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I was more mentally sick – Arsene Wenger opens up on final days at Arsenal

Last updated 1 month ago | By Mirror

Premier League - Burnley vs Arsenal - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - November 26, 2017 Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger [REUTERS/Andrew Yates]

Arsene Wenger has admitted the criticism he received during his final season as Arsenal manager was "unjustified" and "brutal".

The Frenchman won three Premier League titles — including in 2003-04 when his ‘Invincibles’ went unbeaten for an entire season — and seven FA Cups during his time as Gunners’ boss.

He also took the club into the Champions League for 20 years in a row, but struggled during his latter years at the Emirates helm and left the club at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Indeed, Arsenal's failure to challenge for top honours in Wenger's latter days seemingly angered Arsenal fans, with a section of supporters very vocal in calling for the Frenchman's departure.

And the manager believes the criticism was unfair from fans and the board, having overseen a remarkable overhaul of the club he joined back in 1996.

Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “The hostility of a section of the fans and the board was unjustified.

"I felt as if I’d built the training centre and the stadium myself brick by brick... it was very hard, very brutal.

Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger looks on during the International Champions Cup football match between Bayern Munich and Arsenal in Shanghai on July 19, 2017. / [AFP PHOTO / Johannes EISELE]

"Arsenal was a matter of life and death to me, and without it there were some very lonely, very painful moments.”

Asked whether he felt his job was a matter of life and death, he said: “Yes, it was my approach to the job.

"When you drive home after a defeat, and you think about the number of people who are destroyed, you have a sense of responsibility, of guilt.

"I believe there is no other way for a manager than to identify completely with the club, and to behave like he owns it.”

The legendary manager also explained his obsession with winning - and revealed the affect defeats had on him.

He added: “I was more mentally sick. I made 1,235 games for Arsenal and didn’t miss one. I can’t remember when I stayed in bed to miss training in 22 years.

"But, after defeat, you never sleep. You have an internal film that goes through your mind. It’s a sense of anger, humiliation, hate. The next day you have to put that into perspective but every defeat is still a scar on my heart.”

 

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