It’s funny how quickly 90 minutes can change a narrative for a club and its manager.
Yet the story lines around Arsenal and Arsene Wenger could not be more different after a resounding 3-0 win against Chelsea on Saturday.
Before the match, the win around the Gunners and its manager of almost two decades was centered on the future. As in, will Wenger be at the club next season? Or, if things go sour, next month?
After the match, the focus has shifted instead to Chelsea and its defensive woes.
So, does the derby win against the Blues take Wenger off the hot seat?
No, because he was never on it.
There’s only one man that knows when Wenger’s time in London will be up, and that’s the Frenchman himself.
If Stan Kroenke didn’t fire him during a nine-year trophy drought, he’s not going to.
If not winning a EPL title since “The Invincibles” in 2003-2004 isn’t enough to get him run out of town, it’s not going to happen.
If a failure to address obvious issues on his team sheet (center halves, holding midfielders or strikers — depending on the season) in the transfer market season after season doesn’t end his tenure, then he’s bulletproof.
Wenger has revolutionized the club since his arrival in October 1996. From training methods and nutrition to tactics, his stamp on the club is hard to miss.
He’s frugal approach to the transfer market, and his willingness to sell top players, helped pay down the debts on the Emirates Stadium. The team’s match day revenue is now the best in the world.
That endears him to Kroenke and the rest of the shareholders — the people in charge of managerial changes.
All of that being said, it is possible that this season will be his last at Arsenal.
His contract expires at the end of the campaign, and he’s yet to go on record about extending it. He was linked with the England job over the summer, but responded only with the desire to finish his deal at Arsenal.
“I’m under contract until 2017,” he said this summer. “What I’ll do afterwards, I don’t know. But for the moment, I’ve always respected all of my contracts until the very end. I’ll continue to do the same.”
He’ll be 67 next month, so one way or another he’s coming to the end of his managerial career. With what he’s accomplished at Arsenal, he deserves the chance to write his own ending.