Arsène Wenger revealed that he has made a decision on his future as Arsenal manager – and will make his decision known “very soon”.
Speaking in the wake of Arsenal’s 3-1 lunchtime defeat at West Bromwich Albion – a match featuring airplane banners both for and against the under-fire Arsenal manager – Wenger confirmed his mind was made was made up about his next step.
He also admitted it would now be “very difficult” for Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League after a fourth defeat in five league games – their worst run since losing four in a row in March 1995 under Stewart Houston.
Wenger said: “I know what I will do in my future, so you will soon know, very soon.
“You will see, today I do not necessarily worry about that [my future], we are in a unique bad patch we never had in 20 years, we lose game after game at the moment and that for me is much more important than my future.”
When asked if he had told anybody about his decision yet, Wenger added: “No, no, no” – and added that there would be no announcement made in the international break.
The result keeps Arsenal adrift of the Champions League places in fifth position and puts another dent in their hopes of a 20th successive qualification for Europe’s elite club competition.
Wenger said: “We have a big fight, I agree with you and it could be very difficult now. Anyway we’ve no other way than fighting and doing it until the last game of the season and if it is not good enough we have to take the consequences. Maybe one day if we don’t do it, people will enjoy it again to be in there.”
Until Wenger confirms his decision, the pressure will only grow. There were chants of “We want Wenger out” from supporters in the away end and banners carrying the same message. Moreover, the way his players capitulated against Albion intensified the questions about their desire to win matches for their manager. “We’re a bit short of confidence but I don’t think it’s an attitude problem,” Wenger said.
He added that he had not seen the planes circling above the Hawthorns – “You focus on your job, no matter what people think” – but offered an explanation for his decision to remove Alexis Sanchez for Alex Iwobi with 12 minutes remaining, a decision which led to a loud cry of “You don’t know what you’re doing” from the Arsenal supporters in the Smethwick End.
Wenger said it was down to the ankle injury the Chilean had suffered in a bad challenge by James McClean in the first period. “It is a bad tackle. You see his ankle, he is in an absolutely terrible state and he should not have played in the second half. He insisted he wanted to come out. In the first half he was the one who created many dangerous situations but in the second half he couldn’t do any more and we had to take him off.”
Wenger, who also confirmed it was a calf injury that forced Petr Cech off in the first period, added that his team’s lack of cutting edge was a concern though he declined to criticise their awful defending for the first and third goals scored by Craig Dawson at two corners. “We had 77 per cent of possession but we didn’t create enough chances. That is first down to the quality of their defending and their hard work physically.
“Our record in defending set pieces is quite good since the start of season, but their deliveries are absolutely great and we were a bit naive on their movement. On the first goal, and the third, they block the keeper so it is not easy for the keeper to intervene in that kind of situation.”