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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Football

Arsenal fans have been 'brainwashed': Wenger
AFP
London, August 26, 2013
First Published: 21:48 IST(26/8/2013)
Last Updated: 21:50 IST(26/8/2013)

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal fans have been  "brainwashed" by the constant negativity surrounding his team.

Wenger came under fire from large sections of the Emirates Stadium crowd following Arsenal's 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.

That barrage of abuse followed several incidents of barracking from angry fans last season as Arsenal's trophy drought stretched to eight years.

But the Gunners boss, whose side have calmed the critics with successive victories over Fenerbahce and Fulham since that Villa loss, is convinced the occasionally poisonous atmosphere in north London is due to fans letting their emotions get the better of them after reading so many negative stories about the club.

"It's always excessive reactions," Wenger said. "We lost one game since the beginning of March. That's why it (the Villa loss) was a shock.

"The defeat was a shock, because it's the first game of the season.

"We won in the Champions League away at Bayern (Munich, in March), we won 3-0 at Fenerbahce.

"It's just like that at the moment. You (the media) have brainwashed a little bit the Emirates.

"Maybe rightly so, because we haven't won trophies for years; everything is always negative.

"We have to live this out and just play football well."

The Frenchman has been in charge at Arsenal since October 1996 and is now the top flight's longest serving manager following Alex Ferguson's retirement from Manchester United last season.

But Wenger, who has turned down a host of offers to leave Arsenal during his reign, believes society in general, and football in particular, has become more reactionary and less likely to show loyalty during difficult times.

"On one side when people are not loyal, people criticise; when they are loyal, they say they are there for too long," he said.

"It's always an excessive reaction and that's why people in charge have to take a (step back), more than ever.

"Being responsible in life is to do things you think are right, it's not to react to what people say.

"If you listen always to what people say, you go five minutes one way and 10 minutes later you go the other way.

"When you have responsibilities you have just to focus on making the right decisions and if they're not right, you say 'sorry, I'm wrong'. When we lose a game, I'm wrong."

One of the main sources of frustration for Arsenal fans is Wenger's failure to sign a single top star since the end of last season.

Wenger has substantial funds to spend but missed out on striker Gonzalo Higuain to Napoli, while offers for Luis Suarez failed to tempt Liverpool to release the Uruguay forward.

Yet, with time running out before the September 2 closure of the transfer window, Wenger is sticking to his policy of only considering signings who would significantly improve his team.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's Champions League play-off round second leg against Fenerbahce at the Emirates, Wenger, who has been linked with bids for Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye and Swansea duo Ashley Williams and Michu, said: "I still am optimistic and I hope I will not disappoint you.

"We have not a fixed number (of signings in mind). I just think we are a bit short at the moment.

"I'm guided by my conscience to do as well as I can for this club and by the vision of the game I want to play.

"I feel with the players I have I can play the football we want to play.

"I'm a great admirer of the spirit, the attitude of these players.

"They are special and if I want to add something it has to be special."


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