FA Cup finals are not what they once were, and the tournament’s prestige has been in gentle decline for the best part of two decades now. It follows, then, that the old showpiece occasion of English football now needs to be laced with artificial intrigue - and this year, that’s centred around Arsene Wenger and his new contract.
The narrative seems to be this: win today and the club will be on an upward trend and Wenger should once again be embraced, but lose and he deserves to be discarded as soon as possible. Today is being billed as a balancing act between ultimate victory and unfathomable disaster and, as usual with these rather forced soap opera-style plots, it’s nonsense and a myth being peddled by those who really should know better.
We like football to be dramatic and for single games to carry more significance than they really do, I understand that, but please don’t tell me that opinions about Wenger are going to be conclusively reformed on the basis of today. The Arsenal manager critics are not going to convinced of his long-term suitability by a win over Hull City and, similarly, his supporters aren’t going to defect because of a loss on a one-off occasion.
Unfortunately, this amounts to little more than a good day out in the sunshine and a chance to end the season with some silverware; the unanswered questions at Arsenal relating to Wenger need a more complex answer than two halves of football are capable of providing.
Win today and worry about the future tomorrow. One doesn’t really relate to the other.
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