Arsene Wenger: My final few years at Arsenal were unfairly criticised

Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in 2018 after 22-year spell in charge which returned three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups; however club failed to mount a serious title challenge after 2006; watch Arsenal vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

Arsene Wenger believes the criticism he received in the last few years of his Arsenal reign were unfair
Image: Arsene Wenger believes the criticism he received in the last few years of his Arsenal reign were unfair

Arsene Wenger believes his final few years at Arsenal have been unfairly criticised as he opens up on his painful exit from the club.

The Frenchman left the Gunners in 2018 after a 22-year spell in charge which returned three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, a Champions League final appearance and a new stadium.

However, with the club failing to mount a serious title challenge following the move to the Emirates from Highbury in 2006, calls of 'Wenger out' from the fans had become a common occurrence in his final few seasons.

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But since Wenger's departure, Arsenal have had to settle for Europa League football and finished eighth last season - their worst league campaign for 25 years.

Wenger admitted in his recent autobiography leaving the Gunners was a "very lonely, very painful" separation but remains adamant every decision he made was in Arsenal's best interests.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Arsene Wenger said: "I think people are quite harsh about the last years.

"In 2016 we finished second in the league. Leicester won but other teams were behind Leicester as well, and Leicester only lost three games. In 2017 we did not qualify for the top four for the first time in 20 years but we got 75 points.

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"People don't realise. We won the [FA] cup against Chelsea who had just won the championship and had the chance of winning the double.

Arsene Wenger's final trophy as Arsenal manager was the 2017 FA Cup win over Chelsea
Image: Wenger's final trophy as Arsenal manager was the 2017 FA Cup win over Chelsea

"And after, in 2018, we lost the League Cup final against (Manchester) City, we lost in the semi-final of the Europa League against Atletico Madrid but by just one goal."

"But look, I gave the best years of my career to develop what I think is important - the stadium and pay it back and put the club in a position where it was capable of facing the future and had the potential to do well.

"At the end of the day, above all, we won and what I am most proud about is putting the club in that position."

Wenger, now chief of global football development at FIFA, is currently making headlines with controversial plans to make the World Cup every two years with football's governing bodies set to discuss the matter later this month.

On his proposals, Wenger added: "It is only my proposal! I don't make that decision. It's for the whole football world to decide."

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