Arsenal ‘confident’ in Wenger, but no new contract yet
ARSENAL hope Arsene Wenger remains their manager beyond the end of the season, but the London club said on October 24 there was no rush to hold fresh contract talks.
The 67-year-old recently celebrated his 20th anniversary as manager of Arsenal but the Frenchman’s contract is due to expire at the end of this campaign.
Arsenal chair Chips Keswick, questioned about Wenger’s contractual arrangements during Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting, said, “We all recognise the fantastic contribution Arsene has made to the club in the last 20 years.
“We are confident about his ability to take us forward. We will sit down and discuss the future at the appropriate time but our focus is on maintaining the current run and competing for trophies.”
Wenger – linked to the England coaching job – had little to say on his position, other than to assure Arsenal fans he would not still be in charge in another 20 years’ time.
The Gunners boss has been on the receiving end of criticism at previous AGMs, with fans frustrated by Arsenal’s failure to win the Premier League since 2004.
But with Arsenal now level on points with Premier League leaders Manchester City, Wenger received a warm reception from shareholders on Monday.
“Yes, it’s 20 years. I’m sorry!” joked Wenger as he began his remarks to the AGM. “I would like to apologise for every minute I made you suffer in these 20 years – but you don’t look too bad for people who have suffered for 20 years.
“I am sorry for the boy who was born 20 years ago and has only known one manager. I would like to reassure him that when he is 40 he will know a few more.”
On a more serious note, Wenger said Arsenal were now well-placed to challenge for the title.
“Today we are in a much more competitive position to fight for the championship than five or six years ago,” he said. “I believe we have a competitive team in a very competitive league.
“I believe the team has the commitment, togetherness, hunger, desire and unity and we have a good chance to compete for the Premier League.”
– THE Major League Soccer careers of Didier Drogba and Steven Gerrard could end without either man kicking another ball as their teams head into nerve-wracking sudden-death playoff games starting today.
Two of the biggest names of the English Premier League’s golden era, Liverpool icon Gerrard joined Los Angeles Galaxy in 2015 just a few months before Chelsea legend Drogba headed to Montreal Impact.
However, both Gerrard and Drogba’s seasons are hanging by a thread as their respective teams face knockout games this week which could end their campaigns.
The Galaxy face a one-off game against Real Salt Lake at the StubHub Center in Carson today, with Gerrard, on the mend from a recent hamstring injury, far from certain to make the matchday squad.
Drogba’s Montreal teammates, meanwhile, face an awkward trip to face DC United in Washington with the Ivorian striker struggling with a sore back.
Failure of the Galaxy and Montreal to negotiatate their first-round opponents could in all probability spell the end for Gerrard and Drogba.
Gerrard, 36, fueled speculation about his future at the weekend with a social media post interpreted in some quarters as a farewell message to Los Angeles fans.
“Living in Los Angeles and playing for the great Galaxy supporters has been a privilege,” Gerrard wrote. “You have made this place feel like home to me. This city and this club will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you.”
It came as reports in Britain said former England captain Gerrard had held talks with Liverpool about returning to Anfield in a coaching role.
Gerrard, who was in England earlier this month to undergo treatment on his hamstring, trained separately from his Galaxy teammates on October 23 after returning to California.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, meanwhile, is bracing for a tough test against a Salt Lake side his team took four points from in the regular season.
“I think we played them twice this year, beat them at home and had a tie on the road there,” Arena said. “Always a good team. Obviously, a team we’ve seen before in the playoffs. We expect a tough match.”
Drogba, meanwhile, faces an acrimonious end to a career in Montreal that has unravelled rapidly after a successful debut season.
The 38-year-old has scored 21 goals in 32 appearances for Montreal since making his debut for the club in August 2015.
But Drogba’s first full season in the MLS this year has been marked by tension between the player and his club, with the nadir coming on October 16 when the striker refused to be a part of Montreal’s matchday squad after being told he would not be in the starting line-up.
Montreal President Joey Saputo insisted the feud between Drogba and the club had been settled, though it did not prevent MLS from hitting the player with a fine last week for the no-show.
Drogba did not play in the team’s final regular season game – a 3-0 away defeat to the New England Revolution – and has complained of a back problem which prevented him from training last week.
Impact coach Mauro Biello, who rested several first-team players from the defeat to New England, said on October 24 Drogba was still complaining of a sore back, describing the forward’s status as “day to day”. –
Didier Drogba is expected to retire after this season’s playoffs with the Montreal Impact.
Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during the October 22 match between Arsenal and Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium in London.