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No other manager has faced such damning personal criticism as Arsene Wenger has this season. Arsenal virtually disintegrated within a period of 14 days and effectively ended their season in disharmony and chaos.
At the forefront of the disruption and disunity, Wenger stood tall to take the blame for the obvious deficiencies that have been evident for the last few seasons. He knew it was coming because he’d failed to address the situation with his unshakable belief in a group of players that ran hot and cold over the course of the season.
He missed the opportunity to bolster the back line and had allowed the Sanchez and Ozil contract negotiations to overshadow the team’s ability to compete. Yet, Wenger’s shortcomings didn’t really justify the level of personal abuse that came his way as a result of his side’s decline.
Everything said and done, the Frenchman seemed to be his usual robust and determined self but recently, the cracks in his mindset are starting to show. His comments about age discrimination were unusual and inaccurate, to say the least and they were certainly not in keeping with his intelligent and considered statements of the past.
He is now talking about his desire to continue managing after his departure from Arsenal, which, at this stage of the season, would indicate that he is seriously considering his position.
He told The Sun:
“Yes, of course [I want to manage after Arsenal], as long as I have the physical strength and the desire to do it. I know that depends on my physical status and how well I am mentally. It’s a decision I’ll have to make at some stage.”
Why mentally? It’s something that he has never questioned before and it appears that Wenger has dispensed with his guarded persona to become almost reflective, realising his tenure is coming to an end.
Yet it’s the timing of his comments on his plans for life after Arsenal that are of concern.
They are still challenging in the Europa league and know that disruption and uncertainty can end any campaign abruptly, so why would he even discuss such matters.
Behind the scenes, the club is concerned and considering a change but considering change and implementing it will prove extremely difficult. Wenger no longer has the undying support of the board and rumours suggest that they are trying to persuade the Frenchman that he should sever his ties with the club on his own terms, rather than leaving the board to push him over the cliff edge.