EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Stelling on Arsene Wenger jibes and why he won't walk

Wenger Statue

Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling understands why some Arsenal supporters are on Arsene Wenger's back, but says there is no chance of him walking away.

Carlsberg Jeff Stelling Christmas Speech

On November 29, during a Premier League meeting with West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saw a banner unfurled in the away end at The Hawthorns calling for him to step down.

‘Thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye’ was the message from a minority of supporters growing increasingly disillusioned with the progress, or lack of it, being made by the Gunners.

Tempers then came to the boil during a trip to Stoke City in early December, with angry fans waiting for Wenger outside the Britannia Stadium following a 3-2 defeat to air their displeasure at the way things were going.

Wenger, though, has been around long enough, and is stubborn enough, to ignore the doubters and stick to the philosophies which have served him well throughout a successful 18-year stint in north London.

He can point to an enviable collection of major honours as proof that he knows what he is doing and that Arsenal supporters should show a little loyalty and belief in a man who has returned them to the top of domestic and European game.

Jeff Stelling took a break from filming his alternative Christmas speech for the Carlsberg Fan Squad to discuss that issue with HITC Sport, and here is what he had to say on the criticism that has come Wenger’s way: “It comes with the job and when you have been in the job that long, inevitably you are going to get some stick – fans getting disenchanted who have forgotten what has been achieved over the years. I’m not totally surprised.

“The level of football he has brought to this country has been a breath of fresh air, with the media he’s a breath of fresh air – he’s always got an opinion on football.

“I can see their disenchantment because they have been overtaken in certain areas by other clubs. At one time, Arsenal were contending for all of the top European prizes and now, let’s be realistic, they’re not. I can see why some fans would be frustrated.”

Is there any chance of Wenger walking away? Will there become a point where he says enough is enough?

When presented with those questions, Stelling said: “No, I don’t see that. I think it’s in his blood. Football is in his blood and Arsenal is in his blood. He genuinely believes that he is the best man for the job, and you won’t get any argument from me there.

“You have to be careful what you wish for, and that could be the case with Arsenal supporters because who can follow Arsene Wenger? We wondered who could follow Sir Alex Ferguson and it’s a hell of a job to step into someone’s shoes who has been such an enormously influential figure at one club.

“I don’t think he’ll step down any time soon and if I was an Arsenal fan, I would be hoping he doesn’t take that decision any time soon.”

Wenger has helped Arsenal to three Premier League titles, five FA Cups and five Community Shields during his time at the helm, as well as the 2005/06 Champions League final.

He is one of the most recognisable figures in the global game and a man widely acknowledged as one of the finest tactical brains in the business.

He is also a man who sticks to his principles, regardless of the arguments offered against him, with his reluctance to spend big while chasing the dreams of others and sticking to his belief that a certain way of playing will deliver positive results deserving of praise, not punishment.

If Carlsberg did Christmas speeches….The Carlsberg Fan Squad are all about making football better for fans, and that includes making the ultimate review of the year with Carlsberg Fan Squad member Jeff Stelling. Follow @CarlsbergFooty for Barclays Premier League ticket giveaways and more from the Carlsberg Fan Squad.

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