Wenger hints at new deal but delay could hurt Arsenal
Gunners boss won't leave this summer after all, but who will decide on a new contract?
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has dismissed speculation linking him with a move to Paris Saint Germain and hinted that he could extend his contract at the Emirates.
The news will generate a mixed reaction among Arsenal fans. A few seasons ago such an announcement would have had them dancing in the streets, but after eight long years without the club winning any silverware the Frenchman's crown has slipped and there is now a vocal minority of supporters who want to see the back of the "nutty professor".
At his Friday press conference, Wenger made it clear he has no intention of breaking his contract with Arsenal, which runs until the end of next season, but did not say when he would open talks about an extension.
Asked about his future he said: "I have answered that question already. I respect my contracts." He hinted that he could stay on beyond the end of next season, but did not reveal when any negotiations would begin.
"I want to stay if I do well, and if I consider, or the club considers, that I do well, that is all," he said. "I want this club to do well, that is my basic feeling. We have gone through a period that was very sensitive, we are coming out of it now, in a much stronger position financially. I believe the club is in a very strong position for the future."
But the 63-year-old Arsenal boss is no longer untouchable and has had to deal with open rebellion among some sections of support in recent months. "Wenger has faced criticism ... after the Gunners again failed to land a trophy and his relationship with the fans has been strained by a string of dismal results," explained Sky Sports.
Former Arsenal favourite Lee Dixon said Wenger was still the man for the job, but he had to accept that things needed to improve. "At Arsenal you will always be judged by your results, and they haven't been good enough," the pundit told FourFourTwo magazine.
"Arsenal have lost too many of their best players in recent years, and Arsene must take responsibility for that. There's a way of keeping these players: to pay the going rate and to get other class players around them. The team is not good enough at the moment."
If Wenger leaves it too long before opening talks about a new contract it could destabilise the club and undermine the hunt for silverware.
However, his decision to stay for at least one more season is no surprise. Earlier in the week James Olley of The Evening Standard said he was convinced the Arsenal boss would remain, although he agreed that a lack of certainty about what happens beyond next season would be unsettling.
"Wenger has shown great dignity under mounting pressure and to walk away this summer would leave his mission incomplete," he wrote. "It will hurt him deeply to see the Gunners so far short of competing for silverware and this summer he has the chance to rectify that ... His work in London is not yet done." ·