Under-fire Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger “couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag”, according to club legend Tony Adams.
The Frenchman has faced some uncomfortable questions this season, with a once-loyal fan base turning on their long-serving manager.
Having previously boasted a faultless record regarding Champions League qualification, inconsistency in 2016-17 has left the Gunners fifth in the Premier League table heading into the final round of fixtures.
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They can still sneak into the top four, while also lifting the FA Cup, but Adams believes that deficiencies he could have helped to solve have ended up costing Wenger and his side.
In his new book SOBER: Football. My Story. My Life, which is being serialised in The Sun, the former Arsenal captain said: “Arsene is so dominant that he was probably not going to like it if I said, ‘We’re conceding bad goals, I’m going to take the back four today and organise them’.
“Because Arsene is essentially not a coach — and that is the second reason why I believe he didn’t want me. Back in the day I said in an interview coaching wasn’t Arsene’s strong point.
“Actually in the original draft, I said he couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag. And though I modified that in the final article, it didn’t go down well.
“It all left me feeling that I would never get a chance in any capacity while Arsene was there.”
Adams is disappointed to have seen his regular offers to join the coaching staff down the years ignored, with Arsenal having found themselves on a slippery slope since losing the English core to their defensive unit.
He added: “Arsene was absolutely the best man for Arsenal when he had his English defence and more exotic overseas attacking talent.
“He was also the perfect manager to keep Arsenal competitive with the big-money clubs during the transition from Highbury to the Emirates. But I do believe, after the departures of Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell in 2006, a lot was lost and never recaptured.
“The replacement defenders have simply not been up to the same standard as what went before, because they have not been taught the art of defending properly.
“I have seen players like Gael Clichy, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Gibbs coming to Arsenal and not progressing as they might have — and Per Mertesacker exposed because of a lack of protection.”
Wenger chose not to respond to the criticism during his press conference on Friday, offering only: "I do not give too much importance to what Tony Adams says, honestly."
Arsenal head into the final round of Premier League fixtures sat one point adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool, with the Reds at home to Middlesbrough while the Gunners welcome Everton to north London.