Stop press: By the time I managed to upload, news had broken that Wenger had signed a 2-year deal.
We haven’t got long to wait. By tomorrow, we should know Wenger’s fate at Arsenal. It feels like a foregone conclusion: a contract extension. However, there are some potential flies in the ointment that could stop Wenger continuing at the helm.
Apparently, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to Wenger signing a new deal is talk about appointing a director of football. Wenger told the Standard earlier in May that he didn’t know ‘what a director of football means’. He asked rhetorically if it is: ‘somebody who stands in the road and directs play right and left?’ He added: ‘I don’t understand and I never did understand what it means.’ I can see his point. To me, a DOF is an expensive interference. A DOF will often try to undermine the manager so he can take over. A DOF will have the chairman’s ear, as he will sit next to him in the stand, and is in an excellent position to mount a takeover of the team. This has happened time and time again at various clubs, including Portsmouth, who at one time seemed to have a penchant for employing DOFs as managers. No wonder Wenger is against this idea. I have to agree with him, as I’m not really sure what a DOF does, aside from undermining the manager and bringing in players the manager doesn’t want. Arsenal already have enough members of staff able to do that, judging by Lucas Perez, who seemingly was not on Wenger’s wanted list. The same could be said of Andrey Arshavin of yesteryear.
Anyway, the bottom line is if Arsenal insist on appointing a DOF, Wenger will be off. I just can’t see Arsene compromising on this, as if he agrees he is signing his own death warrant and, for all his faults when it comes to football tactics, he is not that stupid. I’d go as far to say that when it comes to politics, Wenger is a master.
Meanwhile, the other sticking point, apparently, is Dick Law. The club’s transfer fixer has been a long-term Wenger ally, so no wonder the Frenchman is likely to dig his heels in when it comes to Law’s future. Now that Wenger has a record number of FA Cup wins to boast about, he is unlikely to let the powers-that-be let Law go. Wenger will fight them on the beaches or at least the bordroom, if they insist on doing that.
According to the Standard, the club are about to announce the signing of Sead Kolasinac from Schalke. From what I’ve heard, he will be a quality signing for Arsenal and there’s more to come. Mario Lemina and Jordan Pickford could be about to join from Juventus and Sunderland respectively. Less likely to succeed are negotiations for Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette and Monaco duo Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar. The problem is the lack of Champions League football at the Emirates next season is hardly a selling point.
Although Arsenal fans can wallow in the ‘ifs, buts and maybes’ of who could join, the list of players who are out of contract in 2018 is shockingly long, including: Sanchez, Ozil, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Ramsey, Szczesny and Campbell to name but a few.
If many of the above make tracks and leave Arsenal, Wenger is going to need more than one or two ‘good buys’ to change the FA Cup winners into title challengers.