By Evan Bartlett | Metro |
Arsene Wenger is enduring one of the worst spells of his 21-year tenure as Arsenal manager.
While anti-Wenger sentiment has been growing for several years it now appears to have reached its highest point following a run of six defeats in the club’s last nine games.
The Gunners crashed out of the Champions League this month and look at risk of missing out on a top four place for the first time since Wenger took charge with the 3-1 defeat to West Brom on Saturday seeing the club slip to sixth in the Premier League table.
Fans chartered an aeroplane to fly over the Hawthorns trailing a banner calling for Wenger’s resignation, a move which has followed a noticeable increase in the number of ‘Wenger Out’ banners being held up at games.
But despite the outpouring of dissent there are still several signs that Wenger will continue his reign into next season.
1. Tony Pulis says Wenger told him he’s staying
Speaking after he masterminded victory over Arsenal on Saturday, Tony Pulis said ‘I’ll be surprised if he goes,’ in response to questions over Wenger’s future.
Pressed on how he had gleened such insight, the West Brom manager said: ‘Because he told me.’
Pulis later suggested his comments were made in jest. Perhaps he was just backtracking after revealing too much?
2. On field results do not matter
Speaking after the defeat to West Brom, Wenger told reporters that he had made his mind up about his future.
The Frenchman denied it was anything to do with where Arsenal finished in the league.
‘I take a bigger perspective than that. It’s not the last result that will decide what I will do,’ he said.
‘It will not necessarily be linked with (a Champions League place) because I’ve done the top four 20 times. It’s more… it’s not that.’
While ending up in the Europa League spots would be seen as disastrous by Arsenal fans, Wenger clearly does not think the same.
3. Wenger is a valuable asset for the board
Arsene Wenger has cemented Arsenal’s standing amongst European football’s financial elite.
When Stan Kroenke increased his stake in the club in 2009, shares were valued at £8,500 each. Eight years of stability later and the shares are now worth £15,670.
Does the club’s hierarchy really want to risk its financial future by sacking Wenger?
Earlier this month, following the humiliating defeat to Bayern, the board released a statement showing their support for Wenger.
‘We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart,’ it read.
‘Arsene has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way.’
4. A two-year contract offer is on the table
It is understood there is still a two-year contract offer on the table should Wenger wish to stay.
His current deal ends this summer but the board are willing to let him make the decision on his future.
Reports on Monday morning suggested Wenger was ready to sign the new deal.
5. There is no one lined up to replace him
Despite a host of names constantly being linked with the job it still appears the club has no one lined up to follow Wenger.
Reports in Germany on Sunday night claimed that the club had approached Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel to take over.
However, several British newspapers have since reported that the story is untrue, suggesting the club is briefing journalists off the record.