Gunners boss backed to decide own future
Arsene Wenger is being backed to decide his own Arsenal future but the decision will be increasingly shaped by whether he feels that he can again inspire a positive atmosphere inside the Emirates Stadium, writes Jeremy Wilson.
Although Wenger retains the full support of majority owner Stan Kroenke, he is conscious of how the mood has turned sharply over the past three weeks and is concerned that the players' confidence is being affected by the subsequent outpouring of tension and disunity.
The expectation and hope still of both Wenger and the board is that he will lead the club into the final year of a contract that expires in 2017 but, should results continue to falter and the atmosphere worsen, Wenger's position would be in serious doubt. Arsenal have lost four of their past six matches, including their past three at home.
They will also almost certainly go out of the Champions League in Barcelona tomorrow night, following the 2-0 first-leg defeat at the Emirates. That would leave the Premier League as the only remaining opportunity for a trophy but, having led the table at the start of the year, Arsenal are now six points adrift of Tottenham in second.
Defeat by Watford in the FA Cup on Sunday sparked angry scuffles outside the ground between Arsenal fans, who are split over the future of the club's most successful and longest serving manager. Wenger wants to be judged at the end of the season but has also previously said that he would leave if he felt like he "didn't deliver what was expected of me".
After three Premier League titles, six FA Cups and 19 straight finishes in the top four - as well as the construction of a £390million stadium - the directors remain united that Wenger deserves their full support.
Wenger remains fully involved in all the long-term planning at the club and believes that he again has a squad who are capable of winning a first league title since 2004 before his contract ends next year.
Sunday's FA Cup defeat was further compounded yesterday when the former Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who was on the bench for Watford, claimed that Arsenal "look like a small team" whenever they face the best clubs.
"We came to the match very confident," Gomes told ESPN Brasil. "They don't look like winning a title soon. Arsenal give you too much space. They are not strong -defensively." (© Daily Telegraph, London)