Gilles Grimandi has leapt to Arsene Wenger’s defence calling on former players who criticise him in the media to respect his compatriot’s commitment to the club.
Grimandi, who made more than 100 appearances for Arsenal between 1997-2002, has been the Gunners chief scout in France for 12 years and maintains a close relationship with his former coach despite being responsible for the acquisition of Yaya Sanogo and Marouane Chamakh.
Upset by the way that Wenger has been repeatedly reproached by his former charges, including Thierry Henry and Martin Keown, Grimandi highlighted that those in comfortable positions in the media should probably get involved with the nitty-gritty of day-to-day club coaching before making such sensationalist statements.
“It makes me sad because guys like Thierry or Martin, I like them, I have a good relationship with them, but some of them take a sensationalist path and I don’t like that,” he told L’Equipe.
“I want to say three things to all the former players who have become pundits. Firstly, you mustn’t have a short memory — they owe a lot to Arsene, and they have sometimes done all they can to get back into the club after the end of their playing career.
“Also, they should respect Arsene’s commitment to the club, the fact that he works like a madman every day.
“Arsene takes strategic decisions for Arsenal every day. Finally, I want to say to them: ‘Get stuck in! Today, you’re in a judgemental role, but commit yourselves to a club and you’ll see it’s not simple.'”
Grimandi also hit back at suggestions that Wenger, so regularly heralded as a forward-thinking coach when he arrived in England, has parted with a clear philosophy of how Arsenal should play football.
“What’s true is that possession guaranteed you results in the Premier League and today it’s no longer true. So you have to adapt,” he said.
“But a coach is judged over the long term. People have called Arsene an avant-garde coach for a long time, because he was able to identify a clear style of play at Arsenal, and now he’s supposed to be all at sea in that area? That makes no sense.”
On the subject of the Gunners recent form, which has seen them drop out of the race for a top four finish and exit the domestic cup competitions, Grimandi went on: “What’s happening right now is tough, it’s hard to take for those of us at the club.
“There were mistakes made this season but people mustn’t target Arsene, especially as the situation is difficult, not dramatic.
“Yes we’re sixth in the league, but we’re still in the hunt for the Europa League. And between winning that competition and finishing fourth in the Premier League, I prefer to win a trophy knowing that — in both cases — you have a Champions League place.”