Arsene Wenger reveals how supporters abuse him for not splashing too much money on signings like other top clubs and says he feels the club belongs to him.
He has always been accused by frustrated Arsenal fans of treating the club’s money as if it is his own property.
The much-debated view received a boost this summer also as the fans discovered Arsenal was the only European club in top five leagues not to buy a single outfield player.
Now surprisingly for the first time in recent years Arsene Wenger admits the charge may be true and also gave an unexpected insight into the pain he suffers when his work raises questions at the Emirates Stadium.
The French manager revealed: “I’ll give myself merit for one thing: I’ve always treated Arsenal as if it belonged to me. I have sometimes been criticised for it — because I am not enough of a spender, not carefree enough.
“I credit myself for having had the courage to apply my ideas and fight for them. Aside from that, I can understand why people might not agree. My great pride will be to be able to say the day that I leave, that I am leaving behind a good team, a healthy situation and a club capable of performing in the future.
“I could have said to myself: ‘I am here for four or five years, we win everything’, [then] I leave and leave the club on the verge of bankruptcy. For me, consistency at the highest level is the true sign of great clubs.”
The Gunners are right now joint-top of the Premier League ahead of the international break.
Arsenal have never finished outside the top four since Wenger’s arrival to Emirates 19 years ago. It’s a wonderful record which the veteran French continues to takes great pride in. But he hangs on a knife-edge, as he is praised well to celebrate any victory and mercilessly criticized by the Gunners supporters while defeated.
Wenger also revealed he feels somewhat wounded by the extreme reactions from the supporters. Asked if there was any incident which had made him “sore”, he said to L’Equipe’s Sport and Style Magazine: “To be, after every single defeat, despite the consistency that we have put into our work at the highest level, questioned about everything that has been done; the ‘Everything down the pan’ reaction.
“A balance must be found between your masochistic capacity to put up with what you are forced to endure and your delight in accomplishment. Expectations have become much more important.
“The philosophical definition of happiness is when what you want and what you have aligning. And what you want changes as soon as you have it — always more, always better, to the point where it becomes difficult to satisfy.
“An Arsenal fan, when you finish fourth, will tell you, ‘Hey, for 20 years now we have been in the top four. We want to win the league!’ They don’t care that Manchester City or Chelsea have invested 300 or 400 million Euros. They just want to beat them.”
Wenger also charged the critics who repeatedly question his principles of playing in his own way when other managers shift all their focus on winning at all costs.
He went on: “I have often been treated as naive in such an instance. In every case, there is only one way in which one can live their life – to conform to the values that you feel are important. If I did not respect them, I would be unhappy.
“Whatever the case, I have always been a man who was committed to the cause, with my good and bad sides.”