Arsenal fans must back Arsene Wenger, says David Dein

By Dan RoanBBC sports news correspondent

Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has told BBC Sport that Arsenal fans must give manager Arsene Wenger the respect he deserves or risk losing him.

The manager has come under increasing criticism from supporters after six seasons without a trophy and the departure of Cesc Fabregas.

When asked if Wenger could leave, Dein said: "That's always an option open to him because it could come to a stage when he will say, 'Well, I have had enough.'

"At least that's how I feel and I feel the fans should feel that. They should at least give him the respect that he deserves for what he's done."

Dein, the driving force behind Wenger's appointment in 1996, told BBC Sport: "People talk about 'Has his time finished at the club?'

"That's a very dangerous thing to say because it's easy to get rid of people and then what?

"People talk about buying players. Well, you've got to get players who are better than the ones you've got at the moment."

He added: "I don't know why he hasn't bought at the moment, only time will tell. Maybe he thinks that this current squad has got the ability to win trophies.

"Only time will tell whether he's right or wrong but I think it's very early to say, 'He's lost the plot.' He hasn't lost the plot."

Dein, who left Arsenal in 2007, is still good friends with Wenger, but did say that he sympathises with Arsenal's fans.

"I can understand their worry because the expectation level today is so high and Arsene has brought such success to the club," said Dein.

"In 15 years that he's been there every year, we've been in the Champions League. So you can understand, perhaps, fans feeling a little bit frustrated that they haven't seen a trophy for a few years.

"Under Arsene Wenger's stewardship, they've had good times and very good times and there's no reason to expect why we shouldn't see them again."

Dein believes the Frenchman is "undoubtedly" enduring the toughest period of his 15 years with Arsenal following departures of Fabregas in a £35m deal to Barcelona and .

"It definitely hurts, there's no question about it," said Dein. "You don't get a Cesc Fabregas every day of the week. But how do you know that a Jack Wilshere or an Aaron Ramsey won't come through to be another Cesc Fabregas in time?

"But once again, one has got to be patient. Fans - and I can understand it, I'm very sympathetic - want immediate success because we are living in a society that demands that."

Arsenal's immediate focus is on a testing run of matches that includes the second leg of their Champions League qualifying round tie at Udinese, with the Gunners holding a narrow 1-0 lead from the first leg.

"It's very, very important for the team, the players and above all for the fans," said Dein. "The fans have got fed on a diet of expectation of being in the Champions League and competing for honours every year.

"It would be a disappointment [not to make it]. Would it be fatal? No. Can they live through it? Yes, they would."

Despite the current difficulties, Dein insists that the man he brought to English football retains a burning desire to win more trophies with Arsenal.

"Obviously I know him very well, he's a neighbour of mine," said Dein. "I've never seen a man in football more focused, more determined, with more drive than him."

And asked whether Wenger had become an isolated figure at the club since his own departure four years ago, Dein added: "I can't comment on what's going on in the boardroom but certainly he and I had a very special relationship.

"The chemistry was extraordinary in my opinion, very successful. We just knew each other and how we worked."

You can also watch the full interview with David Dein on Football Focus at 1215 BST on Saturday, 20 August

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