And in the most unsurprising news of this transfer season, Arsene Wenger has signed a contract extension for another 3 years, till 2017 when he's at the ripe old age of 67. I suppose there was never any doubt about this, except till the 80th minute at Wembley in the FA Cup Semi-finals and in those wretched, torturous, agonizing opening 9 minutes of the finals. Other than those two moments, I suppose we all have known for sometime that Wenger is going to retire at Arsenal, barring some unexpected tragedy.
Of course, when the news broke out yesterday there was the usual nonsense about '4th place' and trophy drought on twitter and other social media, about Wenger not having done enough to justify the contract written by writers attempting to write for 'actual media' (the inverted commas for the sole reason that hardly anyone regards Eurosport as actual media). Minority opinion I suppose, but an opinion nonetheless. The 'Wenger Out' preceded by a hashtag has been a common sight in the past few years, and there are of course some people who'll never be happy. At the beginning of the season, these were the ones who pointed at Tottenham's spending and said we'd drop out of top 4, then as the season progressed they said we'd only get the 4th place trophy and nothing else, and finally when we did win the FA Cup they said we didn't win the league. Hashtag Wenger Out.
I don't get some people, really. Of course Wenger has made mistakes in the past few years, including last season. The way our title challenge fell away last season, our humiliating away performances, all of it was quite embarrassing. But at the end of the season, we still won the FA Cup, qualified for Champions League and have a summer ahead to consolidate and improve with the new Emirates and Puma deals kicking in. That's an additional 30 million a year from each of these deals. While I highly doubt all of it will be used in transfers, there is the expectation that a fair bit will be utilized to improve the squad.
As far as the team is concerned, it's at that stage where it's perhaps ready to go forward. We have a frighteningly good base, with most of our positions filled with players who can compete with the best in the league. Our keeper tied with Cech for the highest number of clean sheets, our defense, despite the odd lapse, is one of the best in the league, our midfield riches are well documented, and in Aaron Ramsey we have a player on the verge of superstardom. A few signings (not the massive bulkload of crap that Tottenham signed last season) maybe enough for a sustained title push.
Wenger of course is the man to do that. No doubt about it. With the FA Cup win, he got that trophy drought monkey off his back, and seems ready to push onward (is it just me or has he been looking younger as well). This was reflected in his reply to the question as to whether fans should expect a big summer:
'Yes they should expect that. What I can promise is that we work very hard on a market that is very, very congested with many people who have a lot of money. But we have a big advantage, players want to join us and if we find the right quality I'm sure we can strengthen the team.'
Last summer Wenger showed that he was willing to shell out money on a marquee signing, and there's no reason why this summer can't be the same (subject to player availability of course). And objectively speaking, isn't the better position to be in is the one where we're looking for a new striker rather than a new manager. If nothing else, Arsene Wenger brought consistency in a period of financial restrictions. Last season, the consistency was maintained and a trophy was added. As I've stated above, this is a time for consolidation, not structural changes. I think we all recognize we're not too far away from the top. And hopefully Arsene Wenger is the man to lead us there yet again. With the new contract, he has three more years to work towards that, and we have three more years of stability (insert mandatory Chelsea, Tottenham and United joke).