Arsene Wenger has a message for all of the haters out there: I’m fed up with your criticism.
Wenger, 66, has come under scrutiny again recently with Arsenal failing to win any of their last four games in all competitions at a pivotal time of the season.
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The Gunners face Hull in an FA Cup fifth round replay on Tuesday and despite the north London side favorite to advance and to win a third-straight FA Cup title, Wenger hat to bat away questions regarding his future in a press conference.
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With no Premier League title in the past 10 years and only one UEFA Champions League final appearances (they list 2-1 to Barcelona in 2006) under his belt, many critics believe Wenger hasn’t achieved what he should have at the Emirates Stadium.
“Look, I have worked here for 19, 20 years and I’m always sitting here having to justify that I’m good enough to do the job,” Wenger said. “I have no problem to cope with everything but I find that a bit boring in the end. I always have to convince you that I am good enough. I worked for 35 years at the top level.
“What I find just boring is always sitting here after 19 years to face, ‘Do you think you are good enough?’ If I am not, somebody will tell me.”
This season the criticism from Arsenal’s fans seems more profound than it has in the past.
Over the last few years a growing tide of unease has been sweeping towards Wenger but in truth their PL title contenders were very strong and although Arsenal weren’t genuine contenders, they didn’t have the squad or resources to challenge properly. This season it’s different.
You have to remember one thing before criticizing Wenger: his ability to churn out entertaining soccer each and every season, while guarantying a top four finish each campaign, is remarkable. And for many years he had to do it while selling his best players in Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie as the club balanced the books when moving to the Emirates Stadium from Highbury. Of course, all of that gets forgotten in the here and the now. And you can’t argue with Arsenal fans saying this should be their season to win the title as the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea crumble around them.
It can still be Arsenal’s year. With nine games to go, they sit eight points behind Leicester City and have a lot of ground to make up but, on paper, they can still win the title and the FA Cup but trailing Barcelona 2-0 after the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 encounter, it’s safe to say their chances of advancing in Europe are slim to none.
At the end of this season Wenger will rightly be judged harsher than ever before if he doesn’t deliver the PL title. He has won three in his career, but the longest tenured manager in Europe may finally be coming to the end of his tenure at Arsenal. Not winning the PL this season, with the likes of Petr Cech, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in fine form for most of the campaign, would be a failure.
It’s unlikely he will every be pushed out but Wenger may have to decide if he will retire gracefully, or move on to another project besides Arsenal.
Even if he’s bored of the criticism, he can’t say it’s not growing by the day.