London, April 21: Former Arsenal star Ian Wright has suggested Arsene Wenger was forced to announce his decision to leave the club. The Gunners released a statement on Friday in which Wenger stated his intention to step down at the end of the season, despite having a year remaining on his contract.
The Frenchman has resisted repeated calls for him to resign from disgruntled sections of the club's fanbase in recent years, Wenger ignoring their dissatisfaction to sign a two-year extension in May 2017.
And Wright, who won the Premier League title under Wenger in 1997-98, suspects the 68-year-old's hand has been forced amid concerns about the team's form behind the scenes at Emirates Stadium.
"Arsene Wenger is a man of principle, honesty and integrity – that is why I am convinced he has been sacked and not resigned," he wrote in a column for The Sun.
"For all the vitriol and abuse thrown at him, Arsene has never been a man to walk out before the end of a contract.
"It is a sad situation that it's come to this and I don't suppose we will ever find out who is responsible, because they will hide behind each other.
"One day he is doing a press conference with no hint of this, the next he's gone. It doesn't add up.
"But Arsene can go with his head high. That's why, whatever the results, it is imperative he gets the send-off a true Arsenal and football legend deserves. We all owe him so much."
Thank you for everything pic.twitter.com/FT5rDt5Hzt— Patrick Vieira (@OfficialVieira) April 20, 2018
Meanwhile, Patrick Vieira is flattered to be named among the potential candidates to succeed Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but claims he is happy at New York City.
The 41-year-old, speaking to New York radio station WNYE, offered a cautious response to the speculation.
"I spent nine years at Arsenal, which makes the club really special for me," he said.
"But that is not enough to coach the team.
"I am always flattered to hear my name linked with different football clubs. That is good for your ego but at the same time, I am happy here.
"We will see what will happen in the next couple of years."