Wenger irked by board's apathy over travails

LONDON • Arsene Wenger is frustrated by the lack of public support that he has received from Arsenal during his side's struggles this season.

The London football club released a statement from its chairman Chips Keswick last month acknowledging that it "understood the debate" about Wenger's future.

However, it stopped short of endorsing the manager of 21 years, insisting that only a decision about a new deal "will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way".

Wenger has told Arsenal that he is ready to sign the new two-year contract that has been on the table for him since last summer, but the club are wary of a backlash from fans, and want him to wait until the end of the season.

Despite his public claims to the contrary, he fears that the constant speculation over his future has begun to unsettle his players, who have lost three of their past six Premier League matches to slip to sixth in the table, seven points off the Champions League places.

Wenger believes that Arsenal could have done more to support him, particularly as he has made it clear that he wants to carry on next season, even if they fail to secure a top-four spot for the first time under his stewardship.

The Frenchman is understood to have been unimpressed by last month's statement, and believes it would have carried more weight had it come from Stan Kroenke, the majority shareholder, or Ivan Gazidis, the chief executive.

There is also tension behind the scenes between Wenger and Gazidis over plans to restructure Arsenal's football department.

Gazidis has always been a strong supporter of Wenger's, but wants to make changes with a view to planning for his departure, including the appointment of a sporting director to oversee the club's transfer policy.

Dick Law, Arsenal's chief transfer negotiator, is expected to leave at the end of next season, with Gazidis keen to bring in another expert to work with him in the interim and eventually succeed him.

Wenger is resistant to such changes, and was annoyed by Gazidis' announcement at a fans' group meeting this month that there would be huge changes this summer, whether or not a top-four berth is secured.

THE TIMES, LONDION

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Wenger irked by board's apathy over travails'. Print Edition | Subscribe