearing on Stan Kroenke's decision to keep him. Whatever you might feel about him and his failings as fans we have little choice other than to back him.

I was never behind the people protesting about him and I really thought it would be best if he decided that his time at the club was up and he should walk away. With a record haul of FA Cups for both him and the club it wouldn't have been the worst time to go, but I have no doubt he believes he is still the man for the job. He's got at least another two years to prove himself and I can only hope the fan base isn't torn further apart during that time, but I will be very surprised if it isn't.

I know there's the argument that there were no real alternatives to Wenger, but it's one I just don't buy. Of course other clubs have changed managers in recent seasons and seen it all go wrong, but I would argue that it has already gone wrong at Arsenal under Wenger. The familiar pattern of season after season of collapse has been repeated for too long now and it's hard to believe it won't happen again next season.

He has the backing of the board and he needs to go out and add the genuine quality the squad needs and he needs to do it quickly. Past experiences have taught us that the players we chase are highly unlikely to come though whether it's a case of deciding to go elsewhere or Arsenal deciding they are overvalued by their clubs. The chances are we will get a good signing early on and then rummage around in the bargain bin in the final days of the transfer window.

His biggest job is trying to convince Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to stay and extend their contracts and it's looking less likely with each passing day. If both of them leave we not only have to add the quality we are already short of, but we also have to find players who are at least equal to them. Their departures would be a huge blow to the club and the manager and it's hard to see how we could change the team so much this summer and improve if they do go.

Having said all of that I will still support the team and I won't resort to abusing the manager even if things go wrong. I sincerely hope I'm completely wrong and he makes a huge success of the next few years and develops a team who can genuinely challenge the top teams for the most important trophies again. It's been far too long since Arsenal last actually challenged for the league and our Champions League record for the past seven seasons has been a joke once we got to the knockout stages.

We won't have to worry about Europe 's top competition this season though as we have Thursday night Europa League football to look forward to. United showed it can be an important competition this season by using it to qualify for the Champions League despite finishing sixth in the Premier League. All of those Thursday night games will take a lot of getting used to and the new mix of opponents too.

The thing about Arsenal under Wenger is their continual collapses and his inability to find an answer. When the same mistakes and shortcomings happen season after season it's difficult to believe he isn't the problem when he's the only constant in the equation. We had the switch to a back three for the first time in almost 20 years this season and it certainly improved things at the end of the season.

The record away from home to the other top teams has been dreadful, but maybe the switch to three at the back might help to cure that ailment. The crunch for me will come when things go wrong next season, as they do for any club, and how the manager copes. If the team fall to pieces and he yet again cannot find a quick solution then we will know we are in for more of the same.

I will be shocked if we aren't in for more of the same and I don't think we will put in a genuine title challenge next season. We obviously can't challenge for the Champions League as we're not in it, but don't worry there's always the FA Cup to fall back on. It's the only trophy we have won in the last 13 seasons even if we have won three of the last four and for me that simply isn't good enough and should have cost the manager his job. It didn't though and us fans have to live with that and hope it improves no matter what misgivings we might have.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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