Arsene Wenger says he's 'immune' to Arsenal fan's complaints
Arsene Wenger says he has no problem shutting out the criticism he is facing but has called on Arsenal fans to back the team after a wave of discontent among supporters after Sunday's dispiriting loss to Manchester United.
Social media lit up with complaints as Arsenal fans voiced their displeasure following the 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford against an under-strength United side that meant the Gunners lost vital ground in the Premier League title race.
Much of the criticism has been aimed at Wenger, who drew further ire by downplaying the result and praising his team's "spirit" and "commitment in the game -- precisely the qualities many said were missing.
Arsenal have a chance to make up some of the lost ground to leader Leicester when they play Swansea at home on Wednesday, and Wenger said it's vital the fan base is united in support.
"We need our fans to be behind the team [on Wednesday] night, because it's a very big game," Wenger said. "You wonder sometimes, why the excessive reactions? Do people think football is just only winning, and never losing any game? It's part of football."
And after 20 years in the job, the Arsenal boss said he's no longer affected by criticism and knows that opinions can change quickly once results start going the team's way again.
"What makes me angry is to lose the game. That makes me angry and frustrated. But the reactions, I know now what to expect. When it's always the same, in the end you don't give too much importance to that," Wenger said. "You become immune to it."
He added that he hopes his players are immune to it as well, even though they may be more in tune to what reactions are from fans on social media.
"I'm lucky because I don't go on Twitter," Wenger joked.
Former Arsenal player Paul Merson has been among the most outspoken critics of Wenger among pundits this week, saying the manager must resign if Leicester or Tottenham end up winning the Premier League ahead of the Gunners this season. But Wenger insisted it's not as simple as saying the season would be a failure if Arsenal don't win the title.
"Life is not black and white. Life is nuanced," Wenger said. "What you want is to get the best out of the team until the end of the season and feel like this team gave absolutely the best in every single game until the end of the season. And after that, you want to win, but we will see who will win."
And he pointed out that Arsenal have been in tight scraps with Tottenham in the standings before -- albeit in the fight for fourth place -- and always come out ahead during his reign.
"I think we have been consistently strong in the final part of the season. We did fight with Tottenham many times," Wenger said. "We influence our future ourselves, not what people say. So let's focus on that."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.