For all the talk in the late winter and early spring about Arsene Wenger needing to do things differently or shake things up if he were to remain at Arsenal, here we are in June and...nothing is changing at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger will retain full control of everything he’s been in full control of for the last two decades, and things will be as they are.
The last nail in the coffin of the club’s evolution came with word today that Arsenal will, in fact, not be hiring a Director of Football to work with Arsene on all things transfer, instead hiring at a lower level staff position without, seemingly, any portfolio at this time, which seems very useful.
Obviously, there’s a lot of tea leaves to read here, but the biggest, most French tea leaf in the cup is that Arsene seems to have won whatever power struggle there was at the Arsenal boardroom level. Whether this means Ivan Gazidis lost a power struggle that ends up with him leaving the club entirely is yet to be seen, but it’s clear that, for the next two years, Arsene is still as much in command as he has been for the last 20.
For me, the most damning indictment of Arsene’s last four or five years as manager is that I greeted this news not with relief, not with delight or excitement, but with dread. A dread borne of watching each of the last four years play out on the pitch in an almost identical fashion, and of knowing that without any structural changes at the club, with Wenger still the lone power source at the club on the playing/roster building side, the next two will, in all likelihood, play out in a very similar way to these last few.
What I would love is for someone to be able to convince me that the next two years will be different than the last four, and that Arsene will have learned how to evolve with the changing game, both on the pitch and off. But, the club as a whole seems extremely satisfied with the status quo, so the status quo is what we will get, and Arsenal will continue to bump their heads against the ceiling marked “THIS IS YOUR LEVEL” and, instead of breaking through it, will concuss themselves. Repeatedly.