Arsene Wenger used a press conference today to vent his fury over a story concerning his future which he described as containing “wrong information”.
A report in The Sun suggested the Arsenal manager was on the verge of signing a new two-year contract extension.
When the issue came up at the press conference to preview tomorrow's Champions League tie against Bayern Munich, Wenger took the opportunity to set the record straight.
"That is the wrong information. I think I have worked for 16 years in England and I think I deserve a bit more credit than wrong information, which have one intention which is to harm," said the Frenchman.
"If it is good information it's alright, but this is the wrong information."
Staring at a journalist in the press conference, Wenger said: "I look at you not because you give information, I do not know if it is you.
"This is a pre-match conference for the Champions League. If we can get some questions about the game that would be very nice."
The Evening Standard reported today that Wenger's future as Arsenal manager beyond 2014 remains uncertain with all parties keen to postpone talks over an extension until the end of the season.
The Gunners’ hierarchy have no desire to sack the 63-year-old despite growing unrest among the club’s supporters after Saturday’s shock FA Cup fifth-round defeat at home to Blackburn.
Wenger feels it is important to "take a distance" from Saturday's disappointment, where a scrappy goal from former Arsenal trainee Colin Kazim-Richards inflicted a first FA Cup defeat by lower-league opposition on his side.
He said: "We have to analyse the game. We lost to a team who had one shot at goal, it is not like we have not touched the ball in the Blackburn game.
"Football is about skill, intelligence and some things as well are a bit unpredictable."
Wenger stressed his team must take no notice of the negative headlines and broken cannon motifs if they are to progress over two legs against the Bundesliga giants.
"We know well what is going on here. What is important is to forget what people say and focus on our strengths," he said.
"We play for Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions league, we have qualified for a long, long time.
"What is important is not what people say it is what happens on the pitch.
"We live in a democracy of experts and opinions, but we have to live with that and cope with that and show we have the mental strength to deal with any opinion. There are a lot of experts who are not necessarily always right."
Wenger added: "There is a lot of superficial analysis. We have to accept we take the blame for going out (of the FA Cup), but you have to put things into perspective.
"You have to really analyse it, just because one guy says one thing, everybody has to go the same way."
Wenger’s current contract expires at the end of next season and he has so far remained coy when repeatedly asked about what he will do thereafter, merely restating his claim to have “honoured every contract I have ever signed”.
It therefore remains unlikely that Wenger will leave the club this summer despite planned protests by fans and regardless of whether Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in his 16-year tenure.
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis told Standard Sport in September that the club were happy to extend Wenger’s contract but talks were yet to be held and that position has not changed.
Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and Gazidis remain staunch supporters of Wenger’s philosophy, believing their policy of self-sustainability will finally reap dividends this summer.
It will arguably be the most pivotal transfer window in the club’s history with the board prepared to back Wenger to the tune of £70million as a new Emirates shirt-sponsorship deal kicks in.
The payment structure of that deal was front-loaded, meaning Arsenal can expect a £30m windfall from that tie-up alone this summer. The Gunners have cash reserves of around £150m but after deductions for contingency planning — including a season without Champions League football — and running costs, Arsenal still have around £40m available to spend on players. Wenger has had to operate with restraint in the transfer market while the club paid for the move to Emirates Stadium but that £70m figure is the product of their business model coming to fruition. It would make little sense for Wenger to walk away now with the hard yards already undertaken but the team have fallen into an alarming slump while Arsenal have waited for football’s financial restraints to kick in.
Supporters have been asked to foot the bill through spiralling ticket prices, prompting ire when that money is not reinvested in a team that has not won a major honour for eight years. Fanzine The Gooner have called on Wenger to go and want supporters to protest eight minutes into games to mark their silverware drought. Each time another trophy disappears from view — especially in such galling circumstances as last weekend, with a weakened team at home to a Championship club — it reinforces fans’ views that they are pouring money into a black hole.
Arsenal will publish their latest half-yearly accounts within the next two weeks and they are expected to turn a profit only because of player sales. The club’s running costs are around break-even due to the fourth highest wage bill in the Premier League, underlining the need for the their commercial and marketing arms to generate greater revenue to strengthen their position.
This is not Wenger’s fault, but a failing of Gazidis, chief commercial officer Tom Fox and Kroenke. Yet Wenger has had money to spend and doubts must be cast on the sensibility of that investment. Players such as Andre Santos, Ju-Young Park, Gervinho and Sebastien Squillaci have been failures, with the squad’s lack of depth brutally exposed by a spirited Blackburn side.
Wenger is aware of the need to strengthen and after Barcelona refused to countenance David Villa’s departure last month, Arsenal opted to keep their cash ready for a summer splurge.
Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue and Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina have all been repeatedly scouted and represent the calibre of player Wenger believes can restore Arsenal to former glories.
Tomorrow night’s Champions League last-16 first-leg clash against Bayern Munich threatens to highlight just how far Arsenal have fallen behind Europe’s elite. Yet it remains within the Gunners’ ability to beat the Bundesliga leaders and take a lead to the Allianz Arena.
Wenger will be under enormous pressure to deliver but regardless of what happens against Bayern, this summer will be a defining one for all parties.
- More about:
- ACF Fiorentina
- Bayern Munich
- Blackburn Rovers
- David Villa
- Fc Barcelona
- FC Bayern
- Premier League
- UEFA Champions League