English Premiership

Wenger stays! Signs new 2-year contract

2017-05-31 12:31
Arsene Wenger (Getty)

London - Long-serving Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has signed a new two-year contract, the club announced on Wednesday, ending months of speculation about his future.

Wenger has presided over a gruelling season, which saw his team fail to qualify for the Champions League, but masterminded a stunning FA Cup final win over Chelsea last weekend.

The 67-year-old Frenchman's new deal, which will take his tenure up to 23 years, is believed to have been rubber-stamped during a board meeting on Tuesday.

"I love this club and I am looking forward to the future with optimism and excitement. We are looking at what we do well and how we can be stronger everywhere," Wenger told Arsenal's website.

"This is a strong group of players and with some additions we can be even more successful."

Arsenal said Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis had conducted "a full review of our on and off-the-pitch activities" to identify areas for improvement in view of a title challenge.

American majority shareholder Stan Kroenke said: "Our ambition is to win the Premier League and other major trophies in Europe.

"It's what the fans, players, staff, manager and board expect and we won't rest until that is achieved.

"Arsene is the best person to help us make that happen. He has a fantastic track record and has our full backing."

Wenger's new contract brings to an end the most traumatic season of his near 21-year Arsenal tenure.

Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 20 years and were thrashed 10-2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16.

He has come under greater pressure from supporters than ever before, with fans holding 'Wenger Out' placards, boycotting home games and chartering planes to trail banners calling for him to go.

Wenger's switch to a back three enabled Arsenal to end the season in style, winning seven of their last eight league games before toppling Chelsea in last Sunday's FA Cup final.

But he has been deeply hurt by the criticism he has received, branding the conduct of some supporters a "disgrace" and saying it created a "horrendous atmosphere" around the team.

Gazidis defended the board's decision to stand by Wenger.

"I think in football, the judgements are so black and white that often, if you don't fire your manager, then you're seen as being unambitious. I think that's ludicrous," he said.

"You don't fire good people, you don't fire people who are world-class, you don't fire people who are driven to improve."

In an interview on Arsenal's website, Wenger appealed to fans: "Let's be together to support our players, to support the club and all give our absolute best to be at the level that we want to be."

Arsenal's Wembley win against Chelsea gave them a third FA Cup in four seasons and made Wenger the first manager in history to have won the tournament seven times.

It is now 13 years since the last of his three Premier League title wins, however, while he has presided over a remarkable seven successive last-16 exits in the Champions League.

His key objectives for the close season will be to tie star duo Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to new contracts and strengthen his squad for the rigours of a Europa League campaign.

Wenger said Arsenal would only look to sign "top, top quality" players and said having a "very heavy squad" meant "we might lose some players".

"We're committed to mounting a sustained league challenge and that will be our focus this summer and next season," he added.

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, an Arsenal shareholder who recently had a takeover bid rejected, warned that Wenger won't be successful unless he has the complete backing of the board.

"What is now of paramount importance is that he receives the full support of the board and majority shareholder," Usmanov said.

"He has a great opportunity to deliver the success that the fans deserve. However without the right support there remains a real risk his legacy will be tarnished."

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Friday, 24 November 2017
West Ham United v Leicester City, London Stadium 22:00
Saturday, 25 November 2017
Swansea City v AFC Bournemouth, Liberty Stadium 17:00
Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion, Old Trafford 17:00
Crystal Palace v Stoke City, Selhurst Park 17:00
Newcastle United v Watford, St. James' Park 17:00
Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion, Wembley Stadium 17:00
Liverpool v Chelsea, Anfield 19:30
Sunday, 26 November 2017
Southampton v Everton, St. Mary's Stadium 15:30
Burnley v Arsenal, Turf Moor 16:00
Huddersfield Town v Manchester City, The John Smith's Stadium 18:00
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2017/18 season?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.