(Reuters) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will take into consideration the views of the club’s divided fan base before deciding whether to extend his 20-year reign at the north London side.
Arsenal supporters staged protests calling for Wenger, who is out of contract at the end of the season, to leave prior to Tuesday’s 5-1 home loss to Bayern Munich, with some even accusing the manager of “killing” the club.
“It will influence. But it won’t be the most important factor,” Wenger told reporters on Thursday when asked if protests would affect the decision on his future.
Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick said fans were entitled to their opinions.
“Arsene has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way,” Keswick told the club’s website.
“We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart.”
Wenger rejected the notion he would be tarnishing his legacy if he prolonged his stay.
“I don’t work for my image, I work for this club. How I look is not really my problem,” he said.
Theo Walcott has urged his team mates to stop fighting amongst themselves after British media reported Alexis Sanchez had a heated verbal exchange with Laurent Koscielny last week after the Chile winger allegedly walked out of a training session.
“I think a lot has been said about that is exaggerated,” Wenger said.
“We can show how united we are. On that front, I don’t worry,” he said, adding: “A lot has been said. We have a good united and determined group. When you go through disappointing results, you have disagreements.”
Criticism of Wenger has grown more vociferous this week after Arsenal crashed out the Champions League in the last-16 for a seventh straight season with a 10-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern.
Wenger gave the strongest sign yet that he could draw the curtains on his Arsenal career when he said he would manage next season, but did not know if it would be “somewhere else”.
A run of three defeats in four Premier League games that has seen the club drop outside the top four has also not helped Wenger’s cause.
Arsenal have the perfect chance to put their painful Champions League exit behind them as they prepare for Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at home to non-league Lincoln City.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)