Bruce: Wenger exit talk is silly
11:19am Friday 18th April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Hull manager Steve Bruce is staggered by the idea that Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger could be under pressure for his job at the end of the season and rates the Frenchman as "one of the greats".
Bruce has two chances to increase the scrutiny on the Barclays Premier League's longest-serving boss, with the Gunners needing victory at the KC Stadium on Sunday to keep their top-four push on course and the teams meeting again in next month's FA Cup final.
Should Arsenal miss out on the Champions League and fail to end a nine-year trophy drought at Wembley, Wenger would find himself in the weakest position since arriving at the club in 1996.
But Bruce believes any talk of his time in north London being up is misguided.
A penalty shootout success over Wigan in the cup semi-final followed by a victory from behind against West Ham in the past week may not go down as two of the club's finest hours, but Bruce believes they offer proof that Wenger's influence is not on the wane.
"Just when they needed a big couple of results they got them. You give great credit to the manager," he said.
"It doesn't matter how they got them, they might not have played the 'Arsenal way' against Wigan last week or against West Ham but they've turned it around and won back-to-back games when they've needed to.
"Just when they needed a couple of results they've got them and how often has Mr Wenger done that?
"For me, the manager gets unfair criticism. The guy has done an amazing job for the last 17 years...16 of those in the top four is a remarkable achievement considering he hasn't had the funds all the other big clubs have had.
"He's not everybody's cup of tea but the one thing you must say is his teams play a fantastic way and he's proved to be one of the greats as far as I'm concerned.
"He's not had the spending power of the big, huge clubs in Europe but he's always been competing - semi-finals, finals, the final of the Champions League.
"With his record how we're even questioning him baffles me."
Bruce is eager not to cast his mind forward to the FA Cup final at Wembley, Hull's first-ever appearance in the showpiece.
He is more focused on securing mathematical safety for the Tigers, even though most pundits consider them out of the mire already.
But he did allow himself to empathise with Arsenal fans who will miss out on the occasion due to a ticket allocation of just 25,000 per team - with another 40,000 made available elsewhere in the 'football family'.
"There was nearly 60,000 Arsenal fans for the Wigan semi-final, so to give them 25,000 is not quite right," he said.
"Where's the other 40,000 gone? It's another issue we have to face with the FA Cup.
"I was trying to say this to supporters here who were hedging their bets trying to get a ticket for the final - it's more difficult than trying to get one for the semi.
"It's an argument that always rages on - is there too many for the FA Council, the FA and all the rest of it. But it's their comp and they make the rules."