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.”