‘Polar bear’ Wenger takes hits

The Gunners will look to kickstart their Premier League campaign

against Bolton on Saturday having lost three matches already.

Despite his side languishing just a point outside the relegation

zone and Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis feeling it necessary

to give Wenger a public show of support ahead of the midweek

Carling Cup win over Shrewsbury, Wenger is not about to let the

pressure get to him. He said: “Since I arrived in England there

have been a lot of things said that are wrong, but on the positive

side as well. “I personally do not complain. When you have heavy

criticism of a young player, I am more worried about that. “I am

supposed to take the bullets and absorb them – like a polar bear.”

Asked how many bullets he could take, Wenger replied: “Endless. It

is because I understand the game. “I am a human being and I prefer

it when you say I am not an idiot, but I know that it is an

emotional game and I have to deal with that. “That is why it is

important that we do well for the club, to try to get our fans

happy again.” Wenger also insisted he would look to deflect the

negative environment outside the club away from the squad. “We get

them to focus on playing football because at the end of the day no

matter how much football you have to win, you have not to lose the

fact that it is a pleasure to play,” he said. “When you are in our

situation everything tends to make you forget that first of all it

is a real enjoyment to play football. “So we have to focus on that

and play together. “On the other hand if we come out of that

situation in a positive way, we will be very strong for the rest of

the season that is for sure – but we have to get out of it.” Wenger

has rejected calls for him to bring in a defensive coach such as

former centre-half Martin Keown to help shore up a leaky rearguard

which has shipped 14 league goals already – eight in their

humiliating defeat at Old Trafford. The Gunners manager, however,

insisted he was open to fresh ideas. He said: “I learn every day,

every game I watch, I learn. “There is no better teacher of

humility than football, or sport because it has so many ingredients

that you learn always in every single game. “I watch plenty of

games this week and you go always to bed thinking about what

happened, and that is what is so interesting.” Wenger feels both

the fact Arsenal had to qualify for the Champions League with a

hard-fought win over Udinese and the sale of key men Cesc Fabregas

and Samir Nasri destabilised their start to the season. Other

senior squad members like captain Robin van Persie, Andrey

Arshavin, Thomas Vermaelen and England forward Theo Walcott are all

coming towards the final 18 months of their current deals. While

Wenger remains confident the club can agree contract extensions,

the Gunners boss accepts in the current inflated financial market,

even their best offer might not be enough. He said: “We will try,

but we tried before. The gap on that front has become bigger for

us, so I cannot today say that if we go to the maximum we are sure

to sign a player – even if we do that we are not sure. “Our desire

is there to do it and we are ready to sit down with them, which is

what we will do, but after we see where we go.”