LONDON (Reuters) - If it does transpire that Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Chelsea was manager Arsene Wenger’s final game in charge it will have been a memorable way to sign off.
The 67-year-old Frenchman’s brow has been constantly furrowed this season with intense speculation about his future overshadowing a campaign that saw the Gunners fail to finish in the top four for the first time since he took charge in 1996.
He was all smiles though as he joined the ecstatic celebrations on the Wembley pitch where Aaron Ramsey’s late header ensured Arsenal have now won three of the last four FA Cups after an interminable 10-year trophy drought.
Wenger was ebullient about his side whose vibrant performance to outplay the Premier League champions he described as one of the proudest moments of his long career.
Yet back in the bowels of the stadium, where questions quickly turned to his future, he kept his cards close to his chest, refusing to offer any real clues as to whether the FA Cup victory represented a glorious farewell or the springboard for future success under his command.
”This doesn’t influence anything,“ record seven-times FA Cup winner Wenger told reporters. ”It would be a bit ridiculous that 20 years depends on one game and that the future of the club depends on one game.
”Overall I just want to do well for this club and apart from that it’s down to the board members to decide whether I‘m the right man to take this club further.
“It’s not about popularity, it’s about competence. You can’t do 35 years as a football manager if you think you are not the right man to do the job.”
The Wenger debate has divided the club’s supporters this season, creating what Wenger describes as a “hostile” environment which has effected his players.
He said more light would be shed on his situation on Wednesday or Thursday, but there seems little doubt Wenger is still held in high regard by the players.
Aaron Ramsey, who scored his second FA Cup-winning goal having also secured the trophy in 2014 against Hull City, said he wants Wenger to continue in charge, praising his switch to a three-man defence which enabled Arsenal to finish the season strongly.
“Of course I want him to stay at the club,” the Welshman said. “He deserves this. We changed the formation and had a lot of success. Fair play to him, he changed the system. Hopefully, he’ll be there next season.”
Whatever the future holds for Wenger, he said the current Arsenal team can look forward with optimism.
”I don’t know what will happen next week. I know my mind. But let’s enjoy the win tonight and not worry about the future.
“The last two months have been outstanding and this team is moving forward. This team has exceptional potential.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Rex Gowar