Arsene Wenger has struggled to sleep and received support from old rival Alex Ferguson during Arsenal’s recent form slump.
The Gunners halted a four-game losing streak with an impressive 2-0 Europa League last-16 win at AC Milan on Thursday, but that result might do little to improve an atmosphere verging on toxic around the Emirates Stadium.
Back-to-back 3-0 defeats against Manchester City – the first of which came in the EFL Cup final – and a sapping reverse at Brighton and Hove Albion arguably left Wenger’s tenure at its lowest ebb.
In an Arsenal Supporters’ Trust poll, 88 per cent voted for the 67-year-old to leave at the end of this season, despite his terms running until the end of 2018-19.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Sunday’s match against Watford, Wenger conceded he has felt the strain of late, with Manchester United great Ferguson – a man who once revelled in inflicting misery upon the Frenchman – one of a host of colleagues to offer kind words.
“Every manager will tell you when he doesn’t get results that the first thing affected is the mood, the lack of sleep [because of] that desire to find solutions,” he said.
“Overall, it is part of the job. When you are a young manager you dream that you want to win every football game. But it is not about that. It is about surviving through disappointments and finding solutions. That is interesting as well and can make you a better manager.
“I got many messages from people who are supportive and I must stay I am very grateful for that.
“We all go through tough times but, when you take a little bit of perspective, we got to a cup final and played against the best team in the country.
“Current and past [managers have been in touch]. I have a good relationship with Ferguson at the moment, sometimes he sends me a message, yes, when things don’t go well.
“We all know we are on the same boat. I can understand every manager has his own problems and has to face his own daily situation.
“There is a solidarity there and I support the other managers always, we all do that. I made 820 Premier League games, 200 European club games but there is no possibility not to suffer. You have to suffer.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 9, 2018
As such, Wenger does not take criticism personally from supporters who once idolised him.
“Yes, criticism hurts but honestly I can take a distance from that. It is not the person they hate, it is the manager that doesn’t deliver the performance.
“I’m just unhappy that we lose the games; I want to win. My whole life is guided towards that.
“I want to win with style, it is very ambitious. When I don’t win I am suffering like everyone else.
“Arsenal football club today is 30 million people. It is not the suffering of one person. You want to make 30 million people happy and that is what I care about.”
Sead Kolasinac will have an ankle problem assessed before the Watford match, while fellow defender Calum Chambers was hindered by cramp at San Siro but should recover.
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