Arsenal fans want Wenger’s deal put on hold

Supporters demand Arsenal manager spend some of the millions available to bring in new talent and end a trophy-winning slump

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 3:20am

Disgruntled Arsenal fans have stoked up the pressure on under-fire manager Arsene Wenger by telling the club's board it would be "inappropriate" to offer the Frenchman a new contract.

Wenger's deal expires at the end of the season but having failed to win a trophy in the last eight years, the 63-year-old is facing more heat than ever before in his 17 years in North London.

Many of the grievances come from Wenger's recruitment policy, with young French forward Yaya Sanogo the only addition of the close season despite the board's assurances the club had money to spend and could compete financially with the elite.

Fans called for investment throughout the 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa in their Premier League opener on Saturday, with the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) saying contract talks for the manager must be put on hold.

"In recent weeks [chief executive] Ivan Gazidis has spoken of the club's intent to offer Arsene Wenger a new contract. The AST believes this is inappropriate," the group of more than 800 members, who own a handful of shares in the club, said in a statement.

"There remain important questions about the way player identification, recruitment and remuneration processes are managed at Arsenal.

"The failings we highlighted in Arsene Wenger holding too much power have only been amplified in recent weeks. These must be addressed as a matter of urgency."

Wenger, who has won three league titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal, said after Saturday's defeat that he and his team "work 24 hours a day" to try and identify new recruits and that they analyse "every single player in the world".

"The fact that there is money available for squad strengthening is not disputed. The AST's independent analysis suggests that the amount is somewhere between £70 million (HK$848 million) to £100 million (HK$1.2 billion)," the AST said.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are facing an early season injury criris and winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be out of action for the best part of six months.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is one of several players who picked up injuries in Saturday's defeat, leaving Wenger with a selection headache for tomorrow's crucial Champions League qualifier against Fenerbache.