Thursday 14 December 2017

Frustrated Gunners boss Arsene Wenger hits out at 'boring' criticism

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger's patience snapped yesterday amid "boring" repeated questioning both of his future and wider record during almost two decades as Arsenal manager.

Arsenal face Hull City tonight in an FA Cup fifth-round replay and Wenger's deep irritation at recent criticism boiled over in an exchange with journalists.

"I worked for 35 years at the top level," said Wenger. "What I find just boring is always sitting here after 19 years to face, 'Do you think you are good enough?' I don't know. I am humble enough every day to question myself, to accept my mistakes - and believe me, I do that.

"After that, as well, there is no coincidence that the people who own the club tell me to be here for 19 years. Do you think they are more stupid than you or me?

"I always have to convince you that I am good enough. I have no problem to cope with everything but I find that a bit boring."

Arsenal were booed by manyangry and frustrated fans after the 2-1 defeat by Swansea City last Wednesday and Wenger was asked if the attitude of supporters would influence whether he extended a contract that expires next year.

"You are the guy who speaks to the fans - it's not me," said Wenger. "I am not on Twitter. I don't invite anybody to go out to dinner and be nice with them. I work and work and work and work. If it's not good enough someone will tell me one day. That's all I can do.

"I do not worry what you or fans say about me. I try to do my job in a proper way and with full commitment. After that everybody has the right to have an opinion. You do not make a decision if I continue my job or not."

Earlier in the press conference, Wenger was also asked whether he had ever felt under more pressure during his tenure as manager.

"I have always the same pressure, the pressure I apply to myself is always the same," he said. "After that, more people talk than 20 years ago, there are more opinions but the pressure comes from your desire to win games.

"That's the only one that matters really. Opinions are opinions. I do my job - some day someone will replace me - and someone will replace you. That's part of life. I always try to do my best so, when I leave the club, the guy coming in after me will have a good potential to work."

Wenger was appointed Arsenal manager in 1996 and, as well as three Premier League titles and an all-time record six FA Cups, has steered the club through the delicate process of funding a new £390m stadium while also always qualifying for the Champions League.

The frustration of fans, however, stems from the wait since 2004 to win a domestic title and the sense the same on-field mistakes are repeatedly made amid Wenger's caution in spending the club's resources. His cash budget for squad investment of around £75m was largely available in the past two transfer windows when Wenger's only senior signings were Petr Cech and Mohamed Elneny.

While the club hope that he will continue beyond the expiry of his contract, his longer term future will not be decided until this summer and perhaps not even until next year. Whether Wenger himself would want to continue if Arsenal cannot maintain a Premier League title challenge either this year or next is questionable and, in the shorter term, he is concerned the "relentless" pressure of fans could impact on the players' confidence.

"I feel privileged to have the confidence of the club for a long time but, on the other hand, I work seven days a week with full commitment," said Wenger. "I feel it is privilege to work at a club of that stature for such a long time." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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