Arsenal’s second-largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov has backed boss Arsene Wenger, calling him the club’s “main asset”.
Wenger has been in charge of the Gunners since 1996, but has again found his position under scrutiny after going out of both the Champions League and FA Cup, while also off the pace in the Premier League behind north London rivals Tottenham and leaders Leicester.
Usmanov, though, sees no reason to make a change just yet, and the Uzbek metals magnate, who does not hold a seat on the board at the Emirates Stadium, believes Wenger deserves the opportunity to decide when to call it a day.
In an interview with TV channel Rossiya24, Usmanov said: “I have increased my stake in Arsenal to above 30 per cent, and became the second largest shareholder. Arsenal’s results are stable. They are always among the leaders of the English Premier League.
“This is a good and large sports business project, and I am pleased with it. The only thing is that today such situation occurred, like in any sport, there are ups and downs.”
He added: “The club must retain its major symbol and main asset – manager Arsene Wenger. Failures have been haunting Arsenal for many years now, they cannot become the EPL (English Premier League) champions. This has led to some discontent with Wenger’s position as a manager.
“I believe that Arsene Wenger is a great coach, and Arsenal has to give him the opportunity to plan the succession process and leave his legacy when he deems it necessary. It is very important for the football club to maintain the principles that were established by those people who created its victories.
“Arsenal needs Arsene Wenger.”
Arsenal, who have not won the Premier League since 2004, are currently 11 points off top spot, but will host Watford when domestic action resumes on April 2 following a morale-boosting victory at Everton last weekend.