When one is writing a story that is about something that keeps happening again and again, one of the most overused tropes or journalistic crutches or whatever you want to call it that gets used is the citation of the definition of insanity. I’m not going to do that here, because a) it’s dumb and b) it doesn’t really add much, but this story, as have been approximately five gazillion others in the last weeks, is about Arsene Wenger’s future, and about Wenger’s comments regarding said future. Forewarned is forearmed - if you’ve heard this song before, feel free to fast forward to the next one.
Are you still here? Great! Let’s get the obvious bones of this dead horse out in the open. Arsene Wenger was asked yesterday about his future, and when Arsene Wenger is asked about his future, he always gives variations of the same answer. Yesterday’s flavor of ice cream was no different - when asked directly if he would tell us what he’s going to do, he said:
Not today but I'm very clear in my mind. But anyway, do I stay two months or two years? My commitment will be exactly the same. The time I spent here does not influence my attitude at all.
So, yet again, he’s asked a question and he doesn’t answer it. Here’s my thing, though: I can’t get mad at Wenger any more for not answering the “are you staying” question. He literally gets that question at every single press event he does now, and he gives almost exactly the same answer. So instead, I’m going to get mad at the journalists who keep asking the same question and thinking “maybe today’s the day!”. Guess what? It isn’t.
Arsene Wenger is, and has always been, very stubborn and very single-minded. This is not news. It’s clear that any announcement he will make one way or the other will come in his own way, in his own time, and not because some hack from the Scratchy Bottom Gazette asked him at just exactly the right time in just exactly the right way.
Here’s the thing. As a journalist, you’re paid to ask questions and to get answers. Which, by the most literal of definitions, is the transaction undertaken when Wenger is asked about his future yet again, and again, and again. Journalists are also paid to think about things a little more critically, though. And if you as a journalist see your colleagues repeatedly asking the same question and repeatedly getting the same answer, I don’t know, maybe...ask a different question next time you see Wenger?
Don’t ask the same question in a different way because you’re trying to triangulate. Don’t ask it in an obtuse way trying to back him into an answer. Ask a different question entirely. Ask about tactics for the upcoming game. Ask why Wenger steadfastly refuses to play Lucas Perez. Ask why Arsenal are so vulnerable at corners. Ask anything!
The world of sports is a rich, topic-laden environment. In any given week, there are a dozen different storylines a journalist could dig into. I would love to see even one journalist dig into them, rather than picking over the bones of something that has already been picked completely clean.