Arsene Wenger said this morning that Arsenal supporters were being “manipulated” into opposing him, blamed the “very difficult climate” at the Emirates for the team’s struggles and urged them to be more like Liverpool fans instead.
When Arsenal face Norwich City tomorrow there will be unprecedented fan protests at the Emirates, after another season in which the club has failed to challenge for the Premier League or Champions League titles. Wenger said that the “very difficult climate” at the Emirates was responsible for the faltering of Arsenal’s title challenge, insisting that the club’s away form would make them champions.
While Wenger admitted that he was himself “very frustrated” by the fading of Arsenal’s season, he said that disappointment “cannot go too far”, and said that the negative atmosphere at home games had cost Arsenal the title this year.
“When a club cannot enjoy anything anymore, it’s in trouble,” Wenger said at his press conference this morning. “We have to stick together. We lost the championship at home against the lower teams, but we played at home in a very difficult climate. We have to realise that, away from home, we are championship winners. At home, against the smaller teams, we lost the league.”
Arsenal have taken 30 points from away league games so far this season. Tottenham have taken 33 and Leicester 37.
The climate at the Emirates will be more difficult than ever before tomorrow, with a planned protest against Wenger and owner Stan Kroenke to mark the club’s twelfth straight season without winning the Premier League. Wenger said that coordinated protests had been stirred up and told his supporters to look to the example of Liverpool fans, who were more behind the team.
“Liverpool are a good example to follow,” Wenger said. “They’re a big club. We are a very big club. I can understand the frustration of our fans. But, despite that, they want to support our team. The best chance they can give our team is to be behind our team. Some groups of people try to manipulate our fans, and I believe apart from an agenda, a personal agenda, a big ego, there’s not a lot behind it.”
Only by supporting the team, Wenger said, could the fans hope to see more success in the future. “This club does have special values though and one I’ve experienced over the years is to stick together and support the team,” he said. “There’s no success without that.”
After another unsuccessful season Arsenal have come in for more criticism but Wenger tried to turn the tables on the pundits by saying they had not shown the same traits identified as lacking in his team.
“This team has character and attitude,” Wenger said. “Some people question them. I know them well, and they have less character than this team have. I saw them play and I know them very closely, and they shouldn’t question this team’s character.”