at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Despondent Arsene Wenger rued another devastating defeat as the worst season in his 16-year Arsenal reign plumbed new depths amid a cacophony of abuse at the Emirates.
With Bayern Munich visiting north London in the Champions League on Tuesday, Wenger made seven changes for yesterday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie with Championship side Blackburn but suffered another humiliation as his team were again humbled by lower league opposition.
Colin Kazim Richards’ 72nd-minute winner not only extended Arsenal’s trophyless drought to eight years but was the first time under Wenger’s tenure that the Gunners had lost in the FA Cup to a team outside the Premier League.
With Arsenal’s board set to review their manager’s position at the end of the season – and Wenger himself understood to be considering his position – Everton manager David Moyes last night emerged as a shock contender to take over next season.
Wenger’s post-match press conference lasted barely five minutes as he was bombarded with questions about his side’s continuing frailties in a season that is now in danger of going into freefall. “It’s very painful and very disappointing,” said Wenger, whose side were knocked out of the League Cup by League Two Bradford in December.â€™
Even when he brought on first-choice players Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, they failed to find a way through Michael Appleton’s resolute side and were booed off.
Lifelong Arsenal fan and Ryder Cup golf hero Ian Poulter tweeted: ‘Utter crap Wenger that’s your lot you have to go, take a bow youâ€™ve done an amazing job over the years but enough is enough !!
“We had 11 international players on the pitch at the start of the game,” said Wenger, whose side had 26 shots – 12 on target – and totally dominated possession. “But we made a massive mistake on the goal.” Asked if the current season was his worst, Wenger hit back: “It is not over yet. For you maybe, but not for me. It’s important to focus on our next game. It’s a good opportunity to show we have character.”
Wenger’s contract runs out in 2014 and he has so far refused to discuss a new one. If he leaves at the end of the season, he may look to return to France.
Aware of Wenger’s perilous position, Moyes has told Everton he is unlikely to discuss his own future until the summer when his current deal runs out.
Despite his close relationship with owner Bill Kenwright, there is irritation inside Everton at Moyes’ tactics, which they regard as a form of blackmail to push for new signings. - Daily Mail