Arsène Wenger is safe, say Arsenal amid fears over manager's health

Arsène Wenger is safe, say Arsenal amid fears over manager's healthArsène Wenger has been reassured that he retains the full support of the Arsenal owner, Stan Kroenke, and the board of directors as he fights to complete new signings before Wednesday's transfer deadline and lift the club from its crisis.

The mood remained flat and sober after Sunday's 8-2 Premier League humbling at Manchester United, which has intensified the pressure on Wenger. There continues to be concern at the club for the Frenchman's health, given the levels of stress that he is under, while he also faces the question about whether he has anything more to give.

Kroenke has said nothing in public since he became Arsenal's majority shareholder and he did not want to go on the record with a vote of confidence for Wenger in case it might be misconstrued. The same was true of Ivan Gazidis, the club's chief executive, who is in daily contact with Wenger as they work towards making the signings that would serve as a tonic.

But an Arsenal source said: "The club is very much behind Arsène Wenger from Stan Kroenke to the board, downwards and sideways. There is absolutely no suggestion of any conversations about his future. We are right behind the manager who has led us to such great success for 15 years."

Arsenal have been keen to stress that they do not take hasty decisions on the back of a couple of results. In the previous league game Wenger's team had slumped to a 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool. Wenger has faced crises before and has come through them, although there is little argument that he is in the throes of his most trying period.

The target in the coming days is to strengthen a squad who have come to look thin after a spate of departures, chief among them Cesc Fábregas and Samir Nasri, and a run of injuries and suspensions.

Wenger has sanctioned the transfer of Armand Traoré to Queens Park Rangers, despite his only other recognised left-back, Kieran Gibbs, being out with a hamstring injury and having a questionable fitness record. However, reports from Turkey claimed Arsenal had agreed a £6m deal for the Fenerbahce left-back Andre Santos subject to a medical. The 28-year-old Brazilian has been capped 22 times for his country and has valuable Champions League experience.

Wenger has also said he wants a central defender with Premier League experience and he has moved for Everton's Phil Jagielka and Bolton Wanderers' Gary Cahill among others. Everton's £20m valuation on Jagielka appears to be prohibitive for Wenger.

There is a stronger possibility that he will close a deal for Cahill, despite sparking an argument with Bolton last week over his opening offer of £6m rising to £10m on performance-related goals. Wanderers described that as "derisory".

Gazidis has made it clear that Wenger had a "substantial" transfer budget and that was before they raised £59m through the sales of Fábregas and Nasri. But the knowledge that Wenger has so many millions at his disposal has brought its own problems, with rival clubs demanding inflated fees.

Wenger has offered £22m to Rennes for the France holding midfielder Yann M'Vila but the French club have told him he must pay £30m, which looks to have scuppered any deal.

Arsenal have also declared an interest in the Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun. In attack, where Wenger has said that he needs another body, Arsenal are poised to announce the £1.8m capture from Monaco of Park Chu-young, the 26-year-old South Korea captain. The fee will rise with add-ons, one of which is dependent on Park being excused his national service. Every Korean must serve for two years before they are 28. Park has completed his medical at Arsenal but he has travelled back to Korea for the international break.

Arsenal will make the gesture to their supporters who travelled to Old Trafford of covering the cost of a ticket to a Premier League away game, by way of an apology for the performance.

"Sunday's result was obviously disappointing for everyone connected with the club," they said in a statement. "Our travelling fans were magnificent throughout and we want to recognise their fantastic support. We will be writing to them shortly with the details."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner, for The Guardian on Tuesday 30th August 2011 00.47 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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