Wenger re­veals ‘hurt’ at crit­i­cism as Arse­nal turn on the style

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The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - TOTAL FOOTBALL - By Chris Bas­combe at Good­i­son Park

Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Mi­lan, In­ter Mi­lan, PSG, the French na­tional team, the English na­tional team and just about ev­ery other na­tional team.

Dur­ing the last 19 years, it might be eas­ier to draw up a list of those who have not tried to lure Arsène Wenger from High­bury or, lat­terly, The Emi­rates Sta­dium.

It is mea­sure of Wenger’s class that when asked to put a fig­ure on how many times he has stood by Arse­nal, his only re­sponse was to smile. He seemed to quite en­joy the line of in­quiry, and might have gone into de­tail had an im­pa­tient me­dia man not ush­ered him off when he was flow­ing as ex­pres­sively and elo­quently as his side over the pre­vi­ous 90 min­utes at Good­i­son Park.

Off Wenger went, dragged away by one of his own when he had more to of­fer. It seemed quite the vis­ual metaphor for what might come if the Arse­nal board re­spond to the clam­our for change.

Wenger is no busted flush. The risk in los­ing him is twofold.

His in­ten­tion ap­pears to be to end his ca­reer at the club he has de­fined, just like Sir Alex Fer­gu­son, but if that proves un­palat­able it would be naive to pre­sume a do­mes­tic or Euro­pean ri­val would not beg him to spend his twi­light years in man­age­ment else­where.

A guar­an­tee of be­ing in the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League ev­ery sea­son may no longer sat­isfy Arse­nal, but oth­ers would en­thu­si­as­ti­cally ac­cept a side per­pet­u­ally in con­tention for hon­ours.

Wenger would trans­form any side he coached and while Arse­nal be­gan the task of find­ing an­other vi­sion­ary – good luck with that – he would threaten their ha­bit­ual and pre­sump­tu­ous top-four sta­tus if he turned up else­where.

Wenger ad­mit­ted the most re­cent “scep­ti­cism” has hurt him more than usual given it is led by sup­port­ers. The first goal at Good­i­son, beau­ti­fully crafted by Alexis Sánchez and Me­sut Özil and fin­ished by Danny Wel­beck, gave him par­tic­u­lar plea­sure.

“What hurts me is that at the im­por­tant mo­ment of the sea­son we played in a scep­ti­cal en­vi­ron­ment,” Wenger said. “I couldn’t un­der­stand why. From the me­dia – OK. From our fans? It is a bit more dif­fi­cult to take.

“I never com­plain about crit­ics, es­pe­cially when they are turned against me. I just think I give my best, I built this club over 19 years with the qual­ity of my work, not with re­sources from out­side.”

As for Ever­ton, an­other week, an­other mood swing. Man­ager Roberto Martínez warned his play­ers that FA Cup semi-fi­nal places are at stake.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the semi-fi­nal,” he said. “Un­less you can show you are a player to drive Ever­ton for­ward, it will be dif­fi­cult to see how you can stay in the side.”

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