Arsène held his pre-Lincoln press conference and the immediate headlines all talked about his future. And then the board gave him a vote of confidence,
“We are fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate. We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart.
“Arsène has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way.”
Not so much a ‘vote of confidence’ as a pointless intervention. Claiming that they have the club’s “best long-term interests at heart” is laughable. The paralysis caused by Wenger’s own situation is damaging the short-term, with players’ futures in the air and the Academy role vacated by Andries Jonkers.
Wenger claimed there is plenty of time to appoint someone. Which is true but nothing should be decided until Arsène’s own contract position is resolved. I think he will renew, a decision which calls into question the board’s claim to have the club’s best interests at heart. The clue came when he was asked about tainting his reputation,
Look, I don’t work for my image, I work for this club with full commitment. That’s what I do. After, how will I be judged, one way or the other? It’s not too much my problem. I think I’ve shown since I’m here that first of all I love this club, that I’m loyal to this club and that I make the right decisions for this club. I will continue to do that. Of course, in respecting the values that I think are vital for me. If I cannot do that, I will not be here.
That’s man in a job for life talking.
His legacy is intact; he took Arsenal from the club it was then to what it is now. The structures will adapt with time and his record will not be altered. Neither of those will be tarnished or erased, certainly not in the way some try to pretend that the club didn’t exist before Wenger.
His reputation, in the sense of respect in football, is undamaged but what he is capable of achieving is taking a hit. PSG, his likeliest destination, in common with Europe’s other big clubs, demand titles; not just domestic, the Champions League above all else. Arsène’s track record of success in Europe is his blind spot and it’s a common theme throughout his managerial career.
Will the lack of big jobs coming up in the summer will impact on his decision?
Doubts Even Here
His focus is on Lincoln which became almost a by-product of the questions. Understandably (to an extent), he would rather talk about anything else. His problem is that the other talk is how badly the team is performing now and consistently has in the past in big matches.
But for the weekend, he wasn’t sure if the flu bug which struck during the week would have cleared up. The question for Arsène is what side to field. His natural instinct for loyalty is well and good, and I do think the usual ‘FA Cup’ side can win this tie. But he has to consider the impact of the Bayern defeat on the squad. The players gave up; beyond Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, they had no pride in playing for Arsenal at that point.
In the position of their own making after the first leg, the lack of footballing sense was incredible but they need to get back on the pitch and play again. For that reason, I’d field the same XI. Let’s face it, he’s going to have to for the semi-final and final (if we get there). Chelsea are chasing a double while Mourinho would love nothing more than to add to Wenger’s misery. Tottenham are Tottenham, who the knows what they are thinking, while Pep needs a trophy. The other semi-finalists will be highly motivated to put out their strongest side.
Maybe he will give the Cup XI a final runout against the Imps, just to keep the squad ‘happy’ for a couple of weeks. We shall see but the football returns and at least we have a match to distract us.