Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is used to receiving a lot of criticism and hate but this season has seen the Arsenal fans completely turn on him after yet another disappointing spell. Arsenal are currently sixth in the Premier League table and could miss out on qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since Wenger took over.
It is still unclear if Wenger will extend his stay at Arsenal beyond this season and while all the blame for Arsenal's torrid season is falling on the Frenchman's head, Arsenal's second largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, has come out in support of him.
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While most of Arsenal's fans have been calling for Wenger's blood with another protest expected at tonight's away game against Crystal Palace, Usmanov said he wanted Wenger to have a say in who will replace him whenever he decides to leave the club.
Despite owning 30.05% of the club, Usmanov has no say in club's decisions as he is not part of the board and said the failure to challenge for the title this season is down to the board and the main shareholder Stan Kroenke.
"I do not think that the coach alone is to be blamed for what is happening. Some continuity is needed. This includes the need to prepare a successor for Wenger, but in a very respectful way. I can suggest that Wenger himself can prepare a successor. I personally, unfortunately, am fully isolated from decision making in the club. All the responsibility for the fate of the club rests with the main shareholder," Bloomberg quoted Usmanov as saying.
The Arsenal faithful have been demanding Kroenke's removal from the Arsenal board. The American business man keeps a low-profile and is unlikely to react to Usmanov's comments.
Kroenke, who also owns the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche, the Colorado Rapids and the Los Angeles Rams, said in March last year that he did not buy Arsenal to win trophies. He said he bought Arsenal from a business point of view. If the owner himself is not ambitious, then matters can't be helped.
Arsenal managed to get their season back on track with a convincing 3-0 win over West Ham last weekend. They need to back that up with another win over Crystal Palace if they want to keep their Champions League hopes alive and the fans happy for now.