UNDER-FIRE Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims his commitment to the club helped secure the bank loans required to fund the construction of Emirates Stadium.
Fans are set to protest at this evening’s match against Norwich after a disappointing season that has seen the Gunners’ Premier League title challenge fade.
Construction began on the £390m venue in 2004, the year the now 66-year-old Frenchman won the last of his three league titles with the club.
Wenger, who has been in charge of the north London outfit since 1996, said: “When we built the stadium the banks demanded that I signed for five years.
“Do you want me to say how many clubs I turned down during that period?”
“The banks wanted the technical consistency to guarantee that we have a chance to pay them back.”
Arsenal topped the league table at the turn of the year but have since slipped to fourth.
They were also knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford in the quarter-finals, and their Champions League campaign ended in the last 16 for the sixth successive season.
During the home game against Norwich, fans’ groups Black Scarf Movement, RedAction and the Arsenal Supporters Trust want supporters to raise placards reading: “Time for change. Arsenal is stale, fresh approach needed.”
However, Wenger said his critics had gone “too far”.
He added: “I did commit and I stayed, and under very difficult circumstances.
“So for me to come back and, on top of that, (critics) reproach me for not having won the championship during that period, it is a bit overboard.”
Is Wenger being unfairly treated by Arsenal fans?