Thursday, 1 June 2017

Gazidis won’t rule out Wenger staying longer than 2 years

Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis says Arsene Wenger’s new two-year deal won’t necessarily be his last, and defended the club’s decision to stick with the manager despite widespread fan objections.

Wenger signed a contract on Wednesday after a season-long period of uncertainty around his future. It will take Wenger’s Arsenal reign into his 23rd season, and Gazidis wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him staying even longer.

“That is an assessment we continue to make as we move into the future, and who knows what the future holds,” Gazidis told Arsenal’s official website. “This is a two-year deal so we are looking at at least the next two years.

“Again, at some point of course we will have to transition to the era beyond Arsene and that is not a sentimental connection that we have, that is a connection that is driven by what is best for the football club … Arsene would not make this commitment if he did not believe he could push this club forward.”

Gazidis also urged supporters to get behind the team after a season of turmoil and protests. Some fans staged protest marches before home games in recent months calling for the manager to step down, and planes carrying “Wenger out” banners flew over the stadium during two away games.

“We have to deliver performances to get the fans behind this team. We’re very conscious of that,” he said. “It’s up to us to lead through the commitment we have on and off the pitch. We need to show that to the fans and we will.

“I’m convinced that our fanbase will put the football club at the top of their priorities and will get behind this team. Together, we are much, much stronger than we are when we are arguing and trying to prove who’s right and who’s wrong.”

Gazidis also said that the club remains convinced that Wenger is the right man to lead the team towards a Premier League title challenge.

“He is driven to move forward, he is driven to evolve and he is driven to achieve those objectives of winning for this club and making those fans proud,” Gazidis said.

“When you look at the world of football, and you think about the great candidates that there are — and there are many great coaching candidates in the world and Arsenal is a club that all of them would want to work for because of the things we represent in football — but when you look around and make that assessment, you don’t find any better candidates than Arsene Wenger …

“I think in football, the judgements are so black and white that often, if you don’t fire your manager, then you’re seen as being unambitious. I think that’s ludicrous.

“You don’t fire good people, you don’t fire people who are world-class, you don’t fire people who are driven to improve. What you do is work out how you can improve together and how you can move forward. That’s what this club is doing and we have a very clear ambition that we want to deliver it in.”

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