Arsenal legend Vieira hurt by Wenger criticism
Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira has said the criticism being levelled at Arsene Wenger is "hard to accept", but conceded he would like to manage the club one day.
Wenger has come under increasing pressure over recent weeks following a run of four consecutive defeats in all competitions, although a 2-0 Europa League win over AC Milan on Thursday offered the French coach something of a reprieve.
Calls for Wenger to end his two-decade-long stint in charge have become a regular occurrence at Emirates Stadium over the past few seasons but the 68-year-old, whose side are 13 points off the top four in the Premier League, has been steadfast in his determination to turn things around.
Vieira was Wenger's captain in the early 2000s and won three top-flight titles with the Gunners, as well as a trio of FA Cup winners' medals.
And the current New York City boss feels Wenger is owed some loyalty, having rejected big offers to stay at the club in the past.
"I find it very hard for him," Vieira told L'Equipe. "If there is one person who wants the club to succeed, it's Arsene.
"We can discuss how the team plays or something else, but I find that the criticisms that fall on Arsene on a personal level are difficult to accept.
"It may have been becoming a coach myself that makes me feel differently.
"I remember very well every time he refused the biggest clubs to stay at Arsenal. I know what I'm talking about because the same clubs contacted me and told me, when I met them, that their first objective was to have Arsene come.
"He said no to everyone to stay at Arsenal and today people forget about it."
Vieira has been coaching in New York since 2016 and has ambitions to return to north London in the top job one day.
"Let's say some day in the future it might interest me. One day," he added.
"I cannot say anything more, because there is nothing to say and I do not want to hurt Arsene, whom I adore and for whom I have a lot of respect."