Arsene Wenger admits it was 'hurtful' that Arsenal fans 'did not give the image of unity'

Arsene Wenger has suggested leaving his role as Arsenal manager will help the club regain the unity required to earn worldwide respect.

The 68-year-old saw his side beat West Ham 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the first game since he announced on Friday he would step down at the end of the season.

Wenger has been in charge at Arsenal for over 21 years but his role has come under increased scrutiny in recent times following annual failings in the Premier League and Champions League.

A late flurry of three goals in seven minutes wrapped up a win for Wenger as his long farewell began, Aaron Ramsey putting the Gunners back in front before Alexandre Lacazette hit a late double to add gloss to the result.

Defeat for the Hammers, for whom Marko Arnautovic had cancelled out Nacho Monreal's opener, means they are still in danger of relegation.

But the main talking point before, and after, this contest was why Wenger had now decided it was time to say his goodbyes.

"Personally I believe this club is respected all over the world, much more than in England, that our fans did not give the image of unity I want at the club all over the world and that was hurtful," he said.

"I feel the club is respected and overall the image we gave from our club is not what it is and not what I like. I'm not resentful and I do not want to make stupid headlines.

"I'm not resentful with the fans, I just feel if my personality is in the way of what I think our club is, for me that is more important than me.

"That is what I want to say, it is nothing to do with the fans, the fans were not happy I can understand that, that is my job and I have to live with that, I can accept that."

Speculation continues as to who could be appointed as Wenger's successor and, with David Moyes in the visiting dugout today, there was no one better qualified to speak about replacing a long-term and well-respected manager.

Moyes took over at Manchester United following Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013 but was sacked before the end of his first season.

The Scot has since had unsuccessful spells at Real Sociedad and Sunderland before being tasked with keeping West Ham in the Premier League.

But he believes the situations are not comparable as he was under greater pressure than whoever replaces the outgoing Wenger.

"I think they are both different roles," he said.

"When I took over at Man United they were champions but had older players, Arsenal are not champions but have a young team so there maybe aren't as big expectations at Arsenal as they were at United.

"I do think whoever gets the opportunity should take it with both hands. I'm sure there will be many of the elite managers keen to choose this club."

More in this Section

Ronnie O’Sullivan grinds his way into Llandudno semi-finals

Football rumours from the media

Stuart Dallas wants Northern Ireland to gain early momentum

Happy Jack Byrne: 'I’m just grateful to have this chance this week'


Finding your tribe

Irish people living in US lockdowns and fearing for the lives of their children

Ask Audrey: What's the story with dying your pubes?

The Menu: All the latest food news from around the world

More From The Irish Examiner