Arsene Wenger has been Arsenal manager for longer than this writer’s been alive. The Frenchman has won Premier League titles, FA Cups, and his side have consistently featured in the Champions League.
His illustrious career at Arsenal is something that managers everywhere are envious of, as he is the longest serving manager in the English league pyramid, by ten years (by sixteen in the top flight).
But it hasn’t always been easy-going for the Arsenal boss.
The ‘Wenger out brigade’ slowly began building as Arsenal struggled through a ten-year trophyless period. And those calls for new blood in management have reached boiling point on several occasions during recent years, when fans have seemingly lost hope for their team.
This season, it seemed as though Wenger may have the last laugh by lifting his fourth Premier League title and silencing those calling for his sacking. But it has exactly gone to plan.
Arsenal currently sit eight points behind surprise leaders Leicester City, with fierce rivals Tottenham sitting between the two in second place.
It’s safe to say that fans aren’t happy, then. And once again the ‘Wenger out’ calls are rearing their head.
But one manager has had his say on the situation, and has some appreciative words for the Frenchman.
Surprisingly, it is Steve Bruce who has made the comments.
Bruce, manager of Arsenal’s next opponent Hull, has condemned the “appalling” criticism of Wenger, taking note of the tough years Arsene has had to endure through.
“From inside the game, you are not going to hear people criticise,” Bruce told Sky Sports.
“When you are a manager as long as he has been, and what he has been able to do at Arsenal, who is anybody to criticise him?”
Bruce was speaking as Hull look forward to facing Arsenal at the KC Stadium tomorrow night, after goalkeeper Eldin Jakupović performed miracles at the Emirates to force a replay.
His comments, then, could be dismissed as mind games, but this seems unlikely for an honest manager of Bruce’s mould. Either way, his praise of Wenger continued:
“He has helped build a fantastic club, he has helped finance it, he has had to sell players,” Bruce said, echoing a sentiment that many use to defend Wenger.
“He has never been able to really compete the way everyone else has at a top club but he has kept them in the [Champions League] for 17, 18 years.”
Finally, Bruce ended with a classy statement that many managers in the game will agree with:
“From me, he will only get one thing, which is respect.”
Perhaps speaking to some sections of the Arsenal fanbase, Bruce went on to say: “I think he deserves a bit more than he gets dished out, considering what he has achieved.”
Whilst some will argue the other way, it is worth taking Bruce’s comments into account. Wenger has been an incredible servant to Arsenal, and even attempts to argue for his dismissal should be done so with respect in mind.
Regardless, Wenger will be fiercely concentrated solely on tomorrow’s game, as he looks to take Arsenal closer to their twelfth FA Cup title, and his seventh.