(Reuters) - Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has launched a scathing attack on the club’s manager Arsene Wenger, saying he could not make a case for the Frenchman to extend his reign beyond this season.
Arsenal lie 27 points behind leaders Manchester City in sixth position and were beaten 3-0 by Pep Guardiola’s side in Sunday’s League Cup final, leaving the Europa League as their only realistic trophy target following an early FA Cup exit.
Wright, who played 213 games in seven years at Arsenal, says the club were stagnating well before the League Cup final drubbing.
“There are excuses (from Wenger) and he is mollycoddling a team,” Wright told the BBC.
“Whether he stays at the end of this season, I could not make a case. I am not sure anyone can. This development of mediocrity has to be arrested.”
Arsenal last won the league title in 2004 and have not won the Champions League during Wenger’s 22-year reign with the FA Cup and League Cup the club’s only silverware in recent years.
Wright, who retired in 2000, believes Arsenal should change managers as soon as possible as it will take the club years to regain their status as one of Europe’s elite competitors.
“I want Arsenal to challenge again, for them to sign players who will get you excited. I want someone in the boardroom who will lay it down...,” Wright added.
“How long would it take Arsenal to get back? It will take them a few years. Everyone is progressing and moving forward in that top five.
“Arsenal are going the other way... It is a long road.”
The 54-year-old also questioned Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke’s interest in the club after the owners disregarded the fans’ opinions to hand Wenger a new deal at the end of last season.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond