Arsène Wenger: Time for Change?
This weekend Arsène Wenger, the longtime Arsenal F.C. manager, was the subject of a protest from fans. In the 12′ and 78‘ minute Arsenal fans held up signs saying, “Time for Change”. While the majority of fans were not holding up signs, it was still enough to gain attention from the television cameras in the stadium. After going through a tough season, players have admittedly said they squandered the chance to win the league. The 5000:1 odds to win the league Leicester City clinched the title on Monday due to Arsenal’s fierce rival Tottenham’s draw with Chelsea. If Tottenham beats Arsenal in the final league standings it will be the first time in 21 years.
Wenger was hired on October 1st, 1996 as the manager of Arsenal, and in the past 19 seasons has won three league titles and six F.A. Cups, winning both in the same season twice. His greatest achievement was going undefeated in the 2003-2004 season. Arsenal has been to the group stage of the Champion’s League, Europe’s most important soccer competition, since 1999. This is very impressive except for the fact that Arsenal has not won the competition under Wenger and only reached the final once, in 2006.
Some Arsenal fans want a new manager because they pay the highest ticket prices in the Premier League and they have won nine trophies, but suffered a nine-year trophy drought that lasted from 2005-2014. Arsenal considers themselves a top club and top clubs win trophies. For example, Barcelona has won 15 trophies over the last 10 years. If a manager at a top club is not bringing in trophies there is no need to keep that manager. Other top clubs in the world rotate mangers if they aren’t winning. For instance in the premier league 53.8% of managers are replaced every season, or just over 10 a year.
For the record Wenger is not going anywhere, with majority owner Stan Kroenke giving him full backing. Kroenke has said that he trusts Wenger to the fullest and the club is self-sustainable and even turns a profit. This is a very financially focused sports owner who also owns the newly relocated Los Angeles Rams and the very average Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets. So finances will be at the forefront of most of his decision.
The new Emirates Stadium that was built in 2006 cost of £470 million ($684 million) which gave Arsenal a capacity increase of over 20,000 over their old stadium, Highbury. This was not a cheap building and it would cost the club a significant portion of their transfer budget, leaving Wenger to create world-class players from the club’s youth academy versus buying world-class players. The new stadium is considered by one Arsenal minority owner to “have cost Wenger his best years at the club”.
So to be clear Wenger is not leaving Arsenal unless he wants too and it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen. So the current Arsenal fans will have to either love or hate him, but he will still be the manager.