April 14, 2017 / 10:25 AM / 6 months ago

Wenger focused on team amid reports board split on his future

LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said he was unsure whether there were divisions in the club’s boardroom regarding his future and that he was more focused on salvaging his team’s stuttering Premier League campaign.

Britain Football Soccer - Crystal Palace v Arsenal - Premier League - Selhurst Park - 10/4/17 Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks dejected after the match Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic

Wenger is out of contract at the end of the season and calls for the Frenchman to end his 20-year reign at the north London club grew louder after they suffered their fifth loss in eight league games at Crystal Palace on Monday.

The Arsenal board, according to British media, are split over Wenger’s future after the 3-0 defeat at Selhurst Park left the club sixth in the league, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with a game in hand.

“I don’t know. What happens above in the board is not down to me,” Wenger told reporters on Friday. “I focus on what is important for me (which) is the performance of the team and what the fans are interested in is the performance of the team.”

Wenger, however, believes his relationship with majority shareholder Stan Kroenke remains unchanged.

“I believe our relationship has always been the same, it has not changed,” said Wenger, adding that “nothing has changed” with regard to whether he will extend his contract.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis is pushing for change, including an overhaul of the club’s scouting network and the appointment of a director of football, say British media.

Former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars, currently director of football at Ajax Amsterdam, has been widely tipped for the role but Wenger said he was not aware of the reports.

“No, I am not (aware of the Overmars speculation). I like Marc Overmars. It is always difficult. We spend a lot of time in our society focusing on things that are superficial,” he said.

The Frenchman added that Arsenal face a “massive” challenge to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League.

He said injured defender Laurent Koscielny and keeper Petr Cech have an “80 percent” chance of returning to the squad in time for Monday’s trip to second-bottom Middlesbrough.

Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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