Ivan Gazidis was eager to point out that Arsenal Football Club isn’t Arsene Wenger while at the Vatican conference on faith and sport.
The chief executive, who has earned himself a £1m bonus this year, said that the club and Wenger will have to reach a mutual decision, which is a given considering Arsenal’s relationship with the boss. However, what struck me is that the comments seemed a little vaguer than earlier in the year.
“He’s been clear and we’ve always been clear, that’s a mutual decision as to how long he’ll continue,” he said.
“Both need to be on the same page on that.
“Arsenal is not Arsène Wenger.
“They’re not one in the same thing. In a football sense, he has transformed the club.”
Speaking to back in June, Gazidis was considerably more animated about the future of Wenger at Arsenal. In fact, it sounded as if we were poised to offer him a new contract.
“He’s in his mid-sixties, it’s natural to think about when his time here might come to an end, but the truth is nobody knows,” he said.
“He is in fantastic shape. He is deeply engaged and excited. One of the biggest challenges we will face is the transition, whenever it happens, but that is not something we are going to be facing imminently. Obviously, he is going to be managing us next year and we are planning and making many decisions for the long term.”
At the time, I was convinced that it was a terrible time to announce it and, if we were going to give him an extension, it would be far better received if we revealed this later on in the season when we’re doing well.
Obviously, we don’t know the context in which he was asked about Wenger’s future at the club, he could have been in a rush for all we know. But he doesn’t seem half as sure.