Belgian Defender Admits ‘Sadness’ at Arsenal Struggles But Backs Wenger to Retain Manager’s Job

?Thomas Vermaelen has admitted that it’s been ‘sad’ to see Arsenal perform below their expectation levels over the past few seasons.

The ex-Gunners defender sat down for an exclusive interview with the ?Guardian to chat about life at Barcelona and his old Premier League side.

Arsenal failed to qualify for this season’s Champions League after a run of two decades in the competition under veteran gaffer Arsene Wenger, and have only won the FA Cup since their ‘Invincibles’ team secured their last top flight title all the way back in the 2003/04 campaign.

Arsenal v Everton - Premier League

Vermaelen was asked what he made of the current north London outfit, but the Belgium international was at a loss to explain why Wenger and his men had not pushed on recently respite their decent dealings in the transfer market.

He said: “I don’t know (why they can’t step up). It’s sad to see them struggling. Arsenal is such a beautiful club; I think a lot of people in England like Arsenal: they have a beautiful stadium and just thinking about how well they played the game…

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“I’m sure if they knew the reason, they’d do something about it. I always say: ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ I don’t know what’s going on now but the club still has that capacity to be a club fighting for the title again.”

Wenger has faced calls to leave his post at the Emirates Stadium over the past 12 months by sections of a disgruntled Arsenal fanbase, but stayed on and penned a new two-year deal with the club last summer.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League

The Frenchman had to dismiss suggestions that he would walk away from Arsenal at the end of this term due to the pressure on him, and Vermaelen agreed that allowing the 67-year-old to depart would not be in the Gunners’ best interests.

He added: “Sacking the manager is not always the solution. What Mr Wenger has done for the club is amazing. I think he is still the man to go forward. He has the experience and he is a man of the club.”

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