Sunday 22 October 2017

'The end is coming' - Martin Keown says Arsenal must prepare for life after Wenger

Aaron Gallagher

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has said Arsene Wenger’s days are numbered at the Emirates, citing his disappointment that the club did not progress beyond his final season at the club when The Invincibles won the 2003/04 Premier League unbeaten.

Speaking to the BBC, the 50-year-old said a plan must be hatched to prepare for life after Wenger, and that his replacement must be of a similar mould in their implicit running of the club from the top down.

“I do feel that if he were to go now, without any succession plan-management from the club, it would be too soon. I don’t think the board or the club are ready for him to leave, a lot of thinking has to be done at a higher level,” he said.

“Yes that end is coming, but maybe (he needs) another contract of one year or two years. Wenger should play a part in the manager who comes in, somebody of the same mould, because he has been such a part in the decisions that have been made: the new stadium, that was Arsene Wenger’s idea.

“There may have been a group of people at Arsenal who claimed to have had that idea, but Arsene Wenger is clever. He puts the idea out there and lets people believe it was their idea and then grows it from there.

Keown joined the club in 1993 under the stewardship of George Graham before Wenger took charge in the summer of 1996. The defender went on to claim three Premier League titles and three FA Cups before departing in 2004.

He added that the club had been transformed entirely on and off the field of play under the management of Wenger.

However he said he was immensely disappointed that the side had not progressed in the thirteen years that have followed, with the club not having not won a league title since 2004, winning just two FA Cups since, in 2014 and 2015.

“That club is a huge story of success. I’m a competitor as well, and I’m disappointed in what they have done. When I left I thought they were going off to win everything in Europe and it didn’t happen.

“So there is a disappointment to what has happened, but we are also realistic to know that Chelsea came in with all of their millions and changed the landscape. Man City have (also) done it and that’s where Arsenal have struggled.

“Leicester, though, told us that you don’t necessarily have to spend the most money and that you can win. And that’s what has hurt Arsene Wenger. He can’t quite get that recipe right again and that is the biggest mystery for me.”

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