With Arsene Wenger facing more calls to vacate his role as Arsenal manager at the end of the season, as more protests are planned ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup clash with Lincoln, his former captain, Patrick Vieira, has come out in his defence.
Speaking to Sky Sports (via the Daily Star), Vieira has called for the players to take their share of the blame for the rut the club appears to be in.
“I know Arsene and I know he’s not the type of person that will just throw the towel in and walk out of this situation.
“He will fight for it because he’s proud and he will give everything like he’s been doing for the football club.
“It’s true people have been putting a lot of doubt on Arsene’s capability of managing the team, coaching the team but I think when you get to some of the situation, you have to as well look at the players.
“In some of the situation the players have been letting Arsene down a lot. Of course coaches have responsibility but players have responsibility as well.”
Fans protested ahead of this week’s Champions League last 16 second leg game with Bayern Munich, calling for Wenger to step aside with the Frenchman’s contract due to come to an end this summer, citing the need to progress with many fans not happy to settle for a top four place each season.
The 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern, resulting in Arsenal’s seventh straight last 16 exit in the Champions League, only means the calls will grow louder for the 67-year-old to exit the club.
However, Vieira, who was part of the ‘Invincibles’ team that last won the league for Arsenal, with Wenger in 2004, has called on the players to stand up and be counted and fight for their manager and shoulder some of the responsibility.
“You can work all the week about the approach you want to have for the game, but when players are on the field, they are the ones who have to fight, they are the ones who have to put their foot in, they’re the one who has to jump, they’re the one who has to compete.
“If you don’t do it then it will be a problem. Yes, we can talk about Arsene and talk about things, but I think it’s important for players to take responsibility and look in the mirror as well.”
Damien McEvoy, Pundit Arena