Could it be TWO manager's futures on the line at Wembley?by Andy Dillon / 26 May 2017, 20:26Tweet
SHOULD Arsene Wenger win the FA Cup on Saturday he will have won it as many times as Chelsea.
That’s an impressive seven.
But never has the trophy once seen as a consolation or sideshow to bigger things been more important to a manager.
Win and while Arsenal’s season won’t be perfect, it suddenly won’t look such a disaster either.
Defeat to Chelsea and Wenger’s already low standing in the eyes of so many Arsenal fans will plummet even further.
Clueless and potless would be one way to describe it.
Losing to Chelsea in a big game is no disgrace. Let’s face it, it’s quite fashionable at the moment; everyone seems to be doing it.
But fifth place in the Premier League and a runners-up medal in the Cup will only highlight the massive shortcomings at Arsenal this season.
Yet while disappointment is a natural catalyst for uncertainty around managers and Wenger steadfastly refuses to disclose his own plans, success too seems to make for shifting sands.
Antonio Conte and Wenger will walk out side by side at Wembley at tea-time and both have questions surrounding their futures. Both are playing it cute too.
Wenger is being coy because he is unsure of the reaction whatever announcement he makes.
Staying put and half the fans are in uproar, if he goes, the other half are angry that the most successful manager in the club’s history has been forced out.
Waiting for a moment of unity could be a long time coming for Arsenal supporters bitterly divided over their man.
Conte is playing games with Chelsea even after only a season at the club. He dresses it up as not being the right time to talk about his future because the present is what matters most.
But after this weekend’s Cup Final the time to talk to Chelsea will have arrived. The club want him to go public with his plans.
The Italian knows his stock may never be as high as this and nobody blames him for trying to squeeze some cash out of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Conte is paid well but still way below some of his managerial peers in the Premier League, Wenger included, who have come up spectacularly short this season.
He is keen to double his money to around £9 million a year and who wouldn’t be? He could still earn that and more by going home to Inter Milan who are waiting with open arms to receive him.
Conte wants to win the Double and then slam both trophies on the boardroom table at Stamford Bridge and tell Abramovich to pay him what he is worth.
So, while the FA Cup Final is usually regarded as the finale to the English season, there will still be burning questions about the managers long after the final whistle at Wembley.
It’s not unusual to have one manager’s future on the line but two in one game? It could well end up being better than the stuff that goes on on the pitch.