After a win over Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley, it’s clear Wenger would love to keep his job but it is in the hands of others at the club
Arsene Wenger fumbled in his pocket and pulled out his FA Cup winner’s medal for the assembled media to inspect. “For once I have keep my medal so it is a special night for me,” he said.
The Arsenal manager is in the habit of giving his winner’s medals to members of staff who don’t make it to the podium or get one of their own. Not this time. Having watched his players deliver a performance which restored their manager’s dignity, Wenger made a point of demonstrating how much this one – above the other six he has – meant to him.
On the pitch, he had lifted the cup three times over his head, giving the Arsenal fans the opportunity to commend him on a record-breaking victory. When the champagne was flowing though and the selfies being snapped, Wenger was far away; up towards the halfway line as the players converged on the Arsenal end. The Frenchman stood apart; observing rather than taking part in the end-of-season celebrations.
Up in the posh seats in his pin-striped suit sat Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke. He will have been satisfied with the title but bigger business awaits. Kroenke is due to meet with Wenger on Arsenal territory on Tuesday with the not-so-inconsiderable matter of the manager’s future on the line. Would his seventh FA Cup title factor in discussions over his future?
“It would be a bit ridiculous that 20 years depends on one game and that the future of the club depends on one game,” he said. “We will know more next week.”
Uncertainty over what path Wenger will take has unquestionably overshadowed Arsenal’s campaign.
“This season has been hurt by a blip in March and as well I am convinced now, looking back at this season, by the uncertainty about my future with the players,” Wenger said.
It was widely assumed that it would be Wenger’s decision to make when it came time to call it quits. The way he spoke on Saturday, though, unfolded the possibility that it was the board who would make the call. It is apparent that Wenger wants to stay but he admits that the power is no longer in his hands.
“There is no perfect way [to leave],” he said. “I just want to do well for his club. After that it is down to the board members [to decide] whether I’m the right man to take this club further and for me to decide am I the right man to take this club further.
“It’s not about popularity it’s about competence.”