Arsene Wenger not concerned by dwindling support
‘What is in the word ‘supporter’? Support. It says what it says’
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will hope to get back on track with a win over Newcastle United. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he is “not a politician” worrying about popularity in opinion polls and his only concern is “to win football games”.
Wenger continues to see his own position questioned by some Arsenal supporters, and came in for harsh personal criticism following the 3-2 defeat at Stoke last Saturday, when he was jeered by a small group of fans as the players boarded their train back to London.
The 65-year-old French coach, though, accepts that all comes with the territory and will not concern himself over any voices of discontent from the terraces — with another anti-Wenger banner having been confiscated in the away end ahead of the Champions League tie against Galatasaray in Istanbul on Tuesday night, a match the Gunners went on to win 4-1.
Should things not go to plan in Saturday’s late kick-off against Newcastle, there are likely to be more rumblings among the Emirates Stadium faithful.
As ever, though, Wenger will not let that detract him from the job at hand.
“It is not my problem. My problem is to win football games,” Wenger said when asked if he felt the majority of Arsenal fans were still behind him.
“I am not a politician who makes a poll every week to see if you support me. I am paid to win football games. My sense is to focus on my job.
“Honestly you don’t think I will not be able to find 20 people who say that you are rubbish every week? Do they represent the majority of people?
“I don’t know, but you have to win your football games, that’s all.”
Wenger also called on Arsenal fans to remain committed to the cause and seemed to remind them of how far the club had come in his 1,000 games at the helm.
“What is in the word ‘supporter’? Support. It says what it says,” he added. “I don’t expect anything. What I expect is to give my best, and if you will look at the history of Arsenal and what we have achieved in the last 18 years, we have moved forward and that is what we want to continue to do.”
Wenger believes now Arsenal have their Champions League group fixtures completed, an upturn in domestic form can follow.
“People don’t realise that you go away to Turkey on Wednesday night and then to Sunderland on Saturday morning and after you lose the game everybody says ‘what a scandal is that!’, but (let them try to) do it,” he said.
“Look at some teams who qualified surprisingly for the Europa League, they play in the Europa League and the year after they nearly go down.”
Wenger added: “Everybody now is on the same schedule. For example when we lost at Stoke you can say ‘well, you can send a complete reserve team to Galatasaray’, but if you lose again you face a storm so at least you have to go there to have a chance to win the game.”
Arsenal have some defensive problems because of injuries and a one-match suspension for Calum Chambers, so right-back Mathieu Debuchy could be asked to move over to centre-half, the France international having just returned from three months out with an ankle problem.
Laurent Koscielny is hampered by a calf injury, but it is the defender’s on-going troublesome Achilles which is of concern.
“Nobody can guarantee that will not come back and no doctor says to me ‘it is over’,” said Wenger. “You need to give him complete rest for two or three months, but he didn’t rest completely because to find back the strength in the Achilles you have to load it and work on it, so it is not a complete rest.”
Wenger admits the concerns over Koscielny may force his hand to bring in some cover when the January transfer window opens.
“If everybody is fit and available we don’t need to go on the transfer market, but we have to consider that Koscielny could be a question mark with his fitness and we have to go out on the transfer market, yes.”