Even if you have touched the apex of your career, you won’t be able to elude the inevitable criticisms being voiced against you. However, if there is someone who’d hold on your shoulders, appreciate and back you for the efforts you put in, then you can probably have a sigh.
Similar is the case with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger when a fan gestured depreciation for him for the bad times Arsenal is undergoing on the fields, and former English footballer Gary Neville blamed the fan for his demeanour, praised the manager, and called him to be ‘deserving respect’.
The fan’s criticism:
Actually, in the Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea on last Saturday, a season ticket holder Kane Hoppes flashed out a banner pointing Wenger, reading ‘Enough is enough. Time to go.’ And Neville’s comment on the fan was ‘He’s an idiot that guy.’
What followed was an awaited interview of the Ex-Man United star with the popular Gooners YouTube channel. In the 36-minute interaction here on Friday, he spoke out honestly and whole heartedly.
Neville’s take on the matter:
“Arsene Wenger doesn’t deserve that, obviously the Arsenal fans are disappointed, but to pre-empt by bringing a banner into the ground, it’s a joke.”
“Think about changing your manager, it might be that you don’t finish in the top four for a few seasons, and actually what Arsene Wenger has achieved is fantastic. So, be careful.”
“Does Arsene Wenger’s 20 years of service at the club deserve a little bit more respect than certain types of things that have happened?”
He adds, “It’s a unique one with Arsene Wenger, what he has achieved at the club, the greatest ever manager for Arsenal. His performance levels consistently for 20 years have been unbelievable.”
Neville is certain that he is sensitive to the fans but Wenger’s dedication and endeavours are worth reverence.
“I never said that the fan didn’t have a right to bring that banner into the stadium or shout about what he wants. You might have the opinion that Arsene Wenger should no longer be the manager of Arsenal.”
“However, to see a guy, to stand up at the end of a match, with it still going on, with a banner up, shouting abuse at a guy who has given 20 years of service and is the greatest manager in Arsenal’s history, sorry I find that very difficult.”
The former soccerer bears no repentance or apology for branding a fan ‘idiot’. He is resolute, but at the same time clears up that fans can express their minds however they wished.
“Do I regret it? No, I’m quite relaxed about the fact that I say what I think on TV. I could have said: ‘That Arsenal fan is out of order or I disagree with his opinion’. But everyone would have thought that was boring.”
“I’m not saying you can’t be critical. This is my point. When you make one criticism against one fan, it’s translated into: ‘No fan can be critical, no fan can have a comment, but I can’. It’s just an opinion on the day of what I thought of one fan on the day.”
Currently, the Gunners occupy the fourth position in the Premier league charts, 10 points behind the leading Chelsea.