Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has endured more fan discontent and abuse than most Premier League managers but has adopted a very simple way of dealing with it over the years.
At the helm at Arsenal for two decades, Wenger has seen much change in the Premier League and has experienced the highs of winning and the lows of coming up short.
The problem for the veteran Frenchman, however, is the fact that his side has not won the Premier League title in 12 seasons. Not since the heroics of 2004’s ‘Invincibles’ has Wenger tasted success over his rivals.
Since that incredible, unbeaten season, Arsenal have become known for a perennial springtime slump in form that puts and end to their title ambitions.
While the 66-year-old has delivered three FA Cups and two Community Shields in the years since, fans see the Premier League as the yardstick against which a successful manager should be measured.
As such, with each passing season of disappointment, the #WengerOut movement swells in numbers. A growing percentage of loyal Gooners have had their fill of the Frenchman and are more than happy to make their feelings known, both in the stands and via social media.
When asked recently how he deals with such public criticism and abuse, Wenger had a very simple response.
Wenger on the immature ones who hold banners against him. Absolutely wonderful human. pic.twitter.com/wdbzbzPAPi
— Arsenal FC (@FFArsenal) September 4, 2016
The term, “I’m angry, I’m just disappointed‘, springs to mind.
In another life Mr. Arsène Wenger could have been a school teacher or an accountant. He has the reserve and appearance of a scholar and the frugal tendencies of a ‘bean counter’.
His response to his detractors is typical Wenger – reserved, intelligent, thoughtful – and it has a way of reflecting unsavory fan sentiment back on themselves.
Fan frustration is justified in some regards. With a squad as strong as Wenger’s, it would certainly have been expected to have had more Premier League success over the years.
Yes, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City have been the powerhouses of the last decade, however, with Arsenal in contention at Christmas and always finishing the season strongly, it is the inexplicable loss of form each new year that has driven fans to the brink of mutiny.
As Wenger begins his twentieth and possibly, final season in charge at the Emirates, optimism is high once again.
Having solved the defensive crisis that befell the squad during the preseason and with all his internationals back and available, the future does appear, on paper at least, to be full of opportunity.
Perhaps this is the year that Wenger can finally put it all together and secure that elusive fourth Premier League title.
In doing he would salvage and restore a legacy that has been eroded by a decade of disappointment and defeat and see him regarded as one of the Premier League’s true greats.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena