Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick has said a decision over the future of manager Arsene Wenger will be a mutual one and will be “communicated at the right time in the right way”.
The Gunners are in a wretched run of form after losing five of their last seven games in all competitions, with a 5-1 thrashing at home to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night to complete a 10-2 aggregate defeat a new low point.
Wenger’s current contract is up in the summer and the 67-year-old insists he has yet to make up his mind as to whether he will stay or not.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 9, 2017
Around 200 supporters protested for Wenger to leave ahead of the Munich game and another march is planned before Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final clash at home to Lincoln.
But while Keswick acknowledged the discontent of some supporters, he said a knee-jerk decision on Wenger’s future would not be made.
“We are fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate,” he said in a statement released on the club’s official website.
“We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart.
“Arsene has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way.”
Speaking to the media on Thursday morning before Keswick’s statement was released, Wenger admitted the mood of fans will influence whether or not he signs a new deal.
Asked whether the fans’ opinion of him has any impact on the decision, he replied: “Yes. Of course, you consider everything.
“It will not be the most important factor but of course, you consider it.
“It is difficult for me to judge (the protest). I have worked very hard for 20 years to make our fans happy and when you lose the games, I understand they are not happy.
“I do not want to judge that, I am not able to. I live in my daily work with my complete commitment.
“After that, I have said many times that you have to accept different opinions. Look, I don’t work for my image, I work for this club with full commitment.
“I think I’ve shown since I’m here that first of all I love this club, that I’m loyal to this club and that I make the right decisions for this club.
“I will continue to do that. Of course, in respecting the values that I think are vital for me. If I cannot do that, I will not be here.”
Wenger has been criticised not only by a growing number of Arsenal fans but also by former professionals, some of whom played under him in north London.
Ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown said Wenger was “like a watch that has stopped” while former favourite Ian Wright said the manager was “like a lost man” and claimed everything at the club was “imploding”.
But Wenger has found an ally in the shape of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who hailed the former Monaco boss a football great.