Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has come out in defence of Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger, saying that the Frenchman’s success with the club in previous years is not the reason he is still in the job (via ESPN). Wenger has been under pressure in recent seasons for a perceived lack of success, with some fans during the last campaign brandishing signs at matches bearing the unambiguous slogan ‘Wenger Out’.
The 66-year-old last won the Premier League with Arsenal in 2003-04. In the twelve years since, the club have enjoyed FA Cup success but persistently fell short on the big stage. The Champions League is a prime example, with the Gunners having failed to progress beyond the last-16 for six years in a row.
But Gazidis says in spite of those statistics, he believes the best is still to come. “I don’t have a nostalgia for [Wenger], and the board doesn’t have a nostalgia for Arsene,” he told ESPN, “that’s not why we believe in him. This isn’t a football club that looks backwards. This is a club that looks forwards and is always, always pushing the boundaries of how we can progress.”
Gazidis has also come out firmly in support of Wenger’s approach to the transfer market. This is another area where conflict with fans has been rife. Many believe the Arsenal boss has been too stubborn in sticking to his policy of getting ‘value for money’, when other big clubs have freely brandished their cheque books in pursuit of success.
But the chief executive says in spite of the pressure, the approach to signing players won’t change. He believes transfers are only a small part of the overall equation which leads to glory. “I’m not saying that’s not important. It is an important piece of the puzzle…there are so many other pieces to the puzzle that are critical contributors to success but are perhaps a little less glamorous,” he told ESPN.
So there you have it, folks. Wenger will remain in the dugout and with the support, at least publicly, of the men in the executive suite. If he signs a big name striker in this summer transfer window (just over five weeks remaining) he will no doubt win over many doubting fans too. Then all that will be left is to win matches, and lots of them. But that’s the easy part, isn’t it?