Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger's contract extension has been confirmed
So stop bickering!
The love-in between chief executive and manager, posted on the club’s website, was as schmaltzy as a Coca-Cola commercial and the message suitably saccharine.
“Let’s be together to support our players, to support the club and all give our absolute best to be at the level that we want to be,” said Wenger. “We can move up to the next level, I’m convinced of that, by having faith.” Gazidis chipped in, too, this time in Latin.
“Remember, the motto of this football club is ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’, victory through harmony,” he said. “Together, we are much, much stronger than we are when we are arguing and trying to prove who’s right and who’s wrong.”
The subtext, though, is much darker.
By giving Wenger two more years, supporters are being told in no uncertain terms that the Frenchman is right, always, and they are wrong.
Arsene Wenger's Arsenal wages through the years Wed, May 31, 2017
How much has Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger earned with each contract signed at the Emirates?
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1996 – First contract at Arsenal: Three year deal worth £500,000-a-year
We can move up to the next level, I’m convinced of that, by having faith
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
They should not believe Arsenal’s failure to mount a title challenge this year was down to the uncertainty over Wenger’s future, or the quality of his recent signings, or the failure to bring through talent, or develop the talent that has emerged.
Nor is it the way he has consistently refused in that time to address his team’s flimsy back-bone and toothless bite up front.
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These were all blindingly obvious to the fans who protested, but the conclusion this week has been that the act of turning against Wenger did the greater damage to the team.
The board meeting was a chance to assess sanely the way forward and what practical, considered steps could be taken to make Arsenal competitive again at the highest levels.
“They are of course unlimited, our ambitions,” said Wenger, proving that cool-headed calculation is nothing compared to some wild fan-appeasing rhetoric.
But it seems that just finishing in the top four has never been on the agenda over the years, anyway.
“That’s just absolutely not true,” Gazidis insisted. “I know people will jump to that conclusion because we’ve done that so consistently for so long. But all of this is driven towards the ambition of winning the Premier League.”
To sum up, then, this was the message coming from the Emirates yesterday.
1. The target now is to win the Premier League, but then it always was; 2. Wenger is the man to do it, although he hasn’t for 13 years; and 3. the club are going to invest in some big-name players.
And even on that last one, Gazidis suggested the process had been ongoing for a while now.
“We’ve seen an era where we can sign players like Mesut Ozil or Alexis or Granit Xhaka,” he said and, yes, he mentioned Xhaka by name.
Arsenal fans may be worried that vision forward is not a particularly clear one after so many months of navel-gazing. Such advocates of clarity probably should not ask Gazidis if, in keeping Wenger on, they are simply being sentimental.
Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis called for unity
“This is not just the club not being sentimental, this is Arsene not being sentimental either,” he said.
Not clear as not-crystal. Although one thing did become increasingly apparent watching the videos.
There was very little sign of soul-searching on either party and far too much smug leaning on an admittedly fine one-off FA Cup final.
Arsenal fans had better prepare themselves for two more years of much the same.