Keown shows support for Wenger

After appearing to be in the championship hunt for much of the
season, the Gunners collapsed following their shock Carling Cup
final defeat to Birmingham at the end of February. In the end, they
could not even secure automatic entry into next season’s Champions
League and will have to enter August’s qualifying round in order to
reach the final 32. It also means six years without a trophy for
the Gunners, leaving many supporters distinctly underwhelmed by
Wenger and a minor percentage demanding change. Keown is not one of
those who believe getting rid of the Frenchman would be a wise
move. However, while visiting the Millbrook testing plant of
England sponsors Vauxhall, the former Arsenal title winner accepted
the heat is on. “The manager will come under pressure now but no
more than the pressure he puts himself under,” said Keown. “The
season didn’t end on a high note for Arsenal but I am very
confident in Arsene Wenger. “There could be radical surgery to try
and improve the team and bring extra bodies in. “I hope he is able
to find the right ingredients because it just needs a bit more
steel, competitiveness and experience. “The results have to change.
When they get themselves into a position of winning again, they
have to make it count.” It has been suggested that in placing the
emphasis on a silky passing game, Wenger has forgotten the steel
that made his team title winners in the past. Tony Adams, Patrick
Vieira, Sol Campbell and Keown himself all collected the ultimate
prize. Yet none would be regarded as shrinking violets when the
scrap was at its most ferocious. However, Keown, who won nine major
honours with Arsenal and was a key member of their 2002
double-winning squad, refutes the claim Wenger has forgotten those
days, instead believing he has adapted to a changing game. “It is
almost disrespectful to say that,” he said. “Arsene was the guy who
embraced us. He would understand the value of having that combative
type of player in the team. “Arsenal have gone away from being
physical but the game has become more technical. “The average
height at Barcelona must be about 5ft 8in. They have tiny players.
“Maybe they have tried to copy Barcelona but trying to emulate them
is very difficult.” Keown believes much will depend on Cesc
Fabregas. Whilst he does not want to see the brilliant midfielder
leave, Keown does feel that any possible Fabregas departure would
force Wenger to make big changes that otherwise may not happen. “I
would like them to return to their own qualities,” he said. “They
need to be more ruthless in certain areas. “To me, it hinges on
Fabregas. If Fabregas stays it might be more of the same in terms
of the system. “If he goes, it would inject a lot of money into the
club and you would then see a lot of activity.”