Answering the ‘how much longer’ question?
By Chioma Uzoigwe
Mr Arsene Wenger like the proverbial cat with nine lives has jumped and landed yet again. It is often said in football that you are as good as your last game. It therefore would be with a sense of relief that the Arsenal manager signed a new two-year contract after a season that saw the Gunners finish fifth and miss out on the prestigious Champions League qualification in two decades, although they did win their third FA cup in the last four years.
The Arsenal team under Wenger this season scored a lot of more lows than highs to land themselves in the fifth position in the premiership and would therefore only play in the Europa League. The fans have been waiting for their beloved team to win the league since 2004 but once again their hopes have been dashed. Indeed, the overall trophy drought at the Emirates Stadium lasted for nine years before Wenger won the FA cup in 2013. The fans’ agitation for trophies culminated into all sorts of protests and anti-Wenger chants recently with a variety of home-made signs being unfurled.
Some of the protests placards bore signs such as “Wexit”; “Every good story has an ending, Au Revoir Arsene”; and “Arsene, 4th place is not a trophy” and they were displayed during home matches. This in turn did not help the Arsene Wenger issues at the Emirates and among numerous Arsenal fans all over the world.
The Arsenal manager being obstinate and strong willed as he usually is, refused to disclose whether he will extend his Arsenal reign into a 22nd season after his contract expires at the end of the campaign.
A poor run of form after the turn of the year and following a battering 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, Wenger made an unexpected switch to a 3-4-3 formation – an alteration he pondered earlier in the season and one he settled upon to give his ailing team greater defensive stability. “In fairness I wanted to do it a month-and-a-half ago, but I thought no, maybe we shouldn’t destroy the way we have played before, because we were 20 games unbeaten,” he told Sky Sports. The new style of formation, seem to have ushered in some reprieve to turn around the season and eventually beat their London rivals – Chelsea to win the FA Cup and finish 5th in the league which happily qualified the team to compete in the Europa league.
As for transfers for next season, we have not heard much except for the signing of a relatively unknown German/Bosnia-Herzegovina player – Sead Kolasinac. Fans were hoping the club will quickly finish with their target transfers and be fully ready for pre-season. Alas, no. Their usual last day transfer at midnight may be the situation yet again or trying to sign players that are not motivated enough to come to Arsenal. Missing out on the champions league also has created a major obstacle with players who are eager to make their mark on the UEFA Champions league scene and would therefore be unwilling to join the club.
Wenger, obviously with the backing of the club executive has renewed his contract for yet another two years. As taunted by the fans, this great club is fast gaining a reputation as Arsene FC (and not Arsenal FC). Mr Arsene Wenger once reiterated that he oversees players on the pitch and not some Director of Football when the club once muted the idea of appointing a Director of Football. “Director of Football?” said Wenger, “I don’t know what it means”. Is it someone who stands on the road and directs play right and left?
Fans’ expectations will be that he wins the Europa league. This will further palliate them like the three FA Cup trophies has done in the past four years. Anything short of winning the league or the Europa league will further aggravate the fan’s agitation and in turn put even more pressure on the club executive to shop for a new manager. They may not have listened in the past but might listen this time around.
For ‘The Professor,’ the clock ticks, faster!
Arsenal Coach, Mr. Arsene Wenger