Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has conceded that jeers from the club’s supporters has hurt him but he remains defiant about the job that he is doing.
The Frenchman has seen the club’s season fall apart in recent weeks, with elimination from the Champions League and FA Cup coupled with slipping 11 points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City, albeit with a game in hand.
With the results failing to arrive on the pitch, it has unsurprisingly led to discontent in the stands, with signs suggesting that fans want a change on the bench in the summer.
Wenger has questioned the timing of the protests against him as he expects supporters to continue to back the players, particularly given their impressive recent league results in picking up a draw at Tottenham with 10 men before beating Everton away.
“What hurts me is that at the important moment of the season we played in a sceptical environment,” Wenger told reporters, as noted by ESPN FC.
“I think after the Tottenham game where we played a very good game with 10 men against 11 and came back to 2-2, I couldn’t understand why — at the moment when you need everyone behind the team — we had to hit that storm.
“From the media, OK. From our fans? It is a bit more difficult to take. I never complain about critics, especially when they are turned against me. But we have to get the fans behind us with our attitude, and make sure that they stand behind the team until the end of the season.”
While he still has a year remaining on his current contract with the club, there have been calls from supporters and some former players that the time to step aside has now perhaps arrived.
However, Wenger went on to defend his record of building the club up without significant resources being used, and appears intent on continuing to lead the Gunners forward at least for one more season.
Given the struggles of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City this season though, many expected Wenger and Arsenal to emerge as the pace-setters in the league. That hasn’t materialised and in turn it has led to deserved criticism, something he has escaped to an extent in previous years.
Nevertheless, Wenger still deserves plenty of respect to go with it, and provided that his players continue to deliver results, the fans should back them in the title race run-in and save their anger and frustration for the end of the season when a full assessment can be made.