The day after the London club opened its current Premier League campaign with a 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust released a statement decrying reports that Wenger was to be offered a new contract by chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
“The AST believes this is inappropriate,” the statement read. “There remain important questions about the way player identification, recruitment and remuneration processes are managed at Arsenal.”
Fifteen days later, Wenger answered one of those questions when he signed Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for a club-record fee, and a nine-match unbeaten run that lasted until November took the Gunners to the top of the table.
On Monday, with the mood at Emirates Stadium rather more buoyant than it was in the summer, Gazidis revealed that Wenger would be renewing his contract in short order.
“Arsene will be extending with us and at the right time we will make that announcement,” he told reporters, as per the Telegraph. “We have always supported Arsene...Arsene has always been committed to the club; we are comfortable in that position and relaxed.”
Needless to say, the outcry of August was not repeated.
Instead, with Wenger set to extend his tenure and the club agreeing to a lucrative kit deal with outfitter PUMA, it would seem Arsenal are on the precipice of another memorable, triumphant period.
In staring down his critics and outlasting the doubters who had threatened to drive him out of the club in recent seasons, Wenger has reaffirmed that he is the most important person at Arsenal—that his methods are club-defining and that it will be the players, and not him, who find themselves expendable when things get difficult.
Most administrations don’t have the patience to arrive at such a point, but the Alex Fergusons and Jock Steins of the world serve as a reminder of the success that can follow when a manager becomes the club’s predominant figurehead.
And in the PUMA agreement, estimated to be worth more than £30 million per season by Reuters, Wenger will have even more resources at his disposal.
“Through a clear commercial vision, a well-defined sports marketing strategy and a relentless enthusiasm within the PUMA organization, we’re proud to have signed this partnership with a truly global football club,” company chief executive Bjoern Gulden told Arsenal’s official website on Monday, adding, “Arsenal represents a major commercial and marking opportunity to reinforce PUMA’s credibility as a global sports brand.”
Arsenal’s own credibility has also been reinforced these last few months, and going forward the trajectory would seem to train ever upward.
In Wenger they have their icon; in PUMA they have additional revenue; in the squad they have a potential Premier League champion.
The pieces are in place for the next chapter in an illustrious history.