Nigel Winterburn: Arsene Wenger has become a forgotten man

MONACO, MONACO - FEBRUARY 18: Arsene Wenger winner of the Laureus Lifetime Achievement award speaks at the Winners Press Conference during the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards on February 18, 2019 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Christian Alminana/Getty Images for Laureus)

Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn has begun to doubt whether Arsene Wenger will return to management after nearly nine months out of work.

The Frenchman departed Arsenal at the end of last season following 22 years in charge of the north London club.

Wenger has previously indicated a desire to return to management and has been linked to AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid over the past year.

Despite being linked with all these high-profile roles, however, Wenger remains out of work with doubts beginning to creep in for Winterburn over the 69-year-old’s prospects.

“I’m a little surprised that he’s not back in yet. That puts a little bit of doubt into my mind,” Winterburn told talkSPORT.

Meanwhile, the former England international praised the impact Wenger’s successor Unai Emery has made at Arsenal by restoring the feel-good factor that was missing last season.

The Gunners aren’t faring badly under Emery either as they currently hold fourth-place in the Premier League table and reached the Europa League quarter-finals by producing a spectacular 3-0 comeback win over Rennes in the previous round to progress 4-3 on aggregate.

“We’re in a new era for Arsenal,” said Winterburn.

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“Since Arsenal have moved to the new stadium, they’ve found it very difficult to compete.

“Yeah, they’ve won FA Cups, but in terms of Premier League titles, it’s just non-existent.

“As a club, we’re looking to try and get back among the elite, and I think it’s going to be very difficult for Arsenal to do that.

“Arsenal supporters realise we’ve got a long, long way to go.

“We’re seeing different scenarios with Unai Emery: team selections, formations, substitutions at half-time.

“But the more important thing is it looks like the team are together and there’s a driving force there.

“There’s a good feeling around the stadium which was not there last season.”

PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 13: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal shakes hands with Manager of PSG Unai Emery during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal FC at Parc des Princes on September 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)