Martin Keown believes in Arsene Wenger
Thursday 02 June 2011
Martin Keown retains total faith in Arsene Wenger even though he accepts it may need "radical surgery" to turn Arsenal into title contenders one again.
After appearing to be in the championship hunt for much of the season, the Gunners collapsed following their shock Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham at the end of February.
In the end, they could not even secure automatic entry into next season's Champions League and will have to enter August's qualifying round in order to reach the final 32.
It also means six years without a trophy for the Gunners, leaving many supporters distinctly underwhelmed by Wenger and a minor percentage demanding change.
Keown is not one of those who believe getting rid of the Frenchman would be a wise move.
However, while visiting the Millbrook testing plant of England sponsors Vauxhall, the former Arsenal title winner accepted the heat is on.
"The manager will come under pressure now but no more than the pressure he puts himself under," said Keown.
"The season didn't end on a high note for Arsenal but I am very confident in Arsene Wenger.
"There could be radical surgery to try and improve the team and bring extra bodies in.
"I hope he is able to find the right ingredients because it just needs a bit more steel, competitiveness and experience.
"The results have to change. When they get themselves into a position of winning again, they have to make it count."
It has been suggested that in placing the emphasis on a silky passing game, Wenger has forgotten the steel that made his team title winners in the past.
Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell and Keown himself all collected the ultimate prize.
Yet none would be regarded as shrinking violets when the scrap was at its most ferocious.
However, Keown, who won nine major honours with Arsenal and was a key member of their 2002 double-winning squad, refutes the claim Wenger has forgotten those days, instead believing he has adapted to a changing game.
"It is almost disrespectful to say that," he said.
"Arsene was the guy who embraced us. He would understand the value of having that combative type of player in the team.
"Arsenal have gone away from being physical but the game has become more technical.
"The average height at Barcelona must be about 5ft 8in. They have tiny players.
"Maybe they have tried to copy Barcelona but trying to emulate them is very difficult."
Keown believes much will depend on Cesc Fabregas.
Whilst he does not want to see the brilliant midfielder leave, Keown does feel that any possible Fabregas departure would force Wenger to make big changes that otherwise may not happen.
"I would like them to return to their own qualities," he said.
"They need to be more ruthless in certain areas.
"To me, it hinges on Fabregas. If Fabregas stays it might be more of the same in terms of the system.
"If he goes, it would inject a lot of money into the club and you would then see a lot of activity."
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