Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that he may consider his future at the end of the season after his misfiring team slumped to another defeat yesterday and he had to endure a torrent of abuse from fans.
The 2-0 home defeat by Swansea City made it the club’s worst start to a Premier League season under Wenger – and it followed an angry protest by fans against what they claimed was the ‘greed’ of the Arsenal board.
Wenger, criticised in some quarters for Arsenal’s seven years without a major trophy, has never even hinted that he might be close to quitting the club he loves.
But yesterday, asked whether it was crossing his mind to resign, Wenger replied: ‘Not at all. You make your assessment at the end of the season. I know we’ve got unrest everywhere. It’s a good opportunity to stick together and show we’re a strong club.’
Although Wenger was clearly keen to dispel any thoughts that he might walk away in mid-season, his remarks were being interpreted last night as a clear indication that he will give his future careful thought when the last ball of the season has been kicked.
And if he has not managed to turn Arsenal’s season around, he may be ready to end his remarkable era in North London. Asked if it hurt that a once-glorious club were languishing in 10th place, Wenger said: ‘Of course. But I’m not as worried about the places. We need to get the quality of our game back.’
But Arsenal fans vented their fury at Wenger last night and he admitted: ‘I can understand that.’
Arsenal have collected just 21 points from 15 games and only the 1994-95 season was worse for them since the Premier League began.
Asked if he needed new players, Wenger said: ‘It’s difficult to comment straight after a defeat like that but I can’t say No. I believe the board are there for us to spend the money if we can find the players.’
But if Wenger’s faith in the board is not rewarded with cash for players in January, and the club fail to qualify for the Champions League, the Frenchman could call time on his Arsenal career.
Certainly a hard-core army of fans believe that their money is not being spent by the club where they believe it should be – on players.
Yesterday around 1 000 angry fans had called for the removal of what they claimed were Arsenal’s ‘greedy’ board of directors and complained that profit had been put before trophies.
The protest was directed at the board not Wenger. But he was not entirely spared criticism.
Dan Deamer, 27, explained: ‘I’ve been an Arsenal fan for 20 years and I do have a gripe with Wenger. It’s a joke that he is paid £7.5million and hasn’t won anything for years.’ Wenger added last night: ‘The quality of our game wasn’t there. But I’m in this job to turn it round and I’m confident we will.’ - Daily Mail