Tuesday 22 August 2017

'I don't know' - Arsene Wenger casts fresh doubts over his Arsenal future

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Arsene Wenger of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on May 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Arsene Wenger of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on May 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he is unclear whether Saturday's FA Cup final will be his last game as the club's manager, amid fresh reports of his rifts with the club's hierarchy.

Wenger made it clear to the Arsenal board in January that he wanted to extend his 21-year stay at the club beyond the end of his current contract, which is due to expire next Wednesday.

Yet an alarming slump in results, highlighted by Arsenal's 10-2 aggregate defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, appears to have seen support for Wenger waning among the club's key board members.

Chief-executive Ivan Gazidis has made no comment on Wenger's future, with Independent.ie reporting in March that he is leading the calls for change at Arsenal, with or without Wenger's continued input.

After failing to secure a top four finish in the Premier League on Sunday, Wenger appeared to hit out at the confusion over the lack of backing he has received from Arsenal's board in recent months after suggestion the doubts over his future had created a 'horrendous' atmosphere that had contributed to the team's slump.

Now Wenger had faced the media for one last pre-match press conference, as he was pressed on whether his date with Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday will be his Arsenal swansong.

When asked whether this would be his last game at Arsenal he replied: "I don’t know. It will not be my last match no matter what happens because I will stay in football."

Wenger went on to confirm he would not match his old rival Alex Ferguson, who stayed in charge at Manchester United for 26 years, as he again looked uncomfortable answering questions over his own future.

"I want to win and do well for my club and win the cup for my club. It’s not about me. It’s about us winning."

Wenger is clearly frustrated by the lack of backing he has received from Gazidis and Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick in recent months and now he looks set to head into a decisive board meeting next week with the prospect of his time as Arsenal boss ending still a real possibility.

Even if he has the support of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, Wenger's Arsenal love affair turned fractious long ago and even if he wins the FA Cup this weekend, the boardroom battles he has been embroiled in for several months need to be resolved if he is to remain as the club's manager.

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