Wenger: Protests by Arsenal fans ‘hurtful’
Arsene Wenger said he wasn’t tired of managing Arsenal but quit over “hurtful” fan protests calling for his exit that were damaging to the English soccer club’s image.
“I do not want to make stupid headlines. I am not resentful with the fans,” the 68-year-old Frenchman said after a 4-1 victory over West Ham in the Premier League, facing the media for the first time since Friday’s announcement that he’s stepping down after 22 years.
“I just feel that if my personality is in the way of what I think our club is, for me that is more important.”
Wenger’s methods delivered on the pitch — and helped to attract a global fan base — with Arsenal winning the Premier League in 1998, 2002 and the 2004 unbeaten “Invincibles” season. But they haven’t won it since and face their lowest finish under Wenger, having slipped to sixth in the standings.
With Arsenal out of the top four in the league, winning the Europa League is the only realistic path into the Champions League, and the final in Lyon can provide Wenger with the perfect send-off.
“Our fans were not happy. I can understand that,” Wenger said. “I travel a lot and this club is respected all over the world, and that’s down to work. It’s down to the way we play football, the way we behave and the way we treat people. So I want that to go on and be respected and give the image that I think is right. Even though there’s a lot of money in the game, more than the results is the way a club is perceived.”
Wenger has yet to say whether he will manage another team.
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