Speaking to Sky Sports News, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger commented on the heat he’s been getting from the fans and pundits.
“It’s not the person they hate, they hate the manager who doesn’t deliver the performance. I can make that difference.”
Looking at his time at the club, there are plenty of reasons for the fans to still have huge respect for Wenger. Since his arrival in 1996, he has created or developed players like Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Kolo Toure, Gilberto Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, and many others. And if anyone think that’s not enough, they should be reminded that he’s also won three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven FA Community Shields, coupled with overseeing a whole season without a league defeat and reaching a Champions League final. An impressive career indeed, and his legacy will be huge, not only at Arsenal, but in the whole of English football.
On the other hand, the fans of this club have the right to expect the success to continue, and the deterioration of their support for the Arsene Wenger of today is quite understandable. Therefore, his words make perfect sense – the pressure that he feels right now is not a reflection of his overall managerial qualities, but rather of the state the team is in at the moment.
They missed out on the Champions League this season for the first time since the start of the century, and look set to miss out again. They’re currently sitting sixth in the Premier League, 13 points off their most hated rivals Tottenham Hotspur in fourth. The most realistic hope for them to save the season would be to win the Europa League, where they’ve beaten AC Milan away in the first leg of the round of 16 on Thursday. They can now be backed at 1/14 to qualify for the next round.
Wenger also told Sky Sports News that he has a very good relationship with his former rival Sir Alex Ferguson who occasionally sends him messages of support, especially in moments he deems difficult for the Frenchman.