Last night’s official attendance read 59,000 in terms of tickets sold. The actual attendance of people who were physically there was probably closer to 45,000. The PR effect was immediate, as became clear in this morning’s tabloids. Journalists who follow Arsenal closely, such as Sami Mokbel and Jeremy Wilson, commented on the numerous empty seats from last night’s underwhelming affair. 15,000 empty seats is far more effective than an angry mob of 200 holding up barely readable A3 sheets. Visible apathy translated into thousands of empty seats is more reflective of fan sentiment than any banner from any plane could ever be. If last night is a pre-cursor of what is to come then this could be a real problem – certainly in terms of the Arsenal brand.
So does last night influence the decision-making process in relation to Wenger’s future. Who the hell knows. Numerous publications have been pontificating this question, and we are no way nearer to knowing the answer. For me, the key issue is if he does sign (Which I fully expect him to do) he won’t be judged in a normal way. You can bet as soon as he loses his first game next season the banners will be out in full force. The environment will remain poisonous and more and more fans will opt to stay at home. Is this the kind of environment that breeds progress or team spirit? Absolutely not. Look how the uncertainty has affected the team in 2017.
The side-show of Wenger’s future has loomed large. And with another new contract and the anger that it will create, Wenger will again be the elephant in the room. Wenger Out has become a cultural phenomenon that has found its way to Trump Rallies, Wrestlemania and other unrelated events. Wenger is a meme, a parody and if he continues to stay in charge there is nothing to suggest that this won’t continue to be the case.
Its the middle of May and the future of our manager and two best players are shrouded in uncertainty. You can look at other players such as Oxlade-Chamberlin, Jack Wilshere, Szczesny and Gibs as other possible departures over the next 18 months, as their contracts will also expire next summer. We also need to replace our most important player Santi Cazorla. The little wizard is a gem of a player and simply marvellous in full-flight. He keeps things ticking when he is on form, but he is now 32 and suffering chronic Achilles injuries. He will need to be replaced soon and I doubt it will be cheap. By next summer the Arsenal squad could look radically different. It’s baffling how so many contracts have been run down to the last year. Its mild incompetence at best and terrible mismanagement at worst.