Fan group wants Gunners 'shake-up'
Published 12/12/2012 | 17:34
Arsene Wenger is facing the deepest crisis of his 16 years at Arsenal with fan groups demanding the club's chiefs act swiftly to stop the rot.
The humiliating exit from the Capital One Cup at the hands of npower League Two side Bradford on Tuesday night may become a critical moment in Wenger's reign, especially with the Gunners also misfiring in the Barclays Premier League.
The Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST) was set to demand immediate changes at a meeting on Wednesday with chief executive Ivan Gazidis. AST spokesman Tim Payton said: "This is the most difficult time in Arsene's 16 years and both the club and himself need to change direction quickly if his wonderful era is not to end on a sad note."
The AST has long supported the Gunners' prudent financial approach but believes the lack of spending has now gone too far and that the defeat by Bradford was a symbolic moment, with the team having decreased in quality year after year since 2009.
Payton added: "The Arsenal Supporters' Trust cannot fathom why £70million was left untouched this summer. Arsene needs to get over his distaste for spending and use the resources that, after all, are provided by the hard-pressed fans who watch the team.
"The AST believe a shake-up is needed. We would like to see new, younger blood added to the board, and they also need to exercise more control and direction over Arsene's football strategy. One man cannot direct all transfer targets, wages, coaching methods and manage the team at games. It's too much for one man."
Even if results do not pick up, Wenger's position should be safe at least until the end of the season but an increasing worry for club executives is that significant numbers of fans are not turning up to matches at the Emirates despite having bought tickets.
There is also growing frustration that players brought in since the departures of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie have failed to deliver.
Even Arsenal's honorary vice-president Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith expressed that frustration on Tuesday night, saying on Twitter - though deleting it soon afterwards - that: "Gervinho is a FLOP player".
Arsenal next face Reading away on Monday, and Wenger said of Tuesday's game at Valley Parade: "It's extremely disappointing because in the second half and extra-time it was one-way traffic. We created a lot of chances but the final ball was missing. I believe that it is part of our job to recover and to focus on the next game."