Arsene Wenger has no departure plans despite protests from some Arsenal supporters

Arsenal 1 Norwich 0
Arsene Wenger has no departure plans despite protests from some Arsenal supporters

While the majority of the crowd stood and sang their support for the French coach, the disjointed mood and another streaky win, against a team they should have beaten comfortably, did cause him to reflect as well as reveal his plans for the future.

And the news is?

He’s staying — but not for as long as Alex Ferguson did at Manchester United. Almost definitely.

Asked if the protests at 12 years without a Premier League title will, with the benefit of hindsight, look as embarrassing as the United fan once pictured with an anti-Fergie banner, Wenger said: “I don’t know.

“I give my best for this club. You don’t spend 19 years at a club — like Sir Alex Ferguson spent 26 years — without giving every minute of your time.

“You give your whole life for that and try to do as well as possible.

“One target is to keep all of the people happy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that this season.”

But what if you stay on for 26 years: “No, no, never! Don’t worry.”

The nature of the support Wenger received and the three points secured by substitute Danny Welbeck’s goal to place Arsenal back on course for a 20th consecutive year of Champions League qualification, seem to have lifted Wenger’s mood.

Not that he was unmoved by his detractors. Pressed on how he felt by fans calling for him to quit, he said: “I will come to your newspaper and do it as well and ask you after how do you feel? But I think I can take that.

“I am in a public job and I have to live with judgement as long as it is respectful.

“If it is only opinion — we have all to accept that because we are in a public job.

“Yes (I did think it would be worse). From what I was told, I thought the whole stadium would be white but....”

Wenger has another year of his current contract to run and there are already rumours he could extend beyond.

He clearly feels, against most public opinion, he can turn this squad into title winners.

He added: “I am not specialist enough to analyse that [there should be change].

“I just think that we are here to give our best. We have been remarkably consistent at the top.

“There are disappointed people because we didn’t win the league. Believe me, we are as well.

“Like any Arsenal fans, we have to come back and win it and that is all we can do.

“I am a football man. I am not a politician. I am not in a democracy. I am in the next game; perform, try to do as well as you can and accept people’s opinions.

“That is what it is about.”

Afterwards, Welbeck revealed he had been relegated to the bench to guard his fitness having missed most of the season through injury.

Speaking about the unusual atmosphere, the England forward said: “The players have to focus on the match and not the surroundings.

“The fans are so important and that is something we have to have to respect. Everyone has an opinion but we just have to do our stuff on the pitch.

“Everyone is disappointed because we had a great opportunity to go for the title and it is difficult to handle the way it is ending. We could and should be doing better than this.”

How Norwich manager Alex Neil must long to have the same problems as his Arsenal counterparts.

Norwich had more than enough chances to win, but Welbeck’s strike means only relegated Aston Villa have lost as many matches this season.

With home games against Manchester United and Watford to come before a-last day trip to Everton, it will be difficult for the young Scottish manager to lead his side to safety.

But they are only two points behind 17th-placed Newcastle, with a game in hand, and their experienced French defender Sebastien Bassong said: “It’s not about who you’re playing against. It’s all about us. When you get into this situation, a relegation battle, it’s nothing about the opponent.

“It’s about what we’ve got. What we have, what we’re willing to give, I think that will make the difference.

“If we can carry on playing the way we’ve played today, with the same spirit and add a little bit, play a bit more.”

ARSENAL: Cech 7; Bellerin 7, Mertesacker 5 (Gabriel 51, 6), Koscielny 6, Monreal 6; Elneny 7, Ramsey 5; Iwobi 6 (Welbeck 56, 8), Sanchez 6 (Coquelin 84, 6), Ozil 6; Giroud 5.

Subs not used: Ospina, Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla.

NORWICH: Ruddy 6; Pinto 5, Martin 6, Bassong 6 (Jarvis 89, 6), Olsson 6; Redmond 7, Howson 6, O’Neil 6, Brady 6 (Naismith 78, 6); Hoolahan 6 (Mbokani 68); Jerome 5.

Subs not used: Whittaker, Rudd, Dorrans, Mulumbu.

Referee: Mike Jones: 5/10

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