Under-fire Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has urged his players to man up and stop using doubts over his Arsenal future as an excuse for their dismal run of results.
Wenger is facing the heat after they were humiliated 10-2 (on aggregate) defeat to European rivals Bayern Munich over the span of two-legs in the Champions League last-16 round and a 3-1 defeat against West Brom last weekend.
The Gunners are likely to miss out on the Champions League for the first-time in Wenger’s two decade long stint at the club.
Arsenal have now suffered four defeats in their last five Premier League games and now it seems that the Gunners would finish outside the top four for the first time in Wenger’s 21-year reign at the North London club.
And now, a growing number of Arsenal fans are getting frustrated with the lack of ambition shown by the club under Arsene and #WengerOut signs are flowing in full glory.
Arsenal are now in the mix to lift the FA Cup trophy this season and are set to take on Manchester City on April 23.
However it is quite evident now that the Frenchman is going through the worst run of his spell at Arsenal, both in the Premier League and in all other competitions.
Uncertainty about Wenger’s future at Arsenal has not only affected the dressing room atmosphere but has also left the fans frustrated.
The Gunners bosses are willing to offer the Frenchman a new contract and now it would be interesting to see whether Wenger signs a new deal amid huge protests from fans after a disastrous run of results in both the Premier League and the Champions League.
The Gunners boss is said to hold a meeting with the board – although no decision has been made by the club on the Frenchman’s future.
Arsenal have stated that any decision about the long-standing manager’s future will be a mutual one.
And even if everything suggests that the Frenchman is going to sign a new two-year deal at Arsenal, the players have been kept in the dark and genuinely have no clue about what is going to happen next. Players who were curious to find out an answer have now lost interest and have given up asking.
Wenger’s backroom coaching staff have also been left clueless.
Players believe that the Frenchman is going to sign a new deal and even Wenger’s happy-go-lucky mood in his recent press conferences suggests that he is happy at the club, despite an alarming rise of protests from the Gunners fans.
And it is difficult to deny the fact that the uncertainty over his future is one of the reasons behind Arsenal’s poor run of results.
And now the situation has got worse after one of the protest organisers have accentuated that hell will break loose if Wenger finally signs a new contract at the North London club.
Mark King, a member of the Black Scarf fans’ movement, said: “The protests don’t stop, even if Wenger announces that he is staying.”
“It won’t be a major surprise if and when he signs a new contract. But it will be a shameful decision from an owner who has no sporting ambition for Arsenal.”
“Wenger has done nothing in the past three years to justify a new deal and we will ramp up the protests against the board and the manager.”
“The atmosphere in the stadium and the confrontation between supporters is going to get worse.”
“We have tried to keep our protests respectful and don’t want to be giving abuse to a man who has done great things for Arsenal in the past.”
“But if Arsenal think we are going to go away they are in for a big surprise.”
However, King is not willing to reveal what they are planning next.
And they have now told people to “reply to every posting from the club’s official Twitter account with the hashtags #wengerout and #nonewcontract”.
He added: “I keep reading Wenger is going to launch a major spending spree this summer and that he is going to ‘reinvent’ himself. But what does that mean?”
“He is 67 years old and has been in the job for more than 20 years. He’s not going to change now.”
“If he is allowed to stay on, he’s just going to repeat the same old mistakes all over again.”
“He’s a very intelligent man yet he still cannot see when his time is up.”
“He either has no self- awareness or he simply doesn’t care what the supporters think.”
And it is now understood that such protests would reach unprecedented levels if Arsenal lose to visitors Manchester City on Sunday.
But Wenger has instructed the players that it is time to man-up.
Wenger said: “Being professional is to perform on the football pitch and not to find escape in excuses where I think there are not.”
“Results are not going the way we want, but we have to make sure that the priority for us is what happens on the pitch.”
“I agree that at West Brom [where Arsenal were poor in losing 3-1 in their final game before the international break] we had blind possession – we had 70 per cent possession going nowhere. There was something missing.”
“I want the players to focus on their job. Their job is to perform and for me [it is] to help them to perform and to develop as players. That is, for me, what matters, really.”
“What really matters at the moment is to stick tighter and show that we care about the end of our season, about this club and about our values that we stand up for.”
“It is in difficult periods that you see the difference in quality between people.”
Wenger has been coy to reveal anything about his future at Arsenal but judging by his body language it is understood that the Frenchman has made up his mind.
His body language tells that he is totally different from the nervous and frustrated Wenger in 2014, when there were the same doubts regarding his future.
Back then Arsenal faced the danger of losing out of the top-four spot, had advanced into the semi-finals of the FA Cup and Wenger’s contract was running out.
And there were doubts – if they lost to Wigan in the semis, or Hull in the final, then Wenger might have parted ways with the club.
But this time he is calm and composed and has already told the club that he wants to stay. And now the club only need to pick the perfect time to break the news.
They also need a new academy boss, a new director of football for the long-term future and fresh faces in the squad.
When really pushed on his future and whether he is staying or leaving, Wenger replied: “Look, I have nothing more to say.”
“You want to force me to talk about something I don’t want to talk about. One day, I will answer!”
“I’m very clear in my mind. But anyway, do I stay [another] two months or two years? My commitment will be exactly the same [in either case]. The time I spent here does not influence my attitude at all.”
“We have two games in hand and the games are coming up thick and fast.”
“Our season will now be decided by the next two months, but as well by the ability and the strength we can show together to fight and come back in a very convincing way.”
“It’s a strange season, because we played 20 games unbeaten. If you look at our offensive numbers, they are very good.”
“But I cannot sit here and say ‘We have no flaws or weaknesses in our team’,because we have. The results are there.”
“I think there is a very, very strong basis but the team needs to be strengthened, of course.