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'The team needs fans of the club' says Wenger

'The team needs fans of the club' says Wenger

Wenger is one of the few managers who will regularly make himself available to the press in both his lengthy pre-match and post match press conferences. He will usually answer any question no matter how provocative with good grace and some humour. Few managers are as open and available as he is.

This couldn`t have been the best time to face a question and answer session from shareholders as he did on Thursday of this week. Not that all were shareholders. Some would have attended by proxy. I remember the last such session last summer when Wenger dealt with a number of questions, most of which were good entertaining if predictable stuff but with the occasional banal, trite contribution. One questioner at the time asked why Ronaldo was able to score 40+ goals from the right wing whereas Eboue hadn`t scored any. You can`t help but wonder why such people are even interested in the game of football.

But at least last season had some mitigation in our league position. We had gone out of the cups relatively early so the disappointment of losing two semi-finals wasn`t as fresh as it was in the minds of those attending this year`s session. By all accounts some attending this year felt their entitlement to give vent to their frustrations didn`t need to consider the normal courtesies of such an assembly. I guess any forum for debating football is going to have its share of malcontents and the disaffected and seemingly this was no exception.

As Silvestre was described as a 'geriatric`, Adebayor and Eboue slated for diving, a suggestion that Adebayor should be sold was cheered, the team accused of lacking fight and backbone and the ability of Diaby and Song questioned, much of that negativity behind the questions would have been familiar to Arsene.

He defended the team and his management of it obviously but he will have been aware that those most discontented will not have been satisfied that he doesn`t see their thoughts as the incontrovertible 'truth` that they do. Still it didn`t stop him from sharing his own opinion with them.

Apparently astonished at the language used by one shareholder to make his point about Silvestre he told him "I cannot accept what you say about our players. Are you a shareholder? I cannot accept that you speak about the players of your club like that. I don't agree with the terms you use." Defending Adebayor, while claiming he is part of his plans for the future, he said "All the big clubs wanted him last summer and it will be the same again this summer." Improving the team is relatively easy to do from many fans perspective. Change the squad every year until you find something that works would be the conventional thought but less easy in reality according to Wenger "No matter how much money you have ... the number of players available who make a difference is not as big as people imagine," he said. Responding to the accusation that the team lacks spirit he claimed "It is easy to sit in the stand and say that they are not up for the fight," as he continued "What they have done in this season in a negative environment shows what they can do."

It's that 'negative environment` this season that he feels has not helped in maximising our performance. "We have had negative vibes and manipulation around the team. It is very hard work to keep the confidence and energy demands because we had to support the team against the odds."

At the bottom though he is sure that the policy and philosophy of the club is the right one as he pointed to the less visible achievement of Arsenal being pretty unique in maintaining a relatively high standard while building a new stadium. Such small achievements though are lost on many.

It is fair that supporters and shareholders get the opportunity to air their grievances as personally as the club allows. That the fans make their criticisms felt in an era where football has purposely converted supporters into customers and consumers is inevitable as their sense of entitlement grows accordingly. Whether the criticism is wholly justified or not is less important than the fact that Wenger is one of the few, maybe even the only manager that is prepared to face his critics as openly as he does. But they shouldn`t expect any sycophantic acceptance of their wisdom. His is no sugar coated palliative exercise to calm the savage breast.

Pointing out that not all the fans are the same "There is a massive difference between the away fans, who are absolutely fantastic, and the home ones" he told the audience "But what this team needs is people who are fans of the club."

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Date:Friday May 15 2009
Time: 1:09AM


He also said something like dont judge us now, judge us after 2 years. Earlier on this season when we went through a bad patch he said dont judge me now, judge me at the end of the season. People now have the right to judge him, and although some of the shareholders/those in attendance put things bluntly alot of what they said is true. Calling Silvestre Gerriatric, the guy is not exactly mobile and not a step forward from having Senderos last year. He said we need a CB and swapped one average CB for another slower one. Wenger said the league rewards divers yet Eboue & Adebayor have both dived on more than one occasion this season. I question the quality of Diaby, and im sure most if not all fans do too. 1 good game every 5 or so. And if the right money was offered for Adebayor then we should take it. His workrate and attitude has been below par and to put it down to how the fans have treated him? He has to expect that after flirting with Barcelona & Milan one day, commited to Arsenal the next, the whole not having a phone for 3 weeks while in togo. Fans may be fickle but not stupid and that behaviour from soemone who was saved from the reserve bench at Monaco is unacceptable.
15/05/2009 01:43:00
Surely it's up to Adebayor to prove his critics wrong on the pitch! Not moan to Le Boss, that the bad fans are making him play badly that's Rubbish! Adebayor needs to look at himself for where the problem is, how many time this season has he been off-side? how many headers has he won against the other team's defenders? how many times has he held players off to laid on the ball for his team mates? May be if he spended less time Smiling and actual playing like winning meant something to him! Us fans would be less likely to get on his back! After all he put the Fans through last pre-season, he owned Us Big TIME!!!!!
15/05/2009 06:18:00
Wenger - never in my life have i seen such a stubborn man so set in his ways..the thing is, he can almost convert you. But the bottomline is that its quite unacceptable to have no trophies to show in 4-5yrs...I dont think he wants to change this team much...with a buy like Silvestre and a midfield or Diaby/Song/Denilson..and attacker like Ade (maye RVP) we are going to be be playingt catch-up against Chelski/Manu nxt season again..the man is sooo damn frustrating. brilliantly frustrating...
15/05/2009 08:51:00
Ownz - bang on post mate, bravo. Amos you say that they're customers now, but not allowed to express discontent at the product they're paying for? Your slant on this article is slightly 'aloof' to say the least.
15/05/2009 08:55:00
I dont know who Wenger is more concerned about...the fans or the players...who exactly is his allegiance to??? the thing is that he knows how secure his job any other big team he would have been sacked..he would have sat up and paid more attention to winning. And we can only tolerate his because he saves the board a lot of money right??
15/05/2009 08:56:00
"But what this team needs is people who are fans of the club." ---sorry mate that is utter rubbish..its like believing the the infallibility of the coach. "stick with me...i know the way", this is what Wenger is saying here...bull****
15/05/2009 09:00:00
Where do I say that fans are not allowed to express discontent? Try reading it again.
15/05/2009 09:00:00
Talks*** radio has been going on about Wenger blaming the fans for some of the players bad performances! That "Fake Tan" "Only got 3 England Caps" Ronnie Irani who is a Man utd fan keeps bring it up! I think Arsene has made things worse by coming out with this stuff, or maybe it's a way of paving the way for Adebayor to leave the club?!
15/05/2009 09:01:00
People are entitled to criticise him, but he's allowed to criticise back. This was a forum and Wenger was entitled to say what he thought, just as the fans were. Too many saw this as a chance to put him in the stocks and smile and take it. Fair play to him.
Little Dutch
15/05/2009 09:46:00
This is so asinine its unbelievable! Do you guys really expect him to turn around and say, "yes, Adebayor has become useless, and Silvestre is indeed ready for his bus pass"? How do you reckon that would impact on the kind of transfer fee we're likely to get for him? Ignorance of the consequeces of our actions and or inactions is a luxury only we the fans can enjoy, Wenger's words and actions are treated with respect by those whose purse strings he'll need to loosen in the summer transfer market if he's to get a good price for Adebarndoor. Is Wenger stubborn? You bet. Single mindedness is the exclusive preserve of the genius and a true genius recognises his faults and or limitations. I am optimistic that Wenger will take steps to make us more competitive in the coming seasons.
15/05/2009 10:43:00
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