Freddie Ljungberg has called for Arsenal chiefs to move quickly and make a decision over the managerial position as the club’s crisis deepened with a home defeat to Manchester City.
The Gunners legend, 42, took charge in November following the sacking of Unai Emery but has been unable to oversee a turnaround in fortunes, winning just one of his five matches as interim boss.
Sunday’s 3-0 loss at the Emirates Stadium, which was again eerily empty of supporters, saw Arsenal drop to nine in the Premier League table.
The north Londoners have now claimed just one win in their last 12 games in all competitions, and have gone six games without a win at home – their longest run since 1995.
Ljungberg’s position remains unclear as the club continue to plan for a full-time successor to Emery, with Carlo Ancelotti, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira in the running alongside the former Sweden international.
And with the club now as close to the relegation zone as they are to the top four, Ljungberg feels it would be in everyone’s best interest if an appointment were made sooner rather than later.
“I think, as I’ve said to the club, it’s a great, great honour to do this,” he said.
“Of course, Per [Mertesacker] is the academy manager and he’s doing two jobs in one go. I think it needs clearing up to make a decision so that everybody knows.
“That’s something I’ve said. It’s totally up to the club.
“I’m very honoured and trying to do things as well as I can, but I think that it would be good to make a decision regardless of what it is.”
Arsenal were jeered off by their own fans at half-time but by the end of the game there was a pattering of cheers, as anger appeared to turn to apathy with the few supporters who had remained in their seats for the full-time whistle.
“Of course, I’m an Arsenal man and we try everything,” added Ljungberg.
“But at the same time we need to be a little bit realistic. There is a gulf in quality between City, Liverpool and the rest. They showed that.
“But for me, I was actually happy and proud of the fans. In the end, they responded positively to the young players that came on.
“Of course they can see there’s a difference. But I was proud of the fans when they sang in the end and showed that they appreciated the young boys trying.”
One man linked with the job is Arteta, who captained Arsenal during his playing career but is now on the backroom staff at Manchester City.
“I spoke many times,” City boss Pep Guardiola replied when asked about the possibility of Arteta leaving for the top job at Arsenal.
“He is part of our group and an important person, but what will happen I don’t know.”