In an interview with Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph, Arsenal's owner Stan Kroenke has broken his silence on the team and its manager, saying that Arsene Wenger has the reins at the club until the Frenchman himself decides his time is up and that he has faith in Wenger's ability to lead the club through a tough spell on and off the pitch.
I'm just going to hit on a couple of things that I noticed in here that were of particular interest, mostly because I feel like this is going to be one of those things that everyone reads, everyone has a different take on, and everyone is going to want to talk/write about. Long story short, though, I finished reading with a much better feeling about the state of the club, now and in the future, a better sense of the kind of owner Kroenke is and wants to be, and overall quite a good impression of him.
The key segment is his opinion on Wenger, who even longtime supporters have had doubts about in recent times (I feel comfortable saying this because I am one of those longtime supporters, and at times this summer and early fall even my faith has been shaken). Judging by Kroenke's comments, any fears that Wenger will be dismissed this season or in the near future are premature.
Arsène is one of my favourite people I have met in the last 20 years. He is a great person and I love the way he handles himself. I love his focus. He is a very intelligent guy. You can talk to him about anything and, when he starts talking to people, I really love to listen to him.
I have tremendous confidence in him. He is one of the great managers in the world...With Arsène, [how long he stays at Arsenal is] his decision and only he will know that.
The full story emphasizes his security even more than the quotes alone, which leads me to believe (based purely on my journalism training and conjecture) that Kroenke may have said more, but kept it off the record. I know that often managers in trouble get "votes of confidence" from owners that are really kisses of death, but this really doesn't sound like one of those situations.
Kroenke also said that he has confidence that over the long haul, this Arsenal team will bear better results than we've seen in the league so far this season.
There are always going to be people with a point of view, particularly in this internet-laden 24-hour news cycle with the ability for anyone to say anything. That’s just part of the game. Sure it is a challenging start to the season. I know everyone thinks it is always going to be like that [pointing upwards], but it’s not. We would all love it if it did. If you look at the Arsenal’s history, it has not always been that way. To finish in the top four 14 times in a row is just unbelievable.
I know there are some that will harp on the "fourth place is just as god as winning" stuff, but he makes a good point that sometimes we as fans would do well to remember: this, even with our six years without a trophy (or however long it's been, has anyone heard lately?) this is the most successful era in Arsenal's history. Kroenke also noted Bolton as a "big win," which is about how I felt about it (especially after watching a replay of the match).
One of the quotes you'll see a lot of places is the one about Fabregas and Nasri leaving in the summer. According to the owner, the two players' situations were unique and both decisions were made by the manager, not Kroenke or the board. He also said that he's confident in the club's ability to keep the star players who remain, including those like Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, and Thomas Vermaelen whose contracts expire in 2013. He says that Fabregas asked out, implies that Nasri was essentially assured to leave for free after his deal ran out, and seems to believe that the aforementioned star trio are in a different situation. It's easy to believe that, because it's what we all want to hear, but in this case I differ from my feelings on his comments on Wenger - I won't believe they're staying for certain until the ink dries on their new contracts.
There's also some light shed on the commercial future of the club, with the inevitable comparisons to the American owners in Manchester and their license to print money.
They have built the commercial side. What the Glazers have shown is that [Manchester United] was way under-marketed. The revenue of the club now is huge. That gives you lots of options. I think Arsène historically has been able to build players better than almost anybody. If we can do that and can grow the revenue, I don’t see why the club can’t be great. I wouldn’t want to be involved if I thought we would struggle.
There are plans for the future, after the current main deals run out in 2014, with Kroenke and Ivan Gazidis setting Manchester United as a clear role model for how to bring in commercial revenue. Considering the fact that there are few clubs in the world (if any, really) doing a better job than United, I see no problem with this. Of course there could be issues if Arsenal continue to underperform on the pitch, but one way or the other, Arsenal are a great club, a big club, and should be able to pull in money.
So let's talk. How do you feel about our owner? Remember: he's American, so if you don't like him you hate democracy and freedom, but if you do then you want to ruin the history of Arsenal. But seriously, there's a poll for a quick opinion and the comments for more nuanced debate.