Disgruntled Arsenal fans have stoked up the pressure on their under-fire manager Arsène 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 the young French forward Yaya Sanogo the only addition of the close season so far despite the board’s assurances the club had money to spend and could compete financially with the elite.
Fans called for investment throughout the disappointing 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 Arsène 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 on Sunday.
“The failings we highlighted in Arsène 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, told reporters after Saturday’s defeat that he and his team “work 24 hours a day” to try to identify new recruits and that they analyse “every single player in the world”.
Arsenal were heavily linked with the Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuaín before he moved to Napoli, the Brazil midfielder Luiz Gustavo, who went to VfL Wolfsburg, while Liverpool have so far rejected all advances for Luis Suárez.
Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham, who all have board members assisting on deals, have invested heavily, with the transfer window closing on 2 September.
“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 assessment of the team’s performance in the weeks ahead,” said AST.
Wenger’s plans to recruit are hampered by the busy start to the season, with Arsenal away to the Turkish side Fenerbahce in the first leg of their Champions League play-off on Wednesday.
They then face a Premier League London derby at Fulham on Saturday before hosting Fenerbahce in the second leg on 27 August in a bid to once again reach the lucrative group stages.
Should results not go his way, Wenger could face more heat from the home crowd.