It’s all about Wenger’s contract/He told Xhaka that Arsenal is paradise

From Alex Barker

Hey Myles,

Purely guesswork on my part, but I would imagine that what is happening or not happening at Arsenal on the transfer side has to be related to Wenger’s contract situation at least partially.

I thought that there was relatively little press comment on one aspect of the story at the end of last season that Wenger was being offered a new two-year contract. What was interesting was the additional suggestion that he had to accept by October or they would start to look for a new manager, rather than do what he normally does which is withhold his decision until the last possible moment.

No way of verifying the truth of that story, but knowing what we know about the dysfunctional situation at Arsenal and various ways – revealed previously by you – that Ivan has tried to increase his power within the current structure in the past, it had a tiny ring of plausibility to it.

Wenger’s usual tactic of letting his contract run down right to the end before signing a new one has always seemed a clever one to me. Knowing how cautious the Board are and how lacking in footballing knowledge, by stringing out his decision right to the end, Wenger gives them no opportunity to work up other options (which they probably don’t want to do anyway) and therefore strengthens his negotiating hand. He controls the whole process. It leaves the Board exposed, praying that Wenger signs the new deal, who is then able to extract terms. Ivan probably had enough of this brinksmanship last time they renewed Wenger’s contract.

By trying to force him to make a decision earlier in the final season of his contract (if the story was accurate) they take back a measure of control. Of course, if Wenger is still keeping his cards close to his chest in August, the Board might well be reluctant to sanction big expenditure if there is a risk that Wenger will be gone in less than 12 months. This is presumably the only leverage they have in trying to get him to commit to a new contract now versus at the end of the coming season (as we all know he will).

At time of writing, Wenger is still publicly playing out the usual farce where he pretends he might not sign his new contract, depending on results. No doubt he is readying those ‘be careful what you wish for’ comments he makes, for when the calls for change start up early in the new season if results go bad. Is there anyone out there now who is still fooled by this tawdry charade?

PS: Wasn’t Xhaka’s comment interesting: “Wenger told me Arsenal was ‘paradise’?

A club that haven’t won the title for 12 years and counting!! Of course its a paradise: a manager that will never shout, never criticise. A captain who will never shout or criticise, players who will never shout. Massive pay packets with no pressure to win trophies, no chance of getting sold if you underperform, no consequences for failure… I guess that is paradise to a certain kind of footballer.

But my guess is Klopp, Conte and Guardiola would never say something like that to a prospective player.

Glad to hear you’re looking forward to the new season! Should be a good one.

Myles says:

He wants all his players to love him, Alex, so he’s made sure they live in a sanitised bubble where they hear no voice but his and never have to sign autographs.

Colney is paradise and Wenger is God and nobody rocks the boat or spills the beans.

Loyalty is so richly rewarded that Vic Akers now lives in a £2m house in Essex.

Wenger must be incentivised to finish Top Four. He’s paid a premium for participating in the Champions League. Fourth is a trophy to him because it’s a big bonus in his pay packet.

A manager who hasn’t won a league title since 2004 on $ £11.5 million (inc.bonuses). 

Therefore he wants to keep his job. His main aim, year on year, is to keep this job for as long as he can because no other club pays as much or gives the “manager” the power to run  the whole show.

He’s a Hollywood director who, having got hold of one of the biggest train-sets on the planet, makes the same film again and again and again until we all scream, “Groundhog Day!”