Arsene Wenger has been in charge of 714 Premier League games as Arsenal’s manager but as he enters his 20th season in charge of the Gunners, it could be his last.
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That’s because the 66-year-old Frenchman has just one year remaining on his contract at the Emirates Stadium and is yet to sign an extension ahead of the new season.
Wenger spoke to BBC Radio 5 live from the Premier League 2016-17 season launch event in Islington, London on Wednesday and revealed that his future depends on how the Gunners get on this season.
“My contract runs until the end of the season. What I will do after will depend a little bit on how the season goes,” Wenger said.
Speaking to various other outlets about his contract, Wenger is staying calm about the situation and one of his star players, Jack Wilshere, also expressed his belief that Wenger will be around after the 2016-17 season is over.
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Wenger was asked by Sky Sports if he’d be around for the 2017-18 campaign: “You never know in your job. This is a love story you have to know as well that it could last your whole life or that it could stop at any moment. I will continue to work as long as I have the physical potential to work, no matter what kind of position. I will always work.”
There is a bit of an elephant in the room here.
Wenger hasn’t delivered a Premier League title since 2004 and towards the end of last season the Gunners ran out of steam with all of their rivals struggling, letting in Leicester City to win the title and Arsenal finished second.
Arsenal’s manager revealed he felt “guilty” about that happening and with optimism levels neither high nor low heading into the new season, Arsenal’s infamously expectant fans could turn on their veteran manager quickly if they get off to a slow start.
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At the end of last season we saw widespread protests from supporters against Wenger and the board as they want a change of policy and for the club to spend more money on better players. Of course, there’s only so much Wenger can do and if he isn’t given the funds to challenge the Manchester clubs, Chelsea and even Liverpool in the transfer market, then surely Arsenal’s fans must acknowledge it is not his decision on how much they spend.
Yet, there’s always been a underlying notion that Wenger is stashing cash away for a rainy day when Arsenal should be spending it. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis has already said this summer that Arsenal won’t be spending like their rivals and have to be smarter with their money.
That means Wenger won’t get to add many more players to this squad this summer and with no new contract currently on the table, the Frenchman knows his team must deliver this season or his time at Arsenal may well be up.
It always felt like Wenger would decide when it was time for him to leave Arsenal but maybe that’s not true anymore.