Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he feels wounded when supporters question his ability to lead the Gunners to success.
A nine-year trophy drought between 2005 and 2014 left many questioning whether Wenger remained the right man to lead Arsenal forward, but the club has since won back to back FA Cups and go into the current international break level at the top of the Premier League table with Manchester City following Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham.
Wenger has confessed to being wounded by the extreme reactions and hinted that Arsenal fans have been spoilt under his leadership.
Asked whether there was anything that had left him “sore”, he told L’Equipe’s Sport and Style Magazine it was: “To be, after every single defeat, despite the consistency that we have put into our work at the highest level, questioned about everything that has been done; the ‘Everything down the pan’ reaction.
“A balance must be found between your masochistic capacity to put up with what you are forced to endure and your delight in accomplishment.
“Expectations have become much more important.
“The philosophical definition of happiness is when what you want and what you have align. And what you want changes as soon as you have it — always more, always better, to the point where it becomes difficult to satisfy.
“An Arsenal fan, when you finish fourth, will tell you, ‘Hey, for 20 years now we have been in the top four. We want to win the league!’ They don’t care that Manchester City or Chelsea have invested 300 or 400 million Euros. They just want to beat them.
“But if you finish fifteenth for two years, they will be happy if you finish fourth after that.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Wenger admitted his finest achievement in his career was to have earned his legendary status after arriving in English football in October 1996 as an unknown.
He said: “To have arrived in London facing such great scepticism. My first championship title, my first Double. From ‘Arsene who?’ to he who became a pioneer — the first non-British manager to succeed in England.”
Wenger also hit out at the critics who deride him for sticking to his principles of playing in a certain way while other managers focus on winning at all costs.
The 66-year-old went on: “I have often been treated as naive in such an instance.
“In every case, there is only one way in which one can live their life – to conform to the values that you feel are important. If I did not respect them, I would be unhappy.
“Whatever the case, I have always been a man who was committed to the cause, with my good and bad sides.”