Hull City boss Steve Bruce has described the continued criticism of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger as “appalling” ahead of the club’s FA Cup tie.
Bruce will cross swords with Wenger in the FA Cup for the fourth time in three seasons at the KC Stadium on Tuesday night in a fifth-round replay following the recent goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger last delivered the Premier League title in 2004, but Bruce does not believe criticism of the Frenchman is warranted.
“From inside the game you’re not going to hear people criticising him because when you’re in management as long as he’s been and what he’s achieved, who is anyone to criticise him?” Bruce said.
“I find it appalling that they can. He’s helped build a fantastic club, he’s helped finance it by selling players, he’s never been able to really compete at the top level like others at a top club have, but he’s kept them in the top four for 17 or 18 years.
“So for me he would only get one thing and that is respect.”
Bruce, whose side lost 3-2 to Arsenal in the 2014 final and were beaten 2-0 at the Emirates in the third round last season, feels Wenger is one of English football’s best-ever managers.
“He has to be great to manage a club like Arsenal for 20-odd years. It’s a blame culture now. Managers get the sack after 12 weeks.
“So somebody whose managed Arsenal for 20-odd years, you have to give them the greatest respect because he keeps responding.
“I don’t know why we’re questioning him. He’s been one of the great managers that this country has seen.”
Bruce, who has a fully-fit squad to choose from, will continue to prioritise the Championship as the Tigers are currently third in the table, four points behind leaders Burnley with a game in hand.
He made 10 changes to his side for the initial tie last month and confirmed he will rotate his squad again on Tuesday with his team having embarked on a run of five games in 16 days when they lost 1-0 at Birmingham last Thursday.
“We’re in a very good position where I’ve got 21 outfield players and every one of them is fit, which is going to help us over the next eight to 10 weeks,” he said.
“Some of the squad are desperate to play. People like (Shaun) Maloney and Nick Powell in particular. It can only do them good, so in that respect we will be making changes.”
Bruce feels an extended run in the competition can help his side’s promotion push.
“There’s nothing like a cup run,” he added. “We’ve got Watford in a quarter-final here on Saturday if we get through.
“It can only be a good thing. The league is our priority, there’s no question about that, but let’s go and enjoy the cup tie and make a real good fist of it.”