Gazidis: It’s not nostalgia, Wenger can deliver success

Date published: Friday 3rd June 2016 8:55

Arsene Wenger: Still the right man for Arsenal, says Ivan Gazidis

Arsene Wenger: Still the right man for Arsenal, says Ivan Gazidis

Ivan Gazidis says Arsene Wenger remains in charge of Arsenal not because of nostalgia but because he and the club still believe he can deliver success.

Wenger will enter his 21st season as Arsenal manager in August, having recently led the Gunners to a second-placed finish in the Premier League, their best since 2005.

The Frenchman once again came under intense scrutiny, however, with many arguing Arsenal squandered their best opportunity yet to win a first league title since 2004.

The Gunners also suffered early exits from the Champions League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup as they suffered a ninth season out of 11 without silverware.

Although a section of fans have vocalised their displeasure at the manager, and asked for the 66-year-old to be replaced, Gazidis believes he is still the man for the job.

“There is not nostalgia on either side,” the chief executive told the Daily Telegraph. “It’s not what motivates us or him.

“The reason we have Arsène as our manager is because our board believes he can deliver success. The reason that Arsène is here is because he believes that he can deliver success.

“If either of us didn’t believe that we would not be constrained by nostalgia or longing; we would have to make a change. Arsène would understand and support that. But it’s just not how either side feels. We feel we are on a good path.

“He’s in his mid-sixties, it’s natural to think about when his time here might come to an end, but the truth is nobody knows.

“He is in fantastic shape. He is deeply engaged and excited. One of the biggest challenges we will face is the transition, whenever it happens, but that is not something we are going to be facing imminently. Obviously, he is going to be managing us next year and we are planning and making many decisions for the long term.

“The reality is we wouldn’t leave things until the last minute. I’m comfortable both that if Arsène is going to extend we will know that and if, whenever that is, he is going to come to an end, that he will give us the time that we need to prepare for that transition. The relationship with Arsène is very deep. It will be done behind closed doors and we will have our transition plans well worked out.

“He has always put the long-term health of the club first. He wants to hand over a football club, whenever that it is, that is in great shape. He views that as a massively important part of his legacy. But we are just not in that mode. I know Arsène wouldn’t stay on if he thought the club wasn’t heading in a good direction and thought he wouldn’t be able to deliver what the fans want.

“I know there are tensions, but you have never seen the unity of this club break,” Gazidis added when asked about recent fan protests. “Our renewal rate on season tickets is higher historically this year than ever. I don’t use that to say all fans are happy, but most people are not engaging daily on social media and their opinions are much more nuanced than it might seem.

“What’s quite difficult is that once people have created a story in their own mind, their own confirmation biases will kick in. It’s true of all of us. My confirmation bias is we are a club making progress. Our ambition is to win the Premier League but we have had our best finish in years and two FA Cups in three seasons.”

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