Kenny Cunningham's not buying all of the mood music around Wenger at Arsenal

Ex-Ireland defender feels a change will occur but believes Wenger remains hugely respected within the game

BY Raf Diallo 19:51 Wednesday 8 March 2017, 19:51 8 Mar 2017

A fan with a 'Wenger Out' sign after the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, Second Leg match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture by Nick Potts PA Wire/PA Images

Kenny Cunningham believes Arsene Wenger's stature within the game won't be massively diminished despite some of the criticism coming the Arsenal manager's way.

A 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last-16 has increased the talk from pundits that Wenger's time at Arsenal should draw to a close, as well as the fact that another Premier League title challenge has ended prematurely. 

"I think he has a huge reputation abroad. I don't think people realise within the UK or Ireland how highly regarded he is in football circles," said the former Ireland defender on Off The Ball, also pointing out that Arsenal have a tendency at the end of seasons when they invariably get themselves into the Top Four.

"He could bounce into the Barcelona job. If he let it be known that he was interested in the Barcelona job, he would be under serious consideration. Any club job, he'd be in the frame. I think he's regarded that highly."  

And as speculation grows that the players have stopped responding to his methods on the field, Cunningham doesn't sense that to be accurate. 

"I don't buy into the 'players aren't trying for him'. I don't think it's a case of 'we want this man out'. I never get that impression when I listen to the players speak. Obviously Sanchez is the exception," said Cunningham.  

He has been unimpressed by Sanchez's attitude when throwing up his arms at team-mates in frustration on the pitch, adding: "I don't think he's carried himself very well. Some of his behaviour has been a disgrace in the last couple of months".

Cunningham also put the focus on the other players who he feels should be worried if Wenger does end up leaving.

"A number of those players owe their careers to Arsene Wenger. Half of those players shouldn't be at the football club. They've actually gone stale. He's over-indulged players for far too long at that club. So those players should have put a stint in for Arsene Wenger because if he leaves the club in the summer and a new manager comes in, half of those players are on their way out," he said.  

And while signs of progress have been scant since Arsenal's golden period under Wenger, Cunningham feels context is key when judging the last decade under the manager.

"You have to qualify that in terms of what his spending power has been during that period. He hasn't been able to spend the money - the type of money Manchester City and Chelsea have been investing in their squads for the past 5-10 years," he said, although he agrees that Wenger's recent transfer policy has been "questionable".

And ultimately he does feel that "it is time for a change but not just the manager" and that an overhaul of the squad is required by whoever the successor is.


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