The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) fear that Arsene Wenger’s “obsession” with developing young players is damaging the club’s chances of winning silverware, insisting the manager shouldn’t be offered a new contract as the north London club boss.
Presently the longest-serving Premier League manager, the former Monaco of France tactician joined the Gunners from Nagoya Grampus Eight- the club they won 3-1 in their recent pre-season trip to Japan- in 1996.
Wenger’s deal expires at the end of the season and having failed to win a trophy in the past eight years, the Frenchman is up against the wrath of the fans that have ceased every opportunity to question his ambition to win trophies in recent years.
Arsenal have not spent a penny in the transfer market and lost 3-1 at home to Aston Villa on the opening day of the league season. Fans want the club to invest on top class players and the AST have disclosed that contract talks with the 63-year-old should be placed on hold.
“Chief executive Ivan Gazidis has spoken of the intent to offer Wenger a new contract. We (AST) believe this is inappropriate,” reads an AST statement.
“There remain important questions about the way player identification, recruitment and remuneration processes are managed at Arsenal.
“The failing 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.”
Arsenal have been linked with several players from Luis Suarez to Wayne Rooney, Michu and most recently Yohan Cabaye. Wenger has lost out in his bid to land Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain and Gustavo, who has joined VFL Wolfsburg.
Saturday’s home defeat to Villa and a lengthy injury list which now includes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has brought their lack of transfer activity into sharp focus and Tim Payton, a spokesperson for AST, is critical of Wenger.
“We don’t know what’s going on but clearly there’s a manager that by his own words isn’t a big fan of spending money on strengthening the team through expensive players acquisition,” said Payton.
“His apparent obsession with being a developmental manager is in danger of holding the club back.”
The AST is a group of over 800 members who own a handful of shares in the club. They do not doubt the fact that there is money at the club’s disposal for summer dealings and are however baffled by the incessant and disreputable lack of transfer activity.
“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 £70m to £100m,” the AST said.
“For several transfer windows now, Arsenal have not used all the resources available to strengthen the team.
“A decision on whether to offer an extension to the manager’s contract which ends in May 2014 should only be taken following the closing of the transfer window and the assessment of the team’s performance in the weeks ahead,” the AST statement added.
“Considerable improvement must be shown for us to be convinced this should happen.”
The AST called upon Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, who owns more than 66% of the club, to appoint an independent expert to conduct a review of all football functions at Arsenal.
Since taking over the reins of Arsenal, Wenger has won three league titles and four FA Cups. He led the club to the 2000 Uefa Cup final and the 2006 Uefa Champions League final.
Most notably in the history of Arsenal and Wenger is the record 49 games unbeaten run of 2004.
So far, the Gunners have gone from being a title contender to struggling for a fourth-place finish, tantamount to their difficult start to the 2013/14 season with a Champions League group stage qualifier against Fenerbahce in Istanbul on Wednesday.
They return to face Fulham in a London derby on Saturday before hosting Fenerbahce in the return leg on August 27.