Arsene Wenger signs new contract: Arsenal manager is no 'specialist in failure' - he earned his right to carry on after FA Cup win

The long-time manager showed he is taking this Arsenal team in the right direction, writes fan Jack de Menezes

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The Independent Football

Rejoice! Arsene Wenger is staying with Arsenal. Our manager, who teased us with months of ‘will he, won’t he’, will lead the side into a 17th straight season of Champions League competition as well as the defence of our gleaming FA Cup trophy. This is nothing but good news, right?

Yes, it is actually. Having been previously pessimistic that fans should not get ahead of themselves following the FA Cup victory, news that Wenger will stay beyond his 19th year with the club is a major – if expected – boost ahead of the summer transfer window.

Wenger has shown signs this season that both he and the club are improving, and despite finishing fourth once again, our 128-day total stint at the top of the Premier League shows that we are capable of competing with England’s biggest sides. A wider look shows that the club spent more time at the top of the league than champions Manchester City, second place Liverpool and Manchester United combined, although the latter’s two-day total is less of an example and more of a reason to smile at the Emirates.

The successful FA Cup run also means that all the talk of that nine-year run can halt immediately, and for a so-called “specialist in failure”, Wenger looked pretty happy with his season’s work at Wembley on 17 May.


So what about the Champions League? Can back-to-back eliminations at the hands of Bayern Munich be considered progress, or are Arsenal further from European glory now than they ever have been? In short, Arsenal can’t ‘expect’ to beat the likes of Bayern and Real Madrid, but we’ll sure as hell give them a run for their money. The side have shown that, having secured a win and a draw in their last two visits to the Allianz Arena, and the firm belief is that if we can sort out our group stage performances and top the group to avoid the rest of the group winners, a semi-final or final appearance is not at all beyond this side.

But had Hull triumphed at Wembley, or Everton capitalise on their 3-0 victory over Wenger’s stuttering side to finish fourth and consign us to a Europa League campaign for the first time in Wenger’s reign in charge, you have to think that the 64-year-old would have had to seriously consider whether he had taken the club forward.

Initial reports revealed talks over a new contract began as early as last year, but the delaying party in negotiations was Wenger himself. This wasn’t down to the wages being offered or the length of the contract (as has so often been a deciding factor in contracts involving Wenger and his players) but his choosing to wait, and wait, and wait until the season was over.

Had he failed in either the league or FA Cup, it wouldn’t have been a surprise is we were searching for our next manager to take over in July.

Just take a glance to Manchester and you’ll see what can happen when a long-term manager decides enough is enough and the right plans aren’t put in to place to survive without them. United’s struggles this season should be a real message to the Gunners’ faithful that life post-Wenger could be a lot worse than life with him in charge.

That’s all hindsight now, and with Wenger in charge – and looking as confident as ever – a proactive summer transfer window could see us really strengthen our Premier League title challenge. And who knows, in three years’ time we could all be calling for Wenger to agree a new deal after a trophy-laden run.