Monday 23 April 2018

Arsene Wenger: I would have to be God to satisfy Arsenal fans

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Reuters / Hannah McKay
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger Reuters / Hannah McKay

Nick Callow

Arsenal’s support is among the most demanding in the country, and Arsène Wenger believes he would have to be God to satisfy them.

The Frenchman may be many things, but a deity he is not – even if he has grown used to living with heightened expectations during his 20 years in North London.

If Arsenal beat Watford today it will take them back to Wembley and just two games away from a record third consecutive FA Cup Final triumph, but a support that is close to mutiny is once again turning on its manager; a state of affairs he has grown used to.

“We have to live with exaggerations and I can do that. I honestly never believed that I was God and I’m absolutely completely conscious of that,” said Wenger.

“But what can I do? It is a perception of other people. It is judgment. Judgments create belief. Is it right or wrong? I don’t know. But I do know I can only make sure of one thing – I am completely committed to perform and I do my best to make sure this club does well. After that it is not down to me to judge if it is down to me or not.”

The logical next question is whether winning another FA Cup would be enough for Arsenal’s support to regroup behind their manager once again. The suspicion is that it will not be if it is coupled with the death of their title challenge and a Champions League exit to Barcelona, which is likely to be confirmed on Wednesday.

No manager has won more than Wenger’s six FA Cups, but even he knows the fan base wants more.

“Will winning the Cup be enough? Look, it’s never enough,” a relaxed looking Wenger said. “As long as you don’t win everything it’s never enough. When we didn’t win anything they said, 'You didn’t even win the FA Cup’. People always wants more, which is normal and it’s what we want as well.

“I have not created humans. That is God, if he exists. He didn’t make us perfect so we have to live with that. Even in paradise, Adam was not happy! We are on Earth here so I can understand that people are very demanding.”

Wenger looked calm, assured and smiled through most of his pre-match interviews, insisting it is “exciting” weeks such as this one which keep him motivated.

The Arsenal manager, who said that England midfielder Jack Wilshere was running strongly on Friday after missing the season to date, said he would approach the tasks ahead without fear.

“The real pressure is playing games without importance. That is terrible when you are at a big club. OK, we’re playing a big game on Sunday. The pressure would be if we were not playing the big game on Sunday.”

Watford, and in particular their goalkeeper, Costel Pantilimon, will not lack for motivation, however. The Romanian played in every round of Manchester City’s run to the FA Cup Final in 2013 only to be dropped in favour of Joe Hart – and now he wants a return trip to Wembley.

“Sometimes the manager has to make some decisions, it is not like I was happy about it, but everywhere I have been I have respected the manager.

“It was a tough moment. Now is a different step for me and I am happy to be here.”

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