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Arsene Wenger pulled off a major stunt on Saturday when he led his team to victory in the FA Cup final against Chelsea. During a press conference after the game at Wembley, Wenger pulled out his FA Cup medal from his pocket and held it up to the media. “For once I have keep my medal so it is a special night for me,” he said.
The Arsenal manager is known to give out his winner’s medal to staff members who has no opportunity to get theirs. However, this was an exception. After enduring an unsuccessful season, it was a joy to witness his men restore the pride of the club. Wenger made no bones of how he felt about his seventh medal asserting that this particular one is more special than his previous ones.
On the pitch, he held the cup up high in the air, giving the fans the opportunity to applaud him on a job well done. Wenger was not found at the heart of the celebration but rather up towards the halfway line as the players converged on the Arsenal end. The Frenchman stood observing the happenings.
Up in the posh seats in his pin-striped suit sat Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke. He will have been satisfied with the title but bigger business awaits. Kroenke is due to meet with Wenger on Arsenal territory on Tuesday with the not-so-inconsiderable matter of the manager’s future on the line. Would his seventh FA Cup title factor in discussions over his future?
Up in the exclusive seats, in his stylish pin-striped suit, Arsenal president Stan Kroenke watched on. Surely he will derive much satisfaction from the record-breaking win but bigger business awaits. Kroenke will be meeting with Wenger at the Emirates on Tuesday to discuss the matter of the coach’s future at the club. Would his seventh FA Cup title favor him in the discussion?
“It would be a bit ridiculous that 20 years depends on one game and that the future of the club depends on one game,” he said. “We will know more next week.”
Speculations over the future of Wenger at the club took pre-eminence from what actually matters.
“This season has been hurt by a blip in March and as well I am convinced now, looking back at this season, by the uncertainty about my future with the players,” Wenger said.
The world assumed that Wenger would be the one to decide whether to stay or not but his words on Saturday made that assumption a doubt as the ageing tactician claimed the reins has been taken out of his hands.
“There is no perfect way [to leave],” he said. “I just want to do well for his club. After that it is down to the board members [to decide] whether I’m the right man to take this club further and for me to decide am I the right man to take this club further.
“It’s not about popularity it’s about competence.”
That self-acclaimed competence seemed absent in such a miserable campaign. A loss to Liverpool was the beginning of their poor form and ruinous defeat to Watford, West Brom and Crystal Palace in the second half of the season continued the cycle. Had Arsenal manage to shake up their opposition in those games, a top four finish would have been a piece of cake.
The Gunners boss was left at the mercy of fans and supporters who criticized his managerial ways heavily.
No supporter deserves to be shut up but it is quite appalling the length some are willing to go to express their disapproval. Protest and marches was carried out against the single-most important man in the history of the club.
“Wenger Out” became a meme. Every jackass from one side of the world to the other brought along a pathetic homemade sign to any occasion they thought a smartphone might capture them. A winner of 16 major honours reduced to ‘bantz’.
“I feel I am in a public job, I accept to be criticised and I accept that people don’t agree with me,” he said. “But, once the game starts, as a fan you stand behind the team. We played some games in a hostile environment and I cannot accept that.”