Arsene Wenger has declared his love for Arsenal after extending his contract for a further two years.
The Frenchman, whose reign at the north London side already stands at more than two decades, has put pen to paper on fresh terms at the Emirates Stadium.
Following months of unrest among groups of Gunners fans, with many becoming frustrated about a perceived lack of progress under Wenger, the 67-year-old’s contract was ratified at a board meeting on Tuesday.
And Arsenal confirmed football’s worst-kept secret on Wednesday.
‘I love this club and I am looking forward to the future with optimism and excitement,’ Wenger said in a statement.
‘We are looking at what we do well and how we can be stronger everywhere. This is a strong group of players and with some additions we can be even more successful.
“The message to the fans is in aid of the club. 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”. –Arsene Wenger
‘We’re committed to mounting a sustained league challenge and that will be our focus this summer and next season.’
It is understood Wenger told American owner Stan Kroenke of his wish to stay before the meeting.
Despite resistance from some board members to the Frenchman staying — even after Saturday’s FA Cup final victory — Kroenke ultimately decides.
‘I am grateful to have the support of the board and Stan in doing everything we can to win more trophies,’ Wenger said.
‘It’s what we all want and I know it’s what our fans around the world demand.’
Kroenke, meanwhile, emphasised Arsenal’s desire to challenge for the Premier League title once again, despite a fifth-placed finish this season.
‘Our ambition is to win the Premier League and other major trophies in Europe,’ he said.
‘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 has been openly critical of the treatment he has received from some sections of the Arsenal fanbase over recent months, with protests against his stewardship becoming more and more common.
Planes carrying messages urging him to leave have flown over the Emirates, marches have been staged around the stadium and banners and placards have been brought into the ground appealing for Wenger to go.
However, now the deal has been done, he has called for unity.
‘The message to the fans is in aid of the club. 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,’ he said.
‘We can move up to the next level, I’m convinced of that, by having faith in the way we want to play football and by supporting the players we have already.
‘Of course we’ll try to strengthen our squad to be stronger next season, but we want to be faithful to the way we want to play the game. We want to support this way [of playing] all together.’
The Arsenal boss has agreed to certain adjustments in Arsenal’s football operation to appease some board members opposed to his continuing as manager.
Wenger will have the final say on all first-team matters but the club may well bring in a sporting director to work alongside him. Arsenal want to see the man in charge show more conviction in the transfer market.
Some members of Wenger’s backroom team face an anxious wait to see if they will survive the shake-up. Wenger has always been loyal to his inner circle in his 21 years at the club but he is under pressure to revamp his coaching team.
Goalkeeper coach Gerry Peyton and fitness coach Tony Colbert are among those who could be under threat. Those leaving will be told in the next 48 hours.
Some members of Wenger’s staff left to go on holiday after Saturday’s FA Cup final win over Chelsea.