Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has agreed to sign a two-year contract
In that time, he must help reorganise the behind-the-scenes structure of the club, persuade his key squad members to remain, strengthen around them and in that way win over the fans.
Oh, and sign a striker.
That could just about make the atmosphere at the Emirates workable by the time the season kicks off in August and prevent another season of protest and division.
It would prove not only that Wenger genuinely is a changed man, but more importantly that he has his title-winning ambition back.
Robin Van Persie was the last striker that Arsenal have had who has been good enough to deliver a title. Unfortunately, he only proved that when he joined Manchester United in 2013.
It was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season and the fall from Champions League grace at Old Trafford since then is what has terrified the Arsenal board.
Arsene Wenger lifts FA Cup as Arsenal players celebrate Sat, May 27, 2017
Arsene Wenger was the centre of attention during the wild Arsenal celebrations
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Arsenal celebrate winning the FA Cup against Chelsea
Replacing such an established manager is fraught with problems, so all the time Wenger was ticking along in the top four, why take the risk? But there was a new attitude in the boardroom yesterday. The fans who wanted Wenger out may have had their wishes ignored but not, entirely, their voices.
The anger behind the protests was driven by a perceived lack of ambition – a manager, backed by a board, all too easily content.
This time, though, it was spelled out to Wenger that the club’s ambitions, very firmly, are to win the league. They may not have the spending power of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, but now, at last, that is the foremost target. They are going to have a go.
The improved contribution from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil is enough to persuade the board to go as high as £30m-a-year for the pair. They are, after all, world class assets and not ones that can be afford to leave for nothing 12 months down the line.
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Moreover, they fit perfectly into the 3-4-3 system Wenger finally adopted six months after Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino were busy showing how effective it can be in the Premier League.
But they need somebody in between. Specifically, somebody capable of scoring 20 goals a season. For the last eight years, everybody who has won the league, has had one.
They are expensive, mind, but that is why finally getting that central talisman is such a measure of Arsenal’s real determination to compete. Get it right, and all the other transfer business of the summer falls into place behind it. In the past, though, Arsenal have tried to buy such a key piece of the jigsaw on the cheap.
In 2013, as Arsenal looked to find somebody to fill the 30-goal gap left by Van Persie’s departure, Wenger dithered over paying £23m for Gonzalo Higuain. He ended up paying just £10m for Olivier Giroud. The most he has ever managed is 16 in a season. The board have made it clear they no longer want second best. That is how you end up with Lucas Perez and not Alexandre Lacazette.
Wenger is a determined man. His demeanour in the tunnel after the FA Cup final was a timely reminder of that as he prepared for his meeting this week. He truly believes he is one of the world’s top managers, and on a one-to-one basis perhaps he is.
But now he has to show the same boldness in the transfer market he showed until shortly after Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and all those other revolutionary new signings of the previous century.
Robin Van Persie was the last striker that Arsenal have had who has been good enough to win a title
Overarching that, the word coming out of the Emirates yesterday was “evolution”, not “revolution”. Eventually, that will make easing Wenger out of the door easier than it ever looked like being this time around.
But with evolution, you still need major, landmark changes that show a process is moving in the right direction.
Recruiting a world class striker is one of those. It would pander to fans and bring greater positivity behind a more aggressive-thinking Wenger ahead of next season’s Premier League assault.
In “evolutionary” terms, a marquee signing is what Wenger needs to give his next two years some legs.