Arsene Wenger says disunity among Arsenal fans played a part in his decision to leave
The Gunners thrashed West Ham 4-1 in the club’s first game since Wenger revealed he is to step down.
Arsene Wenger has hinted that growing supporter unrest influenced his decision to quit Arsenal at the end of the season.
The 68-year-old saw his side beat West Ham 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the first Arsenal game since he announced on Friday he would step down in the summer.
Wenger has been in charge at Arsenal for over 21 years but his role has come under increased scrutiny in recent times following annual failings in the Premier League and Champions League.
A late flurry of three goals in seven minutes wrapped up a win for Wenger as his long farewell began, Aaron Ramsey putting the Gunners back in front before Alexandre Lacazette hit a late double to add gloss to the result.
A point for the Hammers, for whom Marko Arnautovic scored to cancel out Nacho Monreal’s opener, means they are still in danger of relegation.
The bigger picture here was the start of Wenger’s goodbye and it was after the game when he revealed he felt the club’s global reputation was being damaged by those dissenting fans calling for him to leave.
“Personally I believe this club is respected all over the world, much more than in England, and that our fans did not give the image of unity I want at the club all over the world and that was hurtful,” he said.
“I feel the club is respected and overall the image we gave from our club is not what it is and not what I like.
“I’m not resentful and I do not want to make stupid headlines.
“I’m not resentful with the fans, I just feel if my personality is in the way of what I think our club is, for me that is more important than me.
“That is what I want to say, it is nothing to do with the fans, the fans were not happy I can understand that, that is my job and I have to live with that, I can accept that.”
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Speculation continues about who could be appointed as Wenger’s successor and, with David Moyes in the visiting dugout on Sunday, there was no one better qualified to speak about replacing a long-serving, well-respected manager.
Moyes took over at Manchester United following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 but was sacked before the end of his first season.
The Scot has since had unsuccessful spells at Real Sociedad and Sunderland before being tasked with keeping West Ham in the Premier League.
But he believes the situations are not comparable as he was under greater pressure than the person who replaces the outgoing Wenger will be.
“I think they are both different roles,” he said.
“When I took over at Man United they were champions but had older players, Arsenal are not champions but have a young team so there maybe aren’t as big expectations at Arsenal as there were at United.
“I do think whoever gets the opportunity should take it with both hands. I’m sure there will be many of the elite managers keen to choose this club.”