Arsenal legend Ray Parlour jumps to defence of Arsene Wenger after 'dictator' slur
Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has rejected suggestions Arsene Wenger runs the club like a dictatorship.
The Frenchman is facing one of the biggest tests of his 16-year tenure this season, with the Gunners having crashed out of the Capital One Cup at npower League Two Bradford after a penalty shoot-out on Tuesday night and struggling for consistency in the Barclays Premier League.
Stewart Robson - who came through the Arsenal youth system and played at Highbury from 1981 to 1986 - branded Wenger "a dictator in many ways" and claimed that there was a growing rift between the manager and his assistant Steve Bould.
Parlour was part of Wenger's squad which won the Premier League and FA Cup three times before joining Middlesbrough in 2004, and believes his former boss was always approachable.
"Stewart Robson has got his own opinions, but I played under Arsene Wenger and thought he was a great manager when I was there," Parlour told Sky Sports News.
"He was always one of those managers you could talk to.
"Arsene Wenger is one of those sort of guys who will always try to stick up for his players.
"We would have meetings after games and it would all come out in the dressing room, which (is how) it should be. It is a private matter between the players, the manager and the staff.
"It was quite embarrassing to lose to Bradford, there is no doubting that, but I think he is one of those guys who does criticise people behind the scenes instead of in the press."
Earlier this month, Wenger hit out at "superficial information" after reports Bould had led a heated dressing room inquest in the wake of the 2-0 home defeat by Swansea.
Rumours of problems with their relationship, however, continue, with Bould said to have become a marginalised figure at the club's Hertfordshire training base.
Parlour sees no reason why the duo cannot work well together.
"Steve Bould was a real character in that dressing room area, he's one of those sort of players that points a finger at people if you weren't doing your jobs, and I'm sure he's not changed," said Parlour.
"People will speculate very quickly about training bust-ups and whatever, but whenever I've been there Steve Bould's been next to Arsene Wenger and they've been as good as gold.
"But if that is the case that is a problem, of course."
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.