Amidst all the commotion surrounding the upcoming World Cup, Arsenal broke the news that we were all expecting. Arsene Wenger put pen to paper on a three-year deal which will see him remain in charge up until 2017. It had been widely expected for a few weeks that Wenger would stay on having won his fifth FA Cup with the club. In fact, Wenger had given his word prior to the FA Cup final that he would remain in charge regardless of the result. This writer didn’t believe that promise for a second. I truly believe Arsene would have stepped down had Arsenal lost that final. Had he intended to stay on regardless of the result, the contract would have been signed long before an FA Cup final. Make no mistake, this was the closest Arsenal have come to losing their manager. Thankfully, Wenger is staying. Yes, I said thankfully because it would have been disastrous for the club to lose him. For several reasons.
Nine years without a trophy is something that was held against the club and manager. Yet, those nine years also coincided with a move to a new stadium which restricted the club financially. That undoubtedly had a massive effect on the club sustaining title challenges. However, not once in the nine years did the club fail to reach the Champions League. Not much of an achievement? You only have to look at what happened Liverpool and Manchester United to realise how big an achievement that was. On top of that, there were plenty of missed opportunities to win trophies. Losing a Champions League final in 2006, Carling Cup in 2007 and 2011 along with failed title challenges in 2007-08 and 2010-11. All this plus losing players such as Nasri, Fabregas, Cole and Van Persie to name a few and you start to realise just how good a job Wenger has done at keeping Arsenal at the top table. Obviously, Wenger has made mistakes but that argument can attributed to every manager. It is too easily forgotten how successful Wenger was before the new stadium and financial restrictions.
As of right now, Arsenal have turned a corner. They are no longer burdened by financial restraints nor are they burdened by their failure to win trophies. These are positive times for Arsenal and the fact that Wenger remains in charge is a huge bonus. With revenue finally coming in from the Emirates along with a new Puma sponsorship deal, Arsenal have plenty of weight behind them in this summer’s transfer market. This transfer marker offers another chance for the club to progress with the addition of new players to both strengthen the team and to ensure Arsenal don’t suffer because of injuries to players as was the case last season. Will Wenger spend? You would expect so. The signing of Mesut Ozil strengthens the belief that Wenger is willing to go and spend the money he has. Obviously, Wenger has to address the departure of Bacary Sagna but apart from that he will have the same squad of players that finished seven points behind Manchester City. Yes, seven points. Arsenal are on an upward curve. Make no mistake about that.
For those who feel the club needed a change of manager, let me once again draw your attention to the drastic fall of both Liverpool and United. Arsenal are in very good health both on the field and off it. Faced with the prospect of searching for a new manager, what promises to be a summer where the club can strengthen the team would be overshadowed by a search for a new manager. Don’t be fooled. Trying to find a new manager this summer would have been incredibly difficult. I struggle to find a manager who would fit the criteria required and be readily available. A manager of equal quality, who has a similar playing style and promotes young players to name but a few attributes required. Realistically, the managers who fit that bill are taken. Instead Arsenal enter this summer off the back of their first trophy in nine years, a team that can build on last season’s title challenge with a few additions, financially secure with no debts, money to spend and their manager signed up for three years. These are promising times for Arsenal. I urge Arsenal fans to enjoy them. Arsenal maybe on an upward curve but at 64, we may well be entering the final three years of Wenger’s reign as manager. It is only when he departs that his work will be truly appreciated.