Arsene Wenger tells naysayers within the club to get behind Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has told major shareholder Alisher Usmanov and everyone else connected with the club to get behind his Arsenal team if they want to help turn the season around.
The Gunners host Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday night needing a point to make sure of qualification for the knockout stages for what would be a remarkable 15th consecutive season.
However, that comes against the background of a worst start to a campaign for some 30 years after Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United left Arsenal down in eighth place after 12 matches - already 15 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Uzbek oil magnate Usmanov - whose Red & White Holdings Group has just over a 30 per cent stake in the Gunners’ parent company, but not a seat on the board - gave an interview to American broadcaster CNBC in which he questioned the direction of the club.
He suggested Wenger’s mistakes were never properly evaluated, which was standing in the way of them challenging Europe’s other leading sides.
Wenger, now the longest-serving manager in the top flight, has enough experience not to take anything to heart, but believes such public statements and suggestions of crisis talks do little to benefit the team’s progress.
“Do you really think you can do 30 years in my job and not take criticism? If I couldn’t take criticism, I would not still be (here) any more,” said Wenger.
“Everybody has the right to have an opinion, having said that, we have values at this club.
“The first one is when we go through a difficult patch, we show solidarity. That is a very important one.
“The second one is that, when you have something to say to each other, we say it face to face. We don’t need to go to the newspapers.
“I don’t take (Usmanov’s comments) personally at all. It is an opinion that I respect, but when you are from this club, you are from this club. You are in or out, you cannot be both.”
Wenger intends to keep things in perspective, even if he finds his football philosophy constantly up for debate.
“Do you like that everybody says that you are stupid? That is part of it, you learn to cope with it, you believe in what you think is right,” he said.
“I am just frustrated and sad that people who love this club do not get the results they deserve and want.
“The players put so much energy in and don’t get rewarded. That is my biggest concern, the criticism... that is part of it.”
Wenger expects midfielder Jack Wilshere to be “out for a while”, the worst case scenario of which could be three months should the midfielder eventually need surgery on his ankle.
The 22-year-old England international is set to see a specialist after being injured following a sliding challenge by United defender Paddy McNair.
The incident came when Wilshere was driving forwards towards the United box, as he looked to get the Gunners firing again following a first half which they dominated but could not score - the midfielder himself guilty of missing from a one-on-one with goalkeeper David De Gea.
Wenger believes it is such a dynamic style which makes Wilshere more susceptible to impact injuries.
“You see in the big games Jack has the personality, it shows you he is not scared to play, he doesn’t want to lose the ball and is ready to put his body in,” Wenger said.
“You cannot take that out, otherwise he will not be Jack Wilshere any more.”
Wenger added: ‘’I hope it will not be surgery, just in a (protective) boot, but it will be a few weeks.’’
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Published: November 26, 2014 04:00 AM