He has managed more Premier League games than any other coach, been tenured longer than any other manager and won the most FA Cups. Arsene Wenger has been there and done that over his long Arsenal career.
However, Wenger has been knocked out of the FA Cup in the Third-round for the first time. This season as a whole has been filled with firsts and abnormalities from the Gunners, so some fans are wondering is Wenger leaving this summer?
Here are a few reasons why, after over two decades, the boss may leave a year early.
Is Wenger Leaving This Summer? 7 Signs of the Arse-pocalypse
Missing the Champions League
For the first time since the 96-97 season, the year of Wenger’s appointment, Arsenal didn’t qualify for the Champions League at the end of the last campaign.
The Frenchman had always been heralded for his consistency, and ability to slip into fourth-or higher-year in and year out. However, the magic of Arsene couldn’t save his team after that miserable league season.
It seemed like even when the Gunners were in an impossible situation, and might even finish below Spuds in the table, he would inspire his men in a late-season resurgence that saw them qualify for Europe’s most prestigious competition.
In fact, the failure to qualify was so abnormal it caused masses of Gooners to question ‘is Wenger leaving this summer’, last summer.
If anything could encapsulate the fall from grace the team has suffered, it would be the absence of Champions League football at the Emirates.
Earliest FA Cup Exit Ever
Arsenal lost to Nottingham Forest on January 7, 2018, by a score of 4-2 in the Third-round. It was the first time since the 95-96 season, the year before Wenger’s appointment, that the Arsenal hadn’t made the fourth round of the competition.
Just like the Champions League, Gooners had grown accustomed to being a part of the later stages of the FA Cup. However, the 2017-18 FA Cup run was not to be, and the Championship club advanced in our stead.
Silent Stan doesn’t care about trophies, but how does he feel about match-day income? Well, Arsene Wenger just lost his boss the extra earnings from an extended cup run.
With the team losing out on the world’s most lucrative competition last year, that added financial stress may cause Kroenke to lose some more hair. Or perhaps just a long-serving manager.
Not Selling the Stars
We had seen it with Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie just to name a few. That is, stars going into the final year of their contract being sold off to line the pockets of the club’s owners.
You probably have your own opinion about whether or not he should have sold, so make sure to let us know in the comments section.
Anyway, as you already know, he actually didn’t sell the two want-away superstars. Whether that will mean steering the team back into the top four or just losing boatloads of transfer fees, we will find out come May.
Either way, that is a behavior that we have never seen before from our man Arsene, and it may be a sign he won’t be our man for much longer.
Okay, so we know that in his long career, Wenger has never really seen eye-to-eye with the officials. He’s been banned a few times both domestically and in Europe and has also been fined a few times to boot.
However, there is something different about the most recent events. First, he followed Mike Dean into his dressing room to confront the ref about a penalty decision in the 1-1 draw with West Brom on New Year’s Eve. We don’t know exactly what was said, but it earned the manager three matches worth of touchline ban.
Then, both before and after the very next match, Les Professor made his displeasure known to the media. He recalled all the bad penalty decisions that went against his side, as well as commenting on the Swansea-Tottenham match.
Wenger went as far as to outline what he would do to improve calls in the Premiership.
While it is very common for managers to see things differently from officials, few if any go as far as to call a decision “farcical”, or to go into so much detail about how to fix the game. Even for someone as articulate as Arsene, such complaints normally only go as far as the exit tunnel from the pitch, not all the way to an FA review board.
There is just something venomous in his words that was absent in years past that suggests Wenger leaving this summer is possible.
Our new Head of Recruitment brought in from Borussia Dortmund, seems to be paying dividends already after the club signed Konstantinos Mavropanos. However, there is something unusual about his appointment, at least in the context of the last twenty or so years.
Wenger is one of those old-school managers who like to be in charge of every aspect of the club he’s at. Much like Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, he is the authority at the club.
However, by naming a ‘Head of Recruitment’ the club is very publicly stating that the boss is, well, not as big of a boss as before. In fact, Wenger’s recent comments about Mislintat may show a hint of arrogance over the appointment.
“We know the players. We know. It’s not that we discover, we know every single player in Europe before Sven arrived. Sometimes, in a little club in Germany, he might know somebody we might ignore.”
So, basically, Wenger already knows about every player, but Mislintat just has a few connections. That’s not exactly saying “I could do the job alone”, but it also isn’t a show of unity.
Another possible sign Wenger leaving this summer could happen.
Related to the last section, the appointment of Raul “I’m definitely not a director of football” Sanllehi has made waves, even though he doesn’t start until February.
‘Head of Football Relations’ isn’t the most descriptive job title in the world, however, his position at the Camp Nou dictates that the position is more than just a negotiator like Dick Law used to be before he left the club in September.
The fact that Wenger will, as of February 1st, work with a Head of Recruitment and a Head of Football Relations means that he will be, for the first time in North London, allowed, or possibly forced, to focus solely on the first team.
He is being brought into the modern world of football, and he may see the writing on the wall because of it. Unlike his position at the club up to this point, he might not have the final say on all issues.
People tend to not like change, but Les Professor will have to adjust to a whole lot of new change and fast.
Speaking at the AGM in October, our man Arsene spoke of his passion for the club, his commitment to the club and his desire to bring the fans trophies.
However, what was perhaps more significant than those fine words, was when he said this,
“I question myself a lot to be better every day and I will sit down every year with my board to see where I go. I am 21 years at the club and I want to feel that I do well, and see what the board thinks of my performance. After that we decide where we go from there.”
We’ve known for a long time that the board sits down with Wenger after each year for an annual review. However, what we haven’t seen before, is that yearly meeting to produce effective change at Arsenal.
Perhaps this is just a member of the media reading too much into a very politicized speech, but this time it feels like the annual review may yield a change or two.
Is Wenger leaving this summer? There are seven signs that the Arse-pocalypse may be closer than you think.