Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has given a rare interview about his decision to retain Arsene Wenger as manager in the summer, insisting he’s made the right choice.
Wenger signed a two-year deal with Arsenal at the end of last season, to the ire of supporters after the Gunners finished fifth in the Premier League table. Kroenke has long admired the long-serving French coach and revealed his thought-process when considering his future.
“You have to approach it with clear-headedness, calmness, thinking for the long term rather than the short-term,” said the majority shareholder to the Mirror via Independent. “It’s easy to do something. It’s harder not to do something.
Arsene Wenger’s contract was up at the end of last season and with Arsenal struggling for consistency in the race for a top-four finish, many felt it was time the 68-year-old should have called time on his 21 years at the club.
However, he stayed on to lead the side in the Europa League and try to get their top-four place back this season. The Gunners are currently fifth in the table with 16 points from nine games, level with defending champions Chelsea, so they’re not in the worst position.
Kroenke added how he was somewhat close to letting Wenger go in the summer, but admitted having a lot of respect for the successful manager for the respect he has shown the club during his lengthy tenure.
“We always evaluate, and it’s fair to look at all the factors involved. But when you make decisions like that, you are weighing lots of different factors, but you hope that you weigh them correctly and come out with the right decision. I think we did.
“It’s easy to change coaches and people do it all the time. But the hardest thing is to replicate success and remain competitive. I’m sure he was thinking through if he wants to go on. If I see anything, then I think he is more focused than ever when I’m around him.
“We have a lot of respect for Arsene — we are not going to be pushy about things. I think he treated us with respect as well and always has. We feel really strongly about Arsene.”
Kroenke will be taking questions from the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, among others, at the club’s Annual General Meeting today.
It’s likely he will be asked for more transparency about the behind-the-scenes operating of Arsenal, as well as the truth about the club’s finances and who will be Wenger’s successor in 2019.