Arsenal board back under-fire Wenger
Club '100 per cent' behind beleaguered manager and confident of signings before window shuts
Arsène Wenger has been given the full backing of Arsenal's majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, and the club's board in the aftermath of his team's crushing 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday.
For the first time in Wenger's 15 years in charge of Arsenal there have been serious questions raised outside the club about the viability of his long-term project, especially in the light of a summer of player trading that has left Wenger cash-rich, but light in terms of experienced, top-level players following the departures of both Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas.
Last night the club were close to announcing the £6m signing of the Fenerbahce left-back Andre Santos, 28, who has 22 caps for the Brazil national team. They are also expected to complete the signing of South Korean striker Park Chu-young from Monaco . An inquiry has been made to Chelsea for Yossi Benayoun.
Yesterday a source at the club said that there was no question of Wenger's position being unstable in spite of Sunday's defeat to Manchester United, which leaves the club with one point from their first three games. A source close to the club board said yesterday: "The club is 100 per cent behind Arsène. The guy has given us 15 years of unprecedented success and that is not going to change. It is not even an issue.
"Everyone is right behind him from Stan [who owns 63 per cent of the club] to Ivan [Gazidis, the club's American chief executive] and we are working hard to bring some players in before the end of the [transfer] window [tomorrow]. We have a strong squad and we believe that we are in a good place, we just need a few more in between now and our next game. There will not be any knee-jerk reactions and that comes right from the very top."
The club are aware that Park, who is 26 and is also wanted by Lille , is obliged to do two years' national service with the South Korean armed forces. While the rules stipulate that it has to be done before the age of 28, it is Arsenal's understanding that Park will be able to give the club three seasons before having to complete his service.
The arrival of Santos has also precipitated the sale of left-back Armand Traoré, who played in the defeat on Sunday, to Queens Park Rangers.
There is also still interest from Arsenal in Bolton centre-half Gary Cahill and the Sochaux midfielder Marvin Martin, a France international. Given that Arsenal have been drawn in the same Champions League group as Marseilles , their proposed loan move for the Argentine midfielder Lucho Gonzalez, who plays for the French club, would appear to be a non-starter. They retain an interest in Yann M'Vila of Rennes , although the €20m (£17.7m) asking price is the key problem.
Arsenal announced yesterday that as compensation for the scale of Sunday's defeat the club were prepared to cover the cost of a ticket for another away game this season for those 3,000 fans in the away section at Old Trafford on Sunday. The club added: 'Sunday's result was obviously disappointing for everyone connected with the club. Our travelling fans were magnificent throughout and we want to recognise their fantastic support. We will be writing to them shortly with the details.'
Arsenal fans have been crying out for a top signing at the Emirates ... step forward the South Korean captain Park Chu-young. If that doesn't set Gooner pulses racing the fact that he has to return home for two years of national service by 2013, should.
There's hope though: United's Park Ji-sung was exempted from national service for being part of the side which reached the 2002 World Cup semi-finals. Maybe if the new boy inspires Arsenal to a league title...?
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