Arsene Wenger's Arsenal future - the key questions that need answering

Charlie Eccleshare
The Telegraph
It looks increasingly likely that Arsene Wenger will still be at Arsenal next season - EPA
It looks increasingly likely that Arsene Wenger will still be at Arsenal next season - EPA

With Arsene Wenger hinting he will still be at Arsenal this season, Telegraph Sport looks at what happens next and what the main issues are surrounding the decision. 

How can Wenger say he has fulfilled his mandate?

When Wenger signed his most recent contract in 2014, he said that he would be judged at the end of it on whether Arsenal had started competing again for the Premier League and Champions League titles.

As that contract nears completion, Wenger has categorically failed to achieve that. Arsenal have not gone further than the Champions League last-16 in the last three years, nor have they come close to winning the Premier League. Even last season when they finished second, Arsenal were effectively out of the title race by early March.

Arsenal supporters are entitled to ask: who is holding Wenger accountable to his pledges? Who is setting the club's targets, and how is Wenger then able to move the goalposts if those targets are not met? And why is it he who determines whether or not he has done enough to remain in the job?

Arsene Wengers most humiliating defeats as Arsenal manager

Who will decide Wenger's future?

Two men: Owner Stan Kroenke and Wenger himself. It really is that simple. 

Kroenke likes and respects the Frenchman, and believes he is a solid pair of hands to take the club forward. Wenger still believes he is the best man for the job and as he has constantly reiterated this season, thinks he deserves respect for all that he has done for the club over the last two decades. 

There may be some board members who would like to see someone else in charge, but their views at this point are largely irrelevant. 

So incidentally are those of the fans, despite Wenger paying lip service to the notion they would have an influence earlier this month

<span>Arsenal supporters will not decide whether Wenger stays or goes</span>
Arsenal supporters will not decide whether Wenger stays or goes

Can Arsenal retract their contract offer?

As has been well documented, there is a two-year contract on the table for Wenger should he wish to sign it and extend his 21-year stay at the Emirates. 

Given the dreadful run of results since that new deal was first offered a couple of months ago, it would be justifiable to wonder whether the offer could now be retracted. 

There is however nothing to suggest that Kroenke has changed his mind, and as it stands the decision remains firmly in Wenger's hands. 

Why is Wenger so desperate to stay?

Given the level of abuse Wenger receives in every Arsenal match, and the mounting evidence that the team is stagnating, there are many wondering why the Frenchman does not say 'enough is enough'. 

Surely even someone as famously myopic as the 'I didn't see it' manager is aware of the dreadful state the team is in?

There are a number of reasons for why Wenger cannot let go. Some will point to a £8.9m salary as part of the reason, but that is not Wenger's primary motivation. 

Part of his obstinacy is down to a genuine belief that he is still the best man for the job and has shown that over the past two decades, but a personal view is that Wenger is terrified of what his life would be without Arsenal. 

Where will Arsene Wenger be next season?

Wenger is a football obsessive and has been consumed with the sport for the best part of his life, and with Arsenal for more than 20 years. In 2015, Wenger admitted: “Retirement? Yes, it crosses my mind sometimes but for no longer than five seconds because I panic a little bit. When we played at Man United, he [Alex Ferguson] came to meet me after the game. I said: ‘Come on, you don’t miss it?’ He says: ‘No.’ He had enough. He goes to every game. But he has horses. I have no horses."

Leaving Arsenal behind and either retiring or managing at a club where he would not have complete autonomy is a haunting proposition for Wenger. 

Could anything win over the sceptics before the end of the season?

No, principally because there is no way Wenger can satisfy his mandate of seriously challenging for the most major prizes. 

The best case scenario over the next couple of months would be that Arsenal squeak into the top four and win the FA Cup. Were they to do the latter, Wenger would probably claim that doing so proved they have got over their phobia of the biggest matches, since winning the competition would involve beating Manchester City and either Chelsea or Tottenham.

Arsenal also have league games against both Manchester clubs and Tottenham before the end of the season, which could salvage some pride, but realistically only a title or Champions League challenge could have won over supporters this season. 

Would failure to make the top four change Kroenke or Wenger's view?

No. Both men believe Wenger should remain in his post, and not making the Champions League this season will not alter that perception. 

Wenger said on the weekend: “It will not necessarily be linked with that [Champions League qualification] because I’ve done the top four 20 times. It’s more... it’s not that. I take a bigger perspective. It’s not the last result that will decide what I will do.”

Kroenke for his part is less preoccupied by Champions League qualification than he used to be because income from the competition is dwarfed by that of the Premier League TV deal. 

In footballing terms meanwhile, Wenger would hope that his own reputation and the club's prestige would be enough to be able to lure top players to the Emirates even if they were not in the Champions League. 

<span>Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke at the Emirates in 2013</span>
Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke at the Emirates in 2013

Has Wenger really 'lost the dressing room'?

During Arsenal's run of four defeats from five league matches, one of two things seems to have happened. Either the players have become uncoachable and incapable of carrying out basic instructions, or they have more or less given up on this season. 

Neither reflects well on the manager. 

Take Saturday's 3-1 defeat against West Brom where Arsenal limply conceded two goals from set-pieces despite knowing full well that was the area where their opponents would be most dangerous. 

Wenger said on the eve of the match that: "West Brom have strong deliveries and they know as well that they have to be very efficient on that. I believe that overall we have been quite good defensively on set-pieces, but this will be a test."

Premier League team of the weekend

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain admitted afterwards that set plays had been identified as an area where Arsenal could be vulnerable: "We knew that and we failed to deal with it. We knew who their danger men were and we didn’t stop them," he said. 

Yet in spite of this, Arsenal's marking at corners, especially for the second goal, was comically bad. It's impossible to imagine that assistant manager Steve Bould was not drilling into the players how important it was to concentrate at set pieces, and yet they did the exact opposite and collectively went walkabout. 

They have been similarly supine in all seven of their previous Premier League and Champions League matches (six of which have been defeats, with 21 goals conceded), and the lack of application by a number of players has been striking. 

Is the future of Sanchez and Ozil linked to Wenger?

It looks increasingly likely that both players will leave at the end of the season, whether Wenger stays or not. 

Sanchez stormed out of training earlier this month, and his frequent on-pitch displays of frustration indicate he will be off in the summer. 

And Telegraph Sport understands that Ozil has turned down a contract offer of more than £200,000 a week and will also leave at the end of the season. The German was initially in Wenger's team to face West Brom but pulled out at the last minute with a hamstring injury, despite declaring himself fit to join up with the Germany national team. 

Ozil has not started a game since his agent said he feels his client is being scapegoated, and there has been mystery as to whether it has been illness or injury that has kept the playmaker on the sidelines. 

The pair's increasing dissatisfaction makes it look as though a change in manager rather than Wenger staying would give Arsenal a better chance of persuading either Sanchez or Ozil to stay. 

<span>Alexis Sanchez looks increasingly unhappy at Arsenal</span>
Alexis Sanchez looks increasingly unhappy at Arsenal

When will a decision be announced?

There is a growing belief that the contract has been signed, and now it is a question of when it will be made public. If that is the case then Arsenal will be waiting for an opportune moment to make the announcement. 

The problem is: when will that be? Frustration is growing among supporters with every game, and the hostility will intensify further if Arsenal fail to beat Manchester City at the Emirates in their next match on April 2. 

With a top-four finish and an FA Cup win also unlikely, it may be that Arsenal are forced to wait until the end of the season before announcing that/if Wenger is staying. Or the owners will decide that the fans' disillusionment is irrelevant and they will make the decision public sooner. 

Wenger said on the weekend that he would reveal whether he was staying 'very soon', but that will not be during the two-week international break which starts today. 

Arsenal manager edging towards the exit – but who could fill Wengers boots?

If Wenger were to go, who would replace him?

There were reports on Sunday night in German newspaper Bild that Arsenal have approached Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel to replace Wenger. 

Arsenal quickly moved to rubbish the reports though, and on Monday morning released a statement claiming that the story was "not true."

Juventus manager Max Allegri, Bournemouth's Eddie Howe, Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone and club legend Thierry Henry are among the other names to have been linked with the job, but Arsenal have been nowhere near making a formal approach for any of them. 

What to read next

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes