Tuesday 12 December 2017

Doubts growing over Wenger's future at Arsenal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Matt Law and Sam Wallace

Arsenal are growing increasingly anxious that Arsene Wenger could call time on his managerial career at the club at the end of the season.

And that is forcing the Gunners' top brass to start assessing the merits of potential successors, including Max Allegri, Thomas Tuchel and Leonardo Jardim.

Wenger, who celebrated 20 years as Arsenal manager last year, again dodged questions about his future ahead of two crucial games for him and the club.

Sources close to the Frenchman were only a fortnight ago convinced he would sign the two-year extension to his £8m-a-year (€9.4m) contract that has been on the table for some time.

But, following back-to-back defeats by Watford and Chelsea, the tone has changed dramatically and there are now real doubts over whether Wenger will stay on.

Barring a remarkable turnaround in fortunes, it is now expected Wenger will leave it until the end of the season to make a decision on his future.

That leaves open the real prospect that he will walk away if Arsenal finish outside the top four or the voices calling for him to go get louder.

Arsenal face Hull City tomorrow and then visit Bayern Munich for the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie next Wednesday.

Positive results would give Wenger a huge boost, but any slip-up would leave Arsenal facing an uphill battle to finish the campaign on a high note.

Owner Stan Kroenke remains desperate for Wenger to stay for another two years, but Arsenal's players and coaching staff have been left in the dark over what will happen.

While no approaches to rival managers have been made, the club are having to seriously weigh up possible replacements.

Allegri, the Juventus manager, is known to be keen on the Arsenal post and refused to distance himself from the job when questioned about it in Italy this week.

Borussia Dortmund's Tuchel has admirers in the corridors of power at the Emirates and could be lured from the German club, while Jardim has done an impressive job at one of Wenger's former clubs, Monaco.

Wenger, meanwhile, has asked the Arsenal fans to unite behind the team, using Tottenham Hotspur's united support as an example of a club pulling in the same direction.

"Our fans have a high level of expectation, as I have as well. But you cannot be a fan up to last Tuesday and not be a fan anymore and not be behind the team this Saturday. It doesn't make sense.

"All the other big clubs have great expectations as well and big histories. We are in a fight and we absolutely have to be united or we have no chance to do it.

"You have Tottenham, where everyone is in the fight and everyone is behind their team. We have to do exactly the same, even if we had two disappointing results. We have to fight like we want to catch Chelsea or you have no fuel." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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