Charlie Nicholas calls on Arsenal board to lead from the front

08 June 2017 11:54

Charlie Nicholas claims there is a lack of leadership in the Arsenal boardroom that needs to be addressed if the club are to challenge for silverware next season.

The former Arsenal forward hailed Arsene Wenger as a "genius" after the Frenchman signed a new two-year contract at the Emirates Stadium. But Nicholas wants to see the manager bring in at least three marquee signings.

Wenger only penned his new deal last week after months of speculation - conceding the uncertainty over his decision had played a part in Arsenal finishing outside the Premier League top four.

A run of seven defeats in 12 games, including a 10-2 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, saw some fans call on Wenger to leave at the end of the campaign when his contract was due to expire.

But the 67-year-old slowly turned the tide and ended the season with a record seventh FA Cup winners' medal as Arsenal became the competition's most successful club with a 13th success.

After it was announced Wenger would be staying on, he along with chief executive Ivan Gazidis and American majority shareholder Stan Kroenke spoke about challenging for a first league title since 2004.

But Nicholas, who represented the Gunners between 1983 and 1988, told Press Association Sport things need to change at boardroom level if Wenger is to deliver any trophies.

"I think giving Arsene a new deal puts a lot of pressure on the board," Nicholas said.

"I have no problem with him staying, he is still a genius in my opinion, but he has been struggling and has been too loyal to too many players.

"The real problem is the board have shown no leadership. It is all okay to say Kroenke won't sell to (minority shareholder) Alisher Usmanov and isn't interested in further investment but the facts are there is no leadership at boardroom level.

"It is fine to sit in America and stay out of the firing line as Wenger takes all the hits and occasionally Gazidis takes a hit.

"The pressure is probably bigger now for the board than anyone else - a lot of the anger that is coming from the supporters is delivered to Arsene but is directed to the board and the owner.

"A lot of people will accept that Arsene has finally decided to sign the contract, he is there for two years, but this is gigantic for the board now. They must show they are in control in case Arsene does step aside."

Nicholas, taking part in Jeff Stelling's March for Men charity walk, pointed to the fact that both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have just over a year to run on their current deals at Arsenal as proof that the board need to act.

"Kroenke rarely has meetings with fans but Gazidis takes the hit in front of the trusts and tells them there is going to be change and technical directors and Wenger just says 'not in my lifetime' - it shows weakness," Nicholas said.

"Arsenal fans are fed up with that. They never replaced (former vice-chairman) David Dein and what you have now is people who don't understand the anger of the fans.

"These gentlemen have to realise that if you fail in your job and your duties you don't belong there either so they need to be under scrutiny for this."

Arsenal will be looking to bring in new recruits this summer.

Sead Kolasinac will join on a free transfer when his Schalke contract expires at the end of the month but Nicholas believes three key areas need strengthening with top talent.

"Arsene needs three signings in my opinion," Nicholas said.

"He needs another big-name centre-back, someone like Raphael Varane. He has spent big money so I'm not critical that he isn't prepared to do that.

"We need a proper number nine and another central midfield player - that may be a surprise because we have so many but a lot of them are not good enough.

"He needs to add players into this team to challenge for the title, a backbone for the team, that is the requirement.

"Fair enough they may have got a cracking deal with Kolasinac but we don't know if we are a back-three or a back-four team, it is a scattergun approach at the moment."

:: Prostate Cancer UK's Glasgow 'March for Men' will take place in Pollok Country Park on Sunday June 18 (Father's Day).

:: To find out more, visit www.marchformen.org

Source: PA


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