Arsenal players were “concerned” that Arsene Wenger could walk away from the club over the summer, admits Alex Iwobi.
Having faced intense criticism throughout the 2016-17 campaign, including regular protests against his reign, the French coach reached the end of the season with his future very much up in the air.
His contract was expiring and questions were being asked of his ongoing suitably to a role that he had filled for over 20 years.
Wenger eventually signed a new two-year deal on the back of another FA Cup triumph, and Iwobi was among those relieved to see fresh terms agreed.
The 21-year-old forward, who was handed his big break by Wenger after graduating out of Arsenal’s academy system, told the Evening Standard: “We were all concerned [that he might leave] because nobody knew what was happening.
“For me, as a player, he is someone who has given me an opportunity and had faith in me, so I was a bit worried because who knows who would have come in or if the next manager would have liked me? I was grateful he stayed.
“But you never know. Another manager might come in and I’d be captain!”
Iwobi has been handed another five outings by Wenger this season, with the Gunners having faced further tough questions after stumbling out of the blocks.
The best possible response has been offered to those detractors, with Arsenal currently on a five-match unbeaten run.
Iwobi added: “Especially after the [4-0] loss against Liverpool in August, we had a lot of critics saying, ‘Arsenal are going to throw it away again’.
“But we have bounced back, we were able to put in some good performances.
“Everyone wanted to prove to the world what we are capable of doing — and there is no better way of doing that than against the champions at their home ground.
“At the end of the day, there could be injuries which come left, right and centre, so you might be chucked in to play a Premier League game or on the Thursday in the Europa League. No matter the situation, you have to be ready for it.”
Arsenal are next in action on Thursday when they face BATE in the Europa League, before heading into the international break on the back of a Premier League home date with Brighton on Sunday.