Wenger to extend Arsenal deal: is he the right man for the job?
The trophy drought is over, but that doesn't mean Wenger is the man to deliver more success
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has finally agreed a new deal that will keep him at the Emirates until 2017. The contract extension is expected to be confirmed this weekend.
News of the deal comes after months of speculation and the end of Arsenal's nine-tear trophy drought, which came when they beat Hull in the FA Cup final at Wembley earlier this month.
"His decision to remain with the club is testament to his belief that the squad could challenge for the Premier League and Champions League and he has stated that the FA Cup triumph will be a 'turning point' for them," says the Daily Telegraph.
The deal is expected to be a lucrative one for Wenger. Earlier this month reports put its value at between £22m and £24m. However, even in the wake of the Gunners' cup triumph there were some raised eyebrows, even among Arsenal fans.
"The timeframe of the deal is especially intriguing," wrote Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph when news of the deal first emerged at the start of last week. He noted that although Wenger has usually signed three-year contract extensions, he has never let his existing deal run out before.
By the time the new agreement expires Wenger will be 67 and will have spent 21 years at the helm. "Wenger's decision reflects his belief that the core of this current squad is again ready to seriously compete to win the Premier League or Champions League," said Wilson.
But is he mistaken? "It would be wrong to depict even such a cathartic victory as bringing ultimate vindication for Wenger," said Matt Hughes of The Times. "The cracks in Arsenal's squad seem to grow wider every year... and Wenger has proved adept at papering over them."
It was "disconcerting" to hear Wenger claim that his squad only needed two or three additions this summer, added Hughes. What's needed is a "comprehensive rebuilding operation" but even if Wenger realises it, he may lack the "ruthlessness" to carry it out.
"One trophy doesn’t make Arsene Wenger a specialist in success," agreed Patrick Barclay in the Evening Standard. Arsenal should enjoy their success but "Wenger must also ponder the failings of his regime, which were apparent even on Saturday".
Meanwhile, former Gunners goalkeeper Jens Lehmann told the Standard that he was "not sure" that Wenger is the man to bring success back to the club.
"They have to make changes," he said. "Sometimes the structure has to be not only on two shoulders, or one man, but you need a couple of people who define, control and monitor the progress of the club and the philosophy."
Even the influential Le Grove blog had reservations. "Three years? How did that happen? I could take two. But three? Based on the season we’ve just had? Well, it’s an odd one for me," writes founder Pedro.
There are issues with fitness, tactics and player recruitment that need addressing he says. "We've just got to hope [Wenger] is a little more humble about the next three years," he says.