The manager of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, will continue to manage Arsenal for another two years at least. It comes as no surprise to fans and the football community that Wenger and the club agreed on a contract on May 31st following the FA Cup win over Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
Arsene Wenger has been managing the club for the past 20 years – however, last season was the most uncertain period of his entire career. With a strong start to the season, Arsenal had a devastating run of form between January and April that cost the Gunners a Champions League spot and a place in the top four for the first time in 20 years of Wenger’s managerial career. This poor form has already impacted what’s going on at the bookies. From research, I came across these BetVictor Arsenal odds of them winning the league and they’re currently at 10/1. It’s clear to see that the Gunners have a lot to prove if they want to come out on top this season.
Furthermore, for the seventh consecutive season, Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League round of 16 stages against the mighty Bavarians. Bayern Munich won both games and the tie by 10-2 on aggregate.
All these issues have disgruntled fans. As Wenger somehow earned himself another two-year contract in an attempt to make things right at the club, the Gunners and their fans have a lot of questions to ask.
Wenger agreed to stay on after meeting with Stan Kroenke, who is a majority shareholder of the club. There was uncertainty throughout the season regarding the extension of Arsene’s contract. However, the manager admitted that he was at fault for the team’s performance this season. The Gunners had their worst finish ever as they came fifth for the first time in 21 years. The manager accepted that team morale was low and the players were not in a good place which greatly affected their performance this season.
However, the season ended with something positive for Arsenal where the team managed to produce one of the best performances. Arsenal beat Chelsea on the grand stage at Wembley by 2-1 and won the FA Cup. The fans were happy and the manager was also satisfied with the performance. There is no doubt that Arsene Wenger always wanted to stay at the club irrespective of the situation. He has turned down numerous opportunities to manage other clubs along with a chance to manage the French national team. Hence, the new two-year contract was a victory for Wenger as he wanted unequivocal support from the Arsenal board and shareholders.
Rumours arose that Ivan Gazidis, the Chief Executive at Arsenal, didn’t want Arsene to continue managing the club and was pushing a change from behind the curtains. The Chief Executive also wanted to appoint a technical director for Arsenal – something which Wenger has expressed strong disagreement for.
After months of discussions and speculations, the decision came out to be in favour of Wenger with the support of the board. The majority shareholder, Kroenke, thinks that Wenger is still the right man to take the club forward and make things right in the upcoming seasons.
Now that the manager has signed a two-year contract, here are the five things he should do to prove that it was the right decision:
Sort the Futures of Key Players
The first and foremost thing Arsene Wenger needs to do is to sort out the futures of the club’s key players; Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. If the club want to be a contender for the Premier League title next season, they must keep both players. In my eyes, these are the only two ‘world class’ players in the team. However, the manager will have to ensure that their commitment and dedication towards the club remains consistent.
From February onwards, despite starting and playing major games for the club, Alexis Sanchez has been highly unsettled at Arsenal. The club is prepared to offer Ozil and Sanchez a contract which will make them the highest paid players in the club’s history. Reports suggest that Ozil will be offered a deal worth £250,000 a week whereas Sanchez will be at £280,000 a week.
The Gunners were frustrated as the team failed to pen a deal with Ozil last year. Sanchez’s situation is not looking good either, as the player is heavily linked with the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Nonetheless, the club should try to persuade Sanchez to sign a deal which will keep him at Arsenal until 2020.
Bring back positivity
The events of the 2016/2017 season has created great unrest among fans, where a clear majority are dissatisfied with the team’s lack of progress.
Is it possible for Arsene Wenger to bring back the positivity and convince supporters that his team can still win major trophies and Premier League titles? Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League since 2003-2004.
It all depends on how Wenger motivates his players before August and how the club intends to spend in the summer transfer window. If they fail to bring in big names, the fans won’t accept any excuses if Arsenal have a poor start to the season. The Gunners have already been very patient with trophies as well as signings.
For the past couple of years, fans usually start the season by supporting the manager as the team get off to a good start. As time passes by, and especially in the second half of the season, the same supporters quickly start to feel dissatisfied.
To overcome this, Wenger has to ensure that his team challenges for the Premier League title and other major trophies.
Modernise the Club’s Structure
It’s also important that Wenger should consider modernising the club’s structure to ensure future success. However, we should not expect Wenger to change his gameplay, style and how he works.
Few managers operate the same way as Wenger and it’s time for him to accept some structural change.
Play threemen defence
Arsene Wenger changed the club’s formation and brought in threemen defence at the back, which really suited fullbacks. The new formation also helped central midfielders, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka, to galvanise and play effectively.
In the past season, Wenger gambled with his system and the positive change was reflected in the FA Cup win against Chelsea. Furthermore, Arsenal won nine out of ten games in which they played three men at the back (preferably 3-4-2-1).
Sign world class players in the summer transfer window
This is crucial. Even if Sanchez and Ozil decide to stay, Arsenal must strengthen their squad by signing world-class players. The primary setback that Arsenal might face is not qualifying for the Champions League.
Currently, the club is heavily linked with world class young prospects such as Alexandre Lacazette. However, would they be able to sign such players considering Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, etc. are also aiming for them? These clubs can also potentially offer more than Arsenal can.
Hopefully, Wegner will manage to pull things around in time for the new season and will restore faith amongst fans.