Wenger has certainly been under pressure in the past. However, the scrutiny has never come so close to the end of his contract. With just a matter of months to run on his present deal, there is a genuine chance he could opt to walk away at the end of this season.
According to John Cross of The Mirror, even Wenger’s own staff have no idea if he intends to continue beyond this season:
Arsene Wenger is staying silent on his future—even to his coaching staff.
The Arsenal manager has given no indication about whether he will sign a new deal to his No. 2 Steve Bould, coach Neil Banfield or anyone else at the training ground.
The Gunners' coaching staff all have contracts that mirror Wenger’s, so their futures are also up in the air until he decides—and there is growing concern as to why he is stalling.
The primary cause for uncertainty is the uneasy relationship between Wenger and the fans. After the 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day, Wenger was widely abused by the supporters who had once adored him. Although Arsenal’s subsequent good run did much to repair the relationship, the Gunners’ recent poor form has reopened some old wounds.
For the fans, concern over Wenger’s capabilities is tempered by a fear of the unknown. Arsenal’s board lacks football expertise. If Wenger was to walk away, it would leave the club in a difficult position. There is genuine concern over the board’s ability to identify and appoint a suitable successor.
Nigel Phillips, of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, told The Mirror:
Of course Wenger’s achievements at Arsenal in the first half of his reign have bought him the leeway he is now using, but the well of goodwill is almost empty.
This is another pivotal summer for the club. With only five league games left, not to know if he is staying or going is tantamount to gross negligence on behalf of the club executive.
Perhaps part of Wenger’s reticence to sign a new deal is the length of the commitment. According to John Cross, the proposed contract “may only be for two years rather than three.” However, could a one-year deal suit all parties?
Crucially, it would stave off the search for a replacement for another summer and enable the board to develop a long-term strategy for the succession. Replacing a manager of Wenger’s stock requires careful planning and consideration, not a hurried panic at a moment’s notice.
It would also give Arsene Wenger another summer to make use of Arsenal’s renewed finances. Having managed the club with such prudence over the last decade, he arguably deserves the opportunity to loosen the purse strings.
The discontented fans might be satisfied by the short-term nature of the agreement. At the current time, there is not a huge appetite to see Wenger handed a multi-year deal. However, an annual renewal would mean that Wenger's future would be considered by all parties on an annual basis. Arsenal would not be locked in to anything.
Sir Alex Ferguson had no qualms about signing one-year rolling extensions at Manchester United. A similar arrangement could be the ideal solution for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
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