Arsene Wenger future: Patrick Vieira believes Arsenal fans have gone 'too far' with criticism of manager

Former Arsenal captain Vieira believes a banner displayed at the Emirates Stadium has shown a 'lack of respect' to Wenger

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The Independent Football

Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira has accused the club’s fans of going “too far” in their criticism of manager Arsene Wenger after they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford last weekend.

Having won the Cup in both 2014 and 2015, Arsenal suffered a 2-1 defeat by Watford to knock them out of the competition and leave their hopes of silverware this season hanging by a thread, with the Premier League their only realistic chance of winning anything this season.

With the Gunners trailing leaders Leicester by 11 points with a game in hand, fans have voiced their anger at Wenger’s running of the first team, and Vieira has jumped to his former manager’s defence to urge fans to show him “a bit more respect”.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

"Arsenal are going through a difficult period, but I was surprised and a bit disappointed," Vieira told Talksport 2 when asked about the banner on display at the Emirates that read “Arsene, thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye.

"Fans can be frustrated, but they forget at times what Arsene has brought to the club.

"He deserves a bit more respect. Fans can boo and show their anger, but the way they did it with that banner showed a lack of respect. This is the way it is, this is football, but it shouldn’t be like that."

Pressure is on Wenger to turn around Arsenal’s mid-season slump ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 second-leg against Barcelona, with calls growing for the 66-year-old Frenchman to step down as manager should they fail to get back into the title race.

Vieira believes that Wenger will know himself when the right time is to leave the club, and feels it will be part of his “vision” for the growth of the team as well as his own career.

"Arsene will know when it is time for him to go. He knows what he is doing,” he said.

"He loves the game, he works really hard, he’s a work addict. He watches every single game in every single league and has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve. People like it or don’t like it.

"He has done a fantastic, unbelievable job for Arsenal Football Club and, with that message after the Hull game, the fans went a little bit too far."