Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick has said a decision over the future of manager Arsène Wenger will be a mutual one and will be “communicated at the right time in the right way”.
The Gunners are in a wretched run of form after losing five of their last seven games in all competitions, with a 5-1 thrashing at home to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night to complete a 10-2 aggregate defeat a new low point. Wenger’s current contract is up in the summer and the 67-year-old insists he has yet to make up his mind as to whether he will stay or not.
Around 200 supporters protested for Wenger to leave ahead of the Munich game and another march is planned before Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final clash at home to Lincoln. But while Keswick acknowledged the discontent of some supporters, he said a knee-jerk decision on Wenger’s future would not be made.
“We are fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate,” he said in a statement released on the club’s official website. “We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart. Arsène has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way.”
Earlier at the first press conference since the Bayern defeat, Wenger admitted he will consider protests by supporters when he decides if he will sign a new contract. He said: “It will not be the most important [factor] but I will consider it of course. It is difficult for me to judge [the level of the protests]. I [have] worked very hard for 20 years to make the fans happy and when we lose games I understand they are not – at certain times you have to accept different opinions.” He also insisted that he had not told his players whether he had decided to extend his contract at the club.
Wenger defended his team’s performance in the Champions League second-leg match, stating: “It’s easy for me to assess the game because we watch and analyse it and I think overall at 11 against 11 we produced a top-level performance. After that [Laurent Koscielny’s sending off] it became impossible for us to qualify. Before the game, people said we had a one per cent chance. During the game we pushed it up to 30% and when Koscielny was sent off it came down. I think in this game we produced a performance.”
Reports this week have circulated that Theo Walcott hinted there was some unrest amongst the players and staff but Wenger was quick to downplay those claims. “I think a lot has been said about that is exaggerated,” he added. “We have a good united group in terms of the group. When you go through disappointing results you have disappointment, but the best way to respond is to show how united we are on that front. It is our job to be competitive and at this club that means being up there always. It’s about performing.”