By Amir Mir
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has stated that Arsene Wenger’s long-term commitment to the club is the reason why they continue to back him as manager.
The highly-criticised manager has failed to win a league trophy since 2004, which has seen protests against the Frenchman and the club, most recently last season when they finished as runners-up to surprise winners Leicester City.
Wenger is entering the final year of his Arsenal contract, but Gazidis explained why they back their man.
“I don’t have a nostalgia for [Wenger], and the board doesn’t have a nostalgia for Arsene,” said Gazidis as quoted by ESPN. “That’s not why we believe in him. This isn’t a football club that looks backwards. This is a club that looks forwards and is always, always pushing the boundaries of how we can progress.
“That’s why we built the new stadium. That’s why originally we hired Arsene Wenger and that’s why we’re keeping him engaged and involved in the project that we’ve embarked on.”
Arsenal supporters held a protest during the 12th-minute in their home Premier League fixture against Norwich last season where they called for change amid continued frustration at their longest serving manager.
The protest did not materialise the way it had been planned, but there was some common ground between the fans and Gazidis – the frustrations everyone holds at the club as they continue to fall short.
“Our fan base is frustrated that we didn’t win last season. We’re frustrated that we didn’t win last season,” said Gazidis.
“I am. Stan Kroenke as our owner is. Arsene is. Nobody is more frustrated than he is; disappointed that we didn’t finish on top because that’s our goal.”
The 66-year-old has failed to go past the round of 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League in the last six years, but Gazidis believes, despite the continued pressure, that Wenger is still the man for the job.
“What I see is a manager who is deeply committed to this football club, devoted to it, continues to think about the long term.” said Gazidis.
The three-time Premier League winner joined the Gunners in 1996 and will celebrate his 20th anniversary at the club in October.
He has presided over three Premier League titles, including the famous 2003/04 Invincibles victory, and six FA Cups, two of which were won in the last three years.
The London club recently signed highly-rated midfielder Granit Xhaka from German side Borussia Monchengladbach for a fee of £35 million and Gazidis pointed out his qualities in attracting the best players to the Emirates.
“Arsene is highly intelligent; very, very devoted to the club,” said Gazidis. “He lives and breathes football. He’s massively respected by his players. He’s a big reason why players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez want to come to Arsenal Football Club.
“And he’s a manager who remains at the forefront of thinking in all kinds of areas around the game; his involvement with analytics, with psychology, with what we’re doing on fitness.”
As the new Premier League season draws closer, Wenger will be preparing for a highly anticipated opening home fixture against Liverpool on August 14.
In other Arsenal team news, the club’s controversial former left-back has backed his former manager to take up the England post.