I wrote last week that I thought Arsene Wenger would be at Arsenal next season.
That all this furore over his new contract is just what happens every year.
But I assumed something when I made that statement.
I assumed that Arsenal would finish in the top four, as they have done for the last billion seasons (or so it seems).
But after their loss to Liverpool, and Wenger’s inexplicable decision not to field Alexis Sanchez for what he claimed were “tactical” reasons, I’m hastily reassessing my viewpoint.
— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) March 5, 2017
It is true that Arsenal only sit two points shy of the top four, with a game in hand on the team that vanquished them on Saturday, but if Wenger’s side continue to perform at this level, there’s no chance that they’ll finish in the Champions League.
No chance whatsoever.
And if that happens Wenger probably will – quite rightly – go.
But what is most absurd about this whole situation is that the Arsenal board are showing themselves up to be the spineless and unambitious group that we have all always assumed they are.
They said this week that Arsene Wenger must decide his contract situation out in the next month.
Yes, you heard that right. The manager, who is employed by the board, is able to decide his own future.
Despite underachieving, some would say drastically, for over a decade now.
The Invincibles season of 2003/2004 may only have been 13 years ago, but it feels like a lifetime away now.
Arsene Wenger turns up for work tomorrow morning: pic.twitter.com/yvq5WPFMvL
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) March 5, 2017
Arsenal haven’t won the league since that season, and yet the club’s hierarchy are still convinced that Wenger is the right man for the job.
He has overseen a steady decline, as first Arsenal stopped challenging for the title, and eventually they began scrapping for a Champions League place.
This is, of course, the reason why Wenger has retained his job for so long – his ability to keep finishing in the top four.
But when did this become the sum total of the board’s ambition?
When did they start to compromise?
Because what is clear is that saying Wenger should stay – which is what they are doing by asking him to resolve his own contractual situation – is saying that he is doing the job he needs to do.
There doesn’t seem to be any dissatisfaction, or any sense that he should have done better.
I repeat what I said last week: Wenger will stay if Arsenal finish top four – but in my view he should go regardless.
I guess we’ll wait and see what the Frenchman decides to do.