It's hard to know what to make of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger this season.
Calls for the manager's head reached a crescendo last campaign and the distribution of a new two year contract spread a gloomy sense of acceptance. Ivan Gazidis even admitted this summer that they looked for alternative coaches but nobody suited quite like Wenger.
Defeats early in the season to Stoke City and Liverpool set an uncomfortable tone to 2017-18 before a promising run after the international break was halted by a gut-wrenching loss to Watford.
And while poor results have seen the WengerOut hashtag make a comeback on Twitter, the majority of the criticism has now been elevated to the big guns and board members.
In light of the simmering discontent, Stan Kroenke sought to explain the situation in greater depth as part of a rare interview with the Mirror's John Cross this week.
The majority shareholder explained: “Arsene is strong, he’s focused and I think he showed through all that.
“We always evaluate, and it’s fair to look at all the factors involved. But when you make decisions like that, you are weighing lots of different factors, but you hope that you weigh them correctly and come out with the right decision. I think we did.
"It’s easy to change coaches and people do it all the time. But the hardest thing is to replicate success and remain competitive.
“You have to approach it with clear-headedness, calmness, thinking for the long term rather than the short-term. An easy answer is it's easy to do something. It’s harder not to do something.
“We have a lot of respect for Arsene — we are not going to be pushy about things. I think he treated us with respect as well and always has.
“We feel really strongly about Arsene.”
One man who wasn't happy with Kroenke's comments proved a certain Ian Wright. Arsenal's second all-time top scorer is one of the more outspoken pundits in the business and has been increasingly agitated with his adopted club.
The Englishman took to Twitter after the release of the interview and didn't hold back, check it out:
Kroenke's comments certainly appeared formulaic but yes Ian, that's one way to put it. Cross replied to the tweet, trying to throw water on the situation somewhat.
Despite a solid start to the season, it goes to show that Arsenal are always two or three results from a difficult spell. If they can play as they did at Everton every week, though, there shouldn't be too many problems.
Where do you think Arsenal will finish in the Premier League this season? Have your say in the comments section below.
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