The long-serving Frenchman is to step down at the end of the season and has taken the opportunity to condemn those who have made his job difficult
Arsene Wenger has condemned “hurtful” Arsenal fans over a perceived lack of unity during a testing period for him and the club.
The long-serving Frenchman has confirmed that he will be stepping down in the summer after 22 years in charge of the Gunners.
His reign has delivered many highs, including three Premier League titles, but has also seen him face criticism from disgruntled supporters.
There was no full house at Emirates Stadium on Sunday against West Ham to pay homage to an outgoing icon, and Wenger has taken the opportunity to hit out at those who have made his job untenable at times.
He told reporters following a 4-1 victory over the Hammers: “I was not tired. I believe that this club is respected all over the world, much more than in England. Our fans didn’t give the image of unity I want at the club. That was hurtful.”
Wenger faced protests against his ongoing presence throughout the 2016-17 season, with that campaign taken from the streets to the sky on occasion.
He was, however, to oversee a seventh FA Cup triumph of his tenure and earn a two-year contract extension.
That agreement will not be honoured, with the 68-year-old now preparing to step aside and bring the curtain down on an era which will live long in the memory.
His career has drawn obvious comparisons with former rival Sir Alex Ferguson, a man he shared many touchline battles with as Arsenal and Manchester United wrestled for domestic dominance.
But, while a legendary Scot moved from the dugout to a directorial post at Old Trafford, Wenger is preparing to sever all ties with the Gunners.
He added: “Ferguson it was different. He’s still at the club. He stayed at Manchester United… Honestly I cannot tell you much more, I don’t want you to come back to me in six months and say ‘you lied to us’. I know I did that a few times.”
Wenger maintains that he will never “completely leave” Arsenal, given the role they have played in his professional career, but he has already stated that he will not be retiring this summer.
For now, he is looking to make the most of the time he has left at the Emirates, with the Gunners still chasing down Europa League glory.
The securing of major silverware would provide a fitting ending to a memorable spell in north London, with Wenger having already seen glowing tributes paid to him from across the world of sport.
“I’m touched by all the praise I’ve got from English football… I know that I will not get that anymore in my life,” he said.
“I don’t need to die anymore. Apart from a little sense of humour I would like to thank everybody who has been a bit nice to me. I certainly got more praise than I deserved. And maybe more criticism.”
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