Why FA Cup Final Won't Dictate Arsene Wenger's Arsenal Future

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2014

HULL, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Arsenal at KC Stadium on April 20, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger's future will not be decided by the result of the FA Cup Final. Why? Because he says so.

For much of the second half of the season, Wenger's fate has been in some doubt. As Arsenal's title challenge faded into memory, speculation mounted that this could be the Frenchman's last season in charge of the Gunners.

Many fans felt Wenger would have to secure both Champions League qualification and the FA Cup to feel he was the man to take Arsenal forward.

However, speaking to Arsenal.com after his team's final home game of the season, Wenger was asked whether he knew yet if he would be staying on for next season. After responding in the affirmative, he went on to say:

It is not linked [with the FA Cup final] at all. It was important to be in the Champions League, that is for sure. I have told you many times it is not linked the fact I feel I am useful.

It seems a call on Wenger's future has already been taken. He has decided that he will take charge of Arsenal in 2014/15, regardless of what happens at Wembley.

Wenger's quotes suggest that the real priority has been Champions League qualification. Wenger is borderline obsessive when it comes to finishing in the top four, and his record is superb. Under his stewardship, the Gunners have not once dropped out of the Champions League places.

Now that Arsenal are guaranteed a place in the draw for the qualifying round of Europe's elite competition, Wenger is happy to reveal his hand.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 04:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is seen on the pitch following the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium on May 4, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Some fans will doubtless feel Wenger should wait to prove he can still win silverware before committing his future to the club. It has been almost nine full years since he last led Arsenal to a major trophy.

However, there is sense in agreeing a new deal ahead of the final. The match between Arsenal and Hull is a one-off occasion, subject to all kinds of chaotic influences.

Is one 90-minute game really an appropriate assessment on which to base a decision about a manager's future? Should Arsenal lose to a freak own goal or a deplorable refereeing decision, would Wenger really deserve to be shown the door?

It's surely more important to observe that Arsenal have made significant progress this season. It's already their highest points tally in years and their first major final since 2011. 

Another factor in Wenger's decision might be the absence of an obvious successor. He loves Arsenal deeply and would not want to leave the club without a succession plan in place.

Arsene Wenger is staying. Arsenal fans will hope he marks his renewal by lifting the FA Cup.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.