Arsene Wenger says the hostile atmosphere created at the Emirates Stadium this season affected Arsenal’s players, after the club missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 20 years.
Wenger, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has seen his future intensely scrutinised with fans protesting and calling for the Frenchman’s reign to come to an end.
The Arsenal boss, speaking after his side’s 3-1 win against Everton on the final day of the Premier League season, insists the environment around the club was “absolutely horrendous” for his players.
“You have been at the games and you cannot say that the environment for the players was especially positive,” he said.
“I don’t know. What is important is we do our job. We are professional people and part of being professional is as well to perform when the environment is not positive.
“We have not to look there as well as an excuse, but I just say it’s a fact – it doesn’t help.”
He added: “Of couse you can look everywhere for where we dropped these points, but since January it’s been a very difficult environment for different reasons.
“Some you know about, and that’s very difficult for a group of players to cope with that. There are some other reasons that we will talk about another day.
“Psychologically, the environment for this group of players was absolutely horrendous and I’m very proud of what they have done, the way they responded and finished the season.”
Wenger also admitted the uncertainty surrounding his own future played it’s part in Arsenal’s disappointing Premier League season, saying it was a handicap for the players.
Asked if he wanted to avoid drama surrounding his future at Arsenal, Wenger told Sky Sports: “Yes of course. It didn’t help me but I’m experienced enough to deal with it.
“However, it was a big handicap for the team and the players.
“They played in a very hostile environment and more than ever we needed to stick together.
“We needed to be strong together because it was very difficult for us, especially for the players.
“That’s why I tell you this group of people is remarkable and they deserve to be supported in a different way.”