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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Arsenal: Does Arsene Wenger deserve a new contract?

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Arsene Wenger will undoubtedly go down as the greatest manager in Arsenal history. He transformed the club following his arrival in 1996 and went on to win Premier League titles, FA Cups, reach the Champions League final and led his 2003/04 squad to immortality by going the whole season unbeaten in the league. They went from boring, boring Arsenal to become one of the most exciting teams the world has ever seen.

However, in recent seasons Wenger's relationship with certain sections of the fans has become extremely fragile. Some feel that Wenger has been more interested in balancing the books than putting out a team capable of winning honours; that a place in the Champions League is all that Arsenal need to achieve.

Arsenal enter the 2013/14 season desperate to end their eight-year trophy drought and many feel that Wenger, who only has one year left on his contract, will want to go out on a high. With Sir Alex Ferguson no longer around and with Chelsea and Manchester City both changing managers, this could be the perfect storm for Arsenal to splash the cash on some top class players and become a force to be reckoned with again. Unfortunately, so far, that doesn't appear to be the case.

The Gunners have been linked with more footballers than Big Brother star Imogen Thomas and former Page 3 model Katie Price. Higuain, Rooney, Jovetic, Bony, Remy, Nani, Grenier, Payet, Wanyama, Mccarthy, Mignolet and Valdes have all been courted by the Gunners, but none of them have amounted to anything other than rumours. Although the transfer window still has more than two months left to run, some fans are beginning to get a sense of deja vu.

Year after year Arsenal have been rumoured to be interested in signing decent players only for the likes of Gervinho and Santos to enter the Emirates. They missed out on the silky Spaniard Juan Mata - and what a player he would have been for Arsenal - who was picked up by Chelsea and has taken the Premier League by storm. Wenger refuses to spend more than the going rate for players - which financially is great, but on the pitch that extra £2 million worth of talent can help you win trophies. And then when he did sign Andrey Arshavin he played him out of position. No wonder some Gooners have become disillusioned with Wenger.

Despite all of this, Arsenal Football Club are reportedly considering giving Wenger a new contract. Eight years without a trophy and you get offered a new deal. You wouldn't last eight months at Chelsea with that record! 

Nobody can deny that Wenger was an awesome coach and revolutionised not only Arsenal but English football with his slick, one-touch attacking football. But does the Frenchman still have the drive and ambition to win trophies? 

This summer is simply one of the most important spells in the history of the club. Manchester United may not be the same force under Moyes as they were under Fergie - they will still be top four but I can't see them winning the title - while Chelsea and Manchester City have already started splashing the cash in a bid to buy back the title, but Arsenal are only a few players away from a title-winning squad. What Wenger does in the transfer market over the next few months should determine whether he is offered a new contract or not.

Calling all Arsenal fans: Do you think Wenger deserves a new contract for helping the club stay in the top four while helping the club pay for the switch from Highbury to the Emirates or do you think it's time to part ways and let an ambitious and hungry young coach in? To all the Wenger haters, what can he do to convince you that he still has the best interests of the club at heart? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow me on Twitter at @sqf_illingworth


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Antony Melvin



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